Introduction: What is Jesus doing right now in Heaven? Hebrews tells
us Jesus is in Heaven working as our High Priest. How can Jesus be
our High Priest since He does not have the proper credentials? He
came “from” the tribe of Judah, not Levi. Priests come from the tribe
of Levi, right? Are all priests the descendants of Levi? Solving this
problem with Jesus involves a Bible mystery man. Let’s jump into our
lesson and solve these mysteries!
- The Bridge
- Before we solve our mysteries, we have to cross a bridge.
When we ended our study last week, the writer of Hebrews
showed us that those who followed Moses and left Egypt
failed to enter Canaan, the promised land. Why? Because of
rebellion and unbelief. The writer encouraged us to hold
on to our confidence and belief in Jesus so that we could
enter the heavenly promised land. Read Hebrews 4:8-11.
Did the people ever enter into Canaan? (Yes – but not the
original people who refused to enter the first time. After
all of those who were unfaithful died, Joshua led their
descendants into Canaan. Joshua 1&3.)
- What is this “Sabbath rest” referred to in verse 9? What
does it have to do with Joshua?
- Is it the weekly Sabbath?
- What “day” is this “other day” of verse 8?
- Did God ever mention another day of rest? (Hebrews
cannot be referring to a literal day of the week
because “the rest” of Joshua was not a day, it was an
event. The people had finally returned to the land
promised to Abraham. ( Genesis 12:1-7) They “rested”
because the promise to Abraham had now been fulfilled
to Abraham’s descendants to the degree they were
- What do you think is the “other day” of which God
spoke later? (This again is the Heaven parallel. Just
as Moses led the people back to the land promised to
Abraham, so Jesus is leading us back to the “land”
given to Adam and Eve. We will re-enter this
relationship of rest with God.)
- Would the weekly Sabbath have anything to do
with this heavenly rest? (Yes. It reminds us of
the Heavenly rest, and symbolizes the rest that
is our goal.)
- If you believe in the “young earth” theory (as I
do), would it surprise you if Jesus returned
sometime after 6,000 years had elapsed? (I do
not promote the theory that after 6,000 years
Jesus will come again and we will spend the
“Sabbath” 1,000 years in Heaven (see Revelation
20:6-7). However, it would not surprise me in
the least if last-day events turned out that
- Jesus’ Priestly Work
- What do you think Jesus is doing right now that is related
to leading us back into that Heavenly rest?
- Read Hebrews 5:1-3. What was good about the High Priest
system used by the Israelites for the forgiveness of sin?
(The High Priest, being human, could understand the sins
and weaknesses of the people. A human represented other
humans before God.)
- What was bad about that system? (A sinful man
represented other humans in dealing with God. Because
the High Priest was himself sinful, he had to offer
sacrifices for his sins just like everyone else.)
- What else can you think of is unique about Jesus as our
High Priest as opposed to the high priests of Israel?
(None of them was also the sacrifice.)
- Why is this an important factor?
- Read Hebrews 5:4. How was the High Priest chosen? (God
selected the High Priest. God’s selection of Aaron and his
sons is recounted in Exodus 27-29.)
- Read Hebrews 5:5-6. Was Jesus selected as our High Priest?
- When? (Hebrews is quoting from Psalms 2:7, which is a
Messianic prophecy. It seems to have been fulfilled
by the words of God at Jesus’ baptism. Matthew 3:16-17. The second mention of Jesus as a priest in the
order of Melchizedek is also a quotation – a
Messianic prophecy from Psalms. Psalms 110:4.)
- Overall, how does Jesus compare to the high priests of
Israel? (He was chosen by God, He had all of the positive
attributes of the human High Priest, such as being human
and compassionate about sins and weakness. However, He
had none of the bad attributes, such as personal sin or
being a human dealing with God. Because He was offering
Himself, He forever won the controversy between good and
evil and insured the defeat of sin and death.)
- Jesus Perfect for the Job?
- Read Hebrews 5:7-10. How can Jesus be “made perfect?” Was
He not already perfect? (The context is that Jesus
suffered through difficulties here on earth just like we
do. Once He lived a perfect life, died in our place, and
arose to life eternal, He now is the perfect High Priest
- I’m a little troubled here about Jesus’ perfection. Why is
Jesus a priest in the order of Melchizedek, and not the
order of Aaron, the “authorized order,” the order that we
know so much about?
- Was Jesus either a Levite or a descendant of Aaron?
(Jesus was “of the tribe of Judah.” Matthew 1:3&16;
Revelation 5:5; Hebrews 7:14. Since these tribes bore
the names of the brothers who were the sons of Isaac,
Judah was a different person than Levi. Let’s turn to
this “problem” of Jesus’ genealogy next.)
- Order of Melchizedek
- Read Hebrews 7:1-2. What strikes you as being unique about
Melchizedek? (He was both a priest and a king.)
- Scan 1 Samuel 13:5-14. What was Saul’s primary error
in this story? (He was the king and he offered
sacrifices – which was the job of the priest.)
- Did one person ever hold the position of priest and
king among the Israelites? (No. This is what makes
- Read Hebrews 7:3-6. What else do we learn that is unique
about Melchizedek? (He has no mother or father or
beginning or end.)
- Who was this guy? (That is the point. We do not know.
No further description of him is given in the Bible.)
- How is Jesus like Melchizedek? (In many ways. He is
both our Priest and our King. He has no beginning or
end. As humans, we do not understand the “father and
mother” situation with Jesus very well in terms of a
heavenly Father and an earthly Mary.)
- Read Hebrews 7:7-10. Was Melchizedek greater than Abraham?
(Yes. The text makes at three arguments. First, it teaches
us that the greater blesses the lesser. Melchizedek
blessed Abraham. Second, We noted in the preceding verses
that Abraham paid a tithe to Melchizedek. These verses
suggest that Levi paid the tithe to Melchizedek, rather
than the usual case of the tithe being paid to Levi.
Third, Melchizedek did not die. A person who does not die
is superior to humans.)
- Is Abraham greater than the Levi and his descendants?
(Yes. The argument is that since Abraham was the
great-grandfather of Levi (the order of descent:
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi), Abraham was greater
than the Levites. This is also the way in which the
text argues that Levi “paid” the tithe to Melchizedek
- What is the main point that Hebrews is making through all
of these arguments? (The problem is that Jesus did not
come through the normal order of priests. Therefore
Hebrews uses the obscure Melchizedek figure to point out
that not all priests need to come through Levi. Instead,
the mysterious priest-king Melchizedek is the “type” of
Jesus – a priest-king of superior attributes.)
- Read Hebrews 7:23-26. Are you glad that Jesus is your High
Priest? Why? (We have already discussed several ways in
which Jesus is superior to the high priests of the line of
Aaron. This text points out to us that Jesus is always on
the job. Added to all the other great things about Jesus
being our High Priest, is that He is working as our High
Priest right now. He never takes a break, never takes
vacation and never will die.)
- Friend, would you like Jesus to be your High Priest? If
so, the time to ask Him to intercede on your behalf is
- Next Week: Sanctuary Language in Hebrews.