jesus-prophet-priest-king

What is a Priest and Why is Jesus Considered One?

After God freed Israel from Pharaoh’s oppression in Egypt and brought them out into the wilderness to lead them to the Promised Land, God had Moses appoint Aaron and his sons as Priests (Ex 29; Lev 8). While all were priests, Aaron served in a slightly different and more elevated role. He was appointed as the High Priest. Essentially he was in charge of the other Priests and he was the one who offered the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.

The Day of Atonement 

If you aren’t familiar, the Day of Atonement occurred once a year (Lev. 16:1-9). On this day, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was located in the center of the Temple and was where the presence of God resided. In the Holy of Holies, the High Priest would offer a sacrifice to God for his and the people’s sins. The sacrifice he offered atoned or covered the peoples’ sin, making it possible for them to be reconciled or live at one with God for another year.

Constant Sacrifices 

Constantly offering sacrifices for the people was one of the main duties of the priests. That’s because the Day of Atonement wasn’t the only day sacrifices were offered. The priests offered sacrifices on behalf of the people all throughout the year. We don’t have time to get into all the different sacrifices but suffice it to say that the altar in front of the Temple was constantly covered with blood.

The Priests as Mediators

Because of their continued work, you can think of the Priests as mediators. If you aren’t familiar, a mediator is someone who comes between two parties in an effort to bring about peace and resolve a conflict. If you are a parent and have at least two kids, you act as a mediator all the time. I know I do.

The priests in the Old Testament acted as mediators because they came between man and God, offering sacrifices on their behalf in order to cover their sin and provide reconciliation and peace.

Jesus Acts as Our Mediator, as Our Priest

In the same way that the priests acted as a mediator, Jesus acts as our mediator, as our priest. He stands between us and God offering a sacrifice on our behalf in order to reconcile our relationship with the Father. The author of Hebrews makes it explicitly clear that Jesus serves as our Mediator, our High Priest, when he says in Hebrews 3:1-2,

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.” (Heb 3:1–2)

Also, in Hebrews 6:19 and 20 we read,

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb 6:19–20)

So we see then that Jesus is our Mediator, our High Priest.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you see your need for a Mediator between you and God?

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Post adapted from my sermon Jesus as Priest

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How Can I Delight in God’s Word?

As Christians, we are supposed to delight in the Bible. What I mean by that is that it should produce a sense of pleasure and joy in us when we read it. Our delight should draw us into the text.

For some of you, however, that might not be where you are at with the Bible right now. You might not delight in it. Since you don’t delight in the Bible, you don’t read it. Maybe you feel bad about not reading the Bible. Maybe you want to get to a place where you delight in it, you just don’t know how to make the switch. You might be asking: How can the Bible become something in which I delight?

How can the Bible become something in which I delight?

(1) Pray and ask God to help you delight in His Word.

One thing you need to do is pray. Prayer is powerful. It has the ability to change our heart.

For most of us, we know that’s true. We spend time praying for people’s salvation, their broken families, and this broken world. We spend the time doing those things because we know prayer changes things. If we know that, why not pray for our own heart, that God would change it so that we delight in God’s Word?

So one of the first things you should do when you sense your delight slipping is pray.

(2) Read it anyways. 

Besides prayer, I suggest you read God’s Word anyways. God’s Word is powerful. Just like prayer, the Bible is able to change our hearts and minds. We know that is true.

The church I serve as Pastor invites the Gideon’s to present once a year. When they come, we take up a love offering for their ministry so they can continue to distribute Bibles in our community and around the world. We give and they hand out copies of God’s Word because we both know God’s Word is powerful and able to change the heart of man.

Like the Gideon’s, many of you have probably given a copy of God’s Word to your children, another family member, a neighbor, or even a co-worker in the past. You spent your hard earned money on that Bible and asked them to read it, or even better asked them to read it with you. You asked them to read it and even spent time reading it with them because you wanted to see their lives changed, and you know the Bible has the ability to produce that change.

You see, we know the Bible is powerful and able to change the heart of man. We just need to apply the knowledge we already have to our own lives. So even if you aren’t delighting in God’s Word now, I encourage you to pick it up, read it, and see if your heart doesn’t change.

(3) You might need to check your heart.

If you do the above – pray and read, and your heart never changes, I suggest you check your heart.

Christians should delight in God’s Word. They should be drawn to it, and when they read it, it should produce joy and pleasure in them. While you may go through a season where you don’t delight in God’s Word, by and large, a delight should characterize your relationship with the Bible. However, if that delight never comes, even after praying and reading for a time, you might need to check your heart to see if you really are a follower of Jesus. Jesus delighted in the Bible and so should His followers.

When the Bible is our delight, we won’t let it sit around collecting dust. Instead, we will look forward to reading it each day; and when we don’t, we’ll miss our time in God’s Word.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you delight in God’s Word?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What should we do with the Bible?

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Bible Reading Tips

I understand that reading the Bible can be a difficult and intimidating endeavor, so let me give you some tips to help you get started.

(1) Get a Translation You Can Read

I know some of you grew up reading the King James Version and the Early Modern English doesn’t bother you, but I also know that for others, myself included, reading the KJV is difficult. Instead of doubling down and pressing through, I encourage you to get a translation you can read.

Personally, I read the ESV. It’s literal enough to confidently study from and it flows well enough that you can sit down and read it for extended periods of time.

(2) Read Literarily, But Also Read Literally

By “literarily” I mean that we are to read each selection based on its literary genre. Not every book or section of the Bible is written in the same genre, which is what makes the Bible such an interesting yet difficult at the same time. The genre’s in the Bible include:

  • Narrative
  • Poetry
  • History
  • Prophecy
  • Epistles or Letters
  • Gospels
  • and Apocalyptic Literature

In order to grasp the meaning of the Bible, we have to read each book or section according to its literary genre.

Along with reading the Bible literarily, we also have to read it “literally.” Meaning we are to take the Bible at face value. While it is popular in some circles to look behind the text for a hidden Bible code, one doesn’t exist, which means we shouldn’t come to the Bible expecting to find one. Nor should we attempt to spiritualize every passage. Instead, we should read the Bible at face value.

So read literarily, but also read it literally.

(3) Read Large Chunks at a time

It’s tempting to read a verse or two and set the Bible aside. Honestly, at times, that might be all we need or can handle. But we shouldn’t make reading a verse or two our main Bible reading practice.

Think about a novel. You don’t typically read a sentence or two and put the book down. No, you read a chapter or two at a time, if not more. The reason you can do that is so you can follow the story. If you are constantly starting and stopping every sentence or two and days go by between each reading, it going to be hard to understand what’s happening in the novel.

That’s the same with the Bible. It’s a book. It’s a story. If we want to understand its characters, it’s plot, it’s narrative; if we want to make connections within the story, we have to commit to reading it more like a novel than our Twitter feed. We have to read large chunks at a time.

(4) Ask Questions of Observation

Who? What? When? Where? and How? are good questions to ask. They not only help in understanding the characters, time, and place, but they also help keep the context straight so that we know what’s going on around the text we are reading as well.

(5) Read the Bible in Community

Every Friday a group of us from the church get together at IHOP for our weekly Men’s Breakfast. The point of that breakfast is to help one another understand God’s Word. Attending the study week in and week out for the last 4 years+ has been immensely helpful. Not only have my questions been answered, but I’ve been able to bounce ideas off the others to see if what I’m thinking is right. As well as it’s given me the opportunity to talk through Scripture, which helps me process what I’ve been reading.

There’s value in reading the Bible in a community, which is one reason I am encouraging everyone to use the Read Scripture plan this year. I’m hoping it’s going to give us the opportunity to have conversations about God’s Word with one another that we might not otherwise have.

(6) Use the Cross References

While not a part of the original text, they’re useful. They’re there to help us understand the passage better and make connections to other parts of the Bible that we might not have otherwise. So use the cross references.

(7) Ask Application Questions

Questions like:

  • What does this text teach me about God, myself, and the world?
  • How does this text point to Jesus or show me my need for a Savior?

These are simple questions you can ask that will help you get more out of your daily Bible readings.

So those are some quick tips that will hopefully help you as you are reading the Bible this year.

Question for Reflection

  1. What tip(s) would you add?

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