The Better Covenant (Conclusion)
The Hebrew writer contrasts the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ. Last week we made the point that contrasting is a way to see the differences in two or more things. It does not imply that one is totally worthless, but one is seen as better or superior to the other. We saw the differences in the ability of the Law of Christ to forgive sins, whereas the Law of Moses could not. Also, Moses was a servant of God, but Jesus is the Son of God. We want to continue our study.
The High Priest
"For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also best by weakness" (Hebrews 5.1-2). Aaron was the first high priest, but was not the last. His son, Eleazar succeeded him, Phinehas succeeded Eleazar, and so it went throughout every generation. The law used this fact in regards to those who fled to the city of refuge, read Numbers 35.28.
Today, we have a High Priest who will never be replaced or changed. "But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood" (7.24). He will always be there for us, always making intercession on our behalf.
Besides the weakness of physical death, the Levitical priests had a problem with sin. Before they could offer up sacrifices on behalf of the people, they had first to make atonement for their own sins. "Take for yourself a young bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the Lord" (Leviticus 9.2). After Aaron made atonement for himself, he could make atonement for the people.
In Christ, we have a High Priest that is perfect. He withstood the temptations of the flesh. The lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life (see 1 John 2.15-17) were presented to Christ, yet He never sinned, Hebrews 4.15. "For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s" (7.26-27a). One advantage is that we have a High Priest that is worthy of approaching God on our behalf.
Another difference is when they could approach God. Once a year, the high priest could enter the holy of holies, the inner part of the tabernacle. There he would make atonement for the sins of the children of Israel, Leviticus 16.31-34. Christ, on the other hand, stands "in the presence of God continually for us" (9.24b).
Bezaleel and Aholiah were chosen by God to oversee the building of the tabernacle, the ark, and everything connected with them, Exodus 31. Therefore, those items were made with the hands of men and could be destroyed by those same hands. As beautiful and magnificent as the tabernacle must have been, it was only a symbol on earth of the tabernacle of God in heaven. "For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself" (9.24a).
The glory and beauty of our heavenly home greatly outshines anything on earth. Also, this meant the priest ministered here, but Christ ministers in the very presence of God. "We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man" (8.1-2).
The sacrifices made by the priest were on a continual basis. Each and every day a burnt offering was made in the morning and evening. On the Sabbath an additional two lambs were offered, in addition to other sacrifices offered on the first of each month, Numbers 28.1-15).
"And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins" (10.11). The reason for the daily, monthly, and yearly sacrifices was because they could not take away sin. They could only delay the inevitable consequences of it —separation from God.
As Christ died on the cross, He fulfilled the debt of sin. His death was "once for all" (9.12), "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (10.10); "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (10.4). I am amazed by the Catholic doctrine that Christ dies again each time we observe the Lord’s Supper. It is not true. He died once and that was enough. The reason is that His sacrifice was the perfect sacrifice. He was "without spot" (9.12). His blood brings about the remission of sins. Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin" (10.18).
Today we have a better covenant in that we have a law that is perfect, the Son of God as the Lawgiver, a High Priest without weakness, and a heavenly tabernacle. We have the blessings of true forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God. — Dennis Tucker