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Christ in the Hebrews - The Impressive Minister

By J. B. Hewitt
(From ‘Counsel’- November - December 1999)

Displacement marks this Epistle; “He taketh away the first that He may establish the second.” The new Priest has been installed (ch. 7).
This necessitates a new sanctuary (8:1-6); and a new covenant (8:7-12); then the priestly family and the new worshippers (chapters 9 and 10).

The Dignity of the Priest (v.1). Installed in majesty at God's right hand.
The Sanctuary for the priest (v. 2-5 a) heavenly, helpful, real and permanent.
The Ministry of the priest (v.3,4). Its necessity - “something to offer,” locality not earth (v.4a), its suitability “ordained” (v. 3a); its excellency (v. 6a).

The Better Covenant (vv. 7-13).
The limitations of the Old Covenant (vv. 6-9);
The satisfaction of the New Covenant (vv. 10-13).

A More Excellent Ministry (vv. 1-6)

The Superior Priest (v. 1). Here we pass from the consideration of the Person of the Priest and watch Him perfectly discharging the duties of His office in the new sanctuary.
The chief point is “we have such a high priest.”
He is infinitely above all other priests,

In position - “sat down,”
In dignity - “at the right hand,”
In authority - “at the throne of God,”
In supremacy - “The Majesty in the heavens.”

No other priest ever sat down in recognition of a finished work, nor had any the perfect right to this place of highest honour in heaven. His sitting down is an indication of His royal position; for He is a royal priest. He is the antitype of Meichisedec - thus combining in Himself the two offices of Priest and King.
The Sanctuary Perfect (v.2). This living High Priest is the administrator of the holy things in the real tabernacle in heaven. There He has a work to do corresponding with the spiritual dignity of His office, and He never fails to give us help. “The heavens” as referred to here, denote the eternal dwelling place of God Himself.
The word ‘minister’ signifies one who serves in an official capacity and it is used of the service of the priest of the sanctuary (Isa. 61:6; Jer. 33:21; Neh. 10:40). As there is only one Priest, Christ in heaven, so there is only one holy place, the heavenly sanctuary (v. 5;9:24). “True” - real abiding; opposed to that which was typical and temporary. His ministration there is more to us than all the old pompous ceremonies and services of the old economy. That perfection which the earthly tabernacle could never produce is reached here and in this tent God does really and personally dwell. (Acts 7:48; 17:48). In this tabernacle the Lord Jesus is not only High Priest but Mediator likewise uniting in His person the offices of Moses and of Aaron.
A Sacrifice Essential (v.3). The purpose of priesthood is to “offer gifts and sacrifices.” This was to be accomplished in and by Christ, which He did when He offered Himself (9:13,14). This theme is developed in chapter 9. “Gifts” covers all types of offerings presented to God; sacrifices, gifts in which an animal was slain.
Sphere of Priesthood (v.4). Heavenly not earthly. The teaching refers to Christ’s present ministry in the Sanctuary, and not to what He did on earth. ‘Sphere,’ not time or place is in view here. Seeing that God had vested the earthly priesthood in the tribe of Levi (Exodus 28:1); the Lord Jesus who belonged to the tribe of Judah (7:14); would not violate that order, and consequently could not be a priest on earth. His priesthood rnust needs be heavenly and eternal, being connected with the new covenant.
Superior Ministry (v.5,6). The quotation in verse 5, taken from Ex. 25:40, proves there is a real tabernacle in the unseen world of which the one that Moses built was a copy.
The Tabernacle in the wilderness was a figure of the way of access to God. The outer court represented the earth, and the holy place answered to heaven; the holiest of all corresponding to the heaven of heavens, the very presence of God Himself. The true tabernacle, the heavenly and the spiritual is designed and passed by God Himself. To go back to Judaism is to leave the substance for the shadows and this was retrogression not progress.
In contrast to the work of Aaron our Lord Jesus has a more excellent ministry; is the Mediator of a better Covenant giving to His own better promises. The superiority of His Priesthood is emphasized in the words “better” and “more excellent.”
May we heed the warning here and not be tempted to go back from the Priest in the true sanctuary to the priests in the copy of the true.
“‘In Him’ we have a present priesthood, which we are to appropriate (v.1). It is royal and ministerial (vv. 1 ,2), sacrificial (v.3), heavenly (v. 5), and perfect (v.6).” W.H. Griffith Thomas.

The More Embracing Covenant (verses 7-13)

From Christ’s Priestly acceptability (vv. 1 ,2); and activity (vv. 3-5); we turn to His Priestly assurance (vv. 6-9) and announcements (vv. 10-13).
Strictly the new covenant has application to Israel, but we have to read the spirit of it, we must be on the terms of the new covenant though not strictly under it. The covenant itself is made with Israel and Judah and will be under grace not law. It is a covenant of promise and the Son of God is the surety that the promises will be fulfilled (7:27).

Its Perfection Announced (vy. 6b-7).

God does everything in this new covenant. A covenant is a contrast in which each party lends himself to the other in certain conditions. The first covenant was not perfect (Ex. 24:7), its basis was the promises of man - “we will.” The second covenant is perfect, the basis of it being the promise of God “I will” (Jer. 31:34).
The character of the Priest gives superiority to the Covenant (ch. 7), but here it is the superiority of the Covenant which adds dignity to the Priesthood. Other contrasts might be noted; (ch. 7) Christ is Surety of a better Covenant; (ch. 8) He is the Mediator through whom all the terms of the Covenant are carried out.
The Old covenant though educative was impotent and temporary and its replacement is contemplated (v.7). The new covenant is redemptive, dynamic and eternal, its promise of spiritual blessings being the principle thing. The mind is directed to heaven, the heart is cheered with the hopes of immortal life.

Its Provision Adequate (vv. S-12).

It is promised by God (v.8), prophesied to be better (v.9), and providing fellowship with God for all (v.10).
The weakness is not with the old covenant but with the people (v.8). Their total depravity was brought out in their failure to keep the promises they rashly made. The law, revealing to man his sinfulness, was designed to be proparatory to the Gospel. God Himself set the old covenant aside because it was inadequate. In the new God is the principle party covenanting - “I will make” (v.8). His power and faithfulness are pledged to its fulfilment. Note this covenant is directly with the twelve tribes and does not apply to Christians today (v. 8b). We enjoy the spirit of it today, forgiveness from God and fellowship with God.. The new covenant is new in quality and in its scope, for it is going to unite that which had been divided and close the schisms.
What God promises He provides, for His promise is absolute. The new covenant is better because of its spirituality (v. 10), and its efficacy (v. 11), and its assurance of forgiveness (v.12).
The character of the covenant is stated negatively (v. 9), and positively (vv. 10-12). The effect produced will be permanent. The people of God will enjoy a deeper revelation, their understanding being enlightened - “My laws in their minds.” Their affections will be engaged - “My laws upon their hearts”; a new relation will be enjoyed. “I will be to them a God,” and their allegiance will be expressed in being - “to me a people.”
That coming day of blessing will also be marked by an intimate knowledge of the Lord - “from the least to the greatest,” an experience of unparalelled mercy - “be merciful” and assurance of free forgiveness (vv. 11 , 12).

Its Permanency Assured (v.13).

The old is obsolete and ready to vanish. The sacrificial system did indeed vanish away with the destruction of the temple in AD 70. This covenant is faultless and final, based as it is upon the complete redemption of Christ (10:15-17). “Near to disappearance,” this refers to that covenant and its outward administration - the temple, the priests and the order of approach to God.
The New will be permanent, for Jesus not Aaron is the Surety, the Guarantor from God’s side. He is also the Mediator, not Moses, for only our Lord Jesus could secure and bring to fruition the terms of the covenant. What, was prophetically foretold (Jer. 31:31-34), and historically fulfilled (Luke 22:20) and doctrinally expounded (Heb. 8:10-13), is absolutely guaranteed (v. 8).
May we appreciate this revelation of love and mercy (v. 12), of law and knowledge (vv. 10,11), and the realization of fellowship (vv. 11,12) and worship in the beauty of holiness within the veil.
By J. B. Hewitt
(From ‘Counsel’- November - December 1999 Used by Permission)

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