The exhaustless theme of the greatness of Christ in the Hebrew epistle is again the subject of this article. Only one aspect of His greatness is discussed: His Unchangeableness.
The epistle of Hebrews is similar to the gospel of John. Both give us a superb and unique presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God. John tells of the glory of His pathway down here. Hebrews sets forth the glory of His priesthood up there.
Hebrews divides itself into two parts: ch.1-10 are doctrinal in character; ch.11-13 are practical. In the first section, the believer is associated with the Lord Jesus in His acceptance before God, inside the veil. In the second part, the believer is associated with Christ in His rejection, outside the camp. Tracing how the writer uplifts the person of our Lord Jesus Christ is delightful as well, emphasizing in each chapter, His immeasurable superiority. His presentation ends with the “Unchangeable Christ” in chapter 13.
Christ’s changelessness is seen in three distinct presentations: An Unchanging Person, an Unchanging Purpose and an Unchanging Priesthood.
1. An Unchangeable Person (Heb 1:5-14)
A. Creation’s Perishability (v 11a )
“They shall perish” refers to the present heavens and earth. Verse 10 clearly establishes the fact that the creation of the universe is attributed to our Lord Jesus Christ. The use of the conjunction “and” at the beginning of the verse shows that the writer is referring to Him (see v 8-9). This has already been stated in verse two, “by Whom also He made the worlds.”
The greatness of His person is seen in relation to His creation. Many ask, “Is matter eternal?” “How did it all come about in the first instance?” “How is it being kept in such amazing order?” Colossians 1:1-16 states, “By Him were all things created that are in the heavens, and that are on the earth, visible and invisible.” The next verse adds, “And by Him all things consist (subsist or are being held together).” Seasons follow each other in perfect sequence; day follows night; tides ebb and flow; the earth and other planets revolve on their axes without mishap or collision.
Colossians 1:16 further states that “All things were created by Him and for Him.” He is owner because He is the creator. “He is heir of all things.” We read also, “He is before all things,” in His timeless existence. Nevertheless, Hebrews 1:11 clearly shows that creation in its present form will perish. In one sentence we leap from creation to destruction. Creation is neither self sufficient nor permanent. “They shall perish.”
B. The Creator’s Permanence (v 11)
“But Thou remainest.” What a contrast between the Creator and the creation! The Creator Son continues. He was there before creation and will still be there when the “heirs of the promise” were not disappointed, because the promise and oath were based upon the secure foundation of God’s holy nature and righteous character.
C. The Dependability of God’s Son
Our hope is anchored where Jesus is, in the heavenly sanctuary itself. Our hope is behind the veil, both sure and steadfast. The High Priest as a “forerunner” was a completely new concept to the Jewish mind. “Jesus,” a real Man, is in heaven for us, providing all the hope, encouragement and strength we need. The fact that our “Forerunner” has entered in ensures our being there.
3. An Unchangeable Priesthood (Heb 7:20-28)
These verses provide precious details of Christ’s superior and abiding Priesthood. He is up there for us, exercising a perfect and permanent priestly ministry. We fail in our prayer life and pursuit of spiritual interests, but He never fails, and His priesthood is forever. His priesthood is:
A. Based on a Divine Promise or Oath (v 20-21)
Others became priests without an oath, but the Lord Jesus is a priest with a divine oath, “The Lord sware and will not change His mind.” The Lord Jesus is a “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
B. Superior Because of His Permanence
Aaron and his sons were not able to continue as priests because of death. It is sad to read in Numbers 20:28 that Moses removed Aaron’s priestly robes and put them on his son, Eleazar. And we read, “And Aaron died there.” In contrast to this, we read in Heb 7:24, “But this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable Priesthood.” It does not pass to another; it is not transferable. Consider two benefits of this permanence: Total salvation and total intercession.
Because He lives forever and has a permanent priesthood, He is able to save completely, not only for all time but fully and completely. We are being saved day by day, moment by moment, through all time and every circumstance into eternity.
He affords total intercession as well. just as He interceded for Peter (Luke 22:32), “1 have prayed for thee,” so He continues His unfailing ministry on our behalf. Possessing perfect humanity, He is able to intercede for us meaningfully. He knows us intimately. He intercedes for us compassionately, for He knows what we need. He intercedes for us effectively, for He has limitless power.
C. Superior Because of the Greatness of His Person
“For such an High Priest became us, one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, made higher than the heavens… but the word of the oath, which came after the law maketh the Son, who hath been made perfect forever.”
This is concerning His official position as Great High Priest and not what He is morally. “He is holy” or set apart to God. “He is blameless,” or literally without evil. There is nothing but good in Him. “He is undefiled.” The priests of old had to be externally without in perfection. But He was all pure within as well.
“Separate from sinners,” is His present position in heaven. God has set Him apart, “Higher than the heavens.” This is an allusion to His triumphant resurrection and ascension. There is only One who can be described as being “perfectly suited to us” and Who perfectly meets our need. “The unchangeableness of the divine purpose is a necessary consequence of the unchangeableness of the divine nature.” (Johann Keil).