February 20

Our Great High Priest

Bible Reading: Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16

For 24 hours beginning at sunset on October 4th, 2022 the entirety of Israel will celebrate Yom Kippur (Yom Kippur = day of atonement).  Normal life in Israel will stop.  All businesses including all restaurants will be closed.  All transportation will stop, including air travel to and from Israel’s major airport.  Almost all private vehicles will also stop, so the roads will be devoid of traffic.  While it is commendable that the people should honor their centuries-old tradition, there is no temple or high priest or sacrifices.  The people refrain from work and observe Yom Kippur these days in fasting and prayer, but all the prayers in the world will not work to avail unfettered access to the throne of grace.

The priests of the Old Testament were appointed by God to mediate between Himself and His people.  Only the High Priest could offer the highest sacrifice, and that he did on Yom Kippur.  All the sins of the people were symbolically brought into the holy of holies and sprinkled on the mercy seat for atonement.  Before the high priest could make a sacrifice for the people, he had to make a sacrifice for himself, because he was a sinner too.  His time in the presence of the Shekinah glory was limited to the time it took to make the sacrifice.  He could not sit down or delay, and he left as soon as he was done.  Every year, once a year, another Yom Kippur was required.  Between these sacrifices, every day, thousands of other sacrifices were made.  In spite of all these many sacrifices, no unfettered access to the throne of grace was availed to those folks.

In Jesus “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens” (Hebrews 4:14).  Unlike his predecessors, Jesus was without sin and didn’t need to make an offering for himself (Hebrews 7:26-28).  Those previous priests all died, but Jesus lives forever to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:15-28).  Those previous priests ministered in a small earthly temple (in which they dared not to sit), but after making his once for all sacrifice, Jesus passed through the heavens and is now seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 8:1-2).  The best those priests could offer was the blood of bulls and goats, which could never take away sins, but Jesus offered Himself in a once for all sacrifice that can save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25; 10:4, 12, 22). The OT High Priests alone could enter the Holy of Holies, and then but once a year.  The people themselves never had such access.  But when Jesus, our high priest, died on the cross He inaugurated for us all a new and living way of access through His flesh (Hebrews 10:19-22).

Jesus has worked to mediate for you unfettered access to the throne of grace!  Even more amazing is that we have an open invitation, founded on the merits of Jesus and His sacrifice, to go with confidence to such a throne to receive help in time of need.  Who doesn’t have a time of need!  We have them all–spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, relational–the list goes on and on.  We needn’t keep them to ourselves, we are exhorted to take them to the throne of grace.  And think about that for a moment.  The throne of a king in Bible times could hardly be called a throne of grace.  But God’s throne is as God is.  He freely bestows mercy and grace to those who ask!  What an amazing privilege!  Perhaps you’ve some need you’ve held on to for too long already, your Heavenly Father bids you to bring that to Him!

Heavenly Father, how incredibly privileged we are to be able to come freely before Your throne of grace!  Thank you for the gracious provision of Your Son’s sacrifice that has worked to tear down the veil, opening a way of access to us.  We come in His name, on the basis of His shed blood, and the cleansing it has availed to us.  Forgive us that we don’t make our way to Your throne as often as we should.  We are in fact, very needy, and with needs that are way to big for us to deal with.  So Father, we bring them to You, so very thankful that in Your storehouse of grace there is an infinite supply of help availed to us.  Amen.

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;

To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,

To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources

Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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