Thursday, March 31, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews-- Lesson 12

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

It's Time to Take Notice

To continue a bit with last lesson's theme, I want to re-visit some verses and add one more:

Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; (Hebrews 2:17-3:1, NASB 95)

A priest is one who intercedes with God on behalf of others--and the Writer will have much to say about this later. For now, however, I want you to look at these verses relating the reaction of the children of Israel to the arrival of God on Mt. Sinai:

All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance.

Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die."

Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin."

So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was. (Exodus 20:18-21)

Here is the start of the Old Covenant and before Jesus made propitiation for sin. At that point in time, to see God was to become aware of personal sin and a perceived lack of remedy. In other words, the presence of God seemed like a harbinger of death. Moses, then, became like a priest shuttling between the people and God. Jesus, who took on our flesh and blood, has made a complete propitiation and by that we have inherited a great salvation. And now we see him as a "faithful and merciful high priest." And because He took on humanity, He really knows about our temptations and is able-because He still lives-to help us when we are tempted.

The Son, through all things were created, is also an Apostle and the High Priest of a new confession. The Writer, again, makes an appeal to his people to come to know this truth: "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus..." By "holy brethren" he means all the children of Israel, set apart by the calling of the patriarchs and all partakers of God's calling on His chosen people. The Writer asks them to "consider" Jesus. He wants them to look again at this man and what he means. In effect the Writer by this word "consider" is about to put Jesus on display and will compare Him to the great pillars of Judaism: Moses, the Priesthood, and the Covenant.

He begins with Moses:

He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. (Hebrews 3:2-4)

The full impact of what the Writer says here comes from understanding how great is the deserved esteem of Moses. Deuteronomy closes with this obituary:

Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, for all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land, and for all the mighty power and for all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)

This prophet, like none other in Israel's history, has a glory like a grand house. Jesus' glory is now compared to the one who designed, built, and owns the house.

More next time.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.


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