Picking up where we left off, the New Testament comes in looking backward, looking at God’s covenantal promises, and then it begins to show how Christ fulfills them all. So we move from prophetic anticipation, to Christotelic (Christ in the end) fulfillment.
4. Christ fulfills Zechariah 3. Not simply by being a perfect Levitical priest, Jesus far exceeds the old system. Hebrews records that he is a priest not because of genealogy, but because of living a perfect life. He is called a priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:1-9. Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek” [Psalm 110]. For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
But even more to the point, in connection with the consecration of the high priest, is Hebrews 10. There, the priest it says is not acceptable to God on the basis of a sacrifice or sacrifices made for him. He doesn’t need a sacrifice. Christ is accepted because of his perfect obedience.
Hebrews 10:1-10. 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. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'”
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
The beauty of Hebrews 10, in relation to Exodus 29, is that Christ does not need to be cleansed of sin. He is clean. Thus, his consecration does not depend on the blood of animals; his purity emits from a life that has displayed perfect obedience to the father. God accepts Christ’s priestly sacrifice and representation, because he is His Son, in whom he is well-pleased. This is far better than the Levitical system.
5. The Gospel: We have a priest that is acceptable to God and sympathetic to us. The promises and invitations to approach the Lord in Hebrews about this are astounding. Hebrews 7:25, “He lives to intercede for us.” What does that mean? Consider how he prays in John 17.
(1) He prays for our protection from the world (17:15)
(2) He prays for our sanctification (17:17)
(3) He prays for the effectiveness of our evangelism (17:20)… which means
(4) He prays for the salvation of those given to him
(5) He prays for the unity of the church (17:23)
(6) He prays for his saints to know his love (17:26)
6. The Application: Draw Near With Confidence. The New Testament calls us to draw near to God (James 4:8), but such a command would have been absolutely terrifying to the Old Testament people (and maybe even the priests). Entering God’s presence in any unclean manner resulted in death (cf. Lev 10:1-3). However, Christ takes away that threat. Through his perfect consecration, he stands at God’s right hand and bids us come. He clothes us, who trust in him, with his righteousness and makes us acceptable in God’s sight. Thus, Christian have full access and assurance that our prayers, petitions, and confessions will be heard and received. This is great news, and one that comes at the end of the line that begins in Exodus 29 passes through the OT and finds fulfillment in Christ in the NT.
May we draw near to God in Christ today, because of his perfect consecration.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss