Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament types shadows and prophecies. In coming as the Messiah of Israel, he is the fulfillment of the three major offices of Israel, Prophet (Moses) Priest (Aaron) and King (David). In the article “A Greater Than Moses Has Come.” We saw that Jesus as the New Covenant Prophet has spoken God’s word in his establishment of the New Covenant, just as Moses did in establishing the Old Covenant. Both were covenant mediators and both initiated those covenants in blood. Moses initiated the Old Covenant in the blood of an animal; Jesus in initiating a better covenant built on better promises initiated the New (Eternal) Covenant in His blood.
Similarly, Jesus is the New Covenant high priest. Jesus has fulfilled the type of the Old Covenant priest (Aaron) in his mediatorial, intercessory ministry. He is not only the great high priest of the new covenant but he was the once for all sacrifice offered by the priest. Since he offered himself, he can be both.
Aaron was a priest based on lineage (that is birth), God told Moses that only those from the tribe of Levi could serve in the temple. So it was a mystery to the first century Jew as to how a priest could come from the tribe of Judah, as Moses mentioned nothing about that tribe in relation to service in the temple.
For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. Hebrews 7:14
Aaron was appointed directly by God for service to God. A priest is one who stands between God and man as a mediator, intercessor and advocate. He pleads mans case with God and in turn, declares God’s righteous and holy requirement to man. Hence a priest must be sanctified; set aside and holy, for God cannot allow that which is not holy in his presence. Such was the case with Aaron, and the order of priests that came from Levi. The problem was that this line of priests had a tendency to corrupt themselves. Even Aaron’s sons offered strange fire upon the altar. Eli’s sons profaned themselves in the tabernacle itself. In later books we read of the condemnation from God’s prophets that the priests were getting drunk, perverting justice, neglecting God’s law. They had utterly corrupted themselves. The system God had put in place had only one flaw; it was staffed by sinful men, incapable of accomplishing the stated ends of the priesthood; to bring man back into right relationship with God.
But when we come to the New Testament and we see the work of Christ displayed and declared for us in the book of Hebrews we see a Great High Priest with no blemish, no sin, no lack of any kind. He is the perfect one, the one appointed by God as the perfect mediator, intercessor and advocate. In Israel, you took a chance, you gambled with your spiritual life when you trusted your worship, offering, and eternity into the hands of a mere man as priest. In the New Covenant we have confidence to come boldly because of our great high priest.
“Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:17
Our Great High Priest is merciful, faithful, and has made reconciliation for us to God.
“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;” Hebrews 3:1
Our Great High Priest is one that we are called upon to consider. Perhaps our thoughts should be focused night and day upon him. It is to him we go for access to God, for forgiveness of sin. Why would we consider any other?
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
Our Great High Priest has compassion on us because he is one of us. He became man so that when he did pass back into the heavens, he could perfectly represent us before God. He is fully God, so that he can perfectly represent God to us. This is far better than anything Aaron could have done for us. This fact alone allows us to come boldly to the throne of grace. Note: it is not a throne of judgment for the child of God, but a throne of grace, Hallelujah.
“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 he saith also in another place , Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Hebrews 5:1-6
One of the great differences between our great high priest and Aaron is that Jesus did not need to offer a sacrifice for his own sin, prior to offering up himself for our sin. This Great High Priest stands in transcendence to Aaron going back to the Greater priestly order of Melchisedec to show the superiority of his priesthood over the Levitical order.
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; W hither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Hebrews 6:19-20
Jesus has entered into the Holy of holies in the heavenlies, preparing a way so that we too could enter into the same, into the very presence of God. This is something that Aaron could have never done for us.
“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man , because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.” Hebrews 7:22-28
Our Great High Priest is the surety or assurance of our participation in the New (Better) Covenant. Many priests came before, but none able to initiate an eternal unchanging priesthood for they were all limited being mortal. Jesus being eternal has established himself as our eternal priest. We never need look for a successor to Christ, for he is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega.
“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:” Hebrews 8:1-4
Here the writer of Hebrews gives us the bottom line. “We have such an high priest…” We are not waiting for this priest to arrive, we already have him. He is forever seated on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens. And as verse four tells us, he will not be relinquishing that position. He is forever seated on his throne. He is not coming to earth to sit on a physical corruptible throne. If he came to earth, he would cease being a priest, (sorry my dispensational futurist friends). This puts an end to speculative talk about Jesus ruling from a literal physical throne in the literal physical city of Jerusalem. Hebrews 8:4 completely dispels any thought of such a myth. Jesus is already seated on His throne and He will rule from that heavenly place forever without interruption.
“The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent; Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Psalm 110:4
God has given his word, God will keep his word. Christ Jesus is a priest forever.
“Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Zechariah 6:13
The Lord through His prophet promised a priest that would build his temple and would sit on his throne. Jesus is actively building his church, the temple of God, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it, and Hebrews 8:1-4 declares that we have that very same priest sitting right now on his heavenly throne, and will not come down from it. If he leaves His Heavenly throne, He ceases to be a priest…but the writer of Hebrews is clear…“THOU ART A PRIEST FOREVER”!! This is such an emphatic declaration…seven times in three chapters, that Jesus will not come back to earth or God lied about His priesthood. For Hebrews 8:4 says that if her were on earth, he would not be a priest at all.
With such a great high priest, why would we ever want to go back to Aaron?