Chapter 11
The Ever-Speaking Blood of Jesus

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is our “Priest.” It was foretold in the Old Testament that the coming Messiah would be a Priest, and Jesus is described as being a “Priest” or a “High Priest” 18 times in the book of Hebrews.

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb. 9:14)

Hebrews 9:14 says that Jesus “offered Himself without spot to God.” Animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were offered up to God by priests. When Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice, He was also a Priest. He was not offered up by someone else; He offered Himself to God.

In the Old Testament ritual, the priest did not offer himself and neither did the animal sacrifice offer itself. In the unique sacrifice of Christ, however, He was both the Priest and the Offering. As our High Priest He offered Himself, and the Sacrifice He offered was Himself.

Jesus perfectly fulfilled every aspect of the Levitical sacrificial system. It all spoke of Him and His work. In the last chapter, we looked at Jesus as the Sacrifice for sin itself. In this chapter, the role and function of Jesus as our great High Priest will be considered.

The Function of a Priest

The basic function of a priest in the Old Testament was that he represented the people before God.

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: (Heb. 5:1, Greek)

Just as the prophet ministers on behalf of God to the people, so the priest would minister on behalf of the people before God.

A priest is a representative who is appointed to do for sinners what they cannot do for themselves. The sin of man forbids his access to God. All men are sinners, and consequently none have the right to access to God. Someone, therefore, must approach God and appear before Him on their behalf. That man is a priest. He must come before God for the purpose of making an atonement for the sins of other men and reconciling them to God, enabling those men themselves to have access to the presence of God.

Only the priest is allowed to approach God.

And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. (Num. 3:10)

A sinner cannot approach God to offer a sacrifice for himself. He must have a mediator between himself and God, who can and will do it on his behalf.

The covering of sins and reconciliation between God and man can be effected only by means of a substitutionary sacrifice for sin. Man can receive forgiveness for his sins and be permitted access to God only through the shedding of the blood of an innocent victim who dies in his place. A priest, therefore, is one who is appointed to act on the behalf of men, to draw near to God to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin and to make intercession for the people.

Jesus Christ is the only true Priest of whom the priests of the Old Testament Levitical system were types or shadows. The reason that Jesus is the only true Priest is that He alone is perfectly holy, and so He alone has the right to access to God. Therefore He alone could make an offering and sacrifice to God for the sins of men, and He alone could, on the basis of that sacrifice, make intercession for His people before God.

The Characteristics of a Priest

The Levitical priests were pictures or types of Jesus, our Priest. The characteristics of the Old Testament priests (and consequently of Jesus whom they foreshadowed) were as follows:

(1) A priest was taken from among men to represent them before God.

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained on behalf of 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 weakness. (Heb. 5:1-2, Greek)

Since the priest himself was a man, he could therefore “have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way [i.e., those who sin].”

For this same reason Christ, our High Priest, took upon Himself human nature, not only so He could offer His body8 as a sacrifice for sin, but also so that since He Himself has endured temptations,10 He is able to have compassion upon us and help us in our temptations and trials. Jesus has experienced tests and temptations just like we do, and therefore He can have compassion on us and, as our merciful and loving High Priest, He will help us:

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. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour [i.e., help] them that are tempted. (Heb. 2:17-18)

…we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our weaknesses; 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. (Heb. 4:14-16, Greek)

(2) The priest was chosen by God to His office.

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. (Heb. 5:4)12

According to the Law of Moses, the priesthood was exclusively confined to the tribe of Levi. How carefully God watched over the preservation of His restriction was demonstrated by the judgment of the company of Korah, Dathan and Abiram who coveted position in the priesthood, and also by the judgment of King Uzziah, who was smitten with incurable leprosy while intruding upon the priestly office by burning incense in the temple.

Only those who were chosen by God were permitted to approach Him as priests. So too, Christ was appointed by God to His office of High Priest:

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. As He saith also in another place, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (Heb. 5:5-6)

(3) The priest was said to be holy.

They shall be holy unto their God…they shall be holy…he is holy unto His God…he shall be holy… (Lev. 21:6-8)

The high priest wore, fastened to his “mitre” or turban, a plate of pure gold on which was engraved “HOLINESS TO THE LORD.” This signified that the high priest was devoted exclusively to the Lord and to His service, and it was a “shadow” of the perfect holiness of the Lord Jesus, our High Priest.

Aaron, the first high priest, was called “the saint [i.e., the sanctified or separated one] of the Lord.”

Furthermore, the priests had to be physically perfect or else they were not allowed by God to make offerings to Him:

Whosoever he be…that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread [i.e., sacrifices and offerings] of his God…No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD… (Lev. 21:17-23)

The priests also had to be ceremonially pure and clean before they could minister to the Lord and make offerings and sacrifices, etc. Exodus 29:1-37 and Leviticus chapter 8 describe the seven-day consecration ceremony of Aaron and his sons. This elaborate ritual set the priest apart from the people as a holy person, one who was chosen of God, consecrated to God and representative of the people before God.

The priests also were required to wear special “holy garments” to be able to minister before the Lord, and without all of these garments being worn correctly, and according to instructions, the priest who tried to approach God would die!

The high priest was anointed with “holy oil” to sanctify him, and his garments were consecrated by being anointed with the holy oil. Furthermore, on the Day of Atonement he first had to offer a sin offering for himself to purify and cleanse himself before God before he could continue in his ministry that day.

All of this taught, at great length, that to be able to approach the Lord to offer sacrifices, etc., the Levitical priest had to be perfect, pure and holy. This, of course, typified the holiness and perfection of the true and only Priest, Jesus Christ.

Our High Priest Was Holy!

Once again we see the hideousness of the false teaching that says Jesus died spiritually and was sinful on the cross. If Jesus became sinful He was not accepted by God as the offering for sin:

But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you. (Lev. 22:20)

Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the LORD thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the LORD thy God. (Deut. 17:1)

and He was also forbidden by God to make that offering in the first place!

Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. (Lev. 21:17)

Moreover, if the priests in the Old Testament had any contact with death they became “unclean” and were not allowed by God to minister to Him. Now if the Levitical priest was required to be holy and could not come in contact with death, how could it have been possible that on the cross Christ, our High Priest, was “united with Satan” and “became the very essence of sin,” as some have taught? One does not need to have a Th.D. to see the obvious fallacy of that teaching or to recognize its source!

To teach that Jesus died spiritually and became sinful on the cross is to teach the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches! If there is one word that is written all over the entire Levitical sacrificial system it is the word “holy”! The sacrifice was holy; the priest who offered it up to God was holy; the altar upon which it was offered was holy; the tabernacle where it was offered was holy; the vessels and implements in the tabernacle which were used in the course of offering it were holy; the Day of Atonement feast was holy; and it all spoke of Jesus. Jesus fulfilled it all! How then could it be said that Jesus was anything less than HOLY, HOLY, HOLY?

The Priests Went Into God’s Presence

We also see the ridiculousness of the notion that Jesus was cast out of His Father’s presence while He hung on the cross. When the priest in the Old Testament made an offering to the Lord, far from being cast out of God’s presence, he actually went into God’s presence in the tabernacle or temple to do it!

The whole purpose of the priesthood in the Old Testament was that they would “draw near to God” in their service as priests!

And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them. (Ex. 19:22)

The priests weren’t cast out of God’s presence! They went into God’s presence! So too, Jesus was at all times in the presence of His holy Father.32

Furthermore, the sacrificial animal was always said to be killed “before the Lord”:

…shall the sin offering be killed before the Lord: it is most holy. (Lev. 6:25)

The Hebrew expression which is correctly translated “before the Lord” in this verse, is literally “to the faces of Yahweh,” and it means it was done in His presence! The sacrifice was not cast out of God’s sight; it was killed in His very presence!

Then the blood of the animal was said to be sprinkled by the priest “before the Lord.”

Where, in the Old Testament, is it ever said that the priest was cast out of God’s presence as a “loathsome sinful thing”? On the contrary, he was always said to be “holy.” Only those priests who were physically and ceremonially perfect and holy could enter into God’s presence to make an acceptable sacrifice to Him. If the priest was unclean or blemished in any way and he made an offering, or if a “stranger” made an offering, God considered it to be an abomination and a pollution of His sanctuary for him to do so!

The priests in the Old Testament were always said to be “holy.” In the same way, Jesus, our High Priest, was not spiritually dead or sinful at any time – and especially not when He offered up Himself as a sacrifice to God on the cross – but, in fulfillment of the type which was the physical and ceremonial purity and perfection of the Old Testament priests, He was at all times perfectly holy and sinless:

For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; (Heb. 7:26)

(4) The priest was to “draw near to God” for the purpose of making offerings and intercessions for the people.

Only the priests could enter into, and minister in the Holy Place, which they did daily;38 while only the high priest could enter into the Most Holy Place where God dwelt, which he did once a year to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice upon the mercy-seat, and to present the incense, which was symbolical of intercession, to God.

Jesus too, as our High Priest, offered Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for sin, and, on the basis of that sacrifice, ever lives to make intercession for us.

A third act of the high priest was his coming forth to “bless” those for whom he offered sacrifice and intercession. The blessing he used was probably that found in Numbers 6:23-27 and the fulfillment of this type will occur at Christ’s return.

Jesus’ sacrificial work was completed at the cross:

…he said, It is finished… (John 19:30)

However, as our Intercessor with the Father, Jesus’ High Priestly work continues in heaven. Having considered Jesus’ sacrificial work, we shall now consider His present work as our Intercessor.

The Nature of Intercession

To “intercede” means to interpose with one person on behalf of another. In the context of priestly sacrifice and intercession in the Bible, the essential principle involved in intercession is that a man who, because of his own righteousness and good standing with God, has access to the presence of God, approaches God on behalf of someone else who doesn’t have that right, to ask God to forgive his sin and meet his need.

There are many examples of intercession in the Scriptures. Perhaps the clearest is found in Job chapter 42, where God says concerning Job’s friends:

…My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. (Job 42:7-8)

The wrath of God was kindled against Job’s three friends, and they needed an intercessor – one who God would accept – to pray for them after the sacrifice had been offered. So they did as God commanded them, and when Job stood before God on their behalf and prayed for them, God accepted them back into favor because He accepted their intercessor, Job:

So Eliphaz…Bildad…and Zophar…did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job. (Job 42:9)

As a result, they did not receive the punishment they deserved. This is a wonderful picture of the principles involved in Jesus’ intercession for us. There are many other graphic examples of intercession in the Bible, particularly in the life of Moses.46

Jesus, Our Intercessor

Just as it is the deity of Christ that gives value to His atoning work on the cross, so it is the deity of Christ that enables His intercession with God for us to be effective. Since Jesus is God, He possesses a complete right to access to the Father as well as a total and absolute influence with Him; consequently, His intercession to the Father on our behalf is always effective.

Jesus’ intercessory work for us was typified by the continuous, daily burning of incense on the golden altar in the Holy Place, and also by the presentation of the incense before God by the high priest on the Day of Atonement; and the fact that the incense was burned only on living coals taken from the altar of burnt-offering indicates that Jesus’ intercession in heaven is based upon His accomplished sacrificial work.

As our Intercessor, Jesus stands “in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24). Just as in Egypt, God looked upon the “token” or sign of the blood on the door posts and passed over the Israelites who were “under” that blood, so the presence of Christ, our glorified Sacrifice, before God is in itself a continuous reminder to God that through Jesus’ perfect atonement, justice has been fully satisfied and there is no judicial condemnation from God to those who are “in Christ.”

In Hebrews 12:24, it is said that Jesus’ blood “speaketh better things than that of Abel”:

And [ye are come] to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. (Heb. 12:24)

In contrast to Abel’s blood which “cried out” for God’s vengeance and judgment on Abel’s murderer, Cain, the blood of Jesus “cries out” for the mercy of God, and for our justification, and for our freedom from condemnation and judgment.

This verse does not mean that Jesus’ blood actually “speaks” in a literal sense, but it is a spiritual figure. In James 5:4, it is said that the hire or wages of the defrauded laborers “crieth”; and in Romans 8:22, it is said that the whole created order “groaneth and travaileth in pain.” The wages of the laborers aren’t crying out in a literal sense, and the rocks, rivers and mountains aren’t groaning and travailing in pain in a literal sense, but God is using spiritual figures. In the same way, Hebrews 12:24 refers to the blood of Jesus as calling for the salvation and deliverance by God of His people, rather than the judgment and destruction which they deserve for their sins.

Jesus, Our Advocate

Another aspect of Jesus’ intercessory work in heaven is that when Satan, the Accuser, brings charges against God’s people, Jesus meets them all by pointing to His completed work. All the charges that Satan could ever present to God against us are answered by Jesus, who in this sense is called our “Advocate.”

An advocate is one who pleads the case of another in a court of law. Jesus is our Advocate in the “Courts of Heaven.” The charges that Satan makes against us may be correct and true, but Jesus points to His perfect atonement on our behalf and silences the accuser. We may have sinned and therefore deserve punishment from God for that sin, but because Jesus has already borne our punishment, we don’t have to. Consequently we go free.55

…And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And He is the propitiation for our sins… (1 John 2:1-2)

Because Jesus is righteous (v. 1), He has unrestricted access to the Father; because Jesus is the propitiation for our sins (v. 2), He presents His sacrifice to His Father on our behalf so we do not have to pay the penalty ourselves.

The adversary may accuse us, but it is not in his power to condemn. The Judge, who will either justify or condemn, is the very Lord of Glory who has already shed His blood for our justification.

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? God that justifieth? Who is he that condemneth? Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us? (Rom. 8:33-34, Greek)

Paul’s question in these verses is, “Why would Jesus die to justify us and then turn around and condemn us? Why would God give the most precious thing in the universe – that is, the life of His Son – for our forgiveness, and then allow us to be condemned for our sins?” This should minister great confidence to the heart of every believer.

As our Advocate, Jesus does not tell His Father that we are innocent; neither does He try to make allowances or excuses for our sins. He acknowledges our sins and guilt before God, but then presents His vicarious sufferings and death as the ground of our acquittal. Hallelujah! By the shed blood of Jesus we are free! And there is no man or demon who can successfully accuse us before our heavenly Father, before whom stands the One who has given His precious blood on our behalf.

Jesus, Our King and Priest

As to the form of Christ’s intercession there is just a little that can be said. We believe that Jesus is not in heaven down on His knees “praying” for us. While He was on the earth, He did pray for His people, but He has since ascended back to heaven, and He has been restored to all of His former glory and to His position of exaltation at God’s right hand.

Jesus is certainly a Priest on our behalf, but He is also a King. Zechariah prophesied of the Messiah that He would be a Priest sitting and ruling upon His throne as King:

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. (Zech. 6:13)

Jesus is a Priest after the likeness of Melchizedek.60 Like Melchizedek who “abideth a Priest continually [i.e., perpetually]” (Heb. 7:3), so Jesus has “an unchangeable priesthood,” because He “continueth ever,” unlike the Levitical priests who were men and had to be replaced when they died (Heb. 7:23-25). Again, like Melchizedek who was both a Priest and a King, so Jesus is both a Priest and a King.

In the Old Testament, the kings of Israel came out of the tribe of Judah, while the priests came out of the tribe of Levi. Therefore it was not possible for a man to be both a king and a priest. In Christ, however, the two offices are united and Jesus is both a Priest and a King. Jesus is a King out of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5), and a Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:11).

While it is true that Jesus’ future ministry as King over this earth will begin at His Second Advent, yet it cannot be denied that Jesus is reigning over all things right now; and as King, Jesus is not down on His knees begging and pleading with His Father, but He is rather seated at the right hand of God, and it is there, in a position of equal authority and dominion with His Father, that He makes intercession for us:

…We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; (Heb. 8:1)

…Christ…is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Rom. 8:34)

Probably, Jesus simply speaks to His Father on our behalf,65 to secure for us all the benefits of His atoning work. He probably just says, “Father, I will that they receive all that I’ve purchased for them with my precious blood.”

As we confess our faith in Him, He confesses our names to His Father.67 Because His blood has already bought a complete redemption for us, when we are walking in repentance, and confess our faith in Him, He confesses our names and His work for us to the Father, and we receive the benefits of that work in our experience.

Jesus’ intercession for His people is based upon His atoning work. He has already purchased all that He will ever ask His Father to give us, and that is why His intercession is always effective. Jesus has already shed His precious blood and purchased for us a complete redemption; and because of Jesus’ intercessory work, God applies that redemption to us in response to our faith.

It is also through the intercessory work of our Priest that our prayers are made acceptable to the Father; without Jesus’ ministry, our words would mean nothing to the Father. To be effective our prayers must be made “in the name of Jesus.” We offer up spiritual sacrifices that are “acceptable to God through Jesus Christ,” and it is “through Him” that we offer the “sacrifice of praise” to God. It is all through Jesus.

It is through Jesus, our great High Priest, that we are enabled to “draw near” to God and to receive grace and help from Him.

Because Jesus bought a complete and perfect redemption for us when He shed His precious blood, and because He ever lives now to make intercession for us to apply that redemption to us, therefore we shall receive the benefits of redemption as we walk in His will.

Jesus’ intercession is only for His people:

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. (John 17:9)

And His intercession is always effective. As our High Priest He offered a sacrifice of infinite worth, a sacrifice that will provide the answer to every need, a sacrifice that is eternally perfect and complete. Now, as our High Priest, on the basis of that sacrifice, Jesus makes intercession for us to the Father, to whom He has complete access and with whom He has a perfect and absolute influence.

Because He is God Himself and one with the Father, Jesus’ intercession is always effective. The Father will never deny a request from His Son. As our intercessor, Jesus never fails. He is always successful:

Wherefore He is able to save75 them to the uttermost [i.e., perfectly and completely] that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Heb. 7:

Hallelujah! This means that when we walk in repentance and faith and in the presence and will of God, God’s Word will never fail in our lives!

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 confession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our weaknesses; 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. (Heb. 4:14-16, Greek)

Hebrews 4:14-16 says we must hold fast to our faith because our High Priest is not a detached and disinterested spectator of our lives, but He is One who has already been through all we shall ever go through,76 and He is One whose love and compassion is abiding upon us and who desires to see us walk in the victory and provision that He has bought for us.

When we come boldly to the throne of God and hold fast to our faith in God’s Word, Jesus’ intercession for us, on the basis of His accomplished work on the cross, will always be effective with His Father, and we shall receive mercy and grace from God to help in every time of need.

Jesus, Our Only High Priest

The priests of the Old Testament were shadows and types of the true and only priesthood of Christ. When Jesus came and fulfilled the type, the human priesthood, along with the rest of the Old Testament ceremonial system, was abolished. The Levitical priests were but shadows of the “better” Priest to come. Therefore, when that which they foreshadowed appeared, there was no longer any need or place for the shadows themselves.

When Jesus died on the cross and the veil in the temple was rent, the way was opened into the very presence of God for all men, and a new dispensation began of the universal priesthood of all believers. Jesus is the High Priest of our priesthood!

There are no longer human priestly mediators between God and man. There is only one Mediator, and that is Jesus; and through Jesus we all have entrance into fellowship and communion with God. We no longer need a select priesthood to minister on our behalf before God, because the veil has been rent and all believers alike have been given complete freedom of access to God through Jesus Christ.

And it’s all by the precious blood of Jesus!


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