The Offering Priest

Every type of Christ fails in what might be called the point of completeness. Thus, you can get no type of Christ in which victim and priest are combined. For instance, if a man offered a sin offering, there had to be an offering priest as well. The sinner brought the victim and killed it (see Lev. 4: 27-35 etc.) and then the priest came and dealt with the blood and much else besides (see vs. 5-12 etc.). What man could offer himself an offering to God? So that a man bringing his offering and the priest offering the blood, proved that victim and priest were perfectly distinct. However, when you come to God’s ways in Christ you get what was never set out in any type: both victim and priest in one. He offered Himself (see Heb. 9: 14). Indeed, what other sacrifice could He have offered except Himself? Again, who but Christ could have offered Himself without spot to God? He was both victim and priest.

   If an Israelite brought a sin offering to the priest, could he offer the blood himself? Not at all. According to the Law of Moses, only the priest could do it. But although the priest might offer a person’s offering, it did not follow that he would have any affection for those whose sacrifices he offered. The Aaronic priesthood was official, but officialdom is a cold kind of thing. The priest, as being of the sons of Aaron, was qualified to offer the sacrifices but he did necessarily care for the people whose offerings he accepted. The sinner was bound to bring his offering and if he brought it, the priest was bound to offer it according to the ordinance. There was a system of sacrifice but not in the power of the Spirit nor in divine affections. All was was merely official.

   Now everything is changed. It was in love Christ gave Himself. He was not a priest officially for “if the Lord “were upon earth, he would not even be a priest” (Heb. 8: 4), and “it is clear that our Lord has sprung out of Juda, as to which tribe Moses spake nothing as to priests” (Heb. 7: 14). However, in love He offered “himself spotless to God” (Heb. 9: 14) and that transforms the whole aspect of things. When the believer first gets an apprehension of Christ it is as the victim, but the moment I begin to apprehend Him as priest I learn that it was in love that He offered Himself, for He “loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2: 20, AV). There is a great difference between a priest officially and a priest in divine affection. Certainly, there are many today who regard themselves as ‘official’ priests, but I would not care to trust them. Such a priest may profess to absolve the penitent of their sins—but is he going to answer for them in the day of judgement? I would say to such a priest—‘If you cannot absolve me in the day of judgement then it is useless for you to absolve me now!’ The Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself a victim without spot to God and died for our sins. He is no longer the victim but as priest He abides. God has raised Christ again from the dead, and the priest abides in the “power of indissoluble life” (Heb. 7: 16). He came once into the condition in which He could die but He can never die again. He has gone to the right hand of God and is there, no longer as an offering priest, but as “a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedec” (v17). Furthermore, there is what there never was under the Aaronic system—a link of affection between the offering priest and the offerer. If he was offering priest to expiate our sins, to whom do you think He is going to commit our help when we are tempted (see Heb. 2: 18)? He will commit it to no one but Himself, for the offering priest becomes the high priest in order that He may be “always living to intercede for them” (Heb. 7: 25).

   Now Hebrews 13: 15 tells us that “By him” we are to “offer [the] sacrifice of praise continually to God, that is, [the] fruit of [the] lips confessing his name” (my emphasis). The offerer is now governed by the affection of the priest. I have apprehended Christ as the victim who has satisfied every demand of righteousness. I am justified—cleared in that respect—but, more than that, my heart knows Christ as the offering priest who in love gave Himself for me. Indeed, you will never do anything acceptable to God except as you are affected by the love of Christ. All else is dead works, and your conscience has been purged from these to serve the living God. But how are we to offer these sacrifices of praise? Only in the power of the affection of the priest—it is “by Him” (Heb. 13: 15, my emphasis). If my heart is affected and governed by the love of Christ, then I shall praise God. How often then? Is love a momentary thing? No! That being so, “Let us” says the writer “offer [the] sacrifice of praise continually to God” (Heb. 13: 15, my emphasis).