“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, . . .”
Under the Levitical priesthood, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies bringing atonement to the Lord on behalf of the people. His job was basically to represent the people to the Lord, and the Lord to the people. If memory serves me, I believe the Latin word for high priest means “bridge builder.” The role of the priest was to make a way for man to be right with God. Hebrews 8 reminds us, Christ is our High Priest and having made a way for us to be right with God, He is in heaven representing us to the Father.
As the High priest’s garments were stained red with the blood of the sacrifice, so Christ bears the scars of the cross, as a reminder of the atonement provided at Calvary. When we sin and the devil brings charges against us, our High Priest bridges the gap, perhaps by showing His scarred hands and feet, declaring that the price has been paid, and forgiveness is given.
When we are facing trials, obstacles or temptations, and it looks as though we may fail under the pressure of the test, our High Priest stands in the gap and prays for us. Like Aaron and Hur holding up the hands of Moses, Jesus holds up our hands that hang down and strengthens our feeble knees. It is His constant prayer and encouragement that enables us to press through the trials and onward with the Lord.
With eyes of love, our High Priest watches our every move. Not because He is hoping we will fail and He might rebuke, correct, and chasten us, but because He loves us as a father loves his son. There is never a moment when we are beyond His gaze. In one of the most magnificent promises in the Bible, we are told He sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17). Imagine the throne room of God, where the songs of the saints accompany the angelic choruses giving praise to Jehovah God. Then a voice rises high above all others and begins to sing a love song, and you are the subject of His song.
It is no wonder the writer of Hebrews declares that this is a better covenant.
Questions for Hebrews 8
The continuing theme of Hebrews is that “Jesus is better.” In this chapter the idea of Jesus as a better High Priest is continued. In particular:
1. In verses 1-2, we see another reason why Jesus’ priesthood is better. What is it?
2. Look at verses 3-5. The Levitical priesthood according to these verses is a “shadow” of heavenly things. What is the difference between a shadow, and the thing which casts the shadow? What does this mean when you consider Jesus’ priesthood vs. the old one?
3. A covenant is a legal agreement wherein the parties involved promise to “hold up their end of the bargain”. Read verses 7-9. What was the problem with the first covenant?
4. Read verses 10-12. The New Covenant exceeds the Old Covenant in that God is making all of the promises; the old covenant failed when people failed, but the new covenant is based on God’s ability.
a. What does God promise to do for us in verse 10?
b. What is the result of this in verse 11?
c. Finally what does God promise to do in verse 12?