The Book of Hebrews #27 chapter 8:1-13
The Book of Hebrews
The New Covenant, Part 1
Hebrews 8:1-13
          
The book of Hebrews is a rather difficult book to understand in many ways.  But I want us to keep in mind that it ultimately comes down to a presentation to a primarily Jewish audience of the superiority and sufficiency of Jesus Christ.
 
That is the message of this book.  Jews don’t need a combination of both the old and the new covenants.  The old is insufficient and the new doesn’t need its help.  And as we have studied the comparisons in the Book of Hebrews, we have seen how the writer says that Jesus is better than angels, He is better than Moses, He is better than Joshua, and anything connected to the old covenant is inferior to Christ.
 
Now the primary issue, and the key to the old covenant, is the priesthood. The dominant theme of the Old Testament is the priesthood. That was the way by which God and man were brought together. So the priesthood becomes the key, and if Jesus is to introduce a new covenant, and if He is to be superior to all of those connected with the old, then He must be a superior priest as well.
 
And, starting from chapter 4:14 through 5, 6, 7, 8, even into 9 and 10, He is still talking about the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
 
We are right in the middle of that discussion as we come to chapter 8.
 
 
We have seen so far that He is superior because He is of the order of Melchizedek.  That means His priesthood is forever, it was confirmed by God with an oath, death can’t interrupt it, He doesn’t have to offer sacrifice for His own sins, and He can take men into God’s presence and anchor them there. That is our high priest, Jesus Christ.  And all of that leads up to the beginning statement in chapter 8.
 
Verse 1
 
That's the summary statement of everything we’ve been studying for these past weeks.  "We have such a high priest." What a message this was to those Jews.. You don't need any of the old stuff; it’s all over and Jesus has come in fulfillment of all of it.
 
And then notice how he continues.
 
Verse 1, 6
 
We have a priest that is more excellent than any other. His ministry is more excellent. His covenant is more excellent. His promises are more excellent. Just think of the wonder of the Hebrews as they read this section when they received this letter. All their lives they had, generation after generation, trusted in these priests.
 
They had been instructed from early childhood to honor the Levitical system and priesthood. There was nothing higher than that in their minds except God Himself.  
 
 
 
But now they are hearing this message that says, "We've got a high priest to turn to now who surpasses all the others, so that all the others are replaced, not added to, but thrown aside, and Christ is substituted for them. And a far superior priest He is."
 
Now, the Spirit has already said a great deal about the priesthood of Christ, but that doesn’t mean He’s finished.  It's kind of like 8:1 is just a peak. We've been going up, and now we're going to hit the peak, and then we're going to come down the other side.  And there's a lot of good stuff left.
 
Now, in this chapter, He gives us three more things to think about regarding Jesus as a superior priest, and again we will just pull our points directly from the text.
 
Now, first of all, He is a superior priest because of
 
1. His Seat
 
Verse 1 “seated”
 
That was the first time that statement was ever made in regard to a priest.  Other than Jesus, no priest at no time ever sat down.
 
But when the author presents Jesus as a superior high priest, he gives all this information, comes to the conclusion of it or the summation of it and says, “Here is the chief point.  Here’s the thing I don’t want you to miss.  . The most important feature about our priest is that He's sitting down.”
 
 In other words, the highest proof of His superiority is that He's sitting down. That point will be repeated over in Hebrews 10:11.
 
Why does Jesus get to sit down and no other priest could?  No other priest ever finished his work. He could never sit down. The job was never done. He just kept offering more and more sacrifices, because the sacrifice you offered was only as good as the time until you committed the next sin. And it just kept going and going and going and going.
 
Now from time to time I’ve said, and heard other preachers say there were no chairs in the Tabernacle.  That’s not exactly true.  There was a seat in the Holy of Holies.  It is called the Mercy Seat.  But I’ll guarantee you no priest is going to plop his backside down on the Mercy Seat. That would be the absolute epitome of blasphemy because the Mercy Seat represented the Throne of God.  The Mercy Seat was the place where the Shekinah Glory dwelt between the wings of the cherubim. And that's where God was.
 
So obviously no priest is going to sashay into the Holy Place, make their sacrifice and sit down on the throne of God.  But that’s exactly what Jesus did.
Jesus came along, offered one sacrifice and said, "That's it. It is finished.",  and sat down accomplishing what centuries of sacrifices and priests could never accomplish.  That's why the writer says, "And this is the chief point. He sat down."
 
 
 
Now think about what that means to you. As far as your salvation is concerned, He is sitting down. He doesn't need to move a finger. It’s all taken care of.  There is nothing to add to it.  And if that's not enough, look where He sat. It says He sat down "at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens."
 
In other words, He is seated on the throne of God in the position of honor and authority. Jesus Christ sat down, as it were, acknowledged and exalted, made royal by God. And God was, in effect, approving of His work.  But there's another marvelous thought in this. Remember, the writer is addressing a Hebrew audience so I think there is some significance in that statement for the Jewish mind.
 
In Israel there was a ruling body of 70 men known as the Sanhedrin. These men were responsible for making the judgments. They were technically the Jewish house of judgment. They were the ones who were executing justice whenever justice was being executed in the land.
 
And there were always two scribes before the judges of the Sanhedrin. One scribe sat on the right hand, and the other scribe sat on the left hand. Now watch this:  it was always the business of the scribe on the right hand to write acquittals. And it was always the business of the scribe on the left hand to write the condemnations.
 
What does our Bible tell us about Jesus?  Everybody knows John 3:16, but what about John 3:17?
 
He did not come to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."
There’s a reason Jesus is not seated on the left hand of God.  Yes, He has been given the place of honor and exaltation and authority.  But He is on the right hand issuing pardons for His children.
 
But let me go a step further. I want to tell you something else. If that didn't blow your mind, listen to this one. You know the first thing I'm going to do when I get to heaven? I'm going to get up on that throne and you are too. You say, “You’re kidding!”  Listen to Revelation 3:21.  To him that overcomes  will I grant to sit with me in my throne."
 
So what is an “overcomer?" It's one who overcomes the world. And what is it that overcomes the world? According to 1 John 5 it is “our faith", and there we discover that everyone who is born of God overcomes the world.
 
Those who put their faith in Jesus Christ are overcomers, and all of us who are overcomers can just get up there and crawl right up on the throne and sit with Jesus. And that is something provided for us by Jesus Christ that no priest could ever do. 
 
That’s kind of exciting, isn't it?  And only a superior high priest could pull that one off.  No wonder the author saves this for the summary statement.
 
You want to know what kind of priest Jesus is?  He’s not like Aaron.  He’s like Melchizedek.  He’s perfect, and He offers perfect sacrifices and one time finished it all, for all time.  But catch this:  You can sit on God’s throne with Him!
 
So obviously He is superior because of His seat.

 

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