Read Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 5:1-10
Jesus is a priest like no other. To show this, the author of Hebrews writes to shows Jesus’ humanity yet shows how Jesus does not fail as humans do. Jesus came to earth and while he was on earth he lived a perfect life, yet was tempted in the same manner in which all people are tempted. He had the same weaknesses that men have, yet was not succumbed to them. He was humbled, and did not exalt himself to the position of high priest, yet God chose him to be high priest. He was the Son of God, but learned obedience through his suffering. In every way Jesus was human, but he did fail as humans do.
Jesus’ was also rather unique in another way. The author of Hebrews calls a priest in the “order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek is an obscure character mentioned only in Genesis 14:18-19 and not much is known about him. But nevertheless the little that is known has huge implications. First, he is king of a town called Salem and a priest of the Most High God – a priest-king that is unlike the traditional priesthood where these were two separate roles. Second, priests usually had to be descendants of Aaron in order to be named priest, but Melchizedek was not. Being in order of Melchizedek allows for non-Aaronic priests such as Jesus, who was a descendant of Judah. (Hebrews 7:14 – Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 7 expounds on this more). The author of Hebrews builds on this further, saying that Jesus is a priest-king “forever”. Psalms 2 establishes that Jesus is a King of kings in that he will receive the nations as his inheritance. Psalm 110 establishes that Jesus is a priest “forever” in the order of Melchizedek, not a temporary priest as those who were of the Aaronic priesthood.
Having Jesus has a priest-king whose reign is eternal means that there is no longer a need for human to fulfill the role of high priest. People can draw near to God with confidence and plead for the grace and mercy at the throne of grace in their time a need. In reality, Christians and the whole world are constantly in need of grace. Jesus sympathizes with weaknesses, yet he himself does not grow weary as a man does. For this reason, Christians can call on him at any time and call on him at all times because his reign and term as priest will never end.
Lord, help me find mercy and grace in my time of need!
Read: Hebrews 4:12-17
Coming on the heels of the author of Hebrews encouraging his readers to enter rest rather than disobey, Hebrews 4:12 teaches that the word of the Lord is powerful: it judges even the thoughts and intentions of man. This verse is often used as a proof-text for underscoring the inerrancy of Scripture, and rightfully so. Scripture leaves nothing uncovered, and each person must “give an account” in light of the Scriptures. Paul gives a similar thought concerning the nature of scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 where he says that scripture is good for reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. For these reasons, one is wise to pay attention to what it says.
Because the word of God does expose sin, the author of Hebrews encourages his readers to “hold fast” to their confession. The confession of Christians is relying on Jesus for the forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice that he made on the behalf of all men. Jesus is also the high priest of the Christian faith, who was without sin, yet was tempted. He can sympathize with our weakness. At the same time he can enter into the throne room of God without spot or blemish. It is through Jesus that those who believe have access the throne room too. In short, the Word of God shows all they are sinners and they need grace, but Jesus who sits on the “throne of grace” intercedes on the behalf of Christians so they receive mercy.
As one studies the word of God, he or she should become very aware of the weaknesses in his or her life. In light of these weaknesses, Christians should plea the mercy of Jesus who is the high priest that can sympathize with weakness. God promises to forgive sin (1 John 1:9) and Christians should make an effort to leave sin behind and pursue righteousness. With the help of the Spirit of God, one can grow and be helped by God in weaknesses (2 Corinthians 2:19).
Lord, use your word to show me I desperately need mercy!
Read: Joshua 8:30-35
After the battle of Ai, Joshua and the people of Israel set a time for remembering the law. Joshua built an altar from a large, uncut stone as the law instructed them to do (Exodus 20:24-25) and made sacrifices to the God. He also and wrote a copy of the law on it. After writing the law on the stone, he read the law aloud – every command, every blessing, and every curse. Joshua and the people were meticulous to follow the law in the procedure they did, they copied the law onto the stone, and they also read the whole thing allowed. The book Joshua goes the extra length, emphasizing the fact that Joshua read all of it in detail and that all heard it: men, women, children, and even foreigners living among them.
The people of God had seen what even a little bit of sin could do to them, and the time of remembering was a necessary thing to remember that God wanted their complete obedience to the law. Another time the entire law was read allowed in the presence of the people is found in Nehemiah 9. Here, the people of God remember the law and confess their sins to God. The law is read aloud. They recount God acting mightily among their ancestors during the days of Moses and Joshua and yet Israel still was stubborn and would not obey God. But they also recall God’s mercy and patience with Israel and they plead for it yet again (Nehemiah 9:32).
The New Testament explains that the law was given to make those who had it aware of their sin (Romans 3:20, Romans 7:7). It gives knowledge to what is sin and becomes a “tutor” or “schoolmaster” in the sense that it leads one to Christ and realizes that one must be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24). Paul continues to argue that there is no difference between Greeks or Jews, slave or free, male or female – the condition is all the same. When Joshua read the law, it was in the presence of everyone for the highest of the high to the lowest of the low. And there were even foreigners living among them. For Christians, remember the law makes one all the more aware of sin and how desperately one needs God’s grace, just as it did during the days of Joshua and the days of Nehemiah. Often times the law is overlooked in the scriptures, but reading through the law and hearing it is a good practice. If one’s heart is open to correction, it should have the same effect on Christians today as it has had on the people of God through all ages!
Lord, use your law to lead me back to you!