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.

Post Comments (98)

98 thoughts on "O Come, Great High Priest"

  1. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I am thankful that I don’t have to be perfect to be forgiven in God’s eyes!!

  2. Dorothy says:

    Churchmouse thanks for mentioning what you did and I pray that everyday. I suffer from depression and have since 2003 when my son died. My faith has helped me immensely and so have prayers.

  3. Dorothy says:

    Rebecca spoke to me when she said, “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.” I need to take time and spend time with my Lord.

  4. Juli says:

    These devotionals have been an immense blessing for me this season. Not just this season awaiting Christmas but the particular season of life I’m called to. Thank you for reminding me of scriptural truths that I can rest my faith and hope in as we’ve Immanuel Savior with us through every season we endure.

  5. McKenna Nelson says:

    I’m really loving how all of these titles and themes wrap back around to the Gospel. Such a great way to start out the day—mind transfixed on the reason for EVERY season.

  6. Chris Swan says:

    Betsy, I’m reading (for 2nd time) Shelley Millers book Rhythms of Rest. It is excellent.

  7. Ana Kirsten says:

    “You go before I know that you’ve even gone to win my war. Your love becomes my greatest defense, you lift me from the dry wilderness. And all I did was praise, All I did was worship, all I did was bow down, and all I did was stay still.. Hallelujah you have saved me. It’s so much better your way.” (Defender by the Upper Room)

  8. Deborah Craytor says:

    Some other great resources on Sabbath rest if you want to dig deeper: the Breathe Bible study by Priscilla Shirer and the free online Bible study “Reclaim the Sabbath” by Sarah Koontz of Living By Design Ministries.

    1. Molly Ledford says:

      Thanks for sharing these! I will check them out.

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