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Hebrews Study #1: “Listen to My Son, He’s the Only Mediator for Poor Sinners”

Updated: Feb 18, 2023

The Supremacy of Christ’s Priesthood Over All Manmade Religious Rituals!

By Richard Allen – February 13, 2023

This may sound like a strange title, but I’m using part of a Scripture verse from Luke 9:25b to challenge us all with the supremacy of Jesus Christ as the Mediator of a New and Better Covenant. I especially want to encourage my Catholic friends who always wonder what are the differences between Evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics. “We’re all Christians, right?” We do share similar beliefs with both Roman Catholics, Orthodox and other Mainline denominations. But there are also some very real and serious differences. My Blog title and subtitle express these differences under One Foundational Truth: Christ’s Priesthood is far superior to all human mediators and manmade religious rituals.” Jesus’ Priesthood is not only far superior to any human priesthood, but He is the only Mediator for sinners. In future Blogs I will develop several other differences that are critical to grasp for anyone who is serious about God.

So let me start by saying, the first big difference is: To be in a right relationship with God, believers must trust in the finished priestly work of Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and Man (I Timothy 2:5), AND NOT TRUST IN ANOTHER FRAIL AND IMPERFECT HUMAN PRIEST! To trust the ongoing efforts by human priests to cleanse you from your sins – no matter how fancy or ornate the ritual – is misplaced and useless faith. Even the God-ordained Levitical priesthood given by Moses had an expiration date. So the writer of Hebrews – whoever that may have been – makes clear: THAT PRIESTHOOD WAS FULFILLED BY JESUS AND DONE AWAY WITH (Hebrews 8:13)! I implore my readers to ask themselves this one question: “Am I trusting in an earthly priest to offer ongoing sacrifices (as dictated by my denomination) to put me in, or keep me in a right relationship with God? Or am I trusting the far superior priesthood and perfect work of Jesus, the High Priest and Mediator of a Better Covenant?” (Hebrews 8:1-6). It is one or the other. As in the Old Covenant, earthly Priests made their offerings over and over again – admitting that their priesthood and sacrifices had no lasting value. Only Jesus Christ, the true High Priest, could say: “It Is Finished,” that is, “Paid in Full” (John 19:30).

The good news is, there is a book in the Bible that directly addresses these issues: The Book of Hebrews, written to Jewish Christians to exhort them to hold fast to the Better Priesthood and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and not return to the fallible “temporary Priesthood” of the Old Covenant. At that time, the Temple in Jerusalem was still standing, sacrifices still being made daily. But that physical Temple was soon to be torn down, “not one stone upon another” (Luke 21:6). Because of Jesus, God was building a “dwelling place” for His Spirit out of Believers – both Jew and Gentile:

“So then you (Gentiles) are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

The Book of Hebrews can help us grasp the foundational truth that Jesus Christ’s Priesthood was not only superior, but was the “ONLY WAY TO BE CLEANSED, FORGIVEN AND RESTORED!” The author of the book of Hebrews was addressing Jewish Christians. Under Judaism, the were given a “God-Ordained Priesthood” and “Sacrificial System” by Moses. They had been instructed by God through Moses how to construct the Temple, along with setting up an earthly Priesthood through the human descendants of Levi. Regarding their manmade priesthood, the Jews had been instructed by God to offer daily / yearly Sacrifices that would maintain a “temporary relationship with Him.” But the way into the “Holy place was still off limits” (Hebrews 10:20). These earthly sacrifices were never able to fully cleanse, forgive or restore us to fellowship with God, so He also gave them a “promise” that one was coming who would be a different kind of priest. This priest was not to be just a man who might live for 90 years and die – but this “one to come” would be eternal, so His sacrifice would not be imperfect and temporary, or need to be repeated over and over again. His sacrifice would be Perfect and Eternal, offered Once For All! These are the arguments from Hebrews!

“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names” (Hebrews 1:1-4).

There are two points that jump out at us from this first chapter of Hebrews. 1): While God did speak in the past through the prophets, in these last days He has SPOKEN TO US THROUGH HIS SON (Hebrews 1:2). This is reminiscent of the passage in Luke 9 and other places in the gospels, where God intervened in Jesus’ life with an audible voice from Heaven telling us: “This is My Son, the Chosen Messiah, I’ve vested ALL AUTHORITY IN HIM! Listen to My Son Jesus alone!” Whatever partial revelation God may have given through the prophets in the past under Judaism, was at best incomplete, just shadows of Jesus’ finished work to come. But now God says: “IN THESE LAST DAYS I AM SPEAKING TO MEN THROUGH MY SON!” He is the Final Authority to whom you must pay attention.” But point two is no less important: 2): “My Son Jesus is the Eternal High Priest who fully atoned for and provided purification for sin - once for all! And since Jesus, the High Priest of this New Covenant, has fully atoned for sin and offered a complete cleansing, He did something no Priest in Israel had ever done before: This Priest Sat Down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 1:3). He SAT DOWN BECAUSE HIS PRIESTLY SACRIFICE WAS FINISHED!

What makes the Book of Hebrews all the more relevant to our current discussion is that it addresses a people steeped in family and traditionthe very things that keep most Catholics, Orthodox and Mainline Christians from seriously considering the “supremacy of Christ and His Priesthood.” Make no mistake, it’s hard to go against our upbringing. The writer of Hebrews knew full well the temptation to follow one’s family traditions, and shows that he too was thoroughly steeped in Judaism and aware of the temptation. Like the 1st Century Jewish Christians he was addressing, “going back to Judaism” and abandoning their Christian Beliefs was not an option. In this case it is not a good thing to return to your roots – rather it’s like reverting to infancy – after being a full grown adult!

These weren’t just any ordinary 1st Century Jewish Believers living in the land of Palestine. No, these were most likely non-Palestinian Jewish Believers living in various parts of the Roman Empire. And what makes them of particular interest is, they had come under the teachings of the Old Testament – with all its rituals and sacrifices. But also, being removed from the land of Israel, they were being taught some radicalized beliefs that Jews living outside Palestine were prone to believe. Without getting too deep into particulars, let it suffice to point out that this group of Jewish Believers addressed by Hebrews, had been exposed to extra-biblical-writings common in their day. Note, if not for the discovery in Qumran in 1957 – often referred to as “The Dead Sea Scrolls,” we might never have known or understood the numerous references that the writer of the Book of Hebrews makes to “Angels,” or for that matter, why Hebrews devotes a whole chapter to an obscure character seen in Genesis 14:17-20 in the Old Testament, “Melchizedek.”

In the following weeks, I hope to cover the following exhortations – made by the writer of Hebrews:

  • Jesus’ ministry and Priesthood is superior to the revelations given by Angels – even those who gave us the Old Covenant – because Jesus was God the Son, and the Angels were God’s created messengers!

  • Jesus’ ministry as “the Son” was superior to the ministry of Moses, a faithful Servant. Moses knew there was a coming day when his role as law-giver would be replaced by a special prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15; Act 3:22).

  • Jesus’ Ministry and Priesthood are superior to the Old Covenant Priesthood, based on Aaron the Levite. Jesus’ Priesthood was based upon the “manner and type of Melchizedek,” that obscure character referenced above.

  • Jesus’ New Covenant, as promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34 is a superior covenant, based on better promises (Hebrews 8:6; 10:16). It’s a better covenant because it will be written on hearts and minds, not tables of stone.

  • So serious is the change to Jesus’ Priesthood and Ministry – the writer of Hebrews gives solemn warning to persevere in the faith. To those who want to go back to the shadows after having been enlightened by the Son, he warns them: “How shall we escape, if we ignore so great a Salvation.” (Hebrews 2:3).

I can’t say this too emphatically, the attraction to stay with what we’ve learned and grown up with is so strong, that the Holy Spirit inspired the writer of Hebrews to pen strong exhortations to those who would return to the old ways. The Jews to whom he was writing could easily have said: “But this was God’s revelation to our fathers, we are just obeying previous commands.” While this may sound reasonable, God’s revelation, speaking through Jesus Christ in “these last days,” changed everything. Trusting Jesus as your High Priest and the Mediator of the New and Better Covenant – is not optional! And trusting an earthly priest – who himself is a sinner – will have eternal consequences. My hope and prayers are that all my readers will consider the claims of Christ – especially made in this wonderful book of Hebrews. The writer uses the word better 15 times to urge us to continue with Jesus and His New and Better Covenant. Jesus is the substance, don’t go back to the shadows. Those shadows were “temporary things,” which have all been put away to allow Christ and His Glory to shine.

“In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13).

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