Page 13 - April 2024 - Truth & Tidings
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ebrews  is  a  book  of  endings.   inaugurated: Christ has entered “into
               It positions us “at the end of”   heaven itself, now to appear in the pres-
        Hthose days when God “at sundry       ence of God for us” (9:24) and has conse-
        times and in divers manners spake …   crated for us “a new and living way,” so
        unto the fathers by the prophets” (Heb   that we can “draw near with a true heart
        1:1).  It presents us with an old covenant   in full assurance of faith” (10:20,22). And,
        “which decayeth and waxeth old [and] is   although Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice for
        ready to vanish away” (8:13), brought to   sin is final and complete, it has enabled the
        an end in the comprehensive, climactic   offering of a new type of sacrifices, by a
        and concluding sacrifice of the Lord Jesus   new order of priests. The writer does not
        Christ. “Once in the end of the world hath   explicitly refer to believers as priests, but
        he appeared to put away sin by the sacri-  his exhortations in 13:10-16 make it clear
        fice of himself” (9:26). He dealt with the   not only that we have priestly responsi-
        sins “once, when he offered up Himself”   bilities but that we are part of a priestly
        (7:27). He “was once offered to bear the   community, marked by priestly consecra-
        sins of many” (9:28). The “body of Jesus   tion and sharing in priestly communion.
        Christ” was offered “once for all” (10:10).   It is noteworthy that the writer intro-
        The finality of that sacrifice is seen in its   duces the topic of our priestly service
        consequences for Christ: “He, having of-  at the end of his epistle, as he moves to
        fered one sacrifice for sins, sat down in   practical exhortations. This has at least
        perpetuity at the right hand of God” (v12   three implications. Firstly, our priesthood
        JND). It is seen, too, in its consequences   is based upon, and made possible by,
        for those who believe: “By one offering   everything that we have learned about
        he hath perfected for ever them that are   Christ’s priesthood in the epistle. His entry
        sanctified” (v14). The sacrifice of Christ   “within the veil” as our forerunner and
        was the full stop to the sentence of Jewish   pioneer (6:19-20), His inauguration “for
        ritual. It brought it definitively, decisively   us” of “a new and living way … through
        and permanently to an end.            the veil,” and His consecration as a new
          But Hebrews is also an epistle of begin-  type of high priest are all vital to enable
        nings. The ending of the Old Testament   us, who are not even Jews, never mind
        phase of revelation has seen the inaugu-  Levites, to engage in priestly service. Sec-
        ration of a new. God has “spoken unto us   ondly, priesthood is a practical thing. It is
        by his Son,” and the “so great salvation,   impossible to read the Pentateuch without
        which at the first began to be spoken by   realising that the Aaronic priesthood then
        the Lord, … was confirmed unto us by   was not a business of swanning around in
        them that heard” (2:3). The ministry of   elaborate robes – it involved hard, hands-
        the Aaronic high priest has ended, but   on work. It is appropriate, therefore, that
        a new high priestly ministry has been   this teaching about our priesthood is so
                                              firmly embedded in a section dealing with
        1  Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV   the day-to-day nitty-gritty of our lives;
        unless otherwise noted.               that is precisely where it belongs. Thirdly,
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