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For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, to day have I begotten Thee. As He saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec (Heb. 5:1-6).
Aaron, the first high priest for the Israelites, did not volunteer for the job, nor was he selected by the people. Instead, he was chosen by God. On the Day of Atonement, God directed him to make penance for his sins first, and then for the sins of his household. Only after doing so was he then qualified to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people (Lev. 16:11-15). This same scenario played out with every high priest that served from that time until the time of Christ. Under the priesthood of Aaron and his descendants, sacrifice was made when a sinless animal took the place of an Israelite and was slain as payment for his sin. Thus, the devout Jew was continually reminded: For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul (17:11).
All of this changed on the day that God stated, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, took His place as the last, and eternal, High Priest. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him (Heb. 5:9). With Christ’s work on the cross, the blood price for sin has been paid. No further sacrifice will ever need to be made. All that is left before us is to choose to accept the sacrifice He made in our stead.
God is Holy; therefore He must enforce the penalty for sin. God loves us, however, and His justice is tempered with mercy and an offer of grace. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:23). How thankful we should be that mercy is an attribute of God, for it is one of our greatest daily needs. Mercy is an expression of His willingness to forgive sinners and deliver them from eternal hell. Mercy is His practical demonstration of love and compassion. Under the Levitical priesthood, the Lord’s mercy was praised. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation (Ex. 34:6-7). How much more we can be assured of God's mercy through Christ, our exalted Lord, makingintercession for us (Heb. 7:25; 9:24)!
For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).
Thought for Today:
“Resting” in Jesus’ finished work of grace is deceptive and assumes there is nothing for us to do.
For Heb. 5:5: See Ps. 2:7. Heb. 5:6: See Ps. 110:4. Heb. 6:14: See Gen. 22:17.
6:17 immutability of His counsel = His purpose will not be altered.
Ephesians 1: 17-21
Ephesians 1: 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
Ephesians 1: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 1: 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Ephesians 1: 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Ephesians 1: 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: