“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest,
one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.”
(Hebrews 8:1, ESV)
Jesus’ role as both king and priest is seen in this verse, as he is presented as a high priest who has been seated at God’s right hand. The priesthood of Jesus is a major theme in Hebrews 7, and in chapter 8 that theme is continued, although the allusion to Psalm 110:1 in this verse also reminds the reader of the kingship of Jesus. As such, Jesus is shown to be the king and priest to whom Psalm 110 looked forward.
Hebrews 8:1 sets up the discussion of the tasks Jesus performs as high priest. This priest sits at God’s right hand and serves in the true tabernacle. As Hebrews 1:3 developed, Jesus was enthroned after finishing his duties as priest. The fact that Jesus sat down is significant because in the ancient world sitting was frequently understood as a mark of honor or authority. It is also significant that Jesus is continually in the presence of God, which facilitates his role as the perfect high priest.
“And to which of the angels has he (God) ever said,
“Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?”
(Hebrews 1:13, ESV)
The author of Hebrews continues his argument throughout chapter one and quotes from Psalm 110:1 in Hebrews 1:13. The enthronement of the Son in 1:3 is used to set up the discussion about Jesus’ position in relation to the angels. The supremacy of Jesus over angels is addressed in verse 13, which is in the form of a question. The author points out that God has never set an angel at his right hand. That position at his right hand is reserved for his Son. Jesus’ enthronement elevates him to a position above that of the angels. The heavenly rule of Jesus is also a significant part of Hebrews 1, particularly in verses 8-9.
“He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,
and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
(Hebrews 1:3, ESV)
The opening passage of Hebrews transitions from the statement about the ways in which God has spoken into a statement about Jesus as both King and Priest. In Hebrews 1:3 the author is developing the sequence of events in the redemptive work of Christ. Jesus sat down at the right hand of God after he sacrificed his own life. That sacrifice was unique in that priests do not generally sacrifice themselves, but Jesus was able to function as both the priest and the sacrifice.
Jesus’ perfection enabled his priestly work to also be perfect. Upon the completion of the sacrifice, Jesus ascended to heaven and claimed his rightful place at God’s right hand. Some interpreters have suggested a symbolic interpretation of “sat down” and “right hand” in order to signify that Jesus received a privileged position and is deserving of honor. Jesus’ authority to rule over his worldwide kingdom is derived from that privileged position at the right hand of God.
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things,
through whom also he created the world.”
(Hebrews 1:1–2, ESV)
The epistle to the Hebrews is one of my favorite books of the New Testament. Hebrews presents Jesus Christ as being superior to any angel, priest, or institution of the old covenant. The superiority of Jesus is presented as the reason why the readers of the book should persevere in the faith and not abandon the great salvation that is available to them. Hebrews uses both warning passages (which exhort Christians to remain faithful) and expository passages (which exalt Jesus). Christ is exalted as angels, priests, Moses, the tabernacle and the sacrificial system are examined and shown to be inferior to Christ. Through that process the readers are reminded that it is futile to give up their faith in Christ. In the book of Hebrews the Old Testament is expounded through a knowledge of the revelation of Jesus Christ, and Jesus becomes the basis on which faithfulness is encouraged.
Hebrews particularly emphasizes that Jesus is a King and a Priest. While not receiving as much attention as those two offices, Jesus is also presented as a Prophet. The verses quoted above are the opening verses of Hebrews. The book begins with a mention of the prophets whom God has used to speak to his people, and the author points out that God has now spoken through his Son. As the prophets of old were used by God to speak to his people, so now Jesus declares God’s truth. I hope to soon write more about Jesus as King and Priest as presented in the book of Hebrews. In thinking of Jesus as King and Priest his actions receive primary attention, yet it must not be forgotten that as God’s Prophet his words are of equal significance to his actions.
This is the final article in a twelve-part series that developed a theology of language by examining what the Bible says about this topic.
Conclusion and summary. In this series we have seen that language is powerful, but also that human language is fallen and finite. Language barriers, as a result of the Fall, have caused separation among mankind. People respond with their hearts when they receive a message in their heart language. God used language to reveal himself to humans and what he says will never be destroyed. God desires for language to be used to praise him, yet there are millions of people in the world today who have not heard his message in a language they understand. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” People will not respond to the Gospel message unless they have the opportunity to hear it.
Romans 10:14 says, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (both Scriptures from the ESV). That verse tells me that in order for people to be reached with the Gospel they need the opportunity to hear it. Since they cannot hear the message unless it is preached to them, it is our responsibility to give them that opportunity. I want to use language to make God known to the world.
This is the eleventh article in a twelve-part series that develops a theology of language by examining what the Bible says about this topic.
All of the world’s languages will one day unite for one cause. Revelation 7:9 says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” (ESV). That multitude proceeded to worship the Lamb. At the end of time, people will unite, despite their linguistic differences, to praise the Lamb. We have noted how human language has caused strife and division, but those who submit to the Lamb will one day unite to use language for the common purpose of praising Him.
This is the tenth article in a twelve-part series that develops a theology of language by examining what the Bible says about this topic.
The Gospel will one day be proclaimed to every language. Revelation 14:6 records John’s vision of an angel. That angel had “…an eternal gospel to proclaim…to every nation and tribe and language and people.” Revelation 5:9 is a song that was sung to Jesus, and it says, “…by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (both Scripture quotations from the ESV). God desires for all people to hear his Gospel. We are guaranteed that the end of time will not come until the whole world has heard the Gospel (Matthew 24:14). I understand these verses to be saying that there are no linguistic boundaries to the Gospel. Jesus died and rose again so that anyone who accepts him can receive eternal life. I want to participate in the work of the Gospel as it goes out to all the languages of the world.
This is the ninth article in a twelve-part series that develops a theology of language by examining what the Bible says about this topic.
God has given us guidelines about how to use language. Hebrews 13:15 commands us to “…continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” God desires for us to use speech to offer praise to him. I believe that speech is a gift from God, and I can give my speech back to him by offering him my praise. Ephesians 4:24 commands us to speak the truth to each other. Because God is a God of truth, he hates lies. Lies are the work of Satan, who is “…the father of lies” (John 8:45). A life that is devoted to God will have no part in the dishonesty and deception that characterizes the work of Satan. The overarching guideline for a Christian’s use of language is found in Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God…” A Christian’s use of language should be devoted to the glory of God and have no resemblance to the work of Satan (all Scripture quotations taken from the ESV).
This is the eighth article in a twelve-part series that develops a theology of language by examining what the Bible says about this topic.
God’s language (words) will not pass away. 1 Peter 1:24 talks about the fact that grass and flowers do not last very long. The beginning of 1 Peter 1:25 compares grass and flowers with the word of the Lord by saying: “but the word of the Lord remains forever” (ESV). The things of this world will not last forever, but God’s Word will. I want to invest my life in something eternally significant. A life that is transformed by God’s Word yields results that will last for eternity.
This is the seventh article in a twelve-part series that develops a theology of language by examining what the Bible says about this topic.
God’s language is truth and is true. In John 17:17 Jesus, in a prayer to the Father, said, “…your word is truth” (ESV). The fact that God’s Word is truth causes me to want to immerse myself in it and allow its truth to speak to me. I want to come to more fully appreciate the truth of God’s Word because an increased appreciation of his Word would also increase my desire to share it with the world. Psalm 119:142 states that God’s law is true. Since God’s law is true, do we have any reason to not believe it and accept it as the ultimate standard for our lives? I want my life to be shaped by the truth of God’s Word.