No One Until Jesus

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I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always.

1 Samuel 2:35 NIV

The role of the priests in the Old Testament were second to no one. They tended the tabernacle and eventually the temple. They were on the front lines of ministering to the LORD. They were both worship leaders and pastors. They were set apart from the rest of Israel just as Israel was to be set apart from the rest of the world. If Israel was to be God’s light to the world, the priests were to be God’s light to Israel.

I’m sure, just as many worship leaders and pastors are looked upon with great admiration in Christian churches worldwide, so to would with the priests of Israel. The role of the priest, in a far greater context, was to point to something greater than themselves. The entirety of their responsibilities were to align the people with the heart of God. They were to be both faithful witnesses of Who God is and mediators for all His broken followers. They were to be both leaders and servants. Leaders of a nation and servants of the Most High God.  This image of servant leadership also pointed to something, or someone, far greater than themselves. It was to be a mark of all those who claimed allegiance to Yahweh. And no one demonstrated it better than the Messiah.

The book of 1 Samuel was recorded between 931 and 722 B.C. The central figure of the book is non other than a prophet and priest named Samuel. For his entire life he walked in faithfulness to God and continually pointed Israel back to true worship and obedience. He was arguably one of the greatest figures of the Old Testament. But he too was human. And by extension, he was imperfect. If Samuel had been a perfect representation of the character and mission of God, there would have been no need for a future Messiah. The fact remains, all of the priests down through history have portrayed an imperfect image of our God. Except one. Over 700 years after Samuel, a new prophet and priest would arise. He was and is like no one else. His name – Yeshua (Jesus).

Since the children have flesh and blood, he (Jesus) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:14-17 NIV

Few books describe Jesus as our faithful High Priest quite like the book of Hebrews. Chapter two explains the reason why God put on flesh in the form of Jesus. It’s a powerful explanation of the need for a new High Priest to fill the role that all the priests before Him only pointed to. Jesus is a merciful High Priest, one Who has faced every form of temptation that you and me have battled with. He knows pain. He knows hardship. He knows homelessness and loss. He knows what it means to be without and to be forsaken by those close to Him. No one has ever experienced betrayal quite like Him. Despite all of this, Jesus was still perfect. His life was the model of servant leadership. Jesus walked in both humility and power. He showed us how true worship should look. And everything He did pointed people to God. Later in Hebrews it goes on to say this:

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

Hebrews 3:1-6 NIV

Moses set the bar for the priests who set the bar for Israel. Then came Jesus, Who set the bar for the world. When it comes to the priesthood, everyone who claims allegiance to Jesus is part of a kingdom of Priests (1 Peter 2:5). Jesus is our bar. Moses, who passed away, along with all other priests from history, have ceased to be priests. Jesus is the priest who continues forever.

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Hebrews 7:23-25 NIV

No priesthood was permanent, until Jesus. No priest could unite the nations, until Jesus. No priest could ever save a single soul, until Jesus. No priests could ever change the hearts of God’s children, until Jesus.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV

Peace in Christ, our Faithful High Priest, brothers and sisters!

Once and for All

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On the Biblical calendar exists one of the most distinguished days of the year. It’s called the Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement. This day falls on the tenth day of the seventh month (Tishrei not July). The Bible doesn’t operate on the Gregorian calendar that most of the world uses today because of the Roman Empire.  That’s why Yom Kippur can be in September or October depending on the year. This day is packed full of significance in terms of the Messiah. This is post number two from the book of Leviticus showing how the Messiah is revealed in the Old Testament. The first post looked at the process established for cleansing leprosy in chapter 14. Feel free to scroll back through my site for the posts out of Genesis and Exodus as well. If you’re joining us for the first time, welcome!

Sabbath

The Day of Atonement is regarded as the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”. The word sabbath means “rest” in it’s simplest terms. Sabbath was first practiced by God in the process of creation and then humanity was invited to follow suit. Yom Kippur would be a day unlike any other, where the people of God poured out their hearts, sang worship songs, praised, lamented, and more. Basically, anything that had nothing to do with a person’s relationship with God would be set aside in pure devotion. It was also seen as the day that people’s souls could find rest with God as the Atonement and repentance were done. The Messiah and Sabbath are incredibly connected. It is the Messiah who provides the ultimate rest for our souls and mends our relationship with God. That’s exactly what Jesus came to do.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

Atonement

The act of atonement is the idea of making full reparations for a wrong or injury. The wrong in this context is sin. The sins of the people needed to be paid for. The injury was dealt to God since sin is an offense towards Him as well as others who are hurt by our selfishness. While sin carries with it, often heavy consequences, every sinner has the hope of escaping the full wrath that their sin deserves. We can’t always escape the temporal effects of our sin, which makes it all that more important to try to live a God-honoring life. And a good Father would never spare us from all of the consequences of our bad choices. That’s how we grow. But a good Father does spare us from His wrath because His love is so much greater. In God’s economy, payment for sin would only be fully made through the Messiah.

He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

1 Peter 2:22-24 (ESV)

High Priest

It was the responsibility of the High Priest to carry out the service on the Day of Atonement. He made the sacrifice. He got blood on his hands. He prayed for the people. In a sense, the High Priest acted as a mediator between God and His people. The Messiah would step into this role upon His arrival. Only the Messiah would have to be a greater-than the high priest. Jesus Christ is called the Great High Priest because the sacrifice He made was greater than all of the sacrifice of the sacrificial system combined.

These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Hebrews 9:7-14 (ESV)

Scapegoat

While one goat was sacrificed, the other was taken outside the gate and released into the wilderness. Before this was done, all of the sins of Israel were confessed and figuratively laid on this animal. Of course, the goat couldn’t carry the sins of anyone. But this was a powerful image of innocence carrying the sins of the guilty. The Messiah would be someone without guilt but would be treated and punished as someone who was sinful. A scapegoat is an innocent person who takes the blame and punishment for the guilty party on themselves. That’s exactly what Yeshua (Jesus) did for humanity.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

It is Finished

This day atoned for the sins of the people for the year. It would have to be repeated each year at the same time. The nation of Israel would spend an entire day repenting for sins known and unknown, for themselves and for those they knew. It was a day that many would both dread and rejoice over. It is a day to remember the price for sin as well as the goodness of God to make a way for our sins to be atoned for. The Messiah’s atoning sacrifice resembles that in all ways but one. His death on the cross should be both a dreadful moment for Christians, as well as a sacrifice that causes rejoicing. Remembering our Savior on the cross should lead every Christian into heartfelt repentance. Because it was our sin that put the Messiah there. Hebrews chapter 10 is a great description of the Messiah’s sacrifice in comparison with that of the Day of Atonement.

 …we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:10 (ESV)