7/08/16 Hebrews 4:14 - 5:4 “Sinners need an Advocate to plead their case

When determining what Hebrews means so far, we have to look at how things are put together by the writer. Clearly he has meant to

(a) demonstrate that Jesus Christ has “better” qualifications to speak for God, better than the prophets, better than the angels, better than all God’s creation,

(b) demonstrate that Jesus Christ was a “better” Man than all others, in fact, the only One who could redeem man back to what God had intended man should be, by tasting death for every man, as the sinless Son of God come in the flesh,

(c) show that Christ was the first fruits of the salvation He offers to every man through His sacrifice on the cross (the Captain of their salvation), that He is a merciful and faithful High Priest,

(d) demonstrate that Christ was more faithful (“better”) than the one the Jews considered faithful, that is, Moses,

(e) teach of a future Sabbath rest for the people of God, better than the rest that was offered to the Hebrews who were led by Moses out of Egypt,

(f) demonstrate that those who sinned in the wilderness failed to enter their rest; that we should learn from what happened to them, “lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” To not harden our hearts as in the rebellion,

(g) teach that the soul that sins shall pay the penalty, that obedience will obtain that Sabbath rest, and that God who can see to the uttermost depths of our lives will see every sin that we might think has been hidden from sight,

(h) teach that we must hold fast to our confidence and hope firm to the end.


Hebrews 4:12-13 showed us that God can discern all things about us, even the thoughts and intents of the heart, that our lives are laid bare (naked) before God who will one day judge everything we do. So, if we are all guilty before an infinitely holy God, how may we stand if we are to be judged on our very lives? Even our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)! If we could do the best we could all our lives, we would still fail to satisfy God’s holiness. Certainly the writer has been telling the Hebrews that “they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19) or “we which have believed do enter into rest” (Hebrews 4:3). But how do we define “believing” in God? What if we disbelieve God just once? Are we still believers? According to James 2:10For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one {point}, he is guilty of all. So how may we believe when we have already shown unbelief in our hearts? So clearly here we have a problem: it is impossible for man, even a good man, to be acceptable to a holy God!


This is where we are heading in Hebrews – the need for someone to be our advocate, someone who will plead our case before holy God.

1 John 2:1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

advocateparaklētos (summoned; called to one’s aid; one who pleads another’s cause before a judge; intercessor; advocate for the defence; of the Holy Spirit – sometimes called the Comforter) This word is only used by John, 4 times in John, and once in 1 John.
As our Advocate, Jesus pleads our imputed righteousness through the blood He shed on Calvary, that we are to be considered as such acceptable to a holy God in and through the sacrifice on the cross. The word also means to be an intercessor. The Hebrew priesthood was to offer up prayers of intercession for the people, to act as intercessors between God and man.


An intercessor is a person who intervenes on behalf of another, especially by prayer. “one who intervenes”, from a word meaning to intercede. That is, to come between two opposing parties with the intention of mediation.

Numbers 16:47-4847 And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. 48 And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.

Note Jeremiah 7:16Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.


We are now being led by the writer toward Jesus Christ, our eternal High Priest in the heavens, One who understands intimately all our weaknesses and needs.

Hebrew 7:24-2724 But this [man], because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 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. 26 For such an high priest became us, [who is] holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 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.


Only with such a high priest may we have any assurance that we may be counted as righteous before an infinitely holy God. Only One who can search the depths of our souls, One who came to seek and to save that which was lost, may help us.


Hebrews 4:14Seeing 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.


hold fastkrateo (be powerful; get possession of; lay hold of; hold fast; keep carefully and faithfully; retain) This is a different word from “hold fast” (Hebrews 3:6) and “hold” (Hebrews 3:14) which meant more to keep (something) from being lost or getting away, while the word in Vs 14 above means more of a taking control, to hold with all our strength.

Note its use in Revelation 20:2And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

We are to take control of our profession (of our salvation and faith in Jesus Christ). For profession we may read “confession” as the word means; note the following use:

1 Timothy 6:13I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and {before} Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;


With our weaknesses, we certainly have a need for an Advocate, our great (megas) High Priest in the heavens, one who will plead our defence before a holy God. Therefore, keep carefully and faithfully that which we have confessed: our faith in the salvation of Jesus Christ.

Titus 2:13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;


Hebrews 4:15For 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.


be touched with the feelingsympatheō (to be affected with the same feeling as another; to sympathise with; to feel for; have compassion on) Note “sympathy”
infirmities – weakness; frailty of body; feebleness of health; a want of strength and capacity to do things.

For our High Priest has experienced all that we experience, only without sin. He was born as a human, with all the feelings of weaknesses that we have. He put aside (willingly) all the authority of being God (yet never was any less God for this) that would have lifted Him above our infirmities.

Philippians 2:5-7 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:


Thus, Jesus can understand our weaknesses, but also have the answers on how to overcome such weaknesses, having been in the flesh like us. We don’t have the answers of ourselves to overcome all sin, yet Jesus went through the same experiences yet without sin – an example for us to follow. This empathy is essential to a complete understanding of all our needs and weaknesses.


Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.


boldly – freedom in speaking; openly; frankly; that is, without concealment; free and fearless confidence; cheerful courage; boldness; assurance.

Because we come in the name (and thus His authority) of our great High Priest, we may come before an infinitely holy God without fear of being destroyed on the spot because of our sin.


Hebrews 5:1For 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:


ordained – to set one over or in charge of something; to appoint someone to administer an office.
gifts – gifts offered in expression of honour; of sacrifices and other gifts offered to God.

We come to a description of the requirements of the high priest of God; such would also apply to the leadership of any ministry of God today.

A genuine high priest is taken from among the men he serves so that he may intercede for the sins of those he represents. He is ordained, that is, appointed to administer that office. Aaron was ordained by God to serve the people of Israel as their high priest.


Hebrews 5:2Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.


them that are out of the way – those who have gone astray or been led aside from the right way; those led into error or away from the truth or virtue; sinners; heretics.

infirmity – as per “infirmities” in Hebrews 4:15. The high priest taken from among men was, as one of them, compassed (surrounded by and thus not ignorant of) their weaknesses.


A genuine high priest, as one of and with the people he serves, must have an intimate understanding of the weaknesses of the people he serves. In this way he may have compassion on those who may not understand as he does, and upon those who have gone astray because their weaknesses. He must be able to relate to their weaknesses as one who has experienced the same weaknesses, yet hopefully has overcome many of such.


Hebrews 5:3And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.


by reason – the ground or reason by which something is or is not done; by reason of; on account of; because of or for this reason; therefore; on this account.


Thus the high priest, as one of the people he was called to serve, had to offer gifts and sacrifices (Vs 1) not only for the people, but for himself also, he being inflicted with the same infirmities (weaknesses, sins) as his brethren, his people. That is, not only for the people he served, but also for himself, must he offer sacrifices for sins. That is, because the high priest is also compassed with infirmity, he also has to seek God’s mercy for himself as well as for the people he serves.


Note the requirements of a pastor:

1 Timothy 3:2-72 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;     4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

It assumes that it is possible for a pastor to fall into sin; however, he must take steps to avoid such weakness.


Hebrews 5:4And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as [was] Aaron.


called – to call; to invite; to call by name; to give or receive a name; to be called to bear a name or title among men (Eg position of authority).
No man is entitled to take the honour of being high priest because he desires it for himself (on his own account). As Aaron was the one called by God, so must those who take up the honour of intercessor and priest (especially high priest) for his people.


No man may take this on his own account, but must be called just as Aaron was called. Note the calling of God for Aaron as high priest.

Numbers 17:1-111 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of [their] fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man’s name upon his rod. 3 And thou shalt write Aaron’s name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod [shall be] for the head of the house of their fathers. 4 And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you. 5 And it shall come to pass, [that] the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you. 6 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ houses, [even] twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron [was] among their rods. 7 And Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness. 8 And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds. 9 And Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod. 10 And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not. 11 And Moses did [so]: as the Lord commanded him, so did he.


Thus, we get to the point of all of this, in Hebrews 5:5So 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.

That is, just as the high priests of the Old Testament were called to serve God, the “better” High Priest, Jesus Christ, has been called by His Father God to serve Him as our great High Priest in the heavens. That is, Christ didn’t give Himself the glory of being High Priest; He was obedient to His Father God who called the Son to be His High Priest. That is, Christ is the “better” High Priest called by God to be our Intercessor in heaven, after the order of Melchisedec – “better” than those called after the order of Aaron.

Jesus Christ was taken from among men, experienced their infirmities, understood their needs, offering Himself for their sins, having been called by God to this ministry. Thus Jesus prayed: not My will but Thine.


More on this next week when we look at the calling of our great High Priest after the order of Melchisedec.


It’s a pity that churches today prefer to choose the men (and women) they like to lead their ministries, rather than seeking God’s leading on such important matters. A ministry would do well to spend time (including in prayer) seeking God’s will before appointing a person to lead that ministry.

If a person is not called by God to lead a ministry, then he shouldn’t be appointed, no matter how excellent his earthly credentials are; if he is appointed, the ministry will not be blessed. That ministry cannot afford to have such a person.

On the other hand, if a person is called by God to lead a ministry, then, as long as his qualifications are suitable, he should be appointed; the ministry will be blessed (as long as that person does not go astray). That ministry cannot afford not to have such a person.

1 Samuel 16:7But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for {the Lord seeth} not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.


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