Day 13

O Come, Great High Priest

Leviticus 9:1-7, Leviticus 16:29-34, Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 5:1-10, Hebrews 10:10-14

BY Rebecca Faires

This past summer we hiked in bear country. With five children we didn’t give much thought to bears. Bears are smart and don’t want to be hassled, and a good amount of noise announces that hikers are near. Folks who aren’t blessed with five human noisemakers sometimes seek alternatives for the trail. Enter the adorable bear bell. It’s a sweet little jingle-bell tied to a hiker’s backpack that’s supposed to help keep bears away, and it has the added bonus of making the trail feel like Christmas. Our absolute favorite encounter was with a white-bearded man—a twinkle in his eye and a bell jingling at his belt.

The bear bell might just be a gimmick. But that constant jingle helps put one at ease. We think, At least I’m doing something to keep away danger! Regardless of your adorable ring-a-ding-ding, I imagine a grizzly would hold you in the same low esteem. Like the bear bell, so many of our attempts at solving problems and threats are insufficient.

The Day of Atonement was a reminder, long before Christ came, of the need for a sufficient sacrifice. It reminded Israel, not only of the price of sin, but of the surety of God’s provision. That day was to be a day of both complete rest and “self-denial,” and was established to be a permanent statute.

When I think of self-denial, I tend to think of self-deprivation. But the self-denial to which we are called is chiefly about reliance upon God. It is turning from self-reliance, from self-sufficiency, from our bear-bell comforts and solutions, from our nifty quick fixes, and our own ingenuity, none of which are sufficient to save. When God calls us to self-denial, He also calls us to rest. We are to rest in Him, in His sufficiency, in His provision, in His atonement, in His salvation. He is our Great High Priest, and the Lamb who was slain. He has cleansed us once and for all time (Hebrews 10:10). It is a glorious gift to be called to self-denial, to complete rest in Him.

Like tinkling bells before an angry bear, the regular sacrifice of bulls and rams was insufficient to deal with the problem of sin. But Christ answers our need fully so that we no longer need to live under priests who pass away, the continual slaying of animals, and the looming debt of sin. We have a real answer in Christ. The season of Advent is a time both to remember our desperate need and to remember the fulfillment of that need, which is found alone in Christ, the perfect Priest and Sacrifice.

The years of longing, and the long trail of inadequate burnt offerings, come to an end in Christ. In Him we find an offering that is sufficient once for all time, for every sin, to make atonement for us and sanctify us forever. We find our rest in Him.

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98 thoughts on "O Come, Great High Priest"

  1. Jennifer McElhannon says:

    This is all just coming full circle for me. I have been reading my Bible from beginning to end with my husband—we started a little over a month ago—and we are currently in Leviticus talking about all the different blood offerings…and just WOW! The extent that we had to go before Christ came just to repent for our sins!

    It is a huge blessing that Christ died on the cross to cover all of our sins, past, current and future. He has us covered for life under His blood. It is by following after his heart that we find the comfort He gives us through each day.

    I know I’m still a sinner even though I am saved. Each day before bed, I pray to the Lord to forgive me of my sins and transgressions for the day, knowing that He has taken our sin and forgotten it as far as the east is from the west. How incredible is that?! Lovely devotional today!

  2. Sadell Ptomey says:

    This is amazing and right on time. I strive to be better at putting all my hopes, dreams and desires in Jesus! I know how He works and recall the times in my life when He pulled me out or called me to Him.

    I was feeling like a failure in this moment because I keep missing parts in my fasting. Knowing that all God truly wants is my heart..genuinely, and wholeheartedly make me much happier and more motivated to keep pressing through this storm

  3. Kate Treick says:

    I really needed to hear this this morning. Thank you.

  4. Claire Bills says:

    I’m reminded of the words of the carol ‘what can I bring him poor as I am?’
    Jesus was born and Jesus died. Through him we have hope. Through him we can be made holy. We offer all we have. Self denial it is, but there is a lot of joy that comes from it. There is God’s spirit living in us as we seek to play our part. Bring myself

  5. Taylor Watkins says:

    Peace ❤️

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