Introduction: Has someone defended you in a serious situation? How did that feel? Because of my job, I’m generally the one defending people who cannot afford to defend themselves. But, I recall decades ago I was playing a church-related volleyball game and Rick Armstrong defended me against a guy who I thought was mentally unbalanced. It is very rare for me to fear another man, but I felt fearful in this situation. Rick knew this fellow and he intervened.  Jesus has been intervening for a very long time on our behalf to save us from eternal death. Our gratitude should be unbounded and never forgotten. Let’s turn in our study of Hebrews to learn more about how Jesus our Faithful Defender acts on our behalf!

  1.         Our Path to Salvation

  1.         Read Hebrews 5:1. How did God’s people in the Old Testament deal with sin? (They had a system of “gifts and sacrifices” that took away sin.)

  1.         What was the basic theory behind this system? (The theory was that an animal died for the sin of the human. You did not compensate for your sins by your works, instead you offered a substitute to die for your sins – an animal.)

  1.         Who was the principal figure in this system for dealing with sin? (The High Priest.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 5:5. This tells us that Jesus is our High Priest. How did He obtain that job? (Read Matthew 3:16-17 and Psalms 2:7. God the Father appointed Jesus as our High Priest.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 5:7-9. In what way did Jesus perform the job of being our High Priest? (When He was here on earth (“In the days of His flesh”), Jesus prayed and “made supplications.”  Then He suffered. And, finally He was “made perfect.”)

  1.         This is fairly obscure. What do you think it means? (Jesus lived a perfect life on earth by taking His role very seriously and relying on His Father. He suffered for us to the point of dying on our behalf for our sins.  By His death He became the perfect sacrifice for us – thus “the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”)

  1.         Our Perfect High Priest

  1.         Read Hebrews 7:11. What is the problem with the old priesthood system? (The inference is that humans could not attain to perfection.)

  1.         “If perfection had been attainable” is posed as a question. Let’s discuss this a minute. Both the old system and the new system have a substitute die for the sins of the human. When you had your sins taken away under the old system, were you perfect at that point?

  1.         Read Leviticus 4:33-35. What is the end result of this procedure? (“He shall be forgiven.”)

  1.         That would mean the person is perfect at that point, right?

  1.         Read Hebrews 10:4. How do you explain the apparent conflict between this text and Leviticus 4:35? (Hebrews tells us that the person bringing the sacrifice was still in his sins. Thus, we have an apparent conflict.)

  1.         Let’s see if we can resolve this. Read Hebrews 10:1. What is the perfection problem explained here? (The sacrifices continue year after year.)

  1.         Why is that a problem? What does that mean with regard to sin? (The sin problem continues.)


  1.         Read Hebrews 9:11-12. How is Jesus’ sacrifice “by means of His own blood” different than the sacrifice of animals? (Jesus provides “an eternal redemption.”)

  1.         Read Hebrews 9:15. What are the “transgressions committed under the first covenant?” (This refers to the sins “forgiven” through the death of animals.)

  1.         Does that mean the first covenant system was not complete?

  1.         Read Hebrews 9:16-17. What does a will have to do with our discussion? (A will contains a promise of what happens when the person dies. Hebrews tells us that the Old Testament system is the will, it is the promise of what happens in the future. That will is not realized until the person making the will dies. In that sense, the Old Testament sins were forgiven under the promise of Jesus’ will. That forgiveness was realized when Jesus died on the cross. Jesus’ death is the permanent solution to sin. Thus making it a perfect solution. From this you can see that the Old Testament system was not perfect because it was not complete.)

  1.         Our Original High Priest

  1.         All of this discussion of Jesus as our perfect High Priest overlooks a problem. Read Numbers 3:10 and Numbers 16:39-40. What is an essential qualification to be a high priest? (To be a descendant of Aaron.)

  1.         What is the penalty for an outsider trying to be a priest? (It is a death penalty offense.)

  1.         Have you ever heard of the tribe of Aaron? I’ve never heard of it. Read Exodus 4:14. From what tribe is Aaron? (He is a Levite. From this we see that the priests descended from the tribe of Levi.)

  1.         Was Jesus, in His incarnation, descended from Aaron or Levi? (Read Hebrews 7:14. Jesus was not a descendant of Aaron or Levi, He was descended from Judah.)

  1.         How serious a problem is this?  Imagine that you were the writer of Hebrews who is arguing that Jesus is now our High Priest?

  1.         Let’s go back and revisit Hebrews 7:11. How does the writer of Hebrews resolve this problem of Jesus not having been of the line of Aaron? (The discussion we had about the Old Testament system versus the New Testament fulfillment by Jesus comes up again.  The system of priests descending from Aaron was imperfect and incomplete. Thus, the writer of Hebrews points to another priest, Melchizedek, who was also not of the line of Aaron.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 7:1-3. How does Melchizedek “resemble” Jesus? (We are told some fantastic things about Melchizedek. He has no parents, no beginning, and no ending. He is an eternal priest. Plus, he is also a king.)

  1.         Is Melchizedek a space alien? (He clearly is not human – if this description is to be taken literally. I can see a book: “Abraham and the Alien.”)        

  1.         Should we simply answer, “Jesus also came from space (from heaven).”                                

  1.         Do you take this description of Melchizedek literally? (John MacArthur reports that the “ancient Syriac Peshitta gives a more accurate translation.” Specifically, the text should be read as the parents of Melchizedek were not “written in genealogies.” Melchizedek is not an alien, he is simply undocumented. The dates of his life are also undocumented.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 7:4-5 and Hebrews 7:9. How does tithe-paying fit into this discussion? (Normally, the people paid their tithe to the Levites, the priests. Abraham, the ancestor of the Levites, paid tithe to Melchizedek. The symbolism is that the tithe-receivers, the Levites, paid tithe to Melchizedek through Abraham.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 7:17 and Psalms 110:4. Consider our discussion so far, and explain why Jesus satisfies the technical requirements to be our High Priest? (The writer of Hebrews teaches us that although Jesus was neither a Levite nor a descendant of Aaron, there is another kind of priesthood recognized in the Old Testament. That is the priesthood of Melchizedek – a person about whom we know very little. We know nothing about his ancestry. But, we do know this: Abraham, the father of Levi, the ancestor of Aaron, paid tithe to Melchizedek. This suggests that Melchizedek was greater than Levi or Aaron. Jesus is of the priestly order of Melchizedek!  Technical problem solved.)

  1.         Friend, we left the technical problem for last. The great good news is that Jesus, our Lord, is our High Priest!  He has created a permanent solution for our sin problem. Will you accept what Jesus has done on your behalf? Why not do so right now?

  1.         Next week: Jesus, the Anchor of the Soul.