A Systematic Expository Study on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 19: JESUS, THE GUARANTEE OF A BETTER COVENANT
Hebrews 7:20 - 28
The major purpose of this section of the Epistle to the Hebrews is, first, to show that the great High Priest of the new covenant is far more excellent than the high priest of the old covenant; and the old order has to be completely set aside. An analysis of this chapter reveals that Christ’s superiority over Aaron appears in the following points: (i) Aaron was only a man; Christ was “the Son of God” (verses 3,28). (ii) Aaron belonged to the tribe of Levi; Christ, according to the flesh, sprang from the royal tribe of Judah and is the Priest-King (verse 14). (iii) Aaron was made “after the law of a carnal commandment”; Christ, “after the power of an endless life” (verse 16). (iv) Aaron “made nothing perfect”; Christ did (verse 19). (v) Aaron was unable to bring the sinner “nigh unto God” (verse 19); Christ has (verse 25). (vi) Aaron was not inducted into his priestly office by a Divine oath; Christ was (verse 21). (vii) Aaron had many successors (verse 23); Christ had none. (vii) Aaron died (verse 23); Christ “ever liveth” (verse 25). (ix) Aaron was a sinner (verse 27); Christ was “separate from sinners, holy, undefiled” (verse 26). (x) Aaron had to offer sacrifice “daily” (verse 27); Christ’s sacrifice is “once for all”.
SURETY OF A BETTER COVENANT
Hebrews 7:20-22; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 6:16-18; Genesis 43:8,9; 44:32,33; Hebrews 8:6; 12:24; 13:20,21.
This passage points to a most significant and deeply important aspect of Christ’s priesthood - Christ was constituted Priest by Divine oath, which exalts Him high above the priesthood under the law. We are also taught here that Christ is Priest forever in order to show that there should never more be any need of another priest, nor any possibility of a return of the Levitical priesthood. In everything Christ undertook, He was preferred above all others who were ever employed in the service of God or who ever shall be. Therefore was He made a Priest “not without an oath”. The priesthood of Aaron was not instituted with an oath; Christ’s was. Now that which is connected with a divine oath can never be changed, for God is immutable. The High Priesthood of Jesus can never be altered because it is based upon the eternal decree and counsel of God. With Him there is no “variableness or shadow of turning”. The oath of God is the open declaration of His eternal purpose and unchanging decree.
“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament (covenant)” (Hebrews 7:22). Jesus is the surety of a better covenant, the new covenant. The Greek word for “surety” means one who pledges his name, property or influence, so that a certain thing should be done. When a contract is made, the surety is the one who takes the responsibility if the terms of the contract are not complied with. The surety is sponsor for another, standing in the room of and acting for one who is incompetent to act for himself: he represents that other person, and pledges to make good his engagements. Christ agreed to undertake for us, fully pay all our debts and has completely satisfied every demand that God had against us.
A beautiful illustration of the “surety” is found in Genesis 43:8,9; 44:32,33. Also there is a blessed new Testament example in the case of Paul who acted as surety for Onesimus: “If he hath wronged thee, or owed thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it (Philemon 18,19). In like manner, Christ, the surety of the New Covenant has pledged to fully pay all that we owe God.
SAVIOUR TO THE UTTERMOST
Hebrews 7:23-25; Revelation 1:18; 1 Samuel 2:35; Hebrews 2:18; Isaiah 63:1; 2 Timothy 1:12; Jude 24; Romans 8:34
The ministry of the Old Covenant priest could not continue “by reason of death”. The first high priest of Israel “went up into mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation... and died there in the top of the mount” (Numbers 20:27,28). Those priests were subject to infirmity and death as much as those to whom and for whom they ministered. “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood” (Hebrews 7:24). Christ has “an unchangeable priesthood”, subject to no alteration, that cannot pass away. This is the final proof in our present passage for the immeasurable superiority of our Great High Priest over the Levitical priests. The abiding of Christ as Priest assures us of the continuance of His care for His people.
“Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). “He is able” - whatever hindrances and difficulties lie in the way of the salvation of those who “come unto God by Him”, the Lord Jesus Christ is able to remove them. No matter what opposition may arise, He is more than sufficient to overcome them all. If the sinner comes to God by faith in Christ, he will be saved from sin and from all its terrible consequences (Matthew 1:21; Galatians 3;13; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).
SEPARATE FROM SINNERS
Hebrews 7:26-28; 4:15; 9:14; 1 Peter 2:22; 1:19; 1 John 3:5;Tttus 2:14; Hebrews 4:14.
The verses before us describe the absolute purity of Christ’s nature. He was entirely free from the slightest spot or taint of our original defilement. “For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26). None other could expiate our sins, purge our conscience from dead works, procure acceptance with God for us, purchase our redemption, or supply enabling grace to live in obedience to God.
He was “holy”. He could say, “the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me” (John 14:30). He was “harmless”. Being “holy” tells of what Christ was God-ward: perfectly conformed to the divine will inwardly, evidence by his perfect outward conduct. Being “harmless” tells of what He was man-ward. As the “holy” One, He loved the Lord His God with all His heart; as the “harmless” One He loved His neighbour as Himself.
He was “undefiled”, and “separate from sinners”. He was never infected by the evils around Him. Though He lived amongst sinners, He was infinitely apart from them, in nature and character, motive and conduct. Thus was He qualified to act as mediator between God and sinners. What a Saviour! What a Priest!
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