Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Hebrews 5:1
God first appeared to Moses by means of a burning bush on Mount Horeb (which is another name for Mount Sinai). As Moses approached the bush God told him not to come any closer, but to take off his shoes for he was on holy ground. God met with Moses, called Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery, and revealed that His name is Yehovah. Among the signs that Yehovah gave Moses was that one day the Israelites would worship Yehovah on this mountain.
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Exodus 19:10-11
Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. Exodus 19:16-17
After the Exodus, the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai. Instead of meeting with just Moses, the LORD (Yehovah) was going to meet with the all the people of Israel. Instead of just a burning bush, the whole mountain was on fire
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Exodus 20:18-19
The people of Israel trembled in fear and they refused to have God speak to them directly. Moses became the first mediator between God and the children of Israel. Moses in his roles of redeemer and mediator is a type of the Messiah (the Christ). His brother Aaron became the first high priest.
Only once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), could the High Priest enter into the Most Holy Place. He would enter through the curtain and stand in front of the atonement cover (mercy seat) where the Shekinah (the manifestation of the glory of the LORD) appeared in a cloud.
The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.
“This is how Aaron is to enter the sanctuary area: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on.” Leviticus 16:1-4
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! Philippians 2: 5-8
Jesus our Messiah is not only the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for our sins, but is also our High Priest. Aaron, the brother of Moses, had to remove his ornate priestly garments and put on plain white linen garments before he could enter the Most Holy Place. Bathing and then putting on clean white linen was symbolic of being purified from sin and then being clothed with righteousness. Only after purification, could Aaron come before the mercy seat to first offer up an atonement offering for himself and then for his people Israel.
Just as the earthly high priest removed his ornate priestly garb on the Day of Atonement, Jesus removed His garments of glory and took on the nature of a man in order to provide atonement for sinful mankind.
He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. Hebrews 5:2-4
As a fallible mortal, the high priest was imperfect and had to first offer up sacrifices for his own sins before he acted on behalf of the people of Israel.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10
The high priest could emphasize with those who committed sins of ignorance (not knowing particular laws and regulations in the Torah), because he knew the Law of Moses and yet was unable to obey all of it.
In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”
And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:5-6
In the same way that Aaron and his sons were chosen by God among the Levites to hold the office of the high priest during their lifetimes, the Son of God was chosen by the Father to be an eternal priest not in the line of Levi.
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Hebrews 5:7
On the night that he was betrayed by Judas, Jesus and his disciples headed to the Mount of Olives after partaking of the Passover meal. They entered into the Garden of Gethsemane
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:38-39
Jesus was obedient to the Father’s will even unto His suffering, humiliation and death.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:8-10
How could the Son of God who is omniscient and knows all things learn anything? Although Jesus understood that He would have to endure mental and emotional anguish, and excruciating physical pain leading up to and including His crucifixion and death, in obedience to the Father’s will, He actually experienced it. Through living a sinless life of obedience, He was uniquely qualified to be the source of eternal salvation as an acceptable sacrifice for our sins.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
Jesus is not only the Lamb of God who was sacrificed but also the high priest in the order of Melchizedek who offers up sacrifices. He is the Alpha and Omega. Jesus is the Beginning and the End. Jesus is both the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 who came and the Conquering King Messiah who will be returning. Hallelujah!
According to Israel’s temple ceremonial system, a tremendous weight of significance and emphasis was placed upon the glorious office of the high priest. The writer of Hebrews understood that it was necessary for the encouragement of Jewish Christians who were tempted to revert to Judaism, to show that Christ was and is indeed a great high priest, not merely equal, but vastly superior to any of the high priests of Israel.
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Hebrews 5:11-12
These Hebrew believers had many great advantages over the Gentile converts. They were descended from Abraham, had the Law of Moses, and the writings of the Old Testament. Some of them experienced the ministry of Christ or His apostles. It was now about thirty years from the day of Pentecost when the gifts of the Holy Spirit were poured out. At that time, a large number of Jews were converted and the congregation of Jerusalem was established. Considering the length of time, the opportunities and advantages they had enjoyed, it might have been expected that many would have been sharing their knowledge of the gospel. Instead, they needed to learn the basics principles of the faith all over again.
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:13-14
After fasting for 40 days, Jesus was incredibly hungry. When tempted by the devil in the wilderness to turn stones into bread, He did not give into temptation:
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
Physical nourishment is not sufficient in itself for a healthy and godly life. Mankind also has spiritual needs that are only met by hearing and obeying the Word of God. The Hebrew believers were immature in their faith. The author of Hebrews chastised his readers for spiritual immaturity. Because they were not grounded on the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, they were not ready to consume the deeper concepts of the Word of God.