This morning, as I awoke I heard a song playing in my head...
"In the morning when I rise....
in the morning when I rise...
in the morning when I rise....
Give me Jesus...
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world
but give me Jesus."
What an amazingly wonderful way to wake up!
Jesus! He is exalting himself in my life-I'm learning more about Him and what He means for me and to me, to us all...and I'm so thankful.
I've been reading through Hebrews for my quiet times and I'll tell you-it is not easy reading! But yet the truth's therein are so powerful and life changing. I've had to go back and read and re-read many portions-and as of late-I've been reading over and over about Jesus' priesthood and the old covenant and the new covenant.
I'd like to share with you some of what I've learned-I've found it to be profoundly comforting. I will share both what I've learned and pictures of baby Samuel. Please, if any of you amazing Bible scholars find any error-bring it my attention. I have made every effort to stay strictly Biblical in what I share-not my opinions-just what I've read and put some of it in "layman's" terms. As well as shared some of my own personal applications.
(from Hebrews ch.7) The Levitical priesthood was through the "order" of Aaron-all the priests descended from Aaron. In this priesthood the people were given the law. That was one of the duties of the priests...they taught the law, offered sacrifices for the people's sins, maintained the tabernacle and the temple as well as a few other duties.
Jesus' priesthood was through the "order" of Melchizedek-who was the King of Jerusalem and the High Priest. With this change of the order of the priesthood came a change of law since perfection could not be attained through the Levitical priesthood. Bottom line-the people couldn't obey-so the priest had to repeatedly make sacrifices for himself and the people-year after year after year. So the Levitical priesthood had to be set aside because it was "weak and useless for the law made nothing perfect" (Hebrews 7:18)
So, in the order of Melchizedek, Jesus became our high priest-not based on his ancestry-but "based on the power of an indestructible life" (Hebrews 7:16). His priesthood is introduced with an oath. Other priests became so without an oath, but Jesus became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
"The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever' Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant." (Hebrews 7:21)
When I read that, I was struck in my heart. I felt so comforted to know I have a priest and he is mine, and he is mine forever. And then a few verses later, "....Now there have been many of those priests (those of the order of Aaron), 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."
In Hebrews chapter 8, the new covenant is presented.
The first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. There was a tabernacle and it was all arranged the way God prescribed. Then there were priests whom God ordained. These priests would enter the "outer room" regularly but the "inner room" was entered only once a year, and never without a blood offering, which the priest would offer for himself and for the people.
I never realized, I never made the connection about Jesus being our High Priest. The priest from the old covenant and the tabernacle and the blood sacrifice were just a forshadowing of what was to come, namely Christ and him offering his life for our sins. I knew about the old Testament system of priests and sin offerings, and I knew Jesus was called our "High Priest". I just never really put the two together.
The two being-okay now-Jesus, he is that priest going in and representing us and providing the sacrifice for our sins. But the super cool thing is-he doesn't have to do it over and over again.
"Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself." (Hebrews 7:27)
So the new covenant established in Jesus...
"The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8-12)
He does it all! He writes his law on our hearts and our minds! We couldn't keep the old covenant-we never could keep our end of the bargain. So he came and he did it all. Praise Him!
So what does this mean for us?
"Therefore, brothers (and sisters!), since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place (Wow! You've got to be kidding me? We can enter the Most Holy Place now? Woah!) by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is , his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, (see? Our new priest!---our forever Priest!), let us draw near to God (oh my goodness---really? but I'm so sinful-still-how can I draw near to him?) with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience (wow-I don't have to have a guilty conscience! Jesus cleanses it with his blood!) and having our bodies washed with pure water.
...but wait I'm not sure about this. I still, I just, I just see my sin every day, I see the inclinations of my heart and they are so often towards evil....
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:19-23)
...okay, so I'm to put my hope in Jesus. I'm not to think,
oh, I can't come to God because I had a bad day to day and I yelled at my kids a lot and I didn't have my quiet time, and I sped all the way to the doctor's appt., and, and, and...
I'm also not to think to myself,
"wow, I was really good today! I was respectful to Steve during our disagreement and didn't give him dirty looks, I was patient with the children and never raised my voice, AND to top it off-I read the Bible for 15 minutes this morning and prayed! So I feel confident that God loves me and is happy with me."
No! It's because I have Jesus, my great high priest, always living to intercede for me-that I can come to God-with confidence-I can draw near to him-because of Jesus. He is my priest and he is standing in for me. Oh, my! How this truth will revolutionize my life! It's not about me....It's about Him.
Oh and back to that law thing? Here's the kicker-we don't have to obey it anymore-since he did it for us and has paid once and for all for our sins. But when you have a high priest who is standing before the Throne of God for you, when you have a priest who is praying for you continually, when you have a priest who shed his blood for you, when you have a priest who is so amazingly, incredibly, indescribably loving....
You want to obey him.
It's no drudgery-it's no duty-it's no way to earn his favor-no God is pleased with those who look upon his Son with faith-believing that He has paid it all and we get it all. Amen.