Pastoral letter 161: Jesus Christ our Best Promise

JOHN GILLESPIE

Jesus Christ our Best Promise

Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant

(Hebrews 7:22)

Printable version: pastoral letter 161

Dear Family in Christ,

Please take a few minutes and read Hebrews Chapter 7.  Enjoy it!

As we continue our journey through the letter of Hebrews, let’s remember that so far we have seen that Jesus Christ is our Best Brother, our Best Prophet, and our Best Priest.  Let’s also remember that we are learning that the very health of our eternal souls is dependent upon the value and worth of that which we love the most.  Hence, discovering more of Jesus Christ, and loving Him in ever new and deepening ways is the way to true spiritual health and wholeness.

How we need the Lord!  We need to see all that we can of Jesus Christ.  The Bible shows us so many facets of Jesus Christ.  We see Him from so many different angles, in so many different lights.  Indeed, the Bible has so many gems to give up to those who will take the time to hunt for them!  Diligent searchers are forever finding diamonds and rubies of Truth regarding Jesus Christ….right in their own Bibles!

Today we will discover that Jesus Christ is our Best Promise.  This discovery is really a follow-on, or sub-theme of what we discovered last week, that Jesus Christ is our Best Priest.  Remember that a “priest” is a “bridge-builder”, or, one who secures and nurtures another’s relationship with God.  Our key verse for our discovery is Hebrews 7:22:

Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant

A “Covenant” can be seen as a “promise”.  It is far more than a mere contract.  It is much more powerful and secure.  It is built upon trust.  It cannot be violated.  In this case, it is initiated by none other than God Himself, and guaranteed by none other than Jesus Christ, being put into effect by His very shed blood.  It is therefore the strongest covenant in all history, the Best Promise in all the Universe.

Let’s take some time and explore it!

Take a moment and jump ahead a chapter and read Hebrews 8:6:

…the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the

Covenant of which He is mediator is superior to the old one

And it is founded on better promises.

The entire argument of Hebrews here is that Jesus Christ ministers as High Priest over a better Covenant (than the Old Testament one which Israel was living under).  This Covenant is better because it is founded by and guaranteed by Jesus Himself.  In being better, it replaces the old.

But wait a minute!  We can almost hear a faithful Jewish friend saying:  “You say Jesus is a faithful priest over a better Covenant, but hold on a minute!  He does not even come from the right family!  All Jewish priests come from Levi’s family!  Jesus comes from Judah’s line!  So…you are asking us to trade in our priests…all the hundreds of them, ones that we can see and touch and talk to, for your priest, an invisible one that we cannot even see, and who is from the wrong family to boot…!”

Well, how do we get out of this?  Our Jewish friend is right … to a degree.  The “standard” line for the priesthood in Israel was the line of Levi.  There were thousands of levitical priests.  There were pages and chapters, even a whole book in the Bible dedicated to these priests.  And, yes, Jesus was not of the levitical line.  The Book of Hebrews admits these two truths and makes no attempt to hide the fact that Jesus “…belonged to a different tribe, and no-one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.” (7:13).

But!  There was another priesthood in the Old Testament.  It was very different from the levitical priesthood.  It only ever had one member.  It was only ever mentioned twice, once in Genesis 14, and once in Psalm 110, getting a meager total of 4 verses limelight in all!  The priest was named as Melchizedek. His name meant “King of Righteousness” and he was king of Salem, which meant “King of Peace”.

Hebrews 5:10 tells us that God designated Jesus to be High Priest from this order.  Hebrews 6:20 tells us that Jesus holds this priestly office of Melchizedek forever.

So here is our answer!  Jesus is a Priest, a High Priest, a legitimate High Priest because He comes from the priesthood of Melchizedek.

So, how is this line better than the “standard” line of Levi?  How does this link make Jesus a better priest who makes a better promise?  What difference does it make to us today?

First, this priesthood is better because it is a Primary Priesthood.  It was put into place long before the levitical priesthood.  That is the big point of the somewhat cryptic verses in Hebrews 7:1-10.  Long before Levi was even born, when, as a descendent of Abraham he was still “in” Abraham, Abraham acknowledged Melchizedek as Priest unto God.

The argument goes like this:

“If Abraham, the spiritual father of all the faithful, the physical father of all the Levitical priests, honoured Melchizedek as greater than himself, and in turn was blessed by Melchizedek, then it stands that any priest of Melchizedek’s order (there is only one other, Jesus) will be greater than any priest from Abraham’s order.”

Next, this priesthood is better because it is a permanent priesthood.  Just look!  Verse 16: Jesus reigns by an “indestructible life.” Verses 17 and 21:  Jesus is a “priest forever”.  Verse 24: Jesus “lives forever”. Verse 25: Jesus “always lives”.  Verse 28:  Jesus is “perfect forever”.

Now the implications of this for the believer are profound!  Thousands of priests from Levi have come and gone.  They live, they die.  Some good, some bad.  But this one priest, this Jesus, who lives forever, promises a permanence in terms of our salvation and security.  This one Priest who secures my salvation and insures it forever, is therefore able to “save completely those who come to God through Him” (v25).  That word “completely” means “thoroughly” and “permanently”.

Just take a minute (or an hour!) to consider One who promises and is able to “save completely.

Finally, Jesus’ priesthood is better because it is a perfect priesthood.  The thousands and thousands of priests in Israel could not promise what this one Priest, Jesus can promise, because they were “weak” (vv 18,28).  Sin had weakened every one of these many priests.  They had their own problems to deal with.  They “made nothing perfect”, literally meaning that they “could not finish the job”.  They could not guarantee to keep anyone to the end.  They could make no such promise, for they were weak in themselves.

How exhausted they must have been offering endless sacrifices for their own sins as well as for the millions of sins of Israel!

But Jesus “sacrificed for sins once and for all when He offered Himself” (v 27), and now He can promise to lose none that the Father has given Him, but raise them up at the last day (John 6:39)!

Hallelujah!  What a Saviour!

The Best Priest makes the Best Promise!

This Priest:  “meets our need” (v 26), which is to be reconciled to God.  He “always lives to intercede for us”(v 25). Jesus will never retire from being our Priest.  His atoning work will never lose its efficacy.  Not ten-thousand by ten-thousand years from now! This Perfect Priest makes Perfect Promises to make perfect a way for imperfect sinners to approach and worship a Holy God.

Again, Hallelujah!  What a Saviour

Settle it now.  Entrust your entire being to the Lord Jesus!  His promise to save is sure because it is founded upon His very nature as the Son of God.  Rest your case with Him.  Give Him your souls for safe-keeping.  Trust Him as your Priest.  Trust in His promises toward you.

…He has given us His very great and precious promises…

(2 Peter 1:4)

Enjoy being saved by Jesus Today!