Those of you who know my family and my sons know that one of them owns a landscaping company. I help him by doing much of his bookkeeping and that sort of thing. It is a dirty business – literally, it is. Not much about it is clean, but rather it involves dirt, rocks, sand, mulch, etc.
Ben has a lot of problems with keeping his credit cards functional. They are constantly exposed to all the abrasive ingredients of his business, and before long, they won’t work anymore when swiped. We are forever ordering replacements. In fact, a new one came in the mail today.
The sacrificial system of the Old Testament Law was a lot like this. It constantly had to be repeated over and over. The sacrifices were seemingly endless. There were the daily sacrifices, and of course the one big event on the Day of Atonement (check in Friday for Chris’ article on this). It was a dirty and bloody business.
And not only that, there was the issue that the priests themselves were as sinful as the people whom they represented before God. Before they could do the job for others, they had to offer sacrifices for their own sins. As proof that they were not categorically any better, they kept dying off and others had to take their place. This was repeated for centuries.
There will be more detailed discussions on this theme later in the letter, but the writer closes the Melchizedek section with these summary thoughts …
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
Let me ask you this: What would you rather have, an endless supply of credit cards that demand continuous payment of the debts you run up on them, or an inherited custodial account of limitless positive credits to cover your debts? Well, of course you would choose the latter. (And of course this does not mean that it is right to sin that grace may abound! That’s a Roman’s discussion and devotional for another time.)
And that is what we have in the work of Christ. Jesus was a better priest from a superior order. He was permanent and therefore does not need to be replaced. His payment was a once and for all final payment. And his eternal life with the Father positions him to intercede for us and guarantee our presence with God forever … saving us completely as we have come to God through him.
So if you were a recipient of this letter and read this argument, would you want to go back to the Levitical system of sacrifice?
And as a modern-day reader of this letter, seeing what God has done for those who trust in Him through Christ, why would you want to trust in anything else? And why would you not be daily grateful for the debt of sin being paid on your behalf, even before you were born?