“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in all things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself is also beset with weakness; and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.”
The high priest was always taken from the human race, never from angels, never from deity. The concept of the priesthood is unique to the human race. There is no priesthood among angels, and there is no priesthood in the Godhead. The priest is to minister to men in things which involve man’s relationship to God. In other words, every priest is a man who is representing man before God. The high priest must be a man or a member of the human race since he is representing man (even other priests) before God.
For every high priest is appointed is the Greek word “lambano” meaning to be taken by God, commissioned by God or appointed by God. God makes appointments. For example, he appointed Aaron as the high priest of Israel. The history of high priests began with the Levitical priesthood taken from the tribe of Levi. And they represented themselves and the people to God. This example is used to show a contrast between the high priesthood of Aaron and his successors, and the high priesthood of Christ.
There were five Levitical offerings for the nation of Israel. Three of these offerings were associated with salvation and two were associated with confession of sin.
The first of these was the Burnt Offering, which portrayed the work of Christ or the doctrine of Propitiation (complete satisfaction). It portrayed the death of Christ on the Cross as the full payment for man’s sin and God’s satisfaction with Christ’s spiritual death for sin. This offering demonstrated the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, as our substitute (the guiltless for the guilty). Just as the sacrificial lamb that was brought as the burnt offering was innocent, Jesus Christ was innocent (sinless). The individual was to bring a lamb without spot or blemish to represent Christ’s perfection. The priest would transfer the sins of the individual to the lamb on the altar as a symbol of what Jehovah (Jesus Christ) would accomplish for them in the future. The priest would lay one hand on the individual and one on the offering symbolizing the transfer of sin. (Leviticus 1:2-17; Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 26:39-42; John 1:29; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:14; 10:1-14; I John 2:2) There were three kinds of animals that could be used for this offering: 1) a male from the herd of oxen 2) a sheep or goat 3) a bird.
The second salvation offering was the Meal Offering. This offering portrayed the person of Christ or the doctrine of Impeccability (sinlessness). The substitutionary spiritual death of Christ is still in view here, though the emphasis is on His Person. The fact that Christ was uniquely qualified to go to the Cross and make the payment for mankind’s sin is demonstrated by the fine flour used to make this meal offering. Fine flour represented the holy character of Christ. Upon the meal offering was poured oil and frankincense; the oil representing the indwelling and filling ministries of the Holy Spirit and the frankincense representing God’s complete satisfaction with the Person of Christ. There was to be no honey used in the preparation; the absence of honey representing the bitterness of Christ’s death. The fine flour had no leaven (leaven represents sin); Christ was sinless. And salt was added for flavor and preservation, representing the quality of Christ’s sacrifice and His ability to keep those who He saves. Finally the meal offering was put into fire, representing judgment. (Leviticus 2:1-16; II Corinthians 5:21; Mark 9:49; Colossians 4:6)
The third salvation offering was the Peace Offering. This offering portrayed the work of Christ in reconciliation. The Doctrine of Reconciliation is the removal of the barrier of sin by Christ that separated God and man, bringing peace. This offering was different than the Burnt Offering, which required the sacrifice to be a male animal, in that the sacrifice could be a male or female animal. This was illustrating that reconciliation was man-ward (God doesn’t need to be reconciled to man, but man does need to be reconciled to God), for male or female. This offering spoke of a believer’s permanent fellowship with God (positional sanctification and ultimate sanctification), which can never be broken. (Leviticus 3:1-17; Romans 5:1-8; II Corinthians 5:17-20; Ephesians 2:14-17; Colossians 1:20)
The final two offerings had to do with confession of sin for fellowship with God in time (experiential sanctification). Remember that confession means to name, admit or acknowledge your sins. In the Age of Israel confession was done before a priest from the tribe of Levi, who acted in behalf of the believer.
The first of these offerings was the Sin Offering. This was an offering for unknown sins or sins done in ignorance. From time to time the believing Israelite would bring an offering of a bull, goat, bird or meal, to be sacrificed for any sin he may have committed in ignorance. It must be remembered that “sin is sin” regardless if it is committed in ignorance or cognizance and must be dealt with in accordance with God’s system (Rebound) (Leviticus 4:1-35)
The second of these offerings was the Trespass Offering. This was an offering for known sins. When a believer knowingly sinned, he was to “keep short accounts,” by bringing an offering of a bull, goat, bird or meal, to be sacrificed for his known sin. In the same manner, the believer in the Church Age is to keep “short accounts” by naming his sin immediately in order to spend a maximum amount of time in fellowship with God and stay under the control of God the Holy Spirit. (Leviticus 5; 6:1-7)
These offerings parallel I John 1:6-9 in the Church Age, which is called the Rebound Technique. The Rebound Technique is a non-meritorious system of naming, admitting or acknowledging your sin directly to God and then moving forward in your Christian life. The Rebound Technique is God’s recovery system from personal sin after salvation, which assures the believer that he will be able to execute the Christian Way of Life. Failure to utilize God’s recovery system results in a life of reversionism which is a believer in a state of continued carnality (being controlled by the sin nature). (I Corinthians 11:31-32; Hebrews 12:3-15; Galatians 6:7; I John 4:18; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18)
Notice that the high priest performed offerings for his own sins as well as for the people. These offerings, then, were images of future events and formed a part of Christology (the doctrine of Christ) and Soteriology (the doctrine of salvation), and they were fulfilled historically when Christ died for our sins. So the high priests were ordained as priests to offer types and shadows, to communicate doctrine pertinent to the Cross, and doctrine pertinent to Christ’s strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict.
It was the communication of Bible doctrine which every high priest supervised. It was his responsibility not to do all of the teaching but to see that it was accomplished by the priesthood. Now the Lord Jesus Christ is our high priest. We are a kingdom of priests. In fact we are a royal priesthood because Jesus Christ is not only a priest and a prophet but He is also the King, the Son of David who will reign forever. Under these conditions He has delegated the responsibility of things pertaining to God. He has delegated this to the gift of pastor-teacher. This brings the gift of pastor-teacher into a new light. A legitimate pastor-teacher is a believer and he receives the priesthood at the point of salvation, and along with the priesthood he receives a spiritual gift for communication of Bible doctrine. It is the spiritual gift that gives him the authority on this earth. On this earth we are all priests but God has not delegated the communication of doctrine to all priests, only to those with the gift of pastor-teacher. And that is the last surviving gift of communication of the whole realm of doctrine since the end of the apostolic age. Therefore we are going to discover at certain points in Hebrews that one of the delegated responsibilities from our High Priest is the gift of pastor-teacher and the communication of Bible doctrine. And when a pastor-teacher dies physically, then someone steps in the gap and takes his place so that always on this earth there are those with the gift who stand in the gap in every generation. In the Church Age, wherever there is positive volition, God will provide the gift of pastor-teacher.
The reason that the high priest supervised as well as personally offered gifts (meal offerings) and sacrifices (animal offerings) was that the high priest of Israel was totally responsible for all of the dissemination of Bible doctrine. In that way the high priest of Israel illustrated Jesus Christ, our High Priest, Who is seated at the right hand of the Father. While Jesus Christ is of a different classification of high priest, all high priests throughout history have one thing in common: they were totally responsible for the dissemination of spiritual information of Bible doctrine, and they had many ways in which they accomplished it. Jesus Christ while seated at the right hand of the Father has delegated to pastor-teachers this particular responsibility within the priesthood. The high priesthood, therefore, functions as the pastor-teacher communicates things pertaining to God. In the history of the high priesthood this is one of the most important facts. This helps to clarify in our dispensation, as well as in any past dispensation, where the responsibility lies with reference to spiritual things.
The first four verses of this chapter deal with the high priesthood prior to Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ became a high priest, all other high priesthoods were superseded and the Bible plus the pastor-teacher represents the principle of high priesthood at the present time.
The Greek verb “metriopatheo” for deal gently means to moderate one’s passions to the point of being gentle, to be moderate in one’s feelings, to be compassionate. The high priesthood was designed not only to communicate doctrine but to be faithful in communicating doctrine as a demonstration of true compassion. True compassion is to provide the spiritual food, fulfilling the responsibility of getting the doctrine to the congregation. If you are ignorant or misguided, what do you need? You need Bible doctrine.
Every high priest responsible for communication to others was encumbered by his own problems, by his own failures, by his own weaknesses. So in having compassion for you the pastor-teacher who receives his delegated authority from our High Priest, Jesus Christ, needs doctrine as well. Therefore when the high priest was studying to teach the people he was also teaching himself. There is a principle. The high priest was responsible along with the other priests in Israel to communicate doctrine. The principle carries over today in the sense that Christ our High Priest is absent from the earth and cannot personally teach us, and has delegated that authority to certain types of priests — pastor-teachers. These pastor-teachers also have weaknesses, frailties, infirmities, because of possessing a sin nature. Therefore they teach themselves while they study to teach the congregation.
Because all high priests had sin natures, because high priests committed personal sins, because of the imperfection and frailty of all high priests they also had to offer sacrifices for their personal sins just like they did for those in the nation of Israel. To offer indicates his function, and the offering was preceded by an explanation. Then came the ritual followed by further explanation. So he was teaching doctrine as he carried on the ritual.
The high priest was habitually obligated to offer sacrifices for his own sins. He himself, a communicator of the Word, also had a sin nature and shared the human frailties and weakness of mankind. That has always been true of communicators with the exception of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, whatever benefit he derived from a portion of the Word of God concerning his own life, the benefit should also be passed on to those who are positive toward doctrine. So he had the obligation to offer for himself, to offer for the people. This verse anticipates once again the Lord Jesus Christ as the exception to the whole historical precedence of high priests.