It is the intention, desire, and purpose of Christ to save all the seed of Abraham. He took not on him the nature of angels. And he took not on him the seed of Adam. “But he took on him the seed of Abraham.” The Son of God took hold of the seed of Abraham to save them. This expression, “the seed of Abraham,” does not refer to the Jewish race, Abraham’s natural seed. It refers to the whole company of God’s elect. We are Abraham’s spiritual seed (Rom. 4:16; 9:6-8; Gal. 3:7, 13-16).
When did Christ take hold of us?
Christ took hold on Abraham’s seed as their Surety in the covenant of grace before the world began, and agreed to save them (Gen. 43:9; John 6:39; Eph. 1:13). He took hold on his elect as our Substitute, legally taking our place under the wrath of God, dying under the penalty of our sins upon the cross (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13). When our Substitute died, in so far as God’s law and justice were concerned, we died in him (Rom. 7:4). We were crucified with Christ. In the fulness of time the Good Shepherd comes to each of those sheep for whom he died. He takes hold of them by the hand of his almighty, irresistible, saving grace (Lk. 15:4-5). And blessed be his matchless name forever, our Lord, our God, our Good Shepherd holds us securely in the hand of his almighty grace and will not let us go, until he has brought us safely into the heavenly fold (John 10:28, 16).
What must be the result?
Since Christ took on himself the seed of Abraham, you can be sure of this: -- All the seed of Abraham shall be saved (Rom. 11:25-26; John 10:16). “He shall save his people” (Matt. 1:21). “He shall not fail” (Isa. 42:4). The purpose of God cannot be overturned. The covenant of grace cannot be nullified. The cross of Christ cannot miscarry. The grace of God cannot be frustrated. The seal of the Spirit cannot be broken. The intercession of Christ cannot be ignored. The hold of Christ cannot be broken.
Does man do nothing? Oh, yes, we did much. We did the falling. He did the lifting. We did the running. He did the catching. We did the wandering. He did the fetching. We did the sinning. He did the saving.
Who are these people?
My friend, you must acknowledge and bow to the absolute sovereignty God’s grace. God can either save you or damn you. “Be ye reconciled to God.” All who believe rejoice to ascribe the whole of our salvation to the sovereign grace of God in Christ (1 Cor. 4::7; 15:10). And all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are the seed of Abraham! (Phil. 3:3). If you now take hold of Christ by faith, you can be sure of this: -- He has taken hold of you to save you.
A Great Gulf
Fallen man, because of sin, has been banished from the presence of God. God will neither speak to man, nor allow man to speak to him. God will neither approach man, nor allow man to approach him. Sin has separated man from God. By reason of sin, there is a great gulf fixed between God and man, which neither God nor man can cross.
The holy Lord God, in and of himself, in his essential Being as God, because he is righteous, just and true, can never span that great gulf and come down to sinful man. Neither can he bring sinful man up to himself. And sinful man, because of his sin, can never span that great gulf and arise to God. Neither can we bring God down to us.
Depraved, helpless and condemned, all men and women by nature are banished from God in this world, and must be banished from God forever in the world to come, unless a holy man can be found who is equal to God himself and able “able to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”
A Daysman Needed
Unless there is a daysman found who can stand between the holy Lord God and sinful man, we are all without hope. Unless there is a Mediator found, who can lay his hand upon the holy God and upon guilty sinners to bring God and man together, we all must be forever banished from the presence of God in hell. Unless there is a priest found who can fully satisfy the justice of God by making an effectual atonement for sin, sinful man must forever die.
A Ransom Found
Blessed be God, such a Priest has been found! He is Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of God. “Wherefore (because he laid hold on the seed of Abraham to save them) in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became a man so that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest such as we need, to reconcile us to God and enable us to overcome temptation. Now, the Lord God can be gracious and declares, concerning all his elect, “Deliver them from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.” In Christ, the God of glory reveals himself as “a just God and a Savior.”
The first thing we are taught in Hebrews 2:17 is that The Lord Jesus Christ was Appointed by God to be our great High Priest. The word, “wherefore”, does not refer so much to what Paul has said as it does to what he is about to say. He has shown us how that Christ is superior to angels, and that he came into the world, not to redeem fallen angels, but to redeem fallen men. And now he is about to show us how that Christ is superior to Moses, Joshua, and Aaron, as the almighty, effectual Savior of his people. He begins by telling us that it was necessary for Christ to be made like those people whom he came to save, so that he might be our great High Priest in things pertaining to God.
An Appointed Priest
The Lord Jesus did not assume this office on his own. He was called, appointed and anointed to it by God the Father in the covenant of grace before the world began (Heb. 5:1, 4-5). Christ was made a Priest by the oath of God himself (Psa. 110:4). Yet, the Son of God voluntarily agreed to become our Priest and to fulfil all that God required to reconcile us unto himself. He said, “’Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not.’ The sacrifices of slain beasts offered by sinful men cannot atone for human sin. ‘But a body hast thou prepared me,’ in the everlasting covenant of grace, which I am ready, at the appointed time, to assume and to offer up as a sacrifice to Divine justice for the sins of my people (Heb. 10:5). “These eternal decrees and mutual transactions,” wrote John Gill, “are the basis and foundation of Christ’s priesthood, and made it sure and certain.”
The Old Testament Prophecies
In the prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament Christ was spoken of as a priest. The promised Messiah of the Old Testament was to be One who would be a prophet like Moses, a King like David and a Priest like Melchizedek (1 Sam. 2:35; Ps. 110.4; Zech. 6:12-13). In addition to the plain prophecies that Christ should be a Priest, his priestly work is spoken of in many of the Old Testament scriptures (Isa. 53:10, 12; Ezek. 9:3; Dan. 10:5).
Old Testament Types
The priesthood of Christ was also foreshadowed by the typical priests of that dispensation. There never was but one Priest by whom transactions might be made with God. That Priest is Christ our Lord. All others appointed to the priestly office were called priests, because they represented, pointed to, and foreshadowed him, the true Priest. Only Christ could atone for sin, turn away the wrath of God, and bring men to God in reconciliation.
Each of the priests of the Old Testament, in their way, were typical of and represented Christ our great High Priest.
The most eminent type of Christ as our Priest in the Old Testament was “Melchizedek, king of Salem, and priest of the most high God” (Gen. 14:18). The Book of Hebrews tells us three times that Christ is a Priest, not after the order of Aaron, but after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5:10; 6:20; 7:17). This man, Melchizedek, met Abraham when he returned from the slaughter of the kings, by whom Abraham was blessed and to whom gave tithes of all that he possessed. And he was a remarkable type of Christ.
He was called the King of Salem, the King of Peace. He was called the King of Righteousness. He had neither father nor mother, beginning of days, nor end of life. He was made a priest by the direct ordinance of God himself. His priesthood is perpetual, unchanging and endless. It seems to me that there is good reason to believe that Melchizedek was more than a type of Christ, like Aaron. Rather, this man, Melchizedek, was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ himself (Heb. 7:1-4, 8).
Aaron, the high priest of Israel, was also a clear type of Christ, our great High Priest. When Christ came, the Aaronic order was forever abolished. But Aaron served to typify and represent Christ throughout the Mosaic age. Like Aaron, Christ was chosen from among his brethren. He was separated by a holy anointing. The Lord Jesus offered a sacrifice of atonement to God. He entered into the holy place with the blood of atonement. Like Aaron, the Lord Jesus Christ performed his work alone. He is our Spokesman. He carries the incense of his intercession with his blood into the holy place. Christ blesses his people on the basis of the atonement he has made. And, like Aaron, the Lord Jesus Christ represents and performs his work for a specific, chosen people -- the Israel of God, wearing our names upon his breastplate (1 John 2:1-2).
All the common, Levitical priests were also types of Christ. Like Christ, they were ordained from among men and for men, to offer gifts and sacrifices to God on the behalf of the people. Of course, in many ways, the typical priests were clearly inferior to Christ. The type is never perfect. Yet, they were typical of our Savior. They were many; but Christ is One. They offered many sacrifices; Christ offered one sacrifice. They could never put away sin; Christ did.
In fact, all the sacrifices offered to God from the beginning of the world were typical of and pointed to the one great sacrifice of Christ our High Priest. The sacrifice of Abel was offered up in faith, anticipating the sacrifice of Christ. The sacrifices of Noah, as pictures of Christ, offered by faith in him, were sacrifices of a sweet-smelling savor to God. The sacrifice Abraham made upon the mount, in the stead of Isaac, was a picture of Christ, our substitutionary victim. The passover lamb was a type of Christ our Passover sacrificed for us. The daily sacrifices, offered morning and evening, pointed to Christ, whose one sacrifice for sin, being effectual, is of perpetual merit to God.
Christ is the only priest God will accept and the only sacrifice God will accept. And when he came, he put an end to all the priests and sacrifices that pointed to him. Those priests and sacrifices existed for no purpose, except to point to and portray Christ.
In order to be our great High Priest, the Son of God had to be made like unto his brethren. That is the meaning of these words: “In all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God.”
Christ could be our Prophet without becoming a man; and he could be our King without becoming a man; but in order to be our Priest, in order to be a merciful and faithful High Priest, in order to make reconciliation for the sins of his people, the Son of God had to become one of us. Had he not become one of us, he would have had nothing to offer God by which to make atonement for our sins (Heb. 8:3).
A priest without a sacrifice is like a king without a subject. Had God not prepared his Son a body, he would have had no sacrifice for sin. He must have a body to sacrifice, or his priesthood would be as vain, empty, and meaningless, as the priests of Baal, of Buddha, or of Rome. Being called a priest would be a mockery of him, not a work honoring to him, if he had no sacrifice to offer upon God’s altar. Christ our God became a man so that he might be sacrificed to purge our sins.
The Son of God did not have to be our Priest; but if he would be our priest, he had to become a man. The Lord of glory was “made like unto his brethren.” Those words describe our Savior’s humiliation on our behalf. They speak not only of his incarnation, but of his life of humiliation, suffering, pain, and sorrow on our behalf. Not only did the Son of God become one of us, he became one with us. We are Christ’s brethren by Divine adoption; and everything the Son of God does, he does for the glory of his Father and the good of his brethren.
Made Like Us
Christ was made like unto his brethren in the essence of our human nature by his incarnation (1 Tim. 2:5). Our Lord had a real human body, a real human soul, a real human heart, with real human feelings, emotions, and needs. The only difference between Christ and his people is that he had no sin. His body was not bigger, stronger, or more impressive than any other man’s. The experiences of life touched him and moved him, just as they do us. He was and is a real man.
Our Savior was made like unto us in the temptations he endured as a man (Heb. 4:15). He was tempted in all points like as we are, only with this one glorious exception, he had no sin. By-in-large, our temptations arise from within, from our inward unbelief and lusts. Even those temptations which arise from without find a ready and willing companion within. Our Savior’s temptations were like Adam’s temptation in the Garden. He had no inward inclination to do evil. Yet, his temptations were real.
Our Lord was made like unto us in the things which he suffered, too (Heb. 5:7-9). What do you suffer? Christ has suffered that. He knows what it is to be hungry, thirsty, tormented with pain, slandered by his enemies, misunderstood by his family, despised by his kin, deserted by his companions, betrayed by his friend, denied by his disciple, put to public shame, scandalized and reproached, and forsaken by his Father.
The Lord of Glory was also made like unto us in the death that he died (1 Pet. 3:18). The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, died the death that we should have died, deserved to die and must have died, had he not died in our place, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.
“A Merciful and Faithful High Priest”
It is this conformity to us that qualifies our Lord to be the kind of Priest we need. He was made a man that he might be our High Priest. And he suffered, being tempted as a man, that he might be “a merciful and faithful High Priest.”
Christ is moved to compassion and pity by the things that we suffer, being touched with the feeling of our infirmities, because he has also suffered those very things. He is merciful, not only because it is his will as God to be merciful, but also because he has a fellow feeling with those who need mercy.
Our Savior faithfully shows mercy to us, because the things he suffered, he suffered specifically and distinctly for us. He exercises constant care for all the concerns of his brethren. He lovingly condescends to the wants and sorrows of his suffering, tempted brethren (Isa. 40:11). Because his compassion does not fail, his faithfulness is great.
Such is the unspeakable love of Christ for us that he willingly endured all that was necessary for him to be our merciful and faithful High Priest. Like Jacob because of his love to Rachel, our Lord was content to submit to any terms, to undergo any sorrow, to meet any conditions, that he might save and enjoy his beloved bride (Eph. 5:25-26).
The Lord Jesus Christ is our great High Priest, a Priest ordained, appointed, and anointed of God the Father, a Priest worthy of Divine acceptance because he is himself God, and a Priest made like unto his brethren, a Priest who is one of f us, God in our flesh!
The principal, primary work of Christ as our great High Priest was to make reconciliation, or atonement, for the sins of his people. He is “merciful and faithful in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”
The High Priest is one who reconciles God and his sinful people by making an atonement for the sins of the people. This reconciliation, or atonement for sin, is the great work of Christ our great High Priest (1 John 2:1-2). His atonement for sin is the foundation and source of all his other works as our High Priest.
By the sacrifice of himself at Calvary as our Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ has faithfully executed his office as our High Priest in things pertaining to God and effectually reconciled us to God by the blood of his cross; for by that precious blood he has put away our sins (Heb. 9:12, 28; Rom. 3:24-26). Atonement has been made, reconciliation has been accomplished by the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. If we are to understand the nature of our Lord’s sacrifice and the efficacy of his atonement, certain questions must be answered.
Who was the Sacrificer?
Christ is the Priest. Christ is the Altar. And Christ is the Sacrifice. Christ offered himself to God. He gave himself an offering and a sacrifice of sweet smelling savor (Heb. 9:14; Eph. 5:2). It is true, the sword of justice slew our Savior; but he is the One in whose hand the sword of justice is, for he is God. Our Lord was not made to die by any hand but his own. He gave up the ghost. He laid down his life by his own will.
What was the sacrifice by which atonement was made?
Christ gave himself, body and soul, into the hands of justice, to die as a man for our sins. He laid down his life for us (John 10:17-18; 1 John 3:16).
His human nature was the sacrifice. His divine nature was the altar which sanctified the gift and gave it virtue and efficacy to atone for sin.
To whom was the sacrifice for sin offered?
Our Lord did not offer himself to Satan. Neither does he offer himself to man. He, by the eternal Spirit, offered himself to God as a sacrifice for sin (Heb. 9:14). Sin is committed against God. therefore the sacrifice must be made to God. It is God whose justice must be satisfied.
For whom was the sacrifice offered?
It was offered for “the people”, Christ’s brethren, his elect, “the seed of Abraham.” Aaron was not a high priest for all men in general, but for all of Israel in particular. And Christ is not a Priest for all men in general, but for the people of God, the Israel of God in particular. Our Lord Jesus Christ offered sacrifice for those for whom he makes intercession (John 17:9, 20). He offered sacrifice for those whose sins are purged, for whom atonement has been made, who are actually reconciled to God by his blood. The sacrifice was offered for those who by faith receive the atonement (Rom. 5:11).
What is the result of Christ’s sin atoning sacrifice?
The Son of God is a High Priest of good things to come (Heb. 9:11). So what good things come to his people as the result of his priesthood and his sacrifice?
1. The Full Pardon Of Sin (Eph. 1:7)
2. Eternal Redemption (Tit. 2:14)
3. Complete Justification (Rom. 3:24)
4. Perfect Sanctification (Heb. 10:10-14)
5. Peace And Reconciliation With God (Rom. 5:10)
6. Eternal Salvation (Heb. 5:9-10)
7. All The Blessedness Of Heavenly Glory (Rom. 8:29-30; John 17:22)
Those who weaken, oppose, or deny the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice and the reconciliation he has made are enemies to the souls of men, enemies to the honor of Christ, and enemies to the glory of God. Either the Son of God accomplished redemption for his people and effectually reconciled them to God, or he is no Savior. There is absolutely no alternative. Either the Lord Jesus has actually redeemed his people by the sacrifice of himself, or he is a failure; and if he is a failure he is not the Son of God and we are yet in our sins. The doctrine of universal redemption, by whatever name it is called, is utter blasphemy. The Christ of God, whom we rejoice to worship, is an almighty, effectual, sin-atoning High Priest and Savior.
Complete atonement Thou hast made
And to the utmost farthing paid
All that Thy people owed;
Nor shall God’s wrath on me take place
While sheltered in Thy righteousness
And ransomed with Thy blood!
Payment God cannot twice demand, --
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine!