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Doctrine of Christ: Why We Need a Priest

September 26, 2021 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: Hebrews 7, Genesis 14

Scripture -> Hebrews 7 / Genesis 14


Today we are continuing our discussion regarding the office of Priest and how Christ perfectly fulfills that office in His role as mediator.

We’ve learned from the book of Hebrews and in Leviticus that:

  1. The priest is taken from among men.
  2. The priest is ordained for/ on behalf of men in things pertaining to God
  3. The priest offers gifts and sacrifices for sins.
  4. The priest also is compassed with infirmity
  5. He offers for sins of his own
  6. the priest does not take this honor to himself.


Having looked at the basic functions of a priest, let’s take a moment to examine why a priest is necessary.

Some might ask, why do we even need a priest.

What good is a priest?

What can a priest do that I cannot do on my own?

The answer can be found in two responses:

  1. The Holiness of God demands it
  2. The Commandment of God requires it

The Holiness of God

The Holiness of God requires that we have a priest to approach Him.

Why? Because we are a people beset with our own sins.

  • We have “pet” sins that we secretly nurture and protect
  • We have sins that we run from
  • We have sins that we tolerate
  • We have sins that sometimes we invite to come in and take up residence

The fact is, we have sin.

And this sin is what prevents us from approaching God on our own.

Turn with me to Habakkuk 1:6-8, 12-13

The Holiness of God: Habakkuk

There is a bit of a prophetic argument going on here between Habakkuk and the Lord

  • Habakkuk has heard that judgment is coming.
    • Habakkuk is not arguing with the judgment.
    • Judgment is coming and it is well deserved
    • The people of God have turned away from the one true God to other gods.
    • Judgment must fall.
  • Habakkuk is concerned that the Lord has chosen a wicked nation to rise up against the people of God.
  • Habakkuk says -> You can't raise up a wicked nation...
    • you have purer eyes than to behold evil.
    • You cannot dwell with iniquity.

Habakkuk teaches us here about the holiness of God

  • God cannot look upon iniquity
    • He did not in the past, he will not in the future.
  • God cannot look upon iniquity, he will not look upon iniquity.

We have sinned against God, we have sinned against his holy majesty.

  • God has decreed that we will not come into His presence thusly defiled.

We need a priest, We must have a priest

  • ...if we would be represented before God in any kind of favor at all.
  • He is of pure eyes than to behold iniquity.
  • He will not and cannot and is not going to ever dwell with sin.
  • And so the holiness of God demands that we have a priest to "take care" of our sins

The Holiness of God: Manoa & Samson

Turn with me to Judges 13:1–25

  • Manoah understood his need for a priest.
    • that if God were to appear, Manoah would be consumed in an instant
    • he expected he and his wife to die because they had seen God
  • Now, they did not know it was God at first
    • they wanted to make a goat ready (v. 15)
    • this was not an offering unto the angel of the Lord, because they perceived him as a man of God (v. 16)
    • they perceived him as a prophet or perhaps as a preacher - they referred to him as a man of God
  • Instead of eating, it is placed on the altar and made it into an offering and it ascends up into heaven in the flames.
    • then they recognize they've been speaking to God Almighty
    • they recognize they've been speaking to the angel of the Lord
    • they recognize they've been speaking to the Messenger of the covenant
  • they fully expected to die.
    • for no man can dwell in the presence of God and live
  • Why?
    • because they are defiled
    • because they are sinners.

They understood the great separation that exists between man and God

  • such that there is a necessity of having a priest
  • we must have someone to stand in our stead as an ordained representative to God for us.
  • we must have someone to deal with the problem of sin - our problem with sin

The Holiness of God: Isaiah

Turn with me to Isaiah 6:1-4 - Isaiah's vision of the Lord in His temple.

  • he sees a throne, a personage on a throne in this visionary understanding
  • he sees a robe that trails behind him.
  • he sees the seraphim, a particular peculiar class of angels
  • they have six wings
  • two wings cover their face, they dare not to look upon God
  • two wings cover their feet, the more humble parts of them
  • two wings they fly and they hover
  • they speak to each other but not the throne.
  • they cry “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Note: these angels, the elect angels, they don't need a priest.

  • They are not fallen.
  • Yet, as unfallen created beings...
    • look at the honor they give to God
    • look at the glory they give to God
    • look at the respect they give to God
    • look at the reverence that they have toward him.

When they cry, they are so powerful that the doorposts of the temple shake

  • Isaiah responds ->

5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

  • Isaiah, as a man, recognizes that he needs a priest
    • I am undone, I will die.
  • It is only through the grace and mercy of God that he does not die.
  • John 12:37-41 – the glory that was seen by Isaiah was Christ
  • Christ, the priest, the necessity of a priest, the holiness of God requires it becuase we, too, are a people of unclean lips

The Holiness of God: The Transfiguration

Matthew 17:1-5, Mark 9:5-7, Luke 9:33-35

  • The Lord Jesus begins to shine in his robes, there is a manifestation of His glory that they had not yet seen.
  • And Moses and Elijah appear with him.
  • And Peter says I've got a good idea. Let's make three tabernacles, One for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Wouldn't that be great?
    • The answer to that question is absolutely not.
    • It would not be great at all.
    • It would be blasphemous Peter
      • That you would dare elevate Moses, and Elijah, to the same status, as Christ.
  • God the Father from on high thunders, This is my beloved Son, hear him”
  • He is the priest, not Moses, not Elijah.
  • God the Father was specifying, one approach, one son, one way, one priest, to himself, Christ Jesus, and him alone.
    • As great as Moses was, he cannot be our high priest
    • As great as Elijah was, he cannot be our high priest
  • Only Christ Jesus.

We see then, the Lord dictates the terms of the approach.

  • Why do we need a priest? because God said, we need a priest

God has commanded a priest to stand between him and us and to offer for us as our representative, to deal with our sins, to make atonement.


So, what have we learned?

We have learned that if we are going to approach God

  • We are to do it on His terms.
  • We are NOT to do it on our terms.

So often we get caught up in ourselves.

  • We think we get to decide how and when we are going to worship
    • That is if we are going to worship at all
  • We think we get to decide what commandments we’ll follow or not
  • We think we get to think of God as our dear friend, our drinking buddy
  • We think that He will always accepts us no matter what we do or believes

But none of that aligns with what we’ve seen today, does it?

God dictates how we are to approach Him.

God dictates when we are to approach Him.

God dictates how we are to respond and obey and live unto Him.

Just as it is with the Priesthood.

We need a Priest because:

  1. The Holiness of God requires it.
  2. The Command of God requires it.


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