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Book of Hebrews
Third Peril, dull hearing (Heb.5:11-14)
Theme: Definition of a priest
This chapter continues the great subject of Christ as our High Priest, showing that He is far superior to the Levitical priesthood, with which the Hebrews were very familiar.
In the first ten verses we have the definition of a priest. Christ Jesus, as I have already said, holds the threefold office of Prophet, Priest and King. Jesus is God's final Word to mankind. In Christ, God has said ALL that He intends to say to the world!
As a Prophet, Jesus spoke over nineteen hundred years ago. Now He is the Word of God (Jn.1:1). Jesus is the Priest for the people in today’s generation. Someday in the future, (I think near future), Jesus is going to come as King. Right now He is our Great High Priest. ALL God’s TRUE children have access to Him. He is a Great High Priest, just as Aaron was a great high priest.
Every TRUE believer is a priest, just as all the tribe of Levi were priests.
1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (KJV)
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (KJV)
We, as priests can offer sacrifices to God. Praise is a sacrifice we all can offer, and it is very well accepted by God! Sacrifice of praise: (Ps.27:6; Jer.17:26; 33:11; Heb.13:15). We can also offer our substance, the fruit of our hands, the fruit of our minds, our time. I think that our obedience is another tremendous sacrifice we can offer!
Prayer is also the work of a priest. We need to recognize this honor and privilege.
There are really two extreme approaches to God through worship today. One is a very emotional approach, and the other is a very ritualistic approach. Neither of these are spiritual worship. We simply need to come to Him in a sincere and heart-felt way, revealing our love for Him. Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (KJV) . . . This Passage urges us to come in boldness, confidence and freedom to the throne of grace. We all need mercy and we all need help. Jesus is in the position to supply these for us because He is our Great High Priest.
Definition of a Priest (Hebrews 5:1-10)
Hebrews 5:1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: (KJV)
For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins . . . every one that was a high priest under the law was a man, not an angel, so that he might be a priest for men, have compassion on them, and offer gifts and sacrifices for them. A high priest was taken out from them, and chosen and separated from the rest of men, as Aaron and his sons were from the children of Israel (Ex.28:1). He must be taken from among men, means he must be a man. He represents man to God. He represents man in things which pertain to God. Because a priest goes before God, he must be acceptable to God. JESUS is highly acceptable to God! (Mat.3:17; 12:18; 17:5; Mk.1:11; Lk.3:22; 2 Pet.1:17).
Now, we can draw a line between a priest and a prophet. A priest goes from man to God; he represents man before God. A prophet comes from God to man with a message from God.
The Old Testament priest did NOT tell men what God had to say . . . that was the job of the prophet. The priest's ministry was to represent man before God. In the present age, the Lord Jesus Christ is our ONLY Priest. It is He, and He alone who represents us before God the Father.
COMMENT: The human priesthood of the Old Testament has been superseded by the DIVINE and ETERNAL Priesthood of the One and ONLY High Priest, JESUS! How utterly dangerous and foolish for men to set up ‘priestly systems’ patterned after the Old Testament, and to meddle with the functions of OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST! And for these ‘priests’ to allow themselves to be called “holy father” is absolute idolatry in my eyes!
NO man should take the honor of priest unto himself, because priests were called by God! (Heb.5:4).
Hebrews 5:2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. (KJV)
Who can have compassion on the ignorant . . . those who have committed sins of ignorance, and bring their sacrifices for them; these he does not abuse and scold, nor break out into fury against, but pities them, and sympathizes with them. He has compassion suitable to their condition, and bears with them with great restraint.
And on them that are out of the way . . . those who disobey God's commandments, those who are like sheep going astray, turning to their own way; who transgress the law of God, and err in it . . . maybe this means those who knowingly and wilfully sin, and/or through weakness, are meant,
For that he himself also is compassed with infirmity . . . the reason why the Great High Priest is slow to punish and likely to forgive is, that He Himself was also compassed with weakness. We have a Great High Priest who could say, when He came to the end of His ministry on earth, "Which of you convinceth me of sin?..." (Jn.8:46). The Lord's apostles had been with Him for three years, and if there had been anything wrong, they would have known. Jesus was faultless; He did NOT commit any sin. But because He lived on this Earth as a Man, He understands us. He "can have compassion on the ignorant." This refers to sins of ignorance (Lev.4:1-2). We commit sins that we are not even aware of, and He, our Great High Priest, takes care of that for us. He can have compassion on the ignorant. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Pro.14:12). "All we like sheep have gone astray . . . " (Isa.53:6). God compares us to sheep, because ALL of us, as sheep, go astray.
Aaron was touched with his infirmity or weakness, but Christ was touched by a feeling of our infirmity or weakness. He knows how we feel about things. He is our perfect Mediator. When we fall, He does NOT get down in the dirt with us . . . He lifts us up out of there!
Aaron might condone the sins that he himself had also committed, or he might condemn the sins that he had not committed himself. That would always be a danger of human man. BUT Jesus is well able to show mercy to us, and He neither condones nor condemns. When we come to Him to make confession of our sins, He does not give us a sermon about doing better next time. He simply forgives us and extends mercy to us. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn.1:9). It is simply awesome to have a High Priest like Jesus!
Now the writer shows us a contrast between Aaron and Christ, because there is no equal of this requirement of the Aaronic priesthood in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 5:3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. (KJV)
And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself to offer for sins . . . the writer is speaking of Aaron here. Because of his sinful life (Rom.3:10,23), as he offered sacrifice for the sins of the people, he also had to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well (Lev.16:11). In this Jesus differed from the high priest, for He had absolutely NO sin of His own to offer for (Heb.7:27). Christ did NOT have to make an offering for Himself. He made an offering for you and me.
Hebrews 5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. (KJV)
And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron . . . the honor of the priesthood: the office of the high priest was a very honorable one; it was a special honor to Aaron, and his sons. They were separated unto it, and great respect and reverence were shown to them. The main honor was in the work they did, in representing the people; in offering gifts and sacrifices for them, in blessing them; and in resolving difficult cases brought to them. The Aaronic high priests were types of Christ, the eternal High Priest.
NO man could take this honorable office upon himself, or obtain it by any unjust method, or in any other way than by a call from God; nor did any man dare to do it, until of late, when some got into it of themselves, and were put in by the Roman governors, and even purchased it of them. Some have thought the writer had some opinion to these wicked practices, and indirectly rebukes them, as what should not be: for no one ought to be in this office, except the call was directly from the Lord, and that was unquestionable. Moses was ordered to separate Aaron and his sons, from the children of Israel, and install them into this office. They were destroyed by fire, or swallowed up by the earth (Num.16:32), that disputed his call; and this was confirmed by a miracle, by his dry rod budding, blooming, and bringing forth almonds (Num.17:8). Aaron was the first high priest of the Jews, and from where the rest descended, who were lawful ones.
Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. (KJV)
So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest . . . Jesus was not ambitious, He did not force Himself into the great office of high priest; He did not enter on its duties without being often called to it. Jesus did not assume the glory of the priestly office of Himself without the call of God (Jn.8:54).
But he that said unto him, thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee . . . the word begotten here has nothing to do with the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, but instead it has everything to do with the garden near Calvary where He was buried after His crucifixion . . . because that is where His resurrection took place. Jesus was begotten from the dead. His Priesthood began when Jesus went back to Heaven, and that speaks of His resurrection. Almighty God the Father appointed His Son, Jesus to this office. He sent Him to perform it; He anointed Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows (Ps.45:7; Heb.1:9); He sanctified and established Him in it with an oath (Heb.7:21). See: (Ps.2:7; Heb.1:5).
Hebrews 5:6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (KJV)
As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec . . . the order of Aaron is not enough to set before us the priesthood of Christ. The Lord is NOT a High Priest in the order of Aaron. Christ Jesus is the Son, and Aaron is just a servant.
Psalm 110:4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. (KJV) . . . I will discuss Melchizedek more fully in chapter 7.
Melchizedek the priest: (Gen.14:18-24; Ps.110:4; Heb.5:6,10; 6:20; 7:1,3,10-22)
Who is this Melchisedec (spelled Melchizedek in the Old Testament)? The only historical record that we have of him is in (Gen.14:18-24), and above in Psalm 110. This man went out to praise Abraham on his victory over Chedorlaomer and his allies in which Abraham recovered all of the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, including his nephew Lot, and also brought back all the booty. We are told that Melchizedek was the king of Salem (Salem means "peace") and he was also king of righteousness. He walks out onto the pages of Scripture out of nowhere . . . we have no idea where he came from . . . and he walks off the page of Scripture the same way. There is no other historical mention of him.
Some interpret Melchizedek as just a human being who was the literal king of Salem. Others hold that he was the preincarnate Christ. Still others believe Melchizedek was a type given to us by Moses and guarded by God. He just walks out of nowhere and walks back into nowhere. He had no beginning or ending of days, which I think means that his ancestry is not given, and his birth and death are not recorded.
My dear friend, the Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end. He is Alpha and Omega (Rev.1:8). He started it all, and He will end it all. He is the AMEN. He is the One who is the eternal God and as such has no beginning or ending. The writer is telling us that we have a priest like that . . . He is after the order of Melchizedek. We will see more of this in chapter 7.
Speaking of the Lord Jesus,
Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; (KJV)
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications . . . in the days of His humanity, when He was clothed with flesh, in the time of His humiliation, Jesus did offer up prayers and supplications as Man, but not as the High Priest!
With strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death . . . with a most passionate outcry, with a loud voice, as when in the Garden and on the cross. Although there is no mention of his tears at these times, there is no doubt that He shed them. All that Christ did, and said, are not written (Jn.20:30). Some things were received by tradition, and by inspiration. Jesus did weep at times, The Bible tells us that on two occasions Jesus wept. I am certain that there were other times, but the Bible gives us only two. One was at the tomb of Lazarus (Jn.11:35). His heart went out in sympathy to the two sisters who were so deeply grieved. Another time He wept over the city of Jerusalem (Lk.19:41). Since He wept over Jerusalem at that time, I am sure He has wept many times over the cities in which you and I live. Personally, I think Jesus also wept in the Garden of Gethsemane.
And was heard in that he feared . . . if the Lord Jesus prayed in the garden to let the cup pass because He did not want to die on the Cross, then He was not heard . . . because He did die on the Cross. My friend, He WAS heard; He did not die in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Prophecy makes it abundantly clear that He was to die on a cross. We do not have a better picture of crucifixion than in Psalm 22. The Cross was an altar on which the Son of God shed His precious Blood, paying the penalty for your sin and mine! The life of the flesh is in the blood," God said, "and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls..." (Lev.17:11). In the Old Testament the blood of animal sacrifices simply covered over the sin, BUT the Blood of Christ was given "to make atonement for your souls." Christ shed His Blood on the Cross; that cross was an altar. He told Nicodemus, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up" (Jn.3:14). Jesus did NOT want to die in the garden. I really think that was His prayer, His human prayer, as He wept and sweat great drops of blood Lk.22:44). The Lord Jesus was near very death as He came up to the cross, and He prayed to be delivered from death until He could reach the Cross, the altar. We are told that He "was heard in that he feared." God the Father heard His prayer and Jesus made it to the cross for us! Jesus feared He would not make it to the cross, and He had to make it to the cross, for us! To pay our sin penalty, that we could NEVER pay!
Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (KJV)
Though he were a Son yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered . . . the Son of God, NOT by Creation, NOT by adoption, NOT by office, but by nature. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father, having the same nature and perfections as Him.
Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; (KJV)
And being made perfect . . . in His obedience, through sufferings; having completed His obedience, gone through His sufferings, and finished His sacrifice, and being perfectly glorified in Heaven.
He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him . . . the salvation of Christ is eternal. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb.12:2). Eternal salvation was determined from eternity, and was secured in the everlasting covenant (Gen.17:19; Ps.105:10; Heb.13:20) in which not only a Saviour was provided, but blessings both of grace and glory: and that salvation is to eternity; and stands apart from any temporal salvation, and is opposed to eternal damnation (Mk.3:29). It is the salvation of the soul, which is immortal. "Eternal salvation" . . . is the only kind of salvation Jesus offers! IF you can lose it tomorrow or next week, then, it is NOT eternal. It is some other kind of salvation. Jesus offers only ETERNAL SALVATION. Thank You Jesus! Thank You! Thank You!
Hebrews 5:10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. (KJV)
Called of God an high priest, after the order of Melchisedec . . . according to what is said of Melchisedec in Psalm 110:4, there is a resemblance, a similarity between Melchizedek and Christ Jesus. Many things that are said of one, agree with the other.
Now the writer will discuss this matter of the priesthood of Christ, that Melchizedek was given to us in the Old Testament as a type of the high priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Peril of Dull Hearing (Hebrews 5:11-14)
The writer now puts up the third danger signal; it is like a flashing red light. There is a big danger of being dull of hearing. The writer gives the remainder of the chapter to this danger, because in the next chapter (after still another danger signal) he will deal with the great subject of Christ our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 5:11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. (KJV)
Of whom we have many things to say and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing . . .
the writer says there are many things which seem strange in regard to Melchizedek; many things which are hard to be understood. He knew that what he had to say about this man, as a type of the Redeemer, would make people wonder, and that many might be liable to call it in question. He knew that, in order for it to be understood, what he was about to say, they needed to be familiar with the Scriptures, and have a strong faith. A babe-in-Christ could hardly expect to understand it. The same thing is true today. One of the first questions that a young convert often asks is, Who was Melchisedek? And one of the things which most often confuse those who begin to study the Bible, is the statement which is made about this remarkable man.
The writer says, I still have a lot of things to say, and they are hard to be uttered. WHY are they hard to be uttered? Seeing ye are dull of hearing. The writer could state it, but they could not grasp it. When these should have been acquainted with the higher truths of religion, they had received them slowly, and were dull of understanding.
I think ear trouble, today, is a big problem of believers. Christ as a priest after the order of Melchizedek is a difficult subject, and the writer is going to deal with it directly. To understand the subject needs sharp spiritual perception. It requires us be spiritually alert and to have a knowledge of the Word of God and to be close to it. The Hebrew believers who are being addressed here had a low spiritual ability. It was hard to teach them because it was hard to make them understand. They were spiritual babies, as so many of the saints are today. This dullness of hearing is thought by some to arise from their afflictions; or from their attachment to the law of Moses; or maybe from their apathy and indifference, and often times this arises from pride and prejudice, and contempt and disrespect for the Word of God; and often from the deceitfulness of riches (Mk.4:19), and the cares of this world (Mat.13:22).
Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. (KJV)
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers . . . these Hebrews had had great advantages; they were not only descended from Abraham, and had the law of Moses, and the writings of the Old Testament, but some of them had enjoyed the ministry of Christ and His apostles. It was now about thirty years from the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), in which the gifts of the Holy Ghost were bestowed in such an extraordinary manner, and a large number were converted (Acts 2:41). Considering the length of time, the opportunities and advantages they had enjoyed, they should have been, by now, teachers of others, but it seems they were not!
Ye have need that one teach on again which be the first principles of the oracles of God . . . by the oracles of God are meant the Scriptures, not the law of Moses only, but all the writings of the Old Testament. These spiritually sluggish Hebrews still needed someone to teach them. That is SO common today, but what is worse than that is, SO many today want NO part of Jesus or His Gospel. They want NO teacher to teach them about God and His ways! They want NO one to tell them that they are sinners!
And are become such as have need of milk . . . they were like little babies! They could tolerate only the simplest food. They were utterly incapable of receiving the higher doctrines of the Gospel, just as little children are incapable of digesting solid food. They were in a state of spiritual infancy. Millions of these are throughout the world today!
And not of strong meat . . . strong meat is the deep things of God, the mysteries of the Gospel; those things which are harder to understand, harder to receive and to digested; such as the doctrines of the Trinity, God's everlasting love, eternal election, the Person of Christ, and the retraction of the law.
Hebrews 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. (KJV)
For everyone that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe . . . is unskillful means has no experience in the doctrine about the way in which mankind becomes righteous, or the way of salvation by the Redeemer. Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (KJV)
For he is a babe . . . meaning spiritually. He understands the great doctrine only as a child would. Babes in knowledge, means a state of ignorance. A babe does NOT know the Word of God. You CANNOT grow without the Word of God. I don't care who you are, or what you are; if you are NOT studying the Word of God on a daily basis, you are a little baby spiritually! Get in to the Word of God and GROW!
Hebrews 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (KJV)
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age . . . of full age refers to those who are grown up spiritually.
Even those who by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil . . . by reason of means that by long use and habit they had reached that place in which they could appreciate the higher doctrines of Christianity. The reference, in the use of this word is not to those who eat food . . . meaning that by long use they are able to distinguish good from bad; but it refers to experienced Christians, who, by long experience, are able to tell the difference between that which is useful, in good religious instruction, from that which is harmful. It refers to the delicate taste which an experienced Christian has in regard to those doctrines which impart most light and consolation. Experience enables a person to discern what is right for the soul of man, what elevates and purifies the affections, and what tends to draw the heart near to God. To discern both good and evil . . . means doctrine. They will appreciate and take to heart that which is true; they will reject that which is false.
1 Corinthians 3:1-2 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (KJV)
1 Peter 2:1-2 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (KJV)
Book of Hebrews
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