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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Hebrews 5:1-5 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: 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. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, today have I begotten Thee.

As this chapter of the Hebrew epistle begins, the comparative analogy continues between the priesthood of the Jewish nation and Jesus Christ, as the great, and only, High Priest to serve the Christian Dispensation. The first four verses of the lesson text briefly describe high priests that were ordained to serve the children of Israel. The high priest, also referred to as the chief priest, was the head over all Jewish religious affairs. He ruled over all ordinary priests, of lesser rank, that served in other religious capacities to which they were assigned. God did not send a heavenly being to fill this position of spiritual authority. Rather, those chosen were taken from among men.

High priests, as well as all other priests, came from the tribe of Levi, the son of Jacob, and from the lineage of Aaron (Exod. 29:9). The role of the high priest is broadly described as the one ordained for men in things pertaining to God. The high priest was the intermediary between God and the Jewish people. The gifts and sacrifices of the people were offered to God, on their behalf, through the priesthood, with the high priest alone offering the sacrifices for sins on the Day of Atonement. Gifts were thought to be bloodless offerings, while sacrifices were offerings that required the life of an animal.

One of the reasons for the high priest being taken from among his brethren is so he will have human compassion for those over whom he had spiritual authority - that he may be sympathetic toward their needs. Only with an understanding heart can the high priest reach and teach those that are ignorant - those unlearned in spiritual matters. The same human sympathy is needed for the high priest to reach and teach them that are out of the way, that is, those that have erred and strayed away from the spiritual conduct that should, and once did, rule their lives. The unlearned and erring were the charge of all high priests that were ordained to serve God's children under the Jewish dispensation, and they were to do so with compassion as brethren within the family of God. It was out of this compassion that he was to offer sacrifices for sins, both for the people, (and) also for himself.

God's law, as it was given to Moses, established the qualifications of all that were to be ordained for the office of high priest - no man taketh this honor unto himself. God did not "call" all high priests directly, but He did establish the rules by which they were to be called. They were to be of the tribe of Levi, from the seed of Aaron, and they must meet all the qualifications required for this spiritual position.

Similar to this, the writer of the Hebrew letter says, So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest. Just as Aaron was initially called directly by God to serve as the first high priest of the Jewish nation, Jesus Christ was called directly by God to serve as the High Priest of His kingdom on earth - the body of Christ - His church. during the Christian Dispensation. Jesus did not glorify Himself with the honor of this position. Even, Jesus, Himself said, If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing: it is My Father that honoreth Me (John 8:54). This holy calling of Jesus to be the High Priest over His kingdom on earth - the church of Christ, was contained in the prophecy of the inspired Psalmist that said, Thou art My Son, today have I begotten thee (See Psalm 2:7; Heb. 1:5; Acts 13:33).

What does this mean to all Christians today? The apostle, John, tells us in the words of Jesus: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Later, in his epistle John wrote, In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

The only begotten Son of God is, today, our High Priest!