Christ: The Guarantor of a Better Covenant

Hebrews 7:20-28

Sermon # 205

“God’s Son: the Guarantor of a Better Covenant”

Soon after moving to West Jefferson I found myself grabbing some much needed items at a hardware store downtown. I went to check out and my heart sank, I had forgotten my wallet! Have you ever done that? I apologized and asked the clerk if he could hold the items and I would be back in a bit to pay and pick up the items I needed. To my utter amazement the clerk said, “go ahead and take the items and swing by whenever and settle up.” I could not believe it. This clerk had no idea who I was and yet he took my word! That is rare. Promises. We hear these words from others from the time we are children. Our parents promise us things sometimes to manipulate behavior or sometimes with the most sincere intentions only to fall short. Politicians promise don’t they? They promise to make things better and fix all the ills in our society when they know full well they cannot deliver even though they may try. We become jaded, untrusting, skeptical and question peoples motives. Perhaps you have been tempted in this way as I have with empty words. This tends to lead to distrust of people or to not take them seriously. Perhaps we have even been the ones to say these untrue things at times. 

     In our text today we see that God said something. When God speaks perhaps we tend to respond to Him the way we are skeptical of people, after all life sort of sinfully trains us that way. Not believing that people are out to look for our good, but only to take advantage of us. This is significant because in a world that is skeptical of what people say, comes God’s Word to our ears urging us to hear, listen, and believe. Our passage centers once again on the prophecy of Psalm 110 that God indeed would send not a mere servant but His own Son, according to a different priestly order, and not according to the line of Aaron but by the power of an indestructible life. A priest who would not die but who would serve forever. And, while God need not swear an oath because His Word is good and trustworthy, He does. He swears that He would send a faithful High Priest. As we looked at last week, Jesus ushers in a better hope than that of the Levitical Priesthood. The Levitical Priesthood could not bring lasting peace with God. As we have been studying, God appointed Christ after the order of Melchizedek in order to fulfill not just prophecy but His redemptive plan. We want to continue to look at Christ’s High Priesthood and its characteristics compared to the Levitical system. Jesus being the guarantor of a better covenant and remaining as a faithful High Priest, He is able to save those who draw near to God. We want to look at this is 3 points: 

  1. The Promise of His Priesthood (20-22)
  2. The Permanency of His Priesthood (23-24)
  3. The Personal Nature of His Priesthood (25-28)

  1. The Promise of His Priesthood (20-22)

“And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:

“The Lord has sworn

and will not change his mind,

‘You are a priest forever.’”

22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.”

This better hope which Christ offers is connected inextricably to the oath or promise of God. Verse 20 tells us that “those who became priests were made such without an oath.” Priests according to the Levitical order would be brought before the Lord and here would be an extended ceremony but their was no oath. You can see this for yourselves in passages like Exodus 28,29 or Leviticus 8,9. So nowhere in the Biblical text is there a record of God swearing to Aaron or any other Levitical priest that their priesthood would be forever. However, in Psalm 110:4, He makes Him a priest by swearing an oath. The LORD has sworn

and will not change his mind,

“You are a priest forever

after the order of  Melchizedek.”

We have already seen the author of Hebrews use this text to prove several things about Christ’s priesthood. 

1.) Christ would fulfill the office of priest (5:6)

2.) That this priesthood would be after the order of Melchizedek (5:10)

3.) That this priesthood would be continual “forever” (7:17) and finally, 

4.) here it is quoted once again that it contains an oath. “‘The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “you are a priest forever.’” When God promises something it is sure, steadfast, immoveable. What comfort ought to come to our souls seeing the faithfulness of God through the course of history, let alone our own lives. God speaks, it happens. From the creation of the world until the day He tells His Son to return for His bride, God’s Word always comes to pass. He planned to send His Son to be our faithful High Priest. This clearly does not make us the objects of focus here, but Him! Look at verse 22. “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. This word “guarantor” can also be translated “Surety”. The greek word ἔγγυος: “e’n-gü-os” is found only here in the New Testament and in this context speaks of Jesus Himself as the focus of what was promised, this indestructible One is to be the guarantee of this better covenant. What is God’s Word worth? Can we believe Him? He not only says what He means, and means what He says, but He backs it up with oaths and guarantees. A covenant between two parties always contained the terms, rights and responsibilities and then a guarantee or even promises of what would happen if one party didn’t follow through. Christ Jesus himself is the guarantee of this better covenant. Jesus wholly God and wholly man is indeed the perfect priest. He alone accomplishes what God ordained before time to happen. He is the one who chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. (Eph. 1:4) The purpose of his incarnation was to bring propitiation for us on the cross, then to resurrection, ascension, and now intercession for us as we will see in verse 25. Do you O Christian really doubt His ability to meet your need? Has He not demonstrated His love over and over again for you? If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ personally this morning you should not doubt that He is able to save you! His Word is His Word. Not only ought you to believe He is able to deliver but also you ought to believe He is able to dish out the consequences of our sin should we refuse to trust Him. He knows what he is doing and wants to make us right with Him. You cannot do it, but He can. Do you believe that? God swore it would be so, and Jesus guarantees it, this High Priest who brought in and secured a New Covenant is firm, solid and trustworthy. So we have this hope that we are ushered into because of the promise of God to send and appoint Jesus Christ as our faithful High Priest, now, to our second point,

II. The Permanency of His Priesthood (23-24)

All these truths are compelling and glorious as we contemplate them, but what lasting hope would there be if His priesthood were only temporary. If His priesthood only continued to His death, we would have no hope. His resurrection, ascension and intersession tell us otherwise! Look at verse 23-24,

“The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but He holds His priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.” First the Levitical system needed many priests in contrast to Jesus, the One and only. Further, priests died. They had to be replaced, they served for a season, but they themselves needed atoning for. Despite being imperfect that had to meet purity obligations and washings etc. No matter how well they served. They died. Aaron, Eleazar, Phineas and so the sons of Aaron continued until the destruction of the temple in 70A.D. They were impermanent, but Christ is permanent,why? Because He is still alive! Jesus is not just a belief system, an abstract hope, a figurative ghostly figure awaiting us when we die. He is real, a man, and He is God and He is very much alive. See how our hope is tied to the person of God and not to a religious rite? Christ is your life! Things in our lives are not permanent, and as much as we would like things to stay the same they simply will not. Are you holding on to the Unchanging One, your permanent High Priest? Or are you hanging on to your impermanent life and impermanent people or even your impermanent junk! All these will pass away. Our High Priest will not. This church if it should tarry until the coming of Christ, will have many pastors Lord willing, each different with a host of different gifts and abilities but they too will pass away. But the High Priest that we preach will serve forever! We need not another! The reality of this permanency leads us to our third and final point,

III. The Personal Nature of His Priesthood (25-28)

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, Innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.”

Notice the work of His priesthood has a purpose that hits us on a very personal level. It is for those who have a great need before God. Is this not what even the Levitical Priesthood acknowledged? Because of His permanency as High Priest, He is able to do something. What is that something? It is to save to the uttermost. He is able. Who else can save you? Only He is able. Only He can take the wrath of God in your place! The Greek here speaks of saving completely; or at all times. Often we miss this, as Christ’s saving work is not just justification, but sanctification as well and one day glorification. As it has been said, we have been saved, we are being saved and we will be saved. It is an active present tense deliverance from our sin, ourselves and Satan. Did you think God was finished with you? Look again as verse 25, who is it that He is able to save? Those who do what? “Those who draw near to God” through Christ. Have you drawn near the Lord? Or, do you keep Him at arms length? Consider what we have heard in Hebrews already about drawing near. 

Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 7:19 – (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

And the author will continue to encourage us to “draw near” consider: 

Hebrews 10:1 – “For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

Hebrews 10:22 – let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Great encouragement ought to be ours this morning as we can not only draw near to Him through Christ but that He lives to always make intercession for us! The reality is that we keep coming! Don’t stop! That is great that you came to Him that first time, but in this sense we ought to keep coming if we are to persevere to the end. Christ is our life. We must be reminded of the Gospel daily and our desperate need of Him, we have a High Priest! Your need is His ministry. Vs. 26 Our focus be not on our performance but His. Notice His characteristics. “Holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.” He is altogether separate from us, innocent, flawless, and also exalted above His creation. You see the point, mankind has a great need! To draw near to Him means that we will turn from our sin to Him, but it also means that we will turn from our “good” and receive His. While we need to continually come to Him, He need not continually bring a sacrifice. Vs. 27 “He has no need”. God is self sufficient. He needs no one, or anything! It is truly fascinating to dwell on! He is perfectly satisfied with being who He is. He enjoys Himself, He will never need anything, He is God! But notice here in verse 27 that He again is contrasted with the Levitical priests. He has no need “like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” 

Christ is the Priest and the Sacrifice! Stop trying to save yourself and seek to deliver yourself as if you good deeds will somehow outweigh your bad deeds on the Day of Judgement. You need Him! 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.”

Finally, this oath came after the law. Psalm 110:4 was prophesied by David long after the law. The contrast being that the temporary Levitical Priesthood was appointed by the law without an oath by God and the eternal priesthood of Christ was appointed with an oath. Not mere servants could free man from their sin, the Son was needed. God’s promise here, Christ’s Permanency as our High Priest, and His personal call to us shows us that He indeed is a guarantor of a better covenant. Truly the Apostle John says it well in 1 John 4:14-19 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”

Jesus is the surety of a better covenant and remaining as a faithful High Priest, He is able to save those who draw near to God.  Are you in this covenant? Have you drawn near? Come to this faithful High Priest. He can and will save you to the uttermost. While man’s word is questionable, God’s Word is steadfast:  

God swore it, Jesus guaranteed it, do you believe it? 

Let’s pray.