A Systematic Expository on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 11: MINISTRY OF OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
We have just been exhorted and encouraged to enter into God’s rest (Hebrews 4:1,10,11). We are also warned of the danger of failure to enter into the present rest and the agony of missing the final, future rest (Hebrews 4:1,3,5,6,9-1). The gospel is the appointed instrument to invite and bring us into the present spiritual rest and the future eternal rest (Hebrews 4:2). Unbelief hinders people from entering in; faith in the gospel helps believers to enter in (Hebrews 4:2,6,11).
It is a solemn fact that the great majority of those Israelites to whom the Gospel of Rest was first preached did not receive it by faith. So, they perished in the wilderness. Our real rest is yet to come and we must “labour to enter into that rest”. Egypt was not a place of rest for the Israelites. Neither was the wilderness a place of rest. This world is not a fit place, nor this life a fit time, to enjoy such a rest as is reserved in heaven. Rest here would glue our hearts too much to this world, and make us say, “It is good to be here” (Matthew 17:4).
Following the exhortation to enter into God’s rest, reference is made to the living, powerful, and piercing character of the word of God, and the effects it produces in hearers and believers. The chapter then closes with the sufficiency and sympathy of Christ, our Great High Priest.
POWER OF GOD’S UNCHANGING WORD
Hebrews 4:12,13; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; Psalm 119:130; Jeremiah 23:29-32; Acts 2:37-40; 5:33; Ephesians 6:17; Jeremiah 17:9,10; Ephesians 5:13; Psalm 44:20,21; Jeremiah 23:24; Revelation 20:11-15.
These verses of Hebrews chapter four speak so vividly of the searching word of God. Israel failed because they trifled, not with the word of Moses or Joshua, but with the word of God. This divine word is not only alive, but also powerful, active in convicting, searching, revealing and disclosing. As a two-edged sword the gospel message so pierces the hearers that “soul and spirit” are divided; that is, one’s soulish self. The “spirit” is the highest part of man, being the seat of God-consciousness. It is the “candle of the Lord” (Proverbs 20:27) within man. “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit” (Romans 1:9); “my spirit prayeth” (1 Corinthians 14:14). The “soul” is the seat of the emotions (Judges 10:15,16; Genesis 42:21; Psalm 63:1; Proverbs 25:25; Mark 14:34). Yet there are times when “the world” is used to represent the man.
The cutting, penetrating power of God’s word also divides “joints and marrow”. People may look strong yet the bones may be diseased within, as a tree may stand tall until a violent storm sends it crashing to the ground, revealing its rotten core. God’s word searches and reveals our inward parts, our motives and secret imaginations. God’s word discerns and discloses the thoughts and intents, the motives, the desires and the purposes of the heart. In fact, there is no one “that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and open” before Him (Hebrews 4:13). It is important to note what is here said of God’s word. (1) It is the word of God, not of man. (2) It is alive, living, “quick” (3) it is “powerful”, of great might. (4) It is effectual, “sharper than any two-edged sword” (5) It is penetrating, “piercing”(6) It is revealing and exposing, bringing to light the “thoughts and intents of the heart”.
PERFECTION OF OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
Hebrews 4:14,15; 7:25-28; 2:17,18; 3:1,2; 5:5,6; 1:3; 8:1; 9:12,24; 10:12; Isaiah 53:9; John 8:46; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5.
Having called attention to the inescapable, searching light of God’s word, the inspired writer now redirects our attention to our desperately needed High Priest, Jesus Christ, the son of God. The Holy Spirit here designates Christ the “Great High Priest”. This emphasises the supreme dignity, excellency and sufficiency of our High Priest, yet He is full of sympathy and tender compassion for His people. He is merciful as well as omnipotent.
Having such a Great High Priest, can we lose courage? Can we draw back in cowardice, impatience and faint-heartedness? Can we give up our profession, our allegiance, and our obedience to Christ? Shall we not be like Joshua and Caleb, who followed the Lord fully? Let us hold fast our profession; let us persevere in running the race that is set before us. Our Great High Priest loves and watches over us. He prays for us and He is willing and able to uphold us. Jesus, our perfect High Priest, is able to keep us victorious over sin. What a great and glorious High Priest! He knows what it means for us to be tempted. He overcame all temptations and “He is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
PROVISION FROM THE THRONE OF GRACE
Hebrews 4:16; 7:25; 11:6; 12:18,22-24; 10:19-23; 13:6; Romans 8:15-17; Ephesians 2:18; 3:12; Exodus 25:22; Isaiah 55:6,7; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:6,7; 1 Peter 2:9,10.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace”. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our merciful High Priest, our Mediator and Intercessor, is seated on that throne. He, at the Father’s right hand, having totally fulfilled and displaced the Mosaic order, offers grace and mercy to us. We come boldly. Our boldness is only in and through Jesus Christ. Coming boldly to the throne of grace in prayer and faith, we find grace to help in time of need.
The Saviour knows how weak His disciples are. He knows what we need to overcome the flesh, the world, sin and Satan. We can come to Him expecting full, tender, deep sympathy and strength. He is ever ready to strengthen and comfort, to restore and empower us. He says to every one of us: “My grace is sufficient for thee”. His all - sufficient grace is ever available.
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