Some years ago, one of Jamaica’s most prominent obeah men (witch doctors) was brought to the bar of justice on trial for his life. The charge? Murder. While he had been training a young man in the nefarious art of witchcraft, the fanatical young apprentice had cut off a young woman’s head to use in an initiation service requiring human blood.
The young man and his maestro were suspected, apprehended, tried, and convicted. The murderer died on the gallows, but the obeah man was only sentenced to some years in the penitentiary.
Years passed. The sentence was served. The obeah man was released in failing health. One day while he was seated on the front veranda of his home, a Jamaican literature missionary came selling his religious books. He opened his sales pitch with a reference to the judgment, not knowing that his customer was the central figure of the sensational murder trial from a few years before.
“Young man,” the obeah man interrupted him, “don’t you ever say that God will bring everything into judgment—even the secret sins!”
“But He will,” the missionary explained. “The Bible makes that very clear.”
“Then I’m a lost man! A lost man!” the man moaned.
The missionary seized the opportunity to point this poor soul to Christ—the sinner’s friend, his advocate before the judgment bar of God—and to urge him to accept Jesus as his Savior and intercessor.
“Young man,” the obeah man said, weeping, “God sent you here to help me.” Continuing to weep, he asked the missionary to kneel and pray for him. There on the front veranda, the old obeah man gave his heart to Christ. He understood that Christ came to save and not to condemn the ignorant sinner.
When he died a short time later, it was in the full hope of meeting his coming King and with a prayer on his lips that those who surrounded his bedside might also accept his Savior and keep His commandments
Everyone has a soul to save or to lose. Each one of us has a case pending at the judgment bar of God. How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, when every individual must stand in his lot at the end of days.
Even more important is the knowledge of Christ’s ministry as our great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. Understanding His role as our advocate and intercessor helps us understand how to prepare ourselves for the judgment.
Earthly high priests were required to meet exacting standards for this sacred role. Christ met still higher standards as our heavenly High Priest, enabling Him to be our perfect mediator and advocate.
I. QUALIFICATIONS OF THE LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD OF ISRAEL
1. From among whom was the high priest chosen? Hebrews 5:1
2. Why was every high priest taken from among men and ordained to stand before God in behalf of men? Hebrews 5:1
3. Why was the high priest to have compassion on others? Hebrews 5:2
The earthly high priest could deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself was beset with weakness. Because of this he was bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for the sins of the people.
4. What requirement qualified the first earthly high priest, Aaron, and must be met by all workers for Christ? Hebrews 5:4
II. THE QUALIFICATION OF CHRIST TO BE HIGH PRIEST
1. Of what did Christ take part, which made Him like fallen human beings? Hebrews 2:14 (See also Romans 1:3, 8:3; Galatians 4:4, 5.)
2. What qualified Christ more fully than the earthly high priest to be ordained to the ministry of a High Priest? Acts 17:31
God tolerated man’s past ignorance (Acts 17:30), but now He commands everyone to put away all sin and worship only Him. God established a time to justly judge the world by the man He has appointed—Jesus Christ.
3. What did Christ bear when offering His life as a precious sacrificial gift on Calvary? Hebrews 9:28
4. What did Christ endure, so that He could sympathetically experience the battle which man has with sin? Hebrews 2:17, 18
The priesthood must be inaugurated by a divine oath. Hebrews 7:21
The holder of this priesthood must be pre-existent, eternal, divine, and without descendants. Hebrews 7:3
He must have changeless, uninterrupted ministry. Hebrews 7:3
He must be a kingly priest. Hebrews 7:2
He must provide within Himself and by Himself gifts and sacrifices. Hebrews 8:3; Hebrews 7:27
The priesthood must impart perfection. Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 4:15
We first learn of the Melchizedek priesthood during the life of Abraham (Genesis 14:18–20), long before there was a Levitical priest. The Levitical priesthood represented the mediation of Christ for mankind, but it failed because man strove in powerless human strength. Therefore it was necessary for a divine kingly priest to emerge with the rank of Melchizedek rather than with the rank of Aaron, who was the first Levitical high priest who would have the power of salvation.
III. CHRIST’S MINISTRY TODAY
1. What is the purpose of Christ’s High Priestly ministry? Hebrews 7:25
2. Through the covenant of Jesus, where is the law written? Hebrews 8:10
Because of the pardoning and transforming power of our High Priest, we are both titled and fitted for glory.
3. What responsibility do God’s children have, after receiving the knowledge of the truth? Hebrews 10:26
While Christ did not have to offer a sacrifice for His own sins, He took upon Himself our sins, for which He made the perfect sacrifice.
5. To what order of priest was Christ called? Hebrews 5:10
Christ perfectly fulfilled every criterion for the office of a high priest under the Levitical system, except for the crucial criterion of ancestry (Hebrews 7:14). Christ was born into the tribe of Judah, not the tribe of Levi. Thus, Christ was ineligible for the Levitical priesthood. But the Word of God speaks of another priestly line, vastly superior to that of the Levitical priesthood. While the Melchizedek order of priesthood required all the non-hereditary qualifications pertaining to the Levitical, there were additional and more stringent requirements for this rare form of priesthood. Six additional requirements were specified for the eligibility to the priesthood of the Melchizedek order. These were:
The whole study of Christ’s priesthood reveals irrefutable evidence that Christ did indeed take upon Himself our human nature. Thus, He is able to impart His perfect character to us. When this work is complete, the plan of God to save lost man will then be finished. There will be no further intercession for a lost race. The final call will have been made, the last prayer for the sinner will have been offered, the last appeal for a lost soul will have been given. No further probation will be extended. God is pleading with His human race to read and understand His word so that we can fully be like Him. He will then end this great controversy by receiving His chosen generation.
Today I have accepted Christ as my High Priest, asking Him to reveal to me the imperfections in my character in order that I might receive His forgiveness and His power of victory in my life.
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