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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Derek Prince » Derek Prince - Jesus As Our High Priest

Derek Prince - Jesus As Our High Priest

Derek Prince - Jesus As Our High Priest
TOPICS: Bible Study, Hebrews Bible Study, Jesus, High Priest

In our previous session we got to the end of Hebrews 2 and we could just quickly glance again at those closing words. That is, Hebrews 2:17–18 where we have the first mention in the text of high priest which is a key point in the unfolding revelation. I pointed out last time that this passage at the end of chapter 2 points out three ways in which Jesus is qualified to help us as our high priest. Also in chapter 2 from verse 6 to the end, the writer emphasizes the complete identification of Jesus with humanity.

Now, tonight in our opening session I propose to deal further with the theme of high priest. I realize that for the great majority of people this is something that is totally unfamiliar to our religious way of thinking. Those of us that have read the Old Testament, and that isn't necessarily all of us, have read about a high priest. High priest is also mentioned in the New Testament but apart from this epistle to the Hebrews he's only mentioned in a historical way as being the religious, and in some sense, the secular ruler of the Jewish people in the time of Jesus. And much of what is said about him is not very favorable. However, the high priesthood of Jesus, as I've said, is the central theme of this epistle.

And you can't appreciate it very fully until you have some concept of who the high priest was, what his functions were, and why he was so tremendously important. For that actually you have to go back to the Old Testament. There is much written about the high priest in the Old Testament, mainly I suppose, in the two books of Exodus and Leviticus. We cannot go through all those passages but I've singled out one passage which probably presents the high priest in as vivid a way as any passage of the Bible. That is, Exodus 28. Now before we turn there, in your outline at the bottom of Page 2/3, you'll find a reference in Hebrews 5:1. Let's turn there for a moment. The reason for this reference is it defines the functions of a priest. These are extremely important.

I really challenge or question whether most of you if suddenly asked what are the functions of a priest would be able to give a clear or scriptural answer. And yet, much of Scripture is interwoven with this theme. They're stated there in Hebrews 5:1, I'll give you my extemporary translation. For every high priest being taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;. The one key word that's always associated with the priest is the word sacrifice. Essentially, in the Bible only a priest was qualified to offer sacrifice. As a matter of fact, in the book of 1 Samuel King Saul lost his kingdom because he transgressed that regulation, usurped the place of a priest and offered sacrifice.

The other thing that a priest offers is gifts. It's very important to understand that in God's scheme of things there can be no basis for anyone to have an ongoing relationship with God apart from two things: a priest and a covenant. God does not entertain a relationship on a permanent basis with any human being without these two prerequisites: a priest and a covenant. If you have an ongoing relationship with God, which I trust you do, whether you realize it or not, and quite likely you don't realize it, your relationship is based upon having a priest and a covenant. Without that, God will not entertain a relationship permanently with anybody. There may be a temporary transaction, but no permanent relationship.

The two functions of a priest are: first of all, to offer sacrifices on behalf of the sins of men because until the sin issue is dealt with nobody can have access to God. The barrier between God and man is sin. The only remedy for sin is a God appointed sacrifice. Consequently, for any person to have access to God, the sin question must be dealt with by a sacrifice. The only person authorized to offer a sacrifice is a priest. So we are totally dependent on a priest for access to God. The other function of a priest mentioned here is to receive gifts from men offered to God. We live in such a democratic culture that we can scarcely conceive the fact that it is not in order for any of us to go up to God and say, "Hey God, I've got ten dollars for your project". It's not permissible. We require a priest to present our gift to God. Otherwise, we cannot give God gifts.

So for two essential things, the offering of sacrifice and the presenting of gifts, we are dependent on a priest. Then, if you turn over the page in your note outline we look also for a moment in Hebrews 8:4–5 which brings out another principle in relationship to the priestly ordinances of the Old Testament. Hebrews 8:4-5 Talking about the priests of the Levitical order it says this: If He [Jesus] were upon the earth, He would not even be a priest, because there are already those priests who offer gifts according to the Law; who serve in [or just serve] a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was warned as he was about to construct the tabernacle; for, "See," he said, "that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mount". So when Moses was about to construct the tabernacle, the final word of instruction he got was be careful that you make everything in this earthly tabernacle according to the pattern which was shown you on the mount.

Now we're going to return to Hebrews 8 hopefully in due course so I only want to bring that out, two points about the priest. First of all, a priest is essential for an ongoing relationship with God. He has two primary functions: to offer sacrifices for sins, and to present men's gifts to God. Secondly, the Levitical priest described in the Law of Moses was serving in a tabernacle which was a copy and shadow of a heavenly tabernacle. It was not original. The original tabernacle is in heaven. When we get to chapter 8 we'll look into that more fully. Now I say that because when we look now at the description of the high priest that we're going to study in Exodus 28, I want you to realize all of it in one way or another tells us something about the heavenly priesthood. It's like, in a way, being able to interpret a language or a set of symbols. There is a very definite symbolism in the Old Testament, which, if we can understand it, reveals to us realities on the heavenly plane.

Let's go to Exodus 28. Exodus 28 describes the garments that were ordained for the high priest. For me it is a very, very vivid and beautiful picture. I hope I can communicate it that way to you. and I'm going to read it section by section from the New American Standard simply because I've come to observe that it confuses you if I go from one version to another. I think you have enough problems putting your fingers in three different passages without having to do it in two different Bibles! So although I would prefer to use the NIV, I'll stick with the NASB. Exodus 28:1. I do have the NASB around if we need to look at it. Exodus 28:1: "Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons". The word "to minister as priest" is a single verb in Hebrew, kohen.

How many of you have heard the name Cohen? Almost everybody. Okay. Cohen is the Hebrew word for priest. This verb is formed from that. Everybody called Cohen, theoretically, is descended from Aaron. And they have special obligations today among the Jewish people. If you have the name Cohen, or any other derivatives or forms of it, you are not permitted, even today in Israel, to marry a divorced woman. So there are certain regulations that still carry over from the days of Moses. I happen to know a lady who got into tremendous difficulties because she wanted to marry a divorced man and she was a Cohen. As a matter of fact, I'm rather proud to say that amongst my adopted daughters I have three Cohens and one Katz. Now Katz is just Cohen in another form. It's Cohen-zedek, priest of righteousness. You take the K and the TZ and it makes Katz. That's obvious, I don't need to go into that any further, do I? All right.

As I say from time to time, there's no extra charge for all that. Now we come to the garments which are to be made. Verses 2–4: "And you shall make holy garments, for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty". Three important words there: holy, glory and beauty. That's the essence of this whole theme. "And you shall speak to all the skillful persons..." I think the alternative reading in the margin is "wise of heart". I want you to notice that in the Bible craftsmanship is wisdom. It's been so much downgraded in contemporary culture, but wise people are craftsmen in the Bible". Whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom..." To do what? Not to preach sermons but to make garments.

Isn't that exciting! "Whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, [to] make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me". Verse 4, we get a list of the garments. "And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece [alternatively translated a pouch] but I prefer the word breastpiece. and an ephod and a robe and a tunic . a turban and a sash..." That's six garments. Let me go over them once more. Number one, a breastpiece. Number two, an ephod. Number three, a robe. Number four, a tunic. Number five, a turban. you know what a turban is, it goes on the head. And number six, a sash.

Now, my instinct immediately tells me that list isn't complete. Why? Because there has to be seven, that's right. The seventh is very clearly there, keep your finger in that page and turn on to chapter 28:36-37: The same chapter verses 36-37. "You shall also make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal, 'Holy to the LORD [ko-desh la adoni].' And you shall fasten it on a blue cord, and it shall be on the turban; it shall be at the front of the turban". So his attire was not complete with the six garments. On top of the turban there had to be fastened this gold plate with a blue ribbon and the gold plate proclaimed "Holy to the Lord". Going back now to verse 5 we get the materials. "And they shall take the gold and the blue and the purple and the scarlet material, and the fine linen".

There are five basic materials. And I have put there what I believe to be the symbolical meaning of those materials. The first is a metal, gold. And it's really interesting in contemporary society that gold never loses its value. You can still buy a house with just as much gold as you could have bought a house for thirty or forty years ago. You can't say that about dollars but you can about gold. Gold has not changed its value. Gold, in my understanding, represents the nature of God, divinity, and together with that, holiness. Now there are two other main metals that are not mentioned here, but are frequently mentioned. Silver and copper [or brass]. And I don't have any question in my mind as to the symbolical meanings. Silver stands for redemption and brass or copper stands for judgment.

Interestingly, it states about the temple that Solomon built, "No one could weigh or measure all the copper that was in it". And the Scriptures says, "God's judgments are past searching out", nobody can ever weigh the judgments of God. That's just one way that you can apply this symbolism. Blue is heavenly. Everybody knows the color of heaven is blue! Let's go on for a minute and come back to purple. The next is scarlet, the color of blood, the color of humanity. You need to bear in mind that the name of the first man was Adam. The Hebrew for earth is adamah and the Hebrew for blood is dam. So right in the middle of "Adam" is the word for blood. Now you can go into theories, and I never try to push them on people, but I believe the distinctive feature of our earthly body is it has blood. I question whether our resurrection body will have blood in it. That's a personal question.

When Jesus appeared with His resurrection body He said, "I have flesh and bones," but He did not mention blood. The reason, I'm getting myself out of my depth, the reason being the soul of all flesh is in the blood. And the first and the natural body is a soulish body, but the second resurrection body is a spiritual body, 1 Corinthians 15:45–47. We have then, I believe, scarlet: the color of humanity in its earthly existence. And of course, you don't have to be an artist to know purple comes through mingling blue and scarlet. So purple is mingled heavenly and earthly. Purple is also the color of royalty. In the New Testament purple was the specific color reserved for kings and emperors. To "wear the purple" was to become emperor of Rome.

There's one passage which is so vivid to me I'd like you to turn to it. Keep your finger in Exodus 28 and turn to John 19:2–5. John 19:2-5. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and arrayed Him in a purple robe; and they began to come up to Him, and say, "Hail, King of the Jews"! and to give Him blows in the face. We go on reading: And Pilate came out again, and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no guilt in Him". Jesus therefore came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, "Behold, the Man"! That's a tremendous statement. He was the oracle of God when he said that, just as the high priest had been the oracle of God when he said, "It's fitting that one man should die for the people and not all the people".

He made a prophetic statement of the reason for the death of Jesus. "Behold, the Man"! Ha adam, "the man" in Hebrew. I believe Jesus was "the man," the only man who was the man. He was what every man should have been, and no other man ever became. And He was the representative of Adam. When Adam sinned, the Lord cursed the earth and said, "Thorns and thistles would it bring forth". When Jesus took the curse of the earth upon Him He wore the crown of thorns, and the purple robe of the thistle. But He was also set apart as the King of the Jews. A very difficult position to fill, the king of the Jews. There was the qualification. He took the curse, shed His blood, redeemed His people. And in it we see the mingling of the heavenly and the earthly.

Going back now to Exodus 28:5, it's going to be difficult for me to stay anchored tonight but I'm going to try. We have the fifth material, the fine linen, which all through the Bible speaks of purity and righteousness. And in this passage it's carefully emphasized that the linen is twined or woven. For a moment, just turn to Revelation 19 verses: 7-8. "Let us rejoice and be glad, and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready". And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean [or shining and clean]; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. It's woven; it's worked on. It's one thing to have righteousness imputed to you by faith, it's another to wear the fine linen of outworked righteousness in your acts. The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. It's not just imputed righteousness, it's righteousness lived out in acts. And that is what the bride is going to wear.

So you really need to check on whether you're weaving your linen. We're going back to Exodus 28 and just briefly recapitulate the materials: gold for divinity and holiness, blue for the heavenly, purple for royalty and suffering, scarlet for blood and humanity, fine linen for purity or righteousness worked out in deeds. Now we come to the first and the most distinctive priestly garment which is the ephod. Verse 6: "They shall also make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen, the work of the skillful workman". All the five materials are in the ephod. The ephod was the one garment that specifically was worn only by priests. It reached from the breast down to the hips and it was held in place by two shoulder bands which went over each shoulder. And you'll see in this particular case on each of the shoulder bands there was something very important attached. And the attachment held the shoulder bands together.

Let me say right from the beginning, one of the emphases of this passage is that everything is held together, everything is part of a whole and nothing can be omitted. All the qualifications have to be there. The ephod was also tied around the waist with a sash which indicates that it had to be closely attached to the priest's body. It was not to hang loosely, it was to be very closely a part of him. I trust that makes the picture plain. I'm going to go on reading verse by verse. "It shall have two shoulder pieces joined to its two ends, that it may be joined". The key word there is joined. Everything has to be a single whole. Verse 8, we come to the waistband. "And the skillfully woven band, which is on it, shall be like its workmanship, of the same material..." Or from it. In other words, I understand it to be attached to it. It was not separate, "of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted [or woven] linen".

I don't know how it is with you, but for me as I go through that list, and repeat it every time, somehow it forms a picture inside me of beauty, of skilled craftsmanship and of rich meaning. I just hope the Holy Spirit can communicate to you what I see in it. Because to me, it is so rich I could dwell on this chapter for hours. Verses 9–12, the first use of the names of the tribes. "And you shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, according to their birth. As a jeweler engraves a signet, you shall engrave the two stones according to the names of the sons of Israel; you shall set them in filigree settings of gold".

Now, consider where these two jewels were with the names on them. They were on the shoulder pieces holding the straps together so that every time the priest went into the tabernacle he lifted up the names of the twelve sons of Israel to God. God looked down upon the priest and saw the names. His presence was a continual reminder of those twelve sons of Jacob. And secondly, the shoulder in the Bible is the place of strength. There are two areas of strength: the loin, or the thigh, and the shoulder. So the high priest always bore the names of God's people before God individually on his shoulder, as it were, supported by his strength.

There are two passages about the shoulder that I like. Keep your finger again in Exodus 28 and turn to Isaiah 9:6 for a moment. Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; the government will rest on His shoulders. That's the place of rule, authority and power. Then in the story of the lost sheep in Luke 15:5, what is for me a very beautiful touch when you consider who the shepherd is. Luke 15:5: He goes out after this sheep that is lost in the desert, verse 5: "When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing". He gives it his total support and complete security. But in the passage we're looking at, it's on the shoulders that the names of God's people are lifted up before God. Going back now to Exodus 28:13–14. "And you shall make filigree settings of gold, and two chains of pure gold; you shall make them of twisted cordage work, and you shall put the corded chains on the filigree settings".

So the twisted chains again speak of something that's been worked out and has great strength. And the gold again speaks of something that's divine, something that man cannot tamper with. It's settled. And it fastens the names of the people of God to the high priest's ephod. In other words, to be high priest you always had to bear the names of God's people upon you. I don't know whether that speaks to you at all in a way of what intercessory prayer is. I imagine there are parents here who can understand what it means to bear the names of your children on your shoulders before God. I've discovered it's quite a responsibility being a parent.

How many of you have made that discovery? I've also discovered that when my children get married, my responsibilities don't terminate! I still have their names on my shoulders. As a matter of fact, since I married Ruth I have exactly the same number of names that the high priest had, but they're not all boys. All right. Going back to that passage in my outline at the bottom of Page 2/4. The two identical stones indicate corporate identity. Six on one, six on the other. And notice it was the ephod that held them together. And it's only our high priest that holds us together. How many of you would agree with that? We've looked at the gold settings and chains. My comment is divine, inseparable. I hope I'm bringing it out to you that everything had to be there attached, nothing could be loose, nothing could be hanging around, nothing could be missing. It had to be totally, perfectly complete.

Verses 15–21, the breastpiece. Let's read those verses. "You shall make a breastpiece [or a pouch] of judgment". Now the NIV says "of making decisions". And we'll come to the meaning of that in a few moments. Let's just go on for a moment. "You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, the work of a skillful workman; like the work of the ephod you shall make it: of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen you shall make it". Again, all the same materials. "It shall be square and folded double, a span in length and a span in width".

I take it myself that it was a span folded. A span is approximately nine inches but it's a measurement from the tip of your thumb to the tip of your little finger stretched out. All the measurements of the Bible basically are taken from the human body. An inch is the top joint of your thumb, a foot is a foot, span is a span, a cubit is the lower part of your arm from the elbow to the tip of your fingers. When it says in Revelation that the cubit was the measurement of a man, that is, of the angel, there's more point to that than you see at first because it somehow indicates that the angel had approximately the same measurements as a man.

All right, going on, verse 17: "And you shall mount on it four rows of stones; the first row shall be a row of ruby, topaz and emerald", not all these stones are certainly identified, "the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and a diamond; and the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; and the fourth row a beryl and an onyx and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree. And the stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, according to their names; they shall be like the engravings of a seal, each according to his name, for the twelve tribes".

It's a very beautiful picture. Not only did the priest carry the names on his shoulder but he carried them over his heart. His strength and his love were totally committed to the people he represented. Here we get individuality. Whereas on the shoulder there was six names on one stone, six on the other, here there's one stone for each name. And each name has got its own particular stone. So God caters not merely for corporate identity but also for individuality. I think it's important to see that. But individuality proceeds out of corporate identity.

Just as an example I'd like you to turn for a moment to Ephesians chapter 4, verses 4-7. Verses 4–6 establish unity of the body of Christ, the seven basic unities. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. That's the basic unity. But then it goes on: But to each of us grace was given according to the [specific individual] measure of Christ's gift. So out of unity God brings forth individuality. But if we go the other way we will never out of individuality achieve unity. We have to start from unity and flow forth to individuality.
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