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What's This About A High Priest?

Hebrews Chapters 5, 6 and 7

We know a great deal about the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. We recently celebrated His miraculous birth. We know about His sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection. We know He performed miracles, had a great heart of compassion, wept at Lazarus’ tomb and over the city of Jerusalem. He invited children to come to Him. With the humility of a servant, he washed His disciples’ feet. Yet angels came and ministered to Him in the wilderness. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah did the same. Though Peter, James and John witnessed that, they caught only a glimpse  of His full glory.

All that being true, many of us nevertheless could not explain to anyone what is meant by Jesus being “our High Priest.”

He is. But what is involved? What does that mean?

That’s what we’re going to learn in this month’s online study.  I hope you have your Bible at hand and whatever you use to take notes.

You may be asking, “Why would I need a high priest? I’ve heard about those who served in the Temple as High Priest in the Old Testament. And there were still high priests serving there when Jesus came to earth, but how does any of this relate to me?”

First, we need to understand we have a great need—someone who could bridge the gap between us (sinful human beings) and God, who is holy and righteous. If there is one thing we know about ourselves, we know we are not righteous. At least not in our flesh, and not without the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.

1. Turn first to Psalm 24. Fill in some key words. King David asks an important

_______shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or ______ shall stand in His _____ place?

Then he gives the answer:

He that hath _________ hands, and a ________ heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and ____________________ from the God of his salvation.

We all know this: in ourselves, we are not clean and pure. We need help if we are going to stand in God’s presence.
People have known this for a long time. In every culture, if they do not know the one true God as He has revealed Himself through Scripture, creation, and in the person of Jesus Christ, you find people setting up man-made idols to worship, then going through all sorts of acts to appease their god. All people have an innate sense—unless they suppress it—that there is a Supreme Being, we are not Him, and we must do something to appease that Being to be accepted by Him. It’s inborn, and you see it everywhere.

Far back in time, the book of Job was written, and it had two themes: “Why do the righteous suffer?” And “How can a person be justified with God?” Job knew he was a sinner and he knew God was holy. 

2. Turn to Job 9:32-33, the book just before Psalms. Job is perplexed. He feels he’s in an impossible situation and needs help:

32 For He [God] is _____ a ______, as I am, that I should answer Him, and we should ________ _______________ in judgment. 33 Neither is there any daysman [mediator, umpire, arbiter] betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.

Job’s dilemma was,
“I can’t talk to Him face to face as a man would talk to a man. God is Almighty. I’m human and finite. He is holy; I’m sinful.  How are we going to get together? I can’t lift myself to His level, and He’s not going to come down to my level. O, that I had a mediator, someone who could lay his hand upon holy God and sinful man and bring us together.” 

3. How would you describe who was Job hoping for?

4. Turn to 1Timothy 2:5-6.

For there is one God, and one _________________ _______________ God and men, the man ____________  ____________;Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Lest we misunderstand, Paul is not saying here that Jesus Christ is only a man, nothing more. Rather, He is unique—the “God man.” Paul immediately adds that this man, Christ Jesus, is the one who gave Himself as the ransom for us all. He is the one and only person who could be our atoning sacrifice. Jesus is as much God as if He were not man at all and as much man as if He were not God at all.  Not half man and half God; not all God and no man; not all man and no God, but the God man, the One who could lay His hand upon Almighty God and sinful man and bring them together.  That is what a priest does.  A high priest is a mediator, someone who can bring God to you and someone who can go to God for you. Don’t you need somebody who will bring God and make Him real to you and mediate on your behalf with Him?  Someone who can plead your cause for you?  That is our great high priest, the Lord Jesus. Yes, we do have a priest.

Some may feel they don’t need a high priest. This show a lack of understanding as to who God is and who we are. In your own words, if you believe you need a mediator between yourself and God—why?

5. Turn to Hebrews chapter 5 and fill in some key words. We’re going to begin with the first verse and come forward through verse 6, first from the King James translation; then we’ll see better what all this means in a more understandable version.   

 1 For every _______  __________ taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and _______________ for sins:
Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
So also ___________ glorified _____  Himself to be made an high priest; but He [God] that said unto Him [Jesus], “Thou art My Son, today have I begotten Thee.”
As He [God] saith also in another place, “Thou [Jesus] art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

a. In verse 1, the high priest is “taken from among _______.”

b. In this passage, God is comparing and contrasting the similarities and differences between a human being serving as the high priest (which was the case before Jesus’ death and resurrection), and ____________ (v. 5) serving as high priest.

When verse 6 says “in another place,” it indicates that God has made this same comparison—has said this very same thing—once before.  That “other place” is Psalm 110:4. Don’t turn there yet.

6. Now here is the Amplified version of this Hebrews passage, which will enable us to better understand what it’s saying (we’re still in Hebrews chapter 5):
1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed [to act] on behalf of men in things relating to God, so that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.

Is the high priest described in v. 1 a human being or not?

He is able to deal gently with the spiritually ignorant and misguided, since he is also subject to human weakness;
and because of this [human weakness] he is required to offer sacrifices for sins, for himself as well as for the people.

Who does he offer sacrifices for? _____________ and ________________

And besides, one does not appropriate for himself the honor [of being high priest], but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.

Do you get to nominate yourself to run for the office of high priest? Throw your hat in the ring?

So too Christ did not glorify Himself so as to be made a high priest, but He [was exalted and appointed by the One] who said to Him,
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten (fathered) You [declared Your authority and rule over the nations]”;

Who made Jesus the High Priest on behalf of all people?

just as He also says in another place,
“You are a priest [appointed] forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”

7. Now let’s turn to that “other place”—Psalm 110:4

The _________ hath sworn, and will not repent [change His mind], “Thou art a ____________ forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

Who is the “Thou” the Lord is talking to? If we back up to the first verse of Psalm110, we will know.

This is a short Psalm of only 7 verses. As it begins, it says “The Lord said unto my Lord…”  Wait. Is God talking to Himself? Let’s dig deeper into this.

The Lord said unto my Lord…”

In some translations of the Bible—perhaps the version you are using—in verse 1 you see the word “Lord” first written in small caps, and then 3 words later, it is not.

The reason “Lord” would be written using small caps is because in the original Hebrew, the author at that place is using not just any of the many titles for God, but he is using God’s divine, holy, personal  name: “Yahweh.”

“Yahweh” is the most significant name for God in the Old Testament. It has a twofold meaning: “the active, Self-existent One” and “Israel’s Redeemer,” and is closely associated with His holiness. But since the Hebrews considered His personal name so holy, they did not write out the name fully, as we would do. Instead, they wrote only the consonants:  “YHWH.” Four letters.

“YHWH,” the 4 letters, is called the “tetragrammaton” (tetra = 4). “Yahweh” (including the vowels now) is God’s personal name, not His title. God has many names and titles, such as Savior, Lord (not in small caps), Redeemer, Creator, Mighty Warrior, Lord of Hosts, Kinsman Redeemer, Good Shepherd, etc., but “Yaweh” is his personal name.
Out of respect and awe, it was neither pronounced nor spelled out fully by Hebrew writers, but represented by the tetragrammaton, the 4 letters, YHWH.  When you see “Lord” in your Bible, know that in the original Hebrew, the author is writing “YHWH.”

Now, we do not know exactly how it is or was pronounced. But scholars believe the closest, phonetically, is “Yahweh”—just like it looks. The vowels are there to help us pronounce it.   

Keep in mind also that many words were used to represent God by highlighting His characteristics. Most are translated simply “Lord” (no small caps). Among them are: Adonai, El Elyon, El Shaddai, and Elohim.

Here’s something very interesting. In the first 2 verses of Psalm 91, a psalm loved by so many, notice the words in Bold. This is a familiar verse, and you will probably recognize it:
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shelter of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, My fortress and my refuge, My God, in whom I trust.
Now within those 2 verses, the author used four different words for God! Here is how it reads exactly—if we use the precise Hebrew words the psalmist did:

He that dwelleth in the secret place of El Elyon will abide under the shadow of El Shaddai. I will say of Yahweh, “My fortress and my refuge, my Elohim, in whom I trust.
If we stretch that out to show the entire meaning, including what those words represent, he is saying:
He that dwelleth in the secret place of El Elyon, God Most High, will abide under the shadow of El Shaddai, the overpowering Mighty One standing on a mountain. I will say of Yahweh, the self-existent One, Israel’s Redeemer, “My refuge and fortress, my Elohim, the strong One, the Mighty Leader, the Supreme Deity, in whom I trust!”
So remember, when you see the word “Lord” written in small caps, that represents the tetragrammaton, YHWH, indicating God’s personal name, “Yahweh,” is being used in the original Hebrew.

Back to our original question: In Psalm 110:1, is God talking to Himself? We know now the answer is “No.”

8. Not counting the enemies, how many persons do we see in verse 1?

The Lord said unto my Lord” indicates that God the Father, YHWH, is speaking to someone else, and it has to be one of the other Persons of the Trinity.

The verse continues:

1 “…sit Thou at My right hand until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.”

The Person God the Father is speaking to is the Person who is going to sit at His right hand. By process of elimination, we can know for certain it can only be the Son—at this time the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ—who shares God the Father’s kingly authority and position, sitting “at My right hand,” because Scripture is going to confirm it.

If the Bible only said it once, someone might question it. But look at these verses. You don’t need to turn there. Just read them together and let the majesty of who the Lord Jesus is, sink in:

Acts 7:55-56
55 But he,[Stephen, the first martyr of the New Testament church] full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

Romans 8:34:
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Ephesians 1:20
 …that He [God the Father] worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

Colossians 3:1
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

Hebrews 1:3
Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

Hebrews 8:1

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

Hebrews 10:12
But this man [Christ], after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

Hebrews 12:2
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

9. We are in Psalm 110. Continue to verse 4. God the Father is still speaking to the same Person he was addressing in v. 1.

The Lord[Yahweh] hath sworn, and will not repent, “Thou art a _____________ for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”

So the Person seated at Yahweh’s right hand is also called a _____________.  For how long will he serve as a priest?

We’re going to get to the mysterious person Melchizedek in just a moment.

10. Now turn back to Hebrews 6:19-20 for more confirmation. 
19 Which ________ we have as an _________ of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an _______  __________ for ______ after the order of Melchizedek.” 

What does this mean? Phillips says it more clearly:

19 This hope we hold as the utterly reliable anchor for our souls, fixed in the very certainty of God himself in Heaven, 20 where Jesus has already entered on our behalf, having become, as we have seen, “High Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”

And the Amplified translates it this way:

19 This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells], 20 where Jesus has entered [in advance] as a forerunner for us, having become a High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Why all this talk about Melchizedek?

Who was he, and why is he significant? Why does God keep saying that His Son Jesus is our High Priest “after the order of Melchizedek,” and not after the priests of the tribe of Levi? After all, the tribe of Levi was set apart to be the priests serving in the Tabernacle and Temple. So why isn’t Jesus a priest “after the order of the Levites”?

There are important reasons, the most important one being that the priestly order of Melchizedek was different from the order of Levite priests, as we will see.

First, God wants us to understand His plan, principles, provision and precepts, so in the Bible He uses symbols and illustrations to help us understand them. God uses the person of Melchizedek as a symbol.

Thousands of years ago, during the time of Abraham—centuries before Moses—there was an incredible individual named Melchizedek. He is an Old Testament shadow of the Lord Jesus Christ. He pictured and prophesied the coming of our Savior in the New Testament. When we learn about Melchizedek, we learn about our high priest, Jesus.

Let’s go back to Hebrews 2:17 in the Amplified version and get a running start on this. It speaks of Jesus, who became a man. This is why Jesus came to earth.  

17 Therefore, it was essential that He had to be made like His brothers (mankind) in every respect, so that He might [by experience] become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things related to God, to make atonement (propitiation) for the people’s sins [thereby wiping away the sin, satisfying divine justice, and providing a way of reconciliation between God and mankind]. (Amplified)

Jesus became our High Priest to legally provide atonement—our salvation. You see, Adam, as a man, sinned. Therefore, legally, it took a man to redeem us. Jesus was made like us, that He might be a merciful high priest. Jesus was made like us (became a man) so He could experience what we experience.

11. Turn back to Hebrews 4:14-16. 

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be ______________ with the _____________ of our _________________, [that is, we don’t have some stolid priest in Heaven who doesn’t know, who doesn’t care, doesn’t feel, doesn’t understand] but was ___  ______  ___________ tempted [tested] like as we are, yet without sin.”  That is, He knows, He feels, He cares, He has been here.  He has walked in sandaled feet beside the shores of Galilee. He has wept, suffered, bled and died. He understands.  “16 Let us therefore _______  ___________ [hallelujah!] to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” 

Jesus, our mediator—our high priest—is the only reason we can come boldly. Do you want mercy?  Do you want grace?  Do you want help in time of need?  We have a priest, someone who can bring God to us, and someone who can bring us to God.

The book of Hebrews was written to Hebrews, and they would have asked, “How could Jesus be the great high priest?  Priests have to come from the tribe of Levi!” The Levites had the priesthood, and it was handed down generationally from Levite to Levite. Jesus, however, came from the tribe of Judah.  So how, they would ask, could Jesus be a priest?  He wasn’t qualified. This is where Melchizedek comes in.

The Sacred Mystery of Our High Priest

Jesus is made a high priest not after the order of Aaron or the Levites, but after the order of another priest, Melchizedek—a priest who pre-dates Levi by centuries. 

Apart from our verse in Psalm 110:4, everything we know about this strange, mysterious person is found in Genesis 14.

12. Turn to Genesis 14:17-20.

a. What was Melchizedek’s title?  “_________  of ___________.”

He ruled in Jerusalem (“Salem.”) “Jeru-salem” means “City of Peace.” There must have been a group of people there in Jerusalem who knew the one true God. Melchizedek’s name means “king of righteousness” and as “king of Salem,” he was “king of peace. In both of these, he is a foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ.

b. What has Abraham just been involved in? ________________ (read vv. 14-16)
(Don’t confuse the King of Sodom with the King of Salem. It would be easy to do, but they were two very different men.)

c. In celebration of his success in battle, and to show gratitude to God, what does Abraham give Melchizedek?

This event was centuries before the Levitical priesthood. Many generations down from Abraham, his descendants in the tribe of Levi formed the priestly order, ordained by God for His people, to serve in the Tabernacle in the wilderness and eventually in the Temple in Jerusalem.

But Jesus was of the tribe of Judah. The Word of God says that Jesus serves as our priest after the order of Melchizedek.

As a high priest, Jesus is superior to Aaron and all the Levites, and Jesus is a high priest not only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles also.

Melchizedek was the foreshadow of the Lord Jesus in His priestly service on our behalf before God, but Jesus is far greater. Melchizedek, as wonderful as he was, was not sinless.
Jesus, as the sinless Son of God was perfect.

13. Let’s leave Genesis 14 and transition now to Hebrews chapter 7, where the author goes deep into the comparison of Jesus, our High Priest, to the wonderful yet mysterious person of Melchizedek, showing his Hebrew readers that as wonderful as Melchizedek was, Jesus Christ was far superior.

Turn to Hebrews 7 to see this. Genesis 14 and Hebrews 7, written millennia apart, are joined together as though they had been written the same day.

In verses 1 and 2, Melchizedek is described as “King of ____________________”
and “King of ____________.” These are titles also for King Jesus.

Jesus is the King of Righteousness, and Jesus is the King of Peace. We will never have righteousness or peace until sin is dealt with. Thank God, at Calvary, sin was dealt with, and once again righteousness and peace are reunited.

14. In v. 3, Melchizedek is Without father, without mother, without descent [the Bible did not record his father or mother], having neither _______________ of days, nor _______  of life;

Compare that with Jesus statement to the Pharisees that “Abraham rejoiced to see My day.

15. Turn to John 8:57-58. This statement blew the religious leaders away. In fact, immediately after the following words, the Pharisees tried to kill Him:

57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, ___________ Abraham was, I ____.

The Second Person of the Trinity had no beginning and He has no end. He is the Eternal, Triune God. There never was a time when Jesus was not; never will be a time when He will not be.  Don’t get the idea that He had a beginning at Bethlehem. No. Jesus always has been, always will be.  He is the great I AM.

16. “but made like unto the Son of God; __________ a priest__________________” (v. 3).Melchizedek is made a priest like Jesus. Jesus was not “like” Melchizedek; Melchizedek is like Jesus. Important distinction.

17. Abraham (v. 4-6) gives Melchizedek a “__________ of the spoils.” We bring our tithes and offerings to God.

18. Melchizedek, (v. 6-7) in his priestly role “______________ him (Abraham) who had the promises. And without all contradiction, the less is blessed of the better.”

When Melchizedek  blessed Abraham, the brightest star in the Hebrew heaven, the greater blesses the lesser, not vice-versa, and this was saying to the Hebrews, “There’s someone better than Abraham, better than, than Levi.” Jesus is pre-eminent, before the priestly line of Levi.

  18. (v. 8) “And here men that _____ receive tithes…” 

All those Levites who received tithes are dead. Our Melchizedek, the Lord Jesus, is not a dead Savior, not a dead high priest. We don’t have a priest who can die.  We have a priest who ever lives to make intercession for us.

19. (v. 9) “And as I may so say, ______ also, who receiveth tithes, _______ tithes in Abraham.” 

Abraham represented the whole Jewish nation. Out of Abraham the entire Hebrew people came.  So when Abraham was giving tithes, he represented everyone who would be his offspring. All the Jews were in Abraham when Abraham was giving tithe to Melchizedek. 

20. (v. 10) “For he [Levi] was _____ in the loins of his father [Abraham] when Melchizedek met him [Abraham].” 

Our Melchizedek, Jesus, was on the scene before Levi was ever heard of.  Jesus—not the Old Testament Law, not the Levitical priesthood—has the primacy.

The Old Testament priesthood was only a shadow, and all of the offerings that the Old Testament priests made, thousands and thousands of lambs and rams and pigeons and turtle doves and goats – all of that could never take away sin.  It was all imperfect.

Someone wrote these words: 
"Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away one stain.” 

21. All those offerings did was just to prefigure the one, perfect offering that was going to come. There needed to be a new covenant. 

v. 22: By so much was Jesus made a surety [a guarantee] of a ___________ covenant.

Jesus, our High Priest is the guarantee, of a more wonderful agreement with God, a better covenant. 

22. (v. 21) For __________ [Levitical] priests were made _____________ an ______; but with an oath by Him that said unto Him, “The Lord sware and will not repent, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Do you understand what the Almighty Father said? When a high priest in the Old Testament became high priest, God did not take an oath concerning him. But God is so proud of His Son, God’s heart is so set on our great High Priest, that God takes an oath on Himself and says to His Son, “My Son, You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” When God swears by Himself, we’d better pay attention. What a guarantee we have. How much greater He is than the Aaronic, Levitical high priest. 

20-21 This means a “better” hope for us because Jesus has become our priest by the oath of God. Other men have been priests without any sworn guarantee, but Jesus has the oath of Him that said of Him: ‘The Lord has sworn and will not relent, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’.

22-25 And He is, by virtue of this fact, Himself the living guarantee of a “better” agreement. Human High Priests have always been changing, for death made a permanent appointment impossible. But Christ, because He lives for ever, possesses a priesthood that needs no successor. This means that He can save fully and completely those who approach God through him, for he is always living to intercede on their behalf.

23. Earthly priests are only here for a short time, then there must be another one.

24 But this man [Jesus], because He continueth _____________, hath an ____________________ priesthood. 

We will never have to get a new Savior. Ever. Old Testament priests would come and go. In His saving ministry, He abides forever.   

He brings God to us, us to God, and says,

Father, there’s Adrian.  He’s failed again. Father, he doesn’t deserve it, but, Father, for his sin I died.  With My blood I redeemed him.  Lord, You cannot condemn him without condemning Me because I am in him and he is in Me.”

We have a Savior, a dear, loving Savior, who is praying for us today. 
Friend, do you realize that Jesus is still praying?  We talk about the finished work of Jesus—that’s Calvary.  But the unfinished work of Jesus is here in verse 25:  “He ever lives to make intercession for us.” 

Our high priest not like any other.  The One who forgives our sins has print of the nails in His hands.  

24. Turn to 2 Corinthians 5:21 This is known in the Bible as “The Great Exchange.”

21 For He [God] hath made Him [Jesus] to be _____ for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the _______________________ of God in Him.

Jesus, our high priest, never sinned, but He became sin for me. He took my sin, your sin, our sin, all the sin upon Himself and became a sacrifice for sin, so that I could be washed whiter than snow and receive His righteousness and stand before a holy God.

Here’s the bottom line. Jesus, our high priest, is in heaven. That’s the reason why I know heaven is a real place. Jesus is there in a resurrected body.  Heaven is not just a nice thought. It is the place of His ministry.  He is there at the right hand of the Father, co-equal, co-eternal with God the Father. The place of His ministry is the place of His majesty, at the right hand of God forevermore. 


The mystery of Melchizedek is a picture of the mystery of our great high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, forever and ever, without beginning, without end, the one who gives the victory, the one to whom all praise and honor and giving is due.

Hallelujah, What a Savior.  He is King.  He is priest.  He is the King of Righteousness.  He is the Prince of Peace.  If you’ll make Him your King, I promise you on the authority of the Word of God you will know righteousness and you will know peace.  And you will have a high priest, someone who will bring God to you, and someone who will intercede for you before the Father.
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