Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV) 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Yesterday we looked at the High Priest in the life of Israel. We found that the High Priest was far more important than the King or even the prophet. The High Priest was the main person responsible for maintaining Israel’s covenant relationship with God. Without the Law of Moses, the Aaronic Priesthood and the High Priest in particular, they would not have been able to maintain that relationship.
We all understand the need for good government. As Christians, we want the Word of the Lord to keep us on the right track. The Prophetic voice is certainly important. What we do not understand is the need for the priestly ministry.
There is an interesting period in Israel’s history called the book of Judges. The key phrase of this book is found in the last verse.
Judges 21:25 (NKJV) 25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
This might be the cry of many in our day. “We do not need some religious standard. Each person should just do what is right!” That works out well as long as what I consider right does not interfere with what you consider right. Israel found that each man doing what was right according to his own standard, led to instability, sin and bondage.
It would seem that the lack of a king had to be the problem. However, we find that in the book of First Samuel when they asked for a King, God said that getting one would be the worst thing that could happen to them. He wanted to be their King. He wanted to determine what was right. What was it that caused them to be unable to submit to God as their King?
We find the answer in the beginning of the book of 1 Samuel.
1 Samuel 2:12 (NKJV) 12 Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD.
Why were the sons of Eli corrupt? They were corrupt because Eli, the High Priest, was corrupt. He did not do his job therefore the people of Israel were not able to function with God as their King. They were not in proper standing with the covenant.
Samuel was one of the most powerful figures in the bible because he was both a prophet and the High Priest of Israel. As long as he was in power, the people served God. Even though they got their King, Samuel was the one who caused them to walk right before God and the covenant.
I grew up Catholic. In that system, the role of the priest is more like it was in the days of Israel. In order to be forgiven of sin I had to go to confession. I confessed my sins to a priest who then gave me penance to do. Once I had done my penance, usually a series of repeated prayers, I was granted absolution. My soul was considered clean until I sinned again.
Though I mean no disrespect to the Catholic denomination, I do not believe that is biblical. One of the main differences between Judaism and Christianity is the personal relationship we all enjoy with Jesus. He took away our sins by shedding his blood. When I sin, I need only go to him, confess my sin and he is faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me of unrighteousness. We no longer need a human mediator. (1 Timothy 2:5)
That does not mean that we do not need a High Priest. The Priestly ministry in Israel is what kept them walking right before the Lord. We are also a covenant people. When we are right with the covenant we are right with God and will be able to partake of his benefits. It is the High Priest of our lives that will help us live in right relationship with the New Covenant.
The ministry of any priest is connected with holiness. Holiness is vital to our walk with God because it keeps us in the covenant. He is Holy, and he expects us to be holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16) The priesthood led by the High Priest was the key to maintaining holiness for Israel. Our High Priest does the same for us.
Who is our High Priest? His name is Jesus. He is a perfect High Priest. He is able to keep us right with God because he is still ministering to the Father for us. Look at Hebrews 7:22-25.
Hebrews 7:22-25 (NKJV) 22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. 23 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
The bible says that Jesus is the surety of a better covenant. One of the reasons it is better is that we have a better High priest. He never changes. His reign does not end as did that of the High Priests of Israel. Some of them were good and some were bad. Our High Priest is perfect, and he will remain our High Priest throughout eternity.
Verse 25 is powerful. Because he is an eternal and perfect High Priest, he is able to save us to the uttermost because he is actively making intercession for us. The implication is that without the High Priestly ministry of Jesus, we would not be “saved to the uttermost.” What does being saved to the uttermost mean? Look at verse 25 in the Amplified Bible.
Hebrews 7:25 (AMP) 25 Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.
He is able to save us completely, perfectly and finally or for all eternity because he is our High Priest interceding for us at the right hand of the Father. There are no limits to our salvation. More important, there are no limits to what our salvation can do in us.
We think that our background or even our current weakness limit what God can do in our lives. That is not true. We have an active High Priest who is praying for us and working in us to help us overcome our limitations. We do not have to be limited in our salvation because he is not limited as our High Priest. I do not fully understand this, but that is what the bible says.
We need Jesus’ High Priestly ministry in our lives. We look to many other things as answers to our problems. Like Israel, we may look to politics. They wanted a king. We want a president who fits our agenda. We think that will solve our problems. We may look to economic prosperity, education and social reform to change our culture and our lifestyle.
None of those things will bring the change we need. We need the ministry of our High Priest. Then we will walk right with God and the Covenant. Then we will rise up as the Body of Christ and use his power to change the world.