A Superior Priesthood
Open Your Bible
Hebrews 7:11-28, Genesis 14:18-20, 1 John 2:1
BY Guest Writer
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 7:11-28, Genesis 14:18-20, 1 John 2:1
I am raising four boys on a farm full of mud.
Through much threatening, cajoling, scrubbing and—okay, I’ll admit it—bribing, I can occasionally get everyone clean. But there isn’t enough soap and water in the universe to ensure that they will stay clean. Most often, we don’t even make it to the car before someone (or everyone) becomes more soiled than spiffed up.
The Levitical priests could surely more than feel my pain. Once a year they would go to great lengths to ask the Lord to clean out the record of sin accumulated by His people. After extensive preparations, a priest would enter the most holy place inside the veil to present a sin offering (Leviticus 16:2–34). Verse 30 tells us: “Atonement will be made for you on this day to cleanse you, and you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD.” And so when the priest exited, God’s people were clean. It was a holy scrubbing, but never a permanent one.
Year after year, the priests would enter the tabernacle to atone for the people’s sins, only to return again a year later. This was not an exercise in futility, but God’s provisional means of covering their sin. It was also an object lesson for generations to come, teaching them that nothing we could ever do—no matter how meticulously planned and executed—to make these “filthy rags” clean. We can scrub and scrub and scrub and the muck of sin will stick to us, making it impossible for us to be in the presence of our holy, holy, holy God (Revelation 4:8).
So we keep scouring, don’t we? Until our hearts and souls feel raw from the effort. We need the reminder that we cannot obtain perfection through human striving. God’s law doesn’t polish us up to a high shine; instead, it exposes every gritty imperfection (v.19).
The priests couldn’t keep us clean because they were stained by sin too. We’ve always been the blind leading the blind, the stained scrubbing the stained. We needed someone untarnished by sin to enter the Holy Place on our behalf. “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (v.26). Christ is the true high priest, and His is the superior priesthood. He is the only permanent solution to our sin problem. His blood alone, shed on the cross, has the power to truly cleanse us.
The lyrics of Elisha A. Hoffman’s old gospel hymn, “Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb,” sum it up well:
Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?…
Are your garments spotless?
Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
The gospel of Jesus Christ is an invitation to stop our scrubbing and to bathe in the deluge of grace that flows from the cross. Our perfect Savior made a way for us to be cleansed—permanently. May we fully trust in His grace this hour, and the next, and all the ones to follow.
Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.