Sermons & Sunday Schools

Pulling Back the Curtain of the Old and the New (Part 4)

Full Transcript:

Alright this morning, let us take our Bibles and turn to Hebrews 7. We are continuing to pull back the curtain and peak into the Scripture of what God did with the old and what God has done with the new and how important that is for us to understand as believers. In fact, the writer of Hebrews challenges us not to stay where we are at spiritually, but instead to press on in our understanding and knowledge to be mature in Christ. And the way you become mature in Christ does not depend on how long you have been a Christian. Rather, how much you have been immersed in this book and how the Spirit of God can use it to sanctify you and to show you His will and understanding of what He has done. When He does that, He can honestly and truly lift up His voice and Name with our voices and we can really praise Him. And then, no one can change your mind with where you stand with God on His Word.

So on the writer’s mind has been one central thought in the last couple of chapters. This has been how to have unhindered access to God. That is the desire of many people. When I look at creation, I see a great God who has created everything. I want to know how I can get to know Him and how I can have access to Him. Well in the Word of God there were two proper ways in the Old Testament that a person could have access to God. The first way in the old system was through the law. Of course the law was connected to a second law which was to have access to God through the priesthood and the whole sacrificial system. We saw that there was a problem that the two proper ways to have access to God were ineffective.

In this sense, the law was weak and unable to make anything perfect. Priest for a week, imperfect and sinful, and then dies. The sacrificial system could not make anyone perfect anyway because they had to keep sacrificing over and over for the sins of the people which never ended. So the bottom line up until this point was that the law, the priesthood, and of course the sacrificial system could not give a person continual access to God and make one right with a holy God. One of the reasons why is there is no way of escaping the human estrangement from God when we commit sin. All of the efforts and sacrifices of priests could not restore a relationship with God completely. So why did God do it that way? Why have we been saying in Scripture that God is going to replace the old with the new?

Why was it necessary for the old system to be replaced at all with the new system? As I said last time, the Levitical priesthood was lacking. This necessitated a greater and different system. The institutional itself of priestly service by design was lacking. It could not achieve completion. It could not achieve the completion that God always intended. God created us to have fellowship with Him.

God’s intention has always been that we would be made complete and perfect so that we could enter into His holy presence and enjoy worship time with Him. That is what God intended for us. Believers really need a priest that can give them constant access to God, and make them holy and acceptable to God. The Old Testament method of providing for God’s people did not produce holiness or perfect anyone eternally.

Before us today in this passage of Scripture, we have three convincing contrasts that will point out to us how inferior the Old Testament was and how the New Testament is so much superior. This is because of the Person who is central to that system. This Person is Christ Himself. He is the new priest who brings in the new way. This section of Scripture, if meditated upon and understood, will cause you to be more secure in your salvation. It will cause you to love and worship the Lord more regularly. If you are running through the Scripture in your mind and you begin to grasp what is going on, it will definitely give you a security that you never had before. Especially for those who think they can lose their salvation.

Well there are three contrasts here and the first one comes under the exercise of Jesus having a more excellent ministry than all the other priests that have gone before Him. So the first contrast is between the weakness of the old system, its law, and the power of the new system.

Let us pray first. Lord, thank You for the Word of God this morning and your people. Encourage us by Your Word, Lord, and help us to understand the greatness of salvation that we have. I pray Lord Jesus, that You would build it into our understanding so that we can rest more securely in our salvation. Our salvation depends on none of us. So we want to praise and thank You for that now. Help us to see what You have done and give you glory. In Christ I pray, Amen.

Look at Hebrews 7:18-19 to see the contrast. What I mean by contrast is if you look at two things that are opposite to each other, we are looking at the differences, and the strengths of one and the other. That is what is happening in this section of Scripture. We see the weakness of the old and its laws and the power of the new in verse 18-19, which says:

For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect).

Why was the old law that supported the Levitical priesthood set aside? Because it was weak and profitless. The Levitical priesthood failed to bring completion. The law made nothing perfect, but I do not want you to think that the law was bad. The law is good because it comes divinely from God. What it did instead was pave the way to something better. It exposes our sin to show that we truly are sinful before a holy God. It leads us to the edge of the cross. It does not do what Jesus did on the cross, but pave the way to something better and would bring completion and finality to our salvation. It was weak in the sense that it was only a shadow. Look at Hebrews 5:8, which says:

Who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.

And then Hebrews 10:1 says:

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come.

So the Bible is telling us that the sacrificial system and the priesthood are pointing forward to the very reality and substance. In a sense, those things were signposts. When followed, those things pointed to the substance or reality of the destination in which God wants to take us. So to cling to the shadow and something that was incomplete. To cling to something that did not have the full substance to it would be to miss Christ. When people stay in a religious system that bankrupts these things, they miss Christ. They can be religious from the bottom of their feet to the top of their head. But if they do not know this they will miss Christ.

In fact, here is a pastoral concern that these Jews would not go back to Judaism, a very structured and religious system. Under persecution, they might think that the should not have left in the first place. The author is asking them whether they really want to go from something better to something that is just good. They are going to from something better to worse. The pastoral concern is that professers of Christ might go back to something inferior and partial when in Christ there is hope.

I think of myself coming out of a religious system. There is temptation to go back to it. But I look at the system that I came from and know that I cannot go back. It does not teach that salvation is of God and it must be Christ that perfects me. All my good works and good deeds can do nothing to earn salvation, it must be all of Christ. So if anyone goes back to their religious system, they will miss Christ.

Here is the warning for us and there will be another one in Hebrews 10. This is his concern, that they would leave Christ for something worse. The second part of Hebrews 7:19 says:

And on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God,

The setting aside of the Levitical priesthood in the law actually pointed to a better hope by means of drawing near to God. There is the point that God removed the shadow and substituted it with the substance. God brought in an objective hope, one that we can actually see in Christ. When we look at Christ we see the Father. When we look at Christ we see God, and everything that God is and that makes our salvation and doctrine objective. It is the hope that God wants us to rest in for eternal life. The better basis of hope of course is the expiating blood of our great High Priest. Even the blood of bulls and goats in the Old Testament has no power to remove sin but its connection with Christ’s blood to remove sin when it was going to happen. So the shadow by itself can do nothing. It was holy dependent upon Christ and His blood which was yet to be shed in the Old Testament. It was looking forward at the cross.

When the reality came to which the shadow was pointing and Christ finally shed His blood, the shadow gradually faded away having served its purpose in the Levitical priesthood and the law that guided it. The sacrifices that were daily offered were set aside because a better hope had come, the finished work of Jesus Christ. He deals with our sins as a covenant victim and He brings us to God as our great High Priest. The bottom line for this contrast is that Jesus can do what the old priesthood never could have done. He gives us access to God. That is a great truth that gives us great security in our salvation.

A second thing that we see in this text in Hebrews 7 is that Jesus mediates a far better covenant. In Hebrews 7:20-21, the second contrast from the old covenant that can be dissolved and the new covenant which can never be dissolved. Look at what it says:

And inasmuch as it was not without an oath for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath.

Just to remind you that it is saying here that Old Testament priests became priests without a sworn statement by God. God never swore to Aaron or any priest that his priesthood would be forever. God never swore that to any priest in Scripture. There was a law back then that was only temporary. Let us take our Bibles and turn to Exodus 29:8-9. While you are turning there look at Exodus 28:1:

Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me.

Look now at Exodus 29:8-9:

You shall bring his sons and put tunics on them. You shall gird them with sashes, Aaron and his sons, and bind caps on them, and they shall have the priesthood by a perpetual statute. So you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.

It says in Scripture that it was surely an ordained priesthood by God, guided by the law. God gave His permanent set up so people can have access to Him and get their sins forgiven and go on and worship and serve God within the camp of Israel. I want you to notice Hebrews 7:21, something else he says there in the contrast between the old and new covenant.

but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’”

There is a but there which means that something else is coming. Being a priest forever comes from Psalm 110:4. He has been dealing with this particular Psalm and brings it up again because it is so important. Why can the new covenant not be dissolved? Scripture gives us two solid reasons.

It is confirmed by the Father’s sworn word. There is a definiteness in the oath that the Lord has sworn. If God swears something, is it going to hold up? He does not even have to do this but He does. He gives the reliability of the oath and He will not change His mind. The Lord has sworn with an irrevocable force and couples it with the statement of future non repentance. Which means that God is not going to change His mind about this particular oath. Nothing will change His mind on this. He will not repent on this matter.

One commentary calls this God’s self-imposed eternally binding oath, which is what it is. The reason the Lord God Himself is being so emphatic and unmovable is because when Christ the Son of God comes, He will be a priest forever. There will be no priesthood like it and it will be better than anything else. So the Father swears the eternality of Jesus’ priesthood and that is final. Are you not glad that the Father cannot go back on His Word? Are you not glad that He established this oath a long time ago and He had you in mind when He did it! He had all of humanity in mind. He would not change His mind and it was not going to be by the old system that anyone would be eternally saved and made complete. It would be by another system, a new covenant. But why cannot this new covenant be dissolved? Because it is confirmed by the Father’s sworn Word.

Over in Hebrews 8:7-12 talks about the new covenant:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all will know me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

There is the new covenant! That is what we are under and what gives us great security as believers to know that our salvation is secure in which God has done. Look at Hebrews 7:22 at another reason why the covenant is guaranteed by Jesus Himself. It says:

So much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

This means some kind of guarantee that a promise will be fulfilled. The very oath the Father made, Jesus guarantees. How does He guarantee it? He puts Himself up as collateral. He is the security. There will be no annulment of this new and better covenant based on the sworn word of the Father and the guarantee of the Son. So on a scale of good or better, the new covenant is better because we have a superior High Priest. One who has come into the world as the God Man and has satisfied God’s personal wrath against sin which totally puts it away. That is what the new covenant said it would do completely. Again, here is the contrast. The old had to be put away because of this reason. It was always the plan that it had to happen. If it was guaranteed by the Son and sworn by the Father, it had to take place. Are you not glad that Jesus offers Himself as the down payment. And of course He does that by putting Himself on the cross.

What follows is this in Hebrews 7:23 and brings me to the third contrast. Jesus secures a more permanent priesthood. The third contrast is between the temporary and the permanent. This becomes really important in Scripture that there is an interesting observation before us that identifies the further exhausting nature of the Old Testament priesthood. The great leveler that was there in the priesthood that we also feel today is the thing that prevents the continuing of the priesthood. Hebrews 7:23 says:

The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing.

It goes from the greater to the one. It goes from the institution of Aaron’s priesthood to the second temple and there is going to be a lot of priests in that time frame. It goes from the many to the one. They become priests but they are prevented by death from remaining in office. Turn to Numbers 20:28

Moses is coming to the time when Aaron is growing old and nearing death, but the priesthood has to continue. So Aaron steps up and Moses strips Aaron of his garments and puts it on his son Eleazar. And what happened? Aaron died! It says:

After Moses had stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on his son Eleazar, Aaron died there on the mountain top. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain.

It just continues on and on with Aaron, Eleazar, Phineas, and so forth. The historian Josephus counted eighty-three priests from Aaron to the destruction of the temple when it was all over. It says about every one of them that they all died. They were all stopped by death. It is the great leveler in the book of Ecclesiastes. A greater leveler than death is actually judgment. It was appointed once for man to die and then judgment.

Death may stop the priesthood from its succession, but nonetheless that is the point. Someone is going to come in and the great news here is that Jesus needed no succession of priests to follow Him because our great High Priest defeated death and Satan and He lives on by His atoning death. He defeats Satan and death. We already dealt with that subject in Hebrews 2:14. It says:

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

The power of Satan has been rendered inoperative and Christ has made an atonement for sin that fully satisfies God. The fear of dying has long plagued humanity and it still does. It has now been settled by Christ’s own death and resurrection. He remains a priest forever and we do not need anymore after Him. Look at Hebrews 7:24:

But Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.

Jesus on His part remains forever and has an unchangeable priesthood. Christ’s priesthood lasts for eons. It has a vital life force to it that never ends. Jesus is superior by virtue of His permanence as High Priest. How can we leave Christ and go back to the old system?

What are the benefits then from the work of Christ? How does this ministry of His affect me? Look at Hebrews 7:25:

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

This word is forever. He saves those who draw near to Him only, not everybody. Jesus deals with our sin and as our High Priest brings us to God. The Old Testament saves no one based on administration alone. It was always pointing forward to the Messiah and High Priest. It was always drawing its saving power from Christ Himself even though He had not yet been crucified. Without Christ, everyone would die in their sins. That is what John said, either you would die in your sins or in the Lord. The confidence that I have in this passage of Scripture as the High Priest is that He is able to save me forever and give access to God forever. That is what makes my salvation secure and gives me strength and boldness to go on. It has far reaching implications by reaching out to the most heinous of sinners. People who are adulterers, homosexuals, people who gossip, lie, who are idolators and who hate God, perverted persons of all kinds, those who establish their own righteousness to be accepted by God. If they come to God through Jesus Christ the High Priest in repentance of faith, God will provide to that sinner absolute and total and eternal salvation and they will have an advocate with the Father and access to God. That is what He will do to those who have not come and what He will do to those who will come. But you have to come through Jesus to get to the Father. There are not many ways to God, only one.

But there is a second benefit that you and I derive from the work of Christ. Look again at Hebrews 7:25, it says that He continually intercedes for His children since He always lives to make intercession for them. He is able to completely save and He intercedes based on His inter-medial work, His life, death, and resurrection. Jesus is living and active in the presence of His Father for us! His intercession is made for those coming to God. The Lord is praying for us right now. Wherever you are at in your life, He is praying for you. Not only does God save us but He keeps us saved and holds on to us. He is pleading the blood of Christ for your benefit before the Father. Already this High Priest knows the deepest needs we have. He has gone through it all to the extent that we do not need to. He is praying for you and any prayer that comes before the Father by Christ is offered up perfectly and will do exactly what Christ is asking. One of those prayers is that your salvation would be maintained. He pleads for you as one of the children before the Father.

In John 17:9 it says:

I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours.

And also in John 17:15-20, it says:

I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word.

Brethren, that is you too. The Lord just prayed for you. The Lord just pleaded our case before God. He intercedes for His children and you know what? He does not get tired or go to sleep, He does not take a coffee break. He knows at all times what is happening in your life. He is protecting and holding His children so that they make it to the end so that they receive complete and eternal salvation in Christ. That was always God’s plan. So if I know this, how can I go back to some lesser religious system. I cannot go back to some religion of works! God will hold you through the thick trials of life and is praying for you. He is perfecting you here and sanctifying you here by the Word of God. He is sanctifying you through troubles and tribulations and circumstances. He is perfecting you now and making you ready for the day that you enter His presence and makes you perfect completely. God has not left you at all but He is there for you.

Well in all that, somebody may ask is He even qualified to do this. He is just a man right? Just a son of a carpenter. Only a prophet. People minimize Jesus where He becomes just one of the guys that really has done nothing in a long line of other prophets. In the Scriptures, He is exalted above everything and everyone, above every prophet and priest and king. He is exalted and seated at the right hand of the Father to make intercession for the saints.

The emphasis now is put upon Jesus as the one who is spiritually fit for this great office. There is no one more fit for this office than Jesus. Hebrews 7:26 says:

For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.

Why is this here? Because all the other priests were not this. If you get back to the sons of Aaron, you know what happens with Phineas and his brother. They committed sexual sin outside the tabernacle in the courtyard. The priests are sinners and not holy set apart to God. Jesus is holy, set apart to God. He is also innocent, meaning He is blameless man-ward. No one can bring an accusation against Him and make it stick. He is undefiled and pure and unstained inside. He is the perfect character and the One who is actually and perfectly holy. He is completely set apart to His Father and to the will of God.

Secondly in Hebrews 7:26, His fitness is seen in His position. He is without evil or any sin. Jesus Christ is without sin! Unlike all of the other priests that have gone before. He has passed through the heavens which means that He is beyond reach as far as the assault of the enemy. No other high priest could have done that.

His fitness is also seen in His sacrifice. Look at what it says in Hebrews 7:27:

Who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

There is the offer of Himself once and for all. The sacrifice becomes eternal and that is how it is ended in Hebrews 7:28:

For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

If you doubt your salvation after coming to Christ, then you do not understand these passages. These are meant to clear the clouds and doubt away. It may also show you that you maybe are not saved at all. Maybe you never came to Christ and asked to be saved. That may be the very thing that God is speaking to you this morning. Either you are going to die in your sins or you are going to die in Christ. The only way I know that I will die in Christ is by the Word. The Word exalts Christ to a place where Jesus is superior by virtue of His excellent, perfect person. This message should make you more secure in your salvation and should give you more of a love for Jesus Christ because of what He has done on your behalf. It should cause you to worship the Lord for the things He has done and it should cause you to pray knowing God is praying for you to bring your requests to Him. Yet maybe this is where we fail the most, in that we are not interceding on behalf of each other. We fail greatly when we do not do that. I would like to admonish You to begin to set aside time not in your daily time of devotion but also to make it a purpose to meet with the brethren together and intercede before the throne of God. I believe that when a message like this is understood, it will give you boldness to witness to sinners. It will cause you to open up your mouth and let the mysteries of God loose because you are convinced not only of your own salvation, but because Jesus is what people need. It is not through governments or politics. It is only by the preached message of Jesus Christ.

I pray that God would encourage you today with these truths and that you would have plenty to think about this week even in the evaluation of yourself spiritually and what God wants you to do as far as your service to Him. Also be considering your prayer life and your intercession for others. I pray that that would make us all desiring to be more faithful to Him.

Let us pray. Lord, thank You again for the awesomeness of Your Word. It is truly encouraging to see that there is nothing better than You. There is nothing more exalted than You or anyone more truthful or perfect in their character than You. So Lord we come and bow and worship. We bow, Lord, thanking You that You intercede on our behalf. Lord, our salvation has been guaranteed by You and has been met with an oath by the Father. So Lord, prevent us from looking back or from stepping aside. Keep us on the straight and narrow, enabling us to be faithful knowing that You will complete salvation in us. The day we confessed and believed util to the day You take us to heaven or You come back again. Enable us by Your Spirit to be faithful. And we give You the honor and glory for all that You accomplish in our lives. And I pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen.