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Wednesday: The New Covenant-High Priest — 22 Comments

  1. As is often the case, when we are asked to read a verse or three in the lesson study, the previous verses to the suggested passage often provide context that contributes to its understanding. Hebrews 7 provides the context, where Paul is making the case for Jesus being our high priest.

    The "Kohen" priesthood was essentially an inherited position. They had to belong to the tribe of Levi. It was a bit like the British Monarchy. If you are not part of the royal family you haven't even got the ghost of a chance of becoming the monarch. (nowadays ists all show and not much ruling.) Hebrews 7 goes to great lengths to point out that Jesus did not inherit the position but was of the order of Melchizedek and did not need to have the appropriate genealogy to take the position. It was in fact a special argument crafted for the Hebrews, who rested very much on the status quo and tradition. Paul was arguing that right at the very roots of their nation, Melchizedek was a priest who did not have the position due to ancestry. And in a sense represented a priestly work that was timeless.

    Hebrews 8 continues that argument. Paul makes the point that the Hebrew priesthood was really just an illustration of the real work of the heavenly high priest, Jesus.

    Unfortunately, the lesson this week skips over the rest of Hebrews 8, which I think is where this whole argument is leading. Read some of the rest of the chapter here:

    But this is the new agreement I will make with the people of Israel, says the Lord: I will write my laws in their minds so that they will know what I want them to do without my even telling them, and these laws will be in their hearts so that they will want to obey them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. And no one then will need to speak to his friend or neighbor or brother, saying, ‘You, too, should know the Lord,’ because everyone, great and small, will know me already. And I will be merciful to them in their wrongdoings, and I will remember their sins no more.” Heb 8:10-12 TLB Emphasis, mine

    That is the work of the heavenly high priest.

    [I will be travelling for the next couple of days so may not have the time to comment. Maurice]

    • Hi Maurice, enjoy your trip. I feel that I can wish, or send up a prayer, for your safe journeys, because I feel like I know you personally. You are a storyteller, and express yours thoughts and ideas about the Sabbath school lessons as I would if I had the time, in ways that the “typical” Christian may not. I like people that think outside of the box; our Christian experience is not all Black and White, or the Letter. We may never meet face to face, because we live too far from each other (I live in the U.S.), but you have a kindred friend on the other side of the world. God’s blessings to you and your family during and after your journey. You will be missed here as well. (And take time to have a little fun too; Jesus often spoke on the subject of weddings, because He know that was/is a place where almost everyone could had a joyful experience!)

  2. Hebrews 9 and 10 speaks of Jesus has entered the most Holy Place, and we are welcome with Him through his sacrifice. As the curtain was torn from the top to the bottom at His death on the cross, as he entered the Most Holy place to take away our sins.

  3. God's way/s of being - and therefore doing - are 'higher'/different than our ways (Isaiah 55:8,9). So how is God going to try and help us grow in our 'understanding'(ie, experiential knowing) of these (Jeremiah 9:24)?

    Teachers are faced with this situation all the time. One of the key/core principles underpinning teaching is to start with where the student is at and progressively bridge from the known to the unknown. Where did such wisdom come from?

    This is precisely what God has been doing throughout history and therefore this is also reflected throughout scripture. What does scripture employ to help us progress from the known to the unknown - "symbols", "images" and "shadows". But we need to be aware that these are metaphors and therefore seek to learn/know the reality to which they are leading us.

    For example, as today's lesson point out, the sacrificial animal's shed blood was a metaphor for the true Redeemer's shed blood. But even the phrase Redeemer's shed blood is metaphorical. It is not Jesus literal blood that literally 'cleanses', somehow magically turning crimson and scarlet into white as snow/wool (Isaiah 1:18) - it is the actual reality that Jesus shed-blood represents that does the Redeeming.

    So, what is the reality that Jesus shed-blood represents? Invite the Holy Spirit to guide your 'research' and reflection (1 Corinthians 2:14; John 16:13).

    (If you find yourself stuck: you could follow the trail from Leviticus 17:11 to John 15:13 to Philippians 2:5-8 linked with Psalm 51:10).

    Today's lesson also quotes Hebrews 2:3. If this verse is literal, then the 'true tabernacle' in heaven is a tent that was put up by God (this is what the Greek word for "pitched" literally means). Or is this description metaphor for something much 'bigger' - not in terms of a bigger literal building but in terms of a bigger Redemptive (ongoing) 'process'/experience?

    Incase I am misunderstood, all of the above is not about becoming more 'doctrinally clever' or 'theologically accurate'. It is about allowing God to progressively open our eyes to who He really is and what He is really about - so that we might be actually progressively transformed into His beneficent likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).

    • Well argued, Phil van der Klift, attempting to leave room for the creator to work out His unlimited work of salvation. However, a question is lingering within my mind: Is the heavenly sanctuary to be understood not in "terms of a literal building but in terms of a bigger redemptive (ongoing) process/experience" --- and if so, what about the description of the heavenly sanctuary as God`s much bigger creation as men`s creation of a tent? (Hebrews 9:11) I refuse to believe that the material reality of the heavenly sanctuary as well as the material realtiy of the heavenly Jerusalem has vanished in order to take the form of a salvation historical process of some kind of a bigger experience.

      Suppose, there is no sanctuary as a real created building; were and how does Christ minister? A Priest always ministers in a sanctuary. These are only questions coming up in my mind.

      Winfried Stolpmann

      • Hi Winfried

        Yes, it is hard to think/imagine beyond what we are familiar with.

        There is a progression across scripture that might give you some insight. In the Old Testament there were various physical representations called sanctuaries. First there was the portable tent version. Then there was Solomon’s fixed temple. And after its destruction, there was the lesser Jerusalem 'rebuild' version of the temple. Each of these were physical ‘the tabernacle/sanctuary’ that we’re trying to teach the concept of God tabernacling or sanctuarying (dwelling) with humanity.

        Then in the New Testament, we have Immanuel - God with us - in the person of Jesus. Recall Jesus statement in John 2:19-21 where Jesus referred to destroying and rebuilding the temple in 3 days - a statement and concept that even His disciples had difficulty comprehending until later because they were thinking of 'the temple' only as a literal building.

        And then consider 1 Peter 2:5 where the temple and priesthood is no longer literal priests ministering in a literal building - but all believers carrying out a ‘priestly’ role in the way they lived their daily lives.

        So we have a progression from Old Testament literal priests ministering in literal buildings (for the purpose of metaphorically introducing a not yet understood reality) to the New Testament where that reality is being undertaken apart from literal priests ministering in literal buildings.

        Hebrews (written during the same New Testament period) reflect this progression - from types/patterns/shadows that are literal yet metaphorical representations of greater realities - but which subsequently ‘graduate’ to the actual manifestation of those realities (that transcend the former literal representations instituted as the starting point of the progression).

        • Amen, Phil! Your response to Winfried aligns with the apostles' teachings in Acts 15:14-17.

          The apostle James (Act 15:13) is endorsing the content of the apostle Peter's address in Acts 15:7-11. James, in turn, quotes the prophet Amos (Amos 9:11-12) and applies the rebuilding of the "tabernacle of David" (Act 15:16 (NKJV) to the selection of a special group of PERSONS (Act 15:14) for a SPECIFIC purpose (Act 15:17). The literal wilderness sanctuary (Ex 25:8-9), as well as David/Solomon's literal temple (1 Chr 22:2-5...itself a beautiful metaphor!), were therefore "patterns" of the ACTUAL (Heb 9:11,24) which were cleansed by Christ's blood for the purpose of service (Heb 9:23,14). The apostles' teachings in Acts 15:14-17 were the continuation of the fulfillment of prophecy (Zech 6:12-13; 8:20-23; Isa 56:3-8) begun by the High Priest Himself (Mt 16:18; Act 3:24-26; Heb 2:3).

          Phil, in the seventh paragraph of your original post (6/8/21) you quoted Heb 2:3. I'm pretty sure you intended Heb 8:2-3.

  4. Thank God for Jesus's priesthood ministry! Only He is really able to intercede on our behalf before God! Because we are totally unfit. Even though our behavior can become an attempt to demonstrate devotion, the fact is that we are sinners, and the result of our work can only be sanctified by the unique highpriest that offered Himself to be our representant! An offer of LOVE! Jesus is at the same time our friend, Savior, and lawyer before God!

    • I wonder if doctrine is still saying Jesus entered the most Holy Place in 1844, as in Hebrews, 8,9, 10 He entered it and we through his sacrifice, after he died on the cross.

  5. After meditating on today's study guide two thoughts came to mind.

    Jesus Christ's High Priestly ministry is to reconcile us to the Father so we are no longer at enmity with Him, not the other way round. 2Cor 5:19.

    Secondly it is a two step process, first He cleanses us from our sins by His blood and then transforms our hearts and minds to be in His image by His Holy Spirit. 1John 1:7,9; Rom 8:29-30

  6. What then? are we better that they? No, in no wise; for we have before prove both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written.......not one. Rom 3:9-12.

    The 'Old covenant'
    Animal sacrifices for the purpose of pointing us to Jesus which was to come to redeem men from sin. It could not save them but whosoever believed in him by faith they were cleansed and counted worthy.

    The 'New covenant'
    Jesus sacrifices for the purpose of John 3:16-17. that whosoever believed in him by faith we are cleansed and counted worthy.
    What does 'believed in him by faith' meant.
    1. Love the Lord with every aspect of our well being and our neighbor as our self. As we grow to love him, he gives us Rom 3:22-26.
    2. Rom 10:9-10.
    This same Jesus is interceding to his and our Father so our sins can be blotted out. At the cross he saved us but our sins were not blotted out. He is also sealing us with his signature.
    A new heart and a new mind.

  7. Jesus' life on earth fulfilled the courtyard types only. Upon His ascension to heaven, He took up the role of the high priest in the heavenly sanctuary. When He said "it is finished" on the cross, He was speaking only of His sacrifice of life for a fallen world.

    "Study for today Hebrews 8:1–6."

    In this passage Paul continues to try and convince the Jews that Jesus IS the fulfillment of the types given through Moses. Aaron and his sons have all died, but Jesus lives forever, and instead of incense, offers His righteousness on behalf of the praying saints(Rev 8:3,4). The promise of the types is now a living reality and soon the work of Jesus will be complete.

    In regard to the quarterly comment, animals were never our substitute, but only served to illustrate the Lamb of God, as does the bread and wine today. Sinners have always been saved “by grace through faith” since Eden.

    "All this was done in order to save you from the terrible, final results of sin."

    Jesus will save us from sin TODAY, not just from the “terrible, final results of sin” in the judgment. If not saved today, we will fail to meet the standard in the judgment(Eccl 12:13,14). In Jesus' letters to the churches(Rev 2-3), only "him that overcomes" receives the promises of acquittal and eternal life. Many members today still believe sin will have power over God's people until Jesus comes, which is not a Bible teaching. Do not allow failures to discourage, but trust in our blessed Savior and "fight the good fight of faith". The Word of God admonishes us that "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and Godly in this present world..."(Titus 2:12), and by "the power of God unto salvation"(Rom 1:16), He is able "to keep you from falling"(Jude 1:24).

  8. Oh, my Precious! A delightful memory of pink rubbery arms and chubby legs. Of startling blue eyes and a stuffed fabric chest. A gift from my Mother. She fit in my arms as though she were meant to be there always. How I cradled her, changed her clothing, made sure she had enough make believe milk , perhaps a taste of a freshly baked mud pie, and of course, sufficient rest. As her ‘mother’, I surely knew how to care for my baby.
    I knew Precious wasn’t a ‘real’ baby, but she was real, nonetheless…at least to me. The pain of leaving her behind in California so many years ago is still a memory, though not a sharp and painful one. Perhaps she represented my future. The children I would have many years later. Flesh and blood children who would require all the real care that the make believe depictions had promised.
    Perhaps it was a bit like that , I mused. The wilderness sanctuary, it’s sacrifices and rituals were promises of things to come and were in their sphere ‘real’ representations of what the future held for them and for us. It was with gentle reverence that I can imagine the High Priests and daily attending priests cared for the utilities: the horns of the altar, the censor, the ladle, the bowls, etc. Perhaps it was with the keenest sense of promised reality that the incense was manufactured..a one of a kind fragrance. It was their promise of things to come. A reminder of a meaningful present. It was, I imagine, Precious to them , their gift from God.

  9. I do not think that our God *relies* on blood-sacrifices to make things right between Him and mankind; especially not a human sacrifice as He has always condemned those ritualistic killings done on behalf of heathen gods.
    I am very concerned that, as long as we depict Him in this fashion, no one will trust Him or want to have anything to do with this kind of a God.
    Studying the Scriptures, it is my opinion that man’s iniquities/sin put Christ Jesus on the Cross, not God the Father nor Christ Jesus. The Father’s Will allowed man's iniquity/sin to take its course to the very end to demonstrate His Power of Life over death to all who were watching.

    His Son, our Savior Christ Jesus agreed with the Father to give His life to demonstrate publicly, for the all the worlds to see, that His Father has this Power to bring man's spirit back to life.
    With this sacrifice, His willingness to demonstrate the Father’s re-creative power of Life over death, He also established the validity of the blueprint for living a righteous life, His *Ministry of Life by Faith in the Word of God*, for man to live their lives by with the Holy Spirit as their constant companion to point out the “Way of Truth and Light”.

    The Life is in the Blood – what does this mean?
    Lev.17:11KJV - ”For the life [or vital portion] of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the alter to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”
    Are we to understand that the physical blood provides atonement?
    Why were the sacrificial animals to be without blemish, pure?
    Does the physical blood contain something that can be considered pure or defiled?
    How does the ‘blood of Christ Jesus’ - pure and undefiled - atone for our sins?

    Matt.26:28KJV - ”For this is my blood of the new testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
    What is this ‘shed blood’ representative of?
    Does it represent the *life-giving spirit of the living God* now available to live in us – Love, Justice, Mercy, Grace, Truth, Faith - the Righteousness of God?
    Does it point toward the new Covenant of Faith based on the spirit of the Father’s Image as demonstrated by His Son?
    Does living by this Covenant ‘cleanse us of all unrighteousness’ – making us - our ‘blood’, our spirit - pure as we live according to the spirit/will of God?

    Heb.8:5-6KJV – He has “obtained a more excellent ministry, in asmuch as He is also Mediator [Facilitator] of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
    Would you consider that Christ Jesus, the believer's 'Priest in heaven', cleanses our ‘blood’ – purifying the soul – with the Holy Spirit guiding our *walk of faith* to sanctify us?

    “Facilitation” is the use of a neutral third party to help multi-party groups accomplish the content of their work by providing process leadership and expertise.
    “Mediation” is the use of a neutral third person to help parties reach a voluntary resolution of a dispute. (Land for Good.org)

  10. I found the third sentence in the first paragraph confusing: “The priest ministered the blood in the sanctuary on behalf of the sinner after the sacrifice itself was killed.” Leviticus 4 clearly stipulates that the blood of the sacrifice for a leader or a common person is applied only to the horns of the altar of burnt offering. It never enters the sanctuary. It is only for the sin of the high priest or the congregation that blood is applied to the horns of the altar of incense in the most holy place.

    Further, the sanctuary services centered around atonement and this aligns with God’s stated purpose of dwelling among his redeemed people. God’s sacrifice is the means by which atonement is made. The sanctuary economy, which involved the blood of animal sacrifices, was the means by which God preached the gospel to his redeemed people in type. Specifically, no one can be truly devoted to God, no one can have true fellowship with God and man, no one can be truly free from guilt, and no one can have true freedom from sin, except through the atonement made with the shed blood of God’s sacrifice.

    The gospel is all about atonement with God through his Messiah.

    • What about Lev 4:6,7,17,18; 6:30? The truth is that Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary to mediate for sinners before God, and with the types, this is demonstrated in some of the ritual offerings, but not all. It was the accumulation of this ritual in the sanctuary that led to the day of atonement and cleansing of the sanctuary every year(Lev 16). On that day alone was the blood brought into the most holy place.

      • I discovered the Word of the LORD reveals another way that guilt is taken into the Tabernacle it is via the priests themselves, the guilt was transferred to them and then to the sanctuary. In addition we discover that the courtyard of the tabernacle was considered holy.
        Ex 28:36-38
        36You are to make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal:
        37Fasten to it a blue cord to mount it on the turban; it shall be on the front of the turban. 38And it will be worn on Aaron’s forehead, so that he may bear the iniquity of the holy things that the sons of Israel consecrate with regard to all their holy gifts. It shall always be on his forehead, so that they may be acceptable before the LORD.
        Lev 10:17-18
        17“Why didn’t you eat the sin offering in the holy place? For it is most holy; it was given to you to take away the guilt of the congregation by making atonement for them before the LORD. 18Since its blood was not brought inside the holy place, you should have eaten it in the sanctuary area, as I commanded.
        Lev 6:24-26
        And the LORD said to Moses, 25“Tell Aaron and his sons that this is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, the sin offering shall be slaughtered before the LORD; it is most holy. 26The priest who offers it shall eat it; it must be eaten in a holy place, in the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting.

        • Hello Shirley,

          It looks to me like you agree that the author of the lesson is mistaken in his assumption that the sin of a leader or common person enters the sanctuary through the application of blood from the sacrifice. So you are proposing “another way” that this occurs instead.

          You first cite Exodus 28:36-37. In its context, many Christian scholars (and I) would interpret this portion of scripture to mean the plate with the inscription “Holiness to the Lord” is an expression of intent for the way all of the things the people are offered. Note: This part of the Law applies to gifts, not sacrifices.

          The need for this is clear to anyone who makes an offering to the Lord. Even if it is the best we have, it will be imperfect when compared with the Almighty. Even if it is offered with the best of intentions, these will be flawed by human imperfections in character. (This is the “iniquity” – poorly translated by the NKJV – that is meant in the verse.) But the Lord through our High Priest recognizes that what we offer is done with the best of intentions in “Holiness to the Lord.

          So your citation of Exodus 28:36-37 does not look like it is applicable.

          In your other citations (Leviticus 10:17-18; 6:24-26), please note the sin offering is “most holy.” This begs the question: Can what is considered “most holy” by the Lord be tainted with sin, that is, sinful? Can that Lord consider sin and sinfulness to be “most holy.” I think not.

          The sin offering is related to atonement. The Hebrew word for atonement (Strong’s 3722) literally means to cover with tar (bitumen). Anyone who has worked with tar understands very clearly that once it has adhered to something, it is incredibly difficult to remove. The idea here is that once our sin is covered (in a metaphorical sense) by God’s tar (forgiveness), it has been so blotted out that it is unrecoverable. It is on this basis that the sinner is reconciled back to God. By this metaphorical analogy, sin is blotted out by atonement, not transferred.

          I appreciate your effort to help me understand the lesson author’s point, but I am still not seeing how sin gets into the sanctuary by the rituals God instituted. As mentioned in my reply to Robert Whiteman, I detail my confusion with the lesson author’s assertion in Monday’s lesson as well. You might want to take a look at my post.

      • Thank you for responding to my post.

        All of the verses you cite from Leviticus 4 refer only to sin of the high priest or of the whole congregation. The blood of the sacrifice for sin of a leader or a common person was applied only to the horns of the altar of burnt offering (Leviticus 4:25,34). There is nothing in Leviticus 4 I could find that indicates the blood of their sacrifice was brought into the holy place. Your citation of Leviticus 6:30 simply states (in context) that no priest was permitted to eat the flesh of a sin offering for a high priest or the congregation because some of its blood was brought into sanctuary.

        There was a whole list of things that do not add up in Monday's lesson, as well. You can see my comment there. I am hoping for help to resolve these issues.


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