Life-Study of Hebrewsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The book of Hebrews is a book of comparisons. In the foregoing messages we have seen three comparisons: the comparisons between our God and the God of the Jewish people, between Christ and the angels, and between Christ and Moses. Now we come to another subsection in this book (4:14-7:28) where we find still another comparison—the comparison between Christ and Aaron. Our God is more excellent than the God whom the Jews worship, and our Christ is much superior to the angels, Moses, and Aaron. As we have seen, in each section of Hebrews there is a warning. The first warning is in 2:1-4 and the second is in 3:7 through 4:13. In this subsection we have the third warning, found in 5:11 through 6:20.
In the previous chapters we have seen that Christ is the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Captain of our salvation, and the Apostle. All this qualifies Him to be our High Priest. In the Bible, no one is more wonderful or excellent than Christ as our High Priest. He comes from God and ministers God to us. Before His coming, we had nothing of God. God was God and we were simply men, having nothing to do with Him. He came not only as our Savior and Redeemer but also as our High Priest. The titles of Savior and Redeemer are understood by most people in a superficial way. If we only know Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, we may know Him just in a superficial way. We must go on to know Him as the Captain of our salvation, the Apostle, and the High Priest. Although many Christians realize that Christ is our High Priest, not many know what this truly means. If we would know what it means for Christ to be our High Priest, we must thoroughly cover the whole book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 4:14 says, “Having therefore a great High Priest Who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast the confession.” The Lord Jesus firstly was sent from God to us through incarnation (2:14) to be our Apostle (3:1), our Captain, our Leader (2:10), the One superior to Moses (3:3), and our real Joshua (4:8) to bring us, His partners (1:9; 3:14), into glory and rest (2:10; 4:11). He then went back from us to God through resurrection and ascension (5:5-6) to be our High Priest to bear us in the presence of God and to care for all our needs (2:17-18; 4:15).
The very Christ whom we need and have today in the Sabbath rest of the church life is our High Priest. A high priest, properly speaking, is not on the street nor in the wilderness but in the Holy of Holies. Where is our Christ today? He is continually in the Holy of Holies. Our High Priest is not at the altar offering the sacrifices, nor in the Holy Place preparing the showbread, lighting the lamps, and burning the incense. He is in the Holy of Holies. Most Christians only have a Christ who is at the altar, that is, a Christ on the cross. Many hymns speak of the crucified Christ. Some Christians have a Christ only in the Holy Place. The highest attainment in their spiritual seeking is that of a Christ preparing the showbread, lighting the lamp, and burning the incense in the Holy Place. They have missed the High Priest in the Holy of Holies. The main function of our High Priest today is neither at the altar nor in the Holy Place but in the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence and shekinah glory are. Yes, He was once on the cross, but, as 1:3 reveals, His work on the cross has been finished. Never ask Him to go back to do it again. Now, having finished His work, He is sitting at the right hand of God in the heavens. No place is closer to God than this. The book of Hebrews was written to help us come forward to this Christ who is now in the presence of God.
The Christ who is in the Holy of Holies is not merely our Savior, Redeemer, Apostle, or Captain of salvation; He is our High Priest. What is He doing there in the Holy of Holies? He is ministering God into us. As we have seen in a previous message, the major function of the High Priest is to minister God into God’s chosen people. Oh, how we need our High Priest in the Holy of Holies to minister God into us! We should forget our environment, weaknesses, troubles, and even ourselves and only remember that today Jesus Christ is our High Priest in the Holy of Holies. As long as we have such a High Priest, we have everything we need.
According to the Old Testament, whenever the high priest went into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, he bore upon his shoulders two onyx stones on which were engraved the names of the children of Israel (E.o. 28:9-12). He also wore the breastplate in which were set twelve precious stones engraved with the names of the children of Israel (E.o. 28:15-30). This signified that the people of Israel were on the shoulder and breast of the high priest. Since the shoulder signifies strength and the breast signifies love, the people of God were on the strength and in the love of the high priest. When the high priest was in the Holy of Holies, he brought all the people of God along with him. In the eyes of God, when he was there, all the people of God were there with him. Likewise, when God looks at Christ, our High Priest in the Holy of Holies, He sees us upon His shoulder and breast. How we need to see this vision! Our High Priest in the Holy of Holies in the heavens bears us and wears us before God. Right now we are upon His shoulder and upon His breast in the Holy of Holies. We are there with Him in the shekinah glory of God.
As Christ bears us before God in the Holy of Holies, He ministers God into our being. When the Apostle Paul prayed to the Lord, asking Him to remove the thorn (2 Cor. 12:7-8), the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). The Lord seemed to be saying, “Paul, I will not remove that thorn, but I will impart Myself into you as grace. When I do this, you will know how precious and sufficient I am, and more of Me will be added into you.” This experience of Christ as our High Priest who bears us on His shoulder and breast and ministers God into us is an experience in the Holy of Holies, where we enjoy God Himself and all His riches. When we get into this experience, it is difficult to say where we are or what is happening. We can only say that we are upon the shoulders and breast of our High Priest and that He is ministering something comforting and strengthening into us. Perhaps all we can say is, “I have received something from the Lord, but I simply cannot describe it or give it a name.” This experience of Christ as our High Priest is the highest experience and enjoyment. We all must learn to stay here on His shoulders and on His breast in the Holy of Holies. This is an experience in the third stage of our salvation which corresponds to the experiences in the Holy of Holies. We should not be content to remain outer court Christians; neither should we be Christians staggering in the Holy Place. We must press on into the Holy of Holies where God’s presence and shekinah glory are.
This experience of Christ as our High Priest undoubtedly is in the heavens. However, it is also in our spirit and in the church because the church today is God’s habitation in our spirit. Christ, the heavenly ladder which joins earth to heaven and brings heaven down to earth, is in our spirit. By the habitation of God and the heavenly ladder, the Holy of Holies in the heavens is joined to our spirit. Consider the illustration of electricity. By the flow of the current of electricity, our homes are joined to the power plant. Electricity is both in the generator in the power plant and in our homes. Without this flow of electricity, the power plant is far off from our homes. But by the flow of electricity, these two are made one. Likewise, heaven is certainly far away from our spirit. But the wonderful Christ is both in the heavens and also in our spirit. Romans 8:34 says that Christ is at the right hand of God interceding for us, and Romans 8:10 says that Christ is also within us. There are not two Christs, one in the heavens and one within us; neither is it a matter of one Christ at two different times. Just as the electricity in the power plant is joined to our homes, so the Christ in the third heaven is joined to our spirit. He is much more wonderful than the flow of electricity. If by the flow of electricity two places can be made one, how much more can our wonderful Christ be both in the heavens as well as in our spirit.
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