Monday 4th February
Although the stated Bible reading is only a few verses, in order to fully understand the meaning of Jesus as our High Priest, reading from Hebrews chapter 5 onwards is recommended.
This wonderful teaching is crucial in understanding our position and value in Christ. Jesus. In being our High Priest, He forever stands as an Intercessor on our behalf. “Our consciences have been sprinkled with His blood and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Paraphrased from verse 22). So what does this mean and how do I have value in Christ’s death?
In order to understand this, we first must understand the role of a Priest in Mosaic Law. The Priests in the temple would make daily sin offerings for the people as they presented their substitutionary sacrifices at the temple. This would have been two turtledoves or two pigeons, grain offerings or a percentage of flour. These were offerings for daily sins or as atonements for being ceremonially unclean. However on Yon Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the High Priest would make an offering for all the sins of the people of Israel, both conscious and un-conscious. This was a special day.
The procedure for the sacrifices for the Day of Atonement can be found in Leviticus 16. A strict list of requirements had to be followed in order for the people’s sins to be forgiven. The High Priest (only the High Priest) would take a bull, a ram and two goats (all without blemish) and bring them to the temple. The bull was sacrificed as a sin offering for the priest and his family, to purify them firstly. Then one of the young male goats was used as a sacrifice and the other was released into the wilderness. The one released into the wilderness would first have blood sprinkled over it and then the High Priest would pray and symbolically place the sins of the people on the goat. The goat would then be led out into the wilderness carrying the sins of the people away from the temple. Next the young ram would be offered as a burnt offering, as a sweet fragrance to God to accept the sacrifice. This ceremony was only to be carried out by the High Priest in the Holy of Holies.
This day after day and year after year sacrifice was only temporary forgiveness from sins. It provided limited relief from sin and was never total atonement from sin. When Jesus came to this world, He not only provided Himself as a perfect unblemished sacrifice for the world, and made a way for man (not just the High Priest) to have fellowship with God again. When the veil ripped from the top to bottom on the night of Jesus’ death, it created an opening to the Holy of Holies. This place was reserved solely for the High Priest as he made atonement for the sins of the people. As the curtain tore man’s relationship with God became no longer limited to just the High Priests intercession on his behalf, but became an open intimate relationship with Father made possible by Jesus the High Priest. Because He now stands (in fact actually sits because His work is done) at the right hand of the Father, we freely have access into God’s presence. Jesus paid the price for us with His life but He knows stands as our High Priest because He paid our debt with His life. His blood sprinkled over our sins free us and forgives us. No longer does a High Priest need to make sacrifices for mankind daily and yearly. Jesus paid the price once and for all! (Hebrews 10:11-12). We can now enter God’s presence boldly, free from sin and free from the guilt of our sin.