Lesson 20 - Chapter 5:4-6

Lesson 20 - Chapter 5:4-6

Lesson for October 12, 2014

The Book of Hebrews

Chapter 5:4-6

Verse 4

“And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.”

Takes means attempting to take or seize honor illegally without being appointed by God. No one ever takes upon himself the office of high priest; it is an appointment from God. The same application goes today. A man may be attempting to function as a pastor who does not have the gift of pastor-teacher. The pastor-teacher is the priest today who has the delegated authority from Jesus Christ. It is a divine appointment with responsibility to God. This is a double-edged sword. When a pastor-teacher is responsible to God this means that God gives him double blessing or double discipline. Anyone who is appointed by God to communicate the Word of God in any dispensation resides in a state of honor. The honor actually belongs to God, but He shares His honor with those who communicate His word accurately.

Aaron is a great illustration of this principle because he is the founder of the Levitical priesthood. He is the illustration and the pattern. The Levitical priesthood began with Aaron. He was appointed by God, and he was sustained by God. By way of contrast, two men not appointed by God were disciplined for attempting to perform the functions of the high priest: King Saul tried it and Uzziah tried it. (I Samuel 13:9-14; II Chronicles 26)

Verse 5-6

“So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He Who said to Him, “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee”; just as He says also in another passage, “Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

So also sets up a parallel between the divine appointments of high priests and the Father’s appointment of Jesus Christ as the high priest. Christ glorified not Himself is an idiom in Greek, and the idiom is a device for great emphasis at this point. The dramatic tense emphasizes that now we have a unique High Priest and with the coming of this High Priest all other high priesthoods are null and void. Christ recognized the Father’s authority in the matter of this appointment and did not assume the role Himself (though His deity possessed the power to do so). Jesus Christ Who was King and Prophet in His humanity did not ask for the position of high priest. He was born of the linage of David and was therefore in the line of Judah. There was no priesthood of any kind in the family of Judah; the tribe of Levi had all of the priests. Jesus Christ is the only priest in all of Israel’s history Who is from the tribe of Judah, Who is the bona fide King and at the same time a priest. In the future He will be the High Priest of Israel during the Millennium even though He is from the tribe of Judah. Under God’s grace plan: God promotes, God appoints, and God commissions. And when God appoints you He puts you in a state of honor. If God doesn’t promote you, you are not promoted!

Now we have a quotation from Psalms 2:7. When this was written about Jesus Christ He was not yet humanity. Jesus Christ was always God and always will be. However, there was a time when He was not humanity and not our high priest. The decree was given in eternity past and fulfilled at the Virgin Birth. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, became a true member of the human race and will be in Hypostatic Union (God-man), forever.

Now we have a quotation from Psalms 110:4. Thou art a priest is derived from the Hebrew verb “kun,” which means to stand up. And a “Kohen” in Hebrew was the one who stood up at the altar, stood up for the people, stood up and talked, stood up for what God commanded, stood up and represented the people to God.

According to the order of Melchizedek means in the same manner of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was an actual person, a Gentile, who ruled a great city called Salem, the ancient Jerusalem. He functioned as a priest under the family priesthood and he was a contemporary of Abraham and not a theophany of Christ.

Theophany comes from two Greek words, “theo” for God and “phaneia” for appearance. So a theophany is an appearance of God (Christ) in the Old Testament.


  1. He was not a theophany of Christ:
    1. Theophanies are never given formal names.
    2. Theophanies are never related to a specific geographical location. Melchizedek was the king of Salem. Salem is a specific geographical location.
    3. Theophanies always disclosed God as the messenger. Not so with Melchizedek.
  2. In Psalm 110:4, Christ is the one being addressed; the Father is speaking to the Son. The verse is conclusive. It does not say “You are Melchizedek,” it says “You are a priest after the manner of Melchizedek.”
  3. A priest must be true humanity to represent the human race before God. Therefore, Melchizedek was a true historical person rather than a theophany. As a historical person he was the king of Salem, he was a priest under the family priesthood system, and therefore a perfect illustration of the unique priesthood of Christ. Jesus Christ is a king as well as a priest.
  4. Melchizedek was a true historical person rather than a theophany. As an historical person he was a royal priest (king and priest), therefore a pattern and an illustration of the high priesthood of Christ.

The very fact that in the divine decrees the Father said Christ was a priest forever indicates that the Father intended to raise Christ from the dead. So death does not hinder the priesthood of Jesus Christ. It hindered the priesthood of Aaron. Since Aaron died he has not continued to function as the high priest. Melchizedek died and that was the end of his priesthood. Death terminates the priesthood for everyone except Jesus Christ, and the fact that He would be a priest forever is the prophecy of the Resurrection. Jesus Christ continues to function as High Priest.

Jesus Christ, Our Great High Priest

Jesus Christ is our royal High Priest forever. (Hebrews 5:6,10) In order to become our High Priest Christ had to become true humanity. Jesus Christ represented us before God first on the “altar” of the Cross, and now in Heaven before the throne of God. By becoming our High Priest, Jesus Christ became our mediator to God. (I Timothy 2:5-6) As believers in this age, we belong to His priesthood (the Royal Priesthood). This priesthood is far superior to any other that existed in the past. (Hebrews 7) As our High Priest, Christ won the strategic victory over Satan in the Angelic Conflict. (Hebrews 4:14-16; 6:17-20) The priesthood of Christ is the reality of those priesthoods that previously existed in the Old Testament. Just as the rituals and the sacrifices were images of the real things which were to come in the future, the order of the royal priesthood of Christ is the realization of those types, as well. (Hebrews 8)


  1. Definition.
  2. A theophany is a manifestation of the Person of Jesus Christ before He became humanity.

  3. Theophanies demonstrate the fact that Jesus Christ is the God of Israel.
    1. As the Angel of the Lord, the primary Theophany.
      1. “SHAMA ISRAEL, ADONAI ELOHENU, ADONAI ECHAD” is a quote from the Old Testament in Hebrew. It is translated, “Hear O Israel: Adonai is our God; Adonai [Jesus Christ] is unique.”
      2. Jesus Christ as a theophany appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Exodus 3:2 cf. Acts 7:30-35. He was called MALACH ADONAI, the Angel or Messenger of God.
      3. As the Angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ was in the pillar of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night to lead Israel through the desert, Exodus 13:21, 14:19, 23:20-23, 32:34, 33:2; Numbers 20:16; Isaiah 63:9. The Isaiah reference especially emphasizes the fact that the Angel of the Lord, the theophany of Jesus Christ, is the God of Israel.
      4. As the God of Israel, Jesus Christ as the Angel of the Lord warned the judges of Israel in Judges 2:1-4.
      5. Not only did Jesus Christ as the God of Israel appoint Moses the first leader of the Jewish nation, but He also appointed the second leader, Gideon, in Judges 6:11-24.
      6. As the God of Israel, Jesus Christ when mentioned in the Old Testament was a theophany. (Job 33:23-25)
    2. As a Man.
      1. While “angel” or MALACH was the primary form in which Jesus Christ was manifest to people in the Old Testament, there are other theophanies as well.
      2. He appeared to Abraham as a man in Genesis 18:1-33.
      3. He was the wrestler with Jacob in Genesis 32:24-32, also mentioned in Hosea 12:4.
      4. He appeared as a man to the elders of Israel in Exodus 24:9-11. (Verse 9-10 specifically emphasize that Jesus Christ, appearing as a man in theophany, is the God of Israel)
    3. In relationship to clouds.
      1. Jesus Christ is called “the cloud of the Lord, the glory of the Lord” in Exodus 40:38.
      2. He is in the cloudy pillar by day in Exodus 33:9-23.
  4. All these references are important to understand certain principles in the Old Testament, and to understand that there are direct statements that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer in the Old Testament. So this further emphasizes the fact that salvation in the Old Testament is not by keeping the Law (works), but by personal faith in Jesus Christ.
  5. The Identification of the Angel of the Lord.
    1. The Angel of the Lord identifies Himself as Jehovah or God.
      1. When the Angel of the Lord spoke to Hagar in Genesis 16:7-13.
      2. When you compare Genesis 22:11-18 with Genesis 48:15-16, the same principle emerges. The Angel of the Lord identifies Himself as the Lord, or as God.
      3. There is another reference to the Angel of the Lord in Judges 6:11-24, 13:3-23.
      4. So in passages where the Angel of the Lord is identified as the Lord, it is the declaration of the deity of Christ.
  6. Jesus Christ is the only visible member of the Trinity.
    1. The second person of the Trinity is the only visible God of the New Testament and the only visible God of the Old Testament.
    2. There are direct statements as to this truth in the New Testament, as in John 1:18; 6:46.
    3. But it is just as provable in the Old Testament, not by direct statement, but by an accurate understanding of the doctrine of theophanies. For the only visible manifestations of God in the Old Testament are theophanies, which refer only to Jesus Christ.
  7. When the Incarnation and Hypostatic Union occurred, there were no longer any theophanies. Instead, from that point on, there are christophanies, which were appearances of Christ in His resurrection body from the time of His resurrection until He ascended.
  8. The Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New Testament are both said to be sent by God the Father.
  9. Proof of Redemptive Salvation in the Old Testament.
    1. Theophany is a theological proof of the pre-existence of our Lord Jesus Christ as the visible God of the Old Testament.
    2. Therefore, the theophany of Christ mentioned in Job 33:23-25 becomes very important in establishing some principles regarding the doctrine of redemption, “the ransom for Job.”
    3. The “ransom for Job” in Job 33:24 is a reference to the Doctrine of Redemption.

The Biblical definition of the word redeemed is to be purchased from the “slave-market of sin.” There are three Greek words for redemption: “agorazo” meaning to buy, “exagorazo” meaning to buy out of or remove from sale and “lutroo” meaning to release on receipt of ransom or payment. Christ did all three when He redeemed us from the “slave-market of sin.” (Romans 7:14)