None of Israel’s high priests ever lived up to what God intended for those he set apart to serve him in his Temple. Aaron sinned by leading the people in false worship. His sons sinned by offering unholy fire on God’s altar. Eli sinned by failing to discipline his sons who were such wicked priests that God struck them both down on the same day. Eventually the priesthood broke down altogether, so that the Old Testament ends with this warning: “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. (Malachi 2: 7-8)
While the priesthood was responsible for its sinful failure, it was never meant to last forever, but rather to prepare God’s people for the perfect Priest God would send. Jesus came, not to fit into the earthly system of priestly ministry, but to fulfill and put an end to that human priesthood, and to orient our attention to his ministry on our behalf in heaven. As our perfect High Priest, Jesus ministers in a superior place— not in the Temple, but in heaven itself. “For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf” (Hebrews 9: 24).
Jesus ministers to us with superior righteousness— not external, like a holy set of clothes, but intrinsic to his own holy person. “He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin” (Hebrews 7:26).
Jesus ministers to us with superior sympathy— he “understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus ministers to us with superior longevity— “There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever” (Hebrews 7: 23-24).
And Jesus ministers to us, offering a superior sacrifice— not by the repeated sacrifices of animals, but with the once-for-all sacrifice of himself. “With his own blood— not the blood of goats and calves— he entered the Most Holy
Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Hebrews 9:12).
Prayer: Jesus, my merciful and faithful High Priest, you are the kind of priest I need because you are holy and blameless, unstained by sin.
Article adapted from the FABULOUS RESOURCE by Nancy Guthrie (2012-10-08). The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament (Kindle Locations 7946-7965). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
About Nancy Guthrie (In Her Own Words):
“God has been preparing me my whole life for teaching his Word,” says Nancy Guthrie. “He has blessed me with so many sound Bible teachers to sit under–from my days as a college student in Bible classes, to terrific Bible Study Fellowship leaders, gifted pastors — as well as several teachers like Tim Keller and John Piper that I listen to almost daily on my ipod.”
Nancy’s life experience–dealing with the loss of two of her children–has significantly affected her teaching substance and style. “I’ve had to dig into God’s Word in search of answers to hard questions about how he works, and I and that my listeners usually have the same struggles and questions. And while I openly share the deep hurts in my life, I also like to laugh. People who hear me teach say that I’m very real, and that is certainly what I want to be.” “To me, God’s Word is a treasure to be mined,” Nancy says. “The deeper I go in it, the more I see its wisdom, the more it authenticates itself, the more it reveals to me the amazing mystery of God.”
Nancy is the author of six books including Holding on to Hope, The One Year Book of Hope, Hoping for Something Better, Dinner Table Devotions, Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow, and When Your Family’s Lost a Loved One (co-written with her husband, David). She is also the editor of several anthologies published by Crossway, collections of great writing by noted classic and contemporary Bible teachers and theologians including Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, Be Still My Soul, and O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.
She is currently working on another book for Tyndale’s One Year line that will be One Year of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament.
Nancy and her husband David live in Nashville, Tennessee while their son, Matt is off to Western Kentucky University.In addition to teaching opportunities at her church, Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Nancy speaks regularly at conferences and events around the country such as the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Conference, The Brooklyn Tabernacle, Second Baptist Church of Houston, Taylor University, Covenant College, and in countries including Scotland and Colombia.