Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Hebrews 5:1-7
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Hebrews 5
Having introduced Jesus as our “great high priest” in 4:14 the author begins to develop one of the great themes of this letter, and that is to show that Jesus is a high priest vastly superior to Aaron and his descendants. Over the course of the next five chapters he will repeatedly contrast the sacrificial system of Moses against the once-for-all sacrifice made by Jesus at His death and resurrection. The apparent reason for such a prolonged argument must be that many Jewish believers were struggling at the thought of ceasing to attend the yearly atoning rituals held at the temple in Jerusalem. Their family and friends must have challenged them to explain how they would dare to stop seeking forgiveness by presenting their offerings to the Levitical priest. After all, hadn’t God Himself established the priesthood, the tabernacle and the system of sacrifice? To abandon this system could only leave a person unforgiven. Surely faith in Jesus was never meant to completely replace these biblical rituals.

Monday: Hebrews 5
To answer this the author will prove that God has replaced the old system with a higher one, which is actually the fulfillment of the old. He will show that Christ brought the true atonement of which the old system was merely a prophetic shadow. The truth is the old never had within itself the power to forgive sins. How could the blood of goats and bulls take away human sin? Instead, it was designed as a model to teach substitutionary atonement and point people’s faith toward an undefined future event in which God would provide for Himself the ultimate sacrifice He requires (Ge 22:8, 13, 14). So, over the course of the next five chapters the author will explain that a higher level of priesthood than Aaron had always existed which he calls “the order of Melchizedek.” Then he will show that Jesus is the high priest according to this order and therefore the need for the Aaronic priesthood has passed away.

Tuesday: Hebrews 5:1-3
Verse 1: In the Law of Moses God commanded that high priests be appointed to present sacrifices to Him on behalf of His people who regularly needed to be forgiven for their sins. This was first and foremost duty. The verse literally says “every high priest taken out of men is appointed on behalf of men” meaning that certain humans are selected to intercede before God on behalf of other humans. They are to do this by offering gifts and sacrifices designed to atone for sins. Verses 2, 3: God expected a high priest to remain gentle when dealing with weak people because he would be humbled by his own weaknesses. He would be patient with people who are ignorant and deceived because he too needed to offer sacrifices for his own sins before he entered into the Lord’s presence (Ex 29:10-21; Lev 8:14-21; 9:7; 16:6-11, 17, 24).

Wednesday: Hebrews 5:2-4
Verses 2, 3 (continued): In this way a high priest would regularly be reminded that he too was a sinner in need of grace. He could identify with the people he served and when he did he would tend to be kind and patient with them rather than angry and harsh. The author wants us to see that if human high priests were to have this attitude, we can certainly expect our “great high priest” to be gentle with us when we come seeking mercy. Verse 4: The position of high priest is an honor which only God can bestow on a person. He alone can initiate that call. Anyone who tries to put himself in that position is not a valid priest. Only God can decide who He will allow to intercede before Him. He selected Aaron to be the first high priest (Ex 28:1) and then commanded that future high priests would always be chosen from his descendants. (1Ch 23:13).

Thursday: Hebrews 5:5
This being so, the question immediately arises, then how could Jesus be proclaimed as our high priest since He was born into the kingly tribe of Judah (Lk 1:32), not the priestly tribe of Levi? He could rightly claim to be a king as a descendant of David, but kings weren’t permitted to serve as priests and the few that tried were severely punished by God (Saul, 1Sa 13:8-14; Uzziah, 2Ch 26:16-21). According to the Law of Moses Jesus would be disqualified on the basis of His human ancestry (Heb 7:13, 14), and as we noted above (v 4), He would have no right to seize that honor for Himself. To answer these challenges and to show that Jesus is indeed God’s “great high priest,” the author reminds us of two Messianic passages in the Psalms. The first, which he quoted earlier (1:5) is from Psalm 2:7, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” Thanks to Paul’s explanation in Acts 13:3 and Romans 1:4 we have no doubt as to what this passage means. Paul says that when God resurrected Jesus from the dead He revealed to the world that He is His begotten Son (Rev 1:5).

Friday: Hebrews 5:6
Verse 6: The second passage the author quotes is from Psalm 110:4 which reads in full, “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” In this psalm David looks forward in time to the coming of the Messiah who would be his descendant and thus a king (Ps 110:1-3), and says of Him that God had also promised (with an oath) to make Him a priest based on a higher order of priesthood than Aaron’s. David called it “the order of Melchizedek” which takes us back to an event in Abraham’s life (Ge 14:17-24). Much more will be said about this in chapter seven (7:1-10). At this point what we need to recognize is that when Abraham submitted to the priestly ministry of Melchizedek all his future descendants did so as well. In other words, in that event Abraham acknowledged an order of priesthood higher than that which would be born from within his own family. This means there is a higher priesthood than Aaron’s. In Psalm 110:4, David prophesied that one of his sons would be both a king and a priest and that his order of priesthood would be superior to Aaron’s. Someday a person would arrive in whom the separation of the roles of King and priest would end, and God swore to David that the Messiah would be that person.

Saturday: Hebrews 5:7
Verse 7: Understanding that Psalm 2:7 refers to Jesus’ resurrection, the author’s thoughts are immediately drawn back to the garden of Gethsemene in which Jesus travailed while waiting to be arrested (Mt 26:37; Mk 14:33, 34; Lk 22:43, 44). We know from reading the gospels that the “prayers and supplications” He offered there included the request, “Father if you are willing, remove this cup from Me…” (Lk 22:42). Mark states He “fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by” (Mk 14:35) meaning He asked to be delivered from the physical and spiritual horrors that lay ahead, and to this the author states unequivocally, “…He was heard because of His ‘piety’” (He lived a life of genuine faith like Noah, Heb 11:7; Simeon, Lk 2:25; and those who buried Stephen, Ac 8:2; also Ac 2:5; Heb 12:28). He was heard, and He was strengthened (Lk 22:43), but the Father’s answer was “no.”

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