Christ in Hebrews
Considering we have a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near! Thank God for the perfect, enduring, intercessory work of our Great High Priest. As the merciful and faithful High Priest, He is the One who forgives, restores and keeps us. See Hebrews 2:17, Isaiah 40:11, and Psalm 23. Melchizedek brought bread and wine to strengthen Abraham. [Quote 2 Tim. 4:16-17, “At my first trial no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: […] Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.”]
The Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:10)
This golden altar is a type of Christ, our intercessor. Upon this altar, the High Priest offered incense. It was his duty to keep the fire burning and to offer the incense continually. Christ is prefigured in the altar. The incense represents the prayers of the saints. See Revelation 5:8 and Revelation 8:2-4.
Aaron offered the incense upon the altar. When the incense fell upon the hot coals, a beautiful aroma filled the Holy Place. As priests, we offer our prayers. Then Christ, our Great High Priest, takes our prayers and our worship and presents them to the Father in all the value and fragrance of His person and work.
To all of our prayers and praises,
Christ adds His sweet perfume,
and love the censer raises,
its odors to consume.
The burning of the incense was to be continual. See Exodus 30:8. In a similar way, the intercession of our Lord is perpetual - “he ever liveth to make intercession for us.”
Jesus, the Christ
Our Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25)
Christ is able to save to the uttermost, because he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” To intercede means to present a petition – to pray. He prays for those who are his. What an amazing thought! Oh the grief – pitfalls – heartaches – sins – and sickness that has by-passed us, because our great High Priest has prayed for us. Consider Peter as an example – “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” See Luke 22:31-32. In summary, we have a great High Priest in heaven, who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, who can have compassion on the ignorant, and who can bring back those who have fallen by the wayside. “Therefore lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees – and walk paths glorifying unto the Lord.
Our Great High Priest (Hebrews 3:1)
To introduce the subject, we must consider the Aaronic priesthood. God ordained Aaron and his family to be priests. See Exodus 28:1. Aaron was the High Priest and his sons were priests. Nadab – Abihu – Eleazar – Ithamar – The tribe of Levi was the priestly tribe. They did the work in and around the Tabernacle; they dismantled it, carried it and assembled it.
The Aaronic Priesthood (Hebrews 5:1-2)
- The High Priest was ordained by God, and set apart for man to do the things of God.
- He is to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
- He is to have compassion on the ignorant and upon those who have fallen by the wayside.
- Aaron ceased to be a priest at death (Hebrews 7:23).
- On the Day of Atonement, Aaron did not leave the brazen altar until after the death of the victim. Then he took the blood in a basin and entered through the veil into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood on the horns of the altar as a sin offering. See Leviticus 18:10-14.
- He was ordained of God (Psalm 110:4).
- Christ became a priest after his death (Hebrews 7:24-25).
- A perfect picture of the Lord Jesus, describing His person and work, is found in Hebrews 9:26. “Once in the end of the age hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
- After Christ offered Himself on the cross, He left the altar and in resurrection glory entered through the veil into heaven itself. [Quote Hebrews 9:12, 24.]
- Consider the following passages of Scripture:
Hebrews 5:10, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 10:12, “But this man after he had offered one sacrifice for sin forever, sat down […].”
Hebrews 4:5, “He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, he was tempted in all points [...].”
The scope of Christ’s priesthood is eternal in its duration and worldwide in its application. Aaron’s ministry was limited in scope. It was exclusively for Israel. Christ’s high priestly ministry, on the other hand, extends to all God’s people regardless of ethnicity, color, culture, language, or nation. Hebrews 7:24-25 says, “He is able to save to the uttermost – because he hath an unchanging priesthood and ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Romans 5:10 says, “We shall be saved by his life.” We are thus reconciled by his death, but saved by his life. Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”