The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Applying Hebrews 5: More Lies About Christ

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

This is a continuation of Applying Hebrews 4: Stretching a Metaphor.

When He was first introducing His Old Covenant to Israel, Yahweh ordered the Ark of the Covenant to be built. The Ark was a gold covered box that had two angels or cherubim standing on top of it. The lid of the box was called the mercy seat and Yahweh was envisioned as sitting on that seat, between the two golden angels. Listen to how one Jewish writer describes the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament:

So the people sent men to Shiloh to bring back the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh Almighty, who dwells between the cherubim. (1 Sam. 4:4)

And here is Yahweh speaking to Moses when He first gives instructions for building the Ark:

“Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end. At its two ends, make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat. The cherubim are to have wings spread out above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and are to face one another. The faces of the cherubim should be toward the mercy seat. Set the mercy seat on top of the Ark and put the testimony that I will give you into the Ark. I will meet with you there above the mercy seat, between the two cherubim that are over the Ark of the Covenant. I will speak with you from there about all that I command you regarding the Israelites.” (Ex. 25:19-22)

As a powerful symbol of Yahweh, the Ark had to be treated with special care. Yahweh said that no one could look at the Ark—when transported, it had to be fully covered. All those pictures you see on the internet of Jewish priests hauling around a golden Ark are incorrect. In real life, the Ark was always hidden from view when it was in public, because Yahweh said that if anyone looked at the Ark or touched it, they would die for their irreverence.

Now the Ark was kept in a special inner chamber of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was later replaced by the Temple. That special inner chamber was called the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies. There was a special veil which hung in front of the Most Holy Place like an impenetrable wall. Only the high priest could venture beyond that curtain, and only at certain times of the year. If anyone else dared to enter that sacred room, Yahweh said He would kill them on the spot. There was no going boldly before God’s throne under the Old Covenant. Everyone had to keep a respectful distance. And even when a man did receive special authorization to enter that most sacred room, if he made one false move, he could be instantly struck down by Yahweh’s wrath. Under the Old Covenant, it was a nerve-wracking thing to be in God’s Presence.

Now the very moment that Jesus breathed His last on the cross, that ominous veil in front of the Most Holy Place miraculously tore in two from top to bottom.

Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. (Matt. 27:51)

It was our Gods who tore that veil, and this marked the beginning of a radical New Covenant: one in which all believers are invited to symbolically enter into that most sacred chamber and speak with God face to face. This is a mind-blowing concept for Old Covenant Jews. They’ve spent their whole lives knowing that God’s sacred throne room was totally off limits to them. They’ve grown up in a day when non-Jews weren’t even allowed to come past certain public courts in the Temple. Now, suddenly, Yahweh is saying that all are invited to walk right up to Him for some one-on-one chitchat. He doesn’t care if you’re Jewish or not. He doesn’t care if you’re male or female. Suddenly Yahweh is ripping the door off of His sacred throne room, throwing it away, and saying He’s done with the distance thing. If you submit properly to Jesus, then Jesus will bring you all the way in. So then, if you’re a Christian in God’s eyes today, you are all the way in. You are right there in the inner sanctum with all three of your magnificent Creators: Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. They want you there. They want you close.

This New Covenant is radically different than the Old, and our Hebrews author (who we’re calling Rabbi) just can’t keep up. When he tries to get his mind around Christ, the best he can do is think of Christ as the ultimate High Priest—the guy who goes into that Most Holy Place on people’s behalf and makes everything alright between them and Yahweh. But no, this is not correct. Christ is not our High Priest because the veil is gone and intercession is no longer needed.

Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with Yahweh. He presents their gifts to Yahweh and offers sacrifices for their sins. And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs.

And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was. That is why Christ did not honor Himself by assuming He could become High Priest. No, He was chosen by Yahweh, who said to Him: “You are My Son. Today I have become Your Father.” [Ps. 2:7] (Heb. 5:1-5)

Yahweh was very particular about who could hold the position of high priest. Bloodlines had a lot to do with it. When we talk about the tribes of Israel, we’re talking about people who can trace their bloodlines back to one of the twelve sons of Jacob. Jacob was the son of Isaac, who was the promised son of Abraham. At one point in his life, Yahweh gave Jacob the new name of Israel, just as He gave Abram the new name of Abraham. The Jews were big on names, and it was common to pick up new names as you went on through life.

Now Jacob/Israel had twelve sons. One of them was named Levi. Levi had three sons. So all the people who can trace their ancestry back to Levi today had to have descended from one of his three sons.

To qualify as a priest under Yahweh’s Old Covenant, you had to be a man who could trace your bloodlines back to Levi’s son Kohath.  Moses and Aaron were both Kohathites. Only Kohathites could carry the Ark of the Covenant around by its special carrying poles and handle certain sacred objects inside the Tabernacle.

Now there were a lot of Kohathites running around in Moses’ day, but Yahweh specifically chose Aaron out for the great honor of serving as the first high priest. Aaron’s three sons served as regular priests, until two of them got sloppy so Yahweh killed them (see Abihu & Nadab Offer Strange Fire to the Lord).

The point Rabbi is making here in Hebrews is that it was a great honor to be chosen as the high priest. Well, yes, it was. But when Rabbi then goes on to say that “that is why Christ did not honor Himself by assuming He could become High Priest,” he is being ridiculous. Christ is God Almighty. Christ doesn’t sit around thinking He’s unworthy to be selected out from the mass herd. Christ doesn’t consider Himself to be one of us in any way. Rabbi is being absurd to describe Christ as walking around with an “I’m no one special” mentality, and then feeling highly honored to be promoted as Yahweh’s special high priest.

That is why Christ did not honor Himself by assuming He could become High Priest. No, He was chosen by Yahweh, who said to Him: “You are My Son. Today I have become Your Father.” [Ps. 2:7] (Heb. 5:5)

In our first lesson, we learned that Yahweh really isn’t speaking to Christ at all in Psalm 2. Instead, a human Jewish king is describing his own good standing with Yahweh.

In our second lesson, we learned how Yahweh and Jesus used the figurative titles of Father and Son to help the Jews grasp the radical concept of multiple Gods. This language should not be taken literally. Christ and Yahweh are eternal, uncreated Beings who have no beginning or end. There wasn’t a day when Yahweh got out of bed and said, “Hey, Jesus, I think today I’ll start calling You My Son.” Jesus and Yahweh are like two Best Friends who have always been Best Friends. Rabbi is totally misapplying Psalm 2 and causing a lot of unnecessary confusion about who Christ is. One minute he tells us that Christ is God Almighty, the next minute he portrays Christ as some shrinking violet who never dared to presume He was anyone special until Yahweh picked Him out of the crowd to serve as High Priest. Do you see how Rabbi keeps humanizing Christ? You need to be very guarded against this.

And in another passage Yahweh said to Christ: “You are a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” [Ps. 110:4] (Heb. 5:6)

It’s always painful whenever the Jews start in with Melchizedek. We’re going to get more into the Melchizedek mess later on, but for now, here’s a brief summary.

Every culture has their larger-than-life figures. Where do Americans get the concept of Santa Claus from? He’s a ridiculous spin off from a real life Greek bishop named St. Nicholas (aka Nikolaos of Myra) who lived during the 4th century AD. The original Greek bishop looked nothing like the fat, rosy cheeked, bearded man who only seems to have one suit in his wardrobe. How do you start with a normal, flesh-and-blood, imperfect human being and end up with a magical man who runs a toy making factory at the North Pole which is staffed by elves? Santa Claus is the product of a whole lot of cultural superstition and human fantasy run amuck. Well, so is Melchizedek.

The real Melchizedek was a flesh-and-blood man who had a very brief conversation with Abraham way back in Genesis. In those times, if you ruled over a city, you were called a king. Melchizedek was the king of a city called Salem. Throughout history, we find countless examples of kings also controlling the religions of their people. Melchizedek wore two hats: king and high priest. The big shocker about Melchizedek was that, unlike most of the other people Abraham had ever met, this king-priest knew the real God. Melchizedek worshiped Yahweh. So did Abraham. Talk about an instant bond. This would be like you being stranded in some foreign country where everyone worships demonic idols, and then one day bumping into a Christian who has a lot of political clout. What a relief that would be. Abraham was extremely happy to run into Melchizedek. Melchizedek was very nice to Abraham. The two men have a very brief conversation, and that’s all we ever hear about Melchizedek.

Now to the ancient Jews, Abraham is a larger-than-life figure. He is their glorious patriarch–a hero who can do no wrong. Abraham is the ultimate icon of righteousness. So it’s only natural to make a big fuss over anyone who the great Abraham seems impressed by, and Abraham was clearly impressed by Melchizedek. Because of this, ancient Jews turned Melchizedek into a mysterious supernatural figure who was never born, nor did he ever die. He just always was. And what’s their justification for making such a ridiculous claim? Well, there’s no mention of Melchizedek dying in the Torah. So what? We never hear about the birth or death of Jonah, either—does that make him a supernatural figure? How about Isaiah—no birth or death dates are listed for him. And how about Hosea, Lydia, Deborah, Matthew, Barnabas, Thaddeus and Philip? We never hear of the end of doubting Thomas, so apparently he’s a god as well. Do you see how stupid this is? The Jewish deification of Melchizedek couldn’t be any more absurd, yet we can tell by the way David comments about Melchizedek in the Psalms that the rumors of his mysterious longevity had already been set in stone way back in the early Old Testament. Melchizedek was a folklore figure to the Jews, and Rabbi is going to milk the Melchizedek superstition for all it’s worth here in Hebrews. He’s even going to go so far as to say that Melchizedek was Christ incarnate. Really?? But because Christians are taught to check their brains at the door and just swallow any guff they come across in the Bible, you’ll find many pastors in the Church today adamantly defending the deity of Melchizedek. This is what happens when we don’t seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

While Jesus was here on earth, He offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the One who could rescue Him from death. And Yahweh heard His prayers because of Jesus’ deep reverence for Yahweh. (Heb. 5:7)

Old Covenant Jews are the last guys you want to instruct you on how prayer works. They were convinced that Yahweh regularly practiced selective listening. When He didn’t like you, He ignored you. When you put on a big dramatic show of fasting, wailing, and tearing your clothes, Yahweh couldn’t help but hear you and give you what you wanted. No, no, no, this is horrible theology. God always listens to you. God is omniscient, which means He knows everything. If God truly didn’t hear your prayers, then that would make Him less than all-knowing, wouldn’t it? And how could God know when to tune back in again if He was totally ignoring you? How would He ever notice that you’d cleaned up your attitude and were speaking to Him reverently again? This is just more human projection. Yahweh always  listens to us, yet you’ll find many Jewish writers in the Old Testament describing Yahweh as not listening to His people’s cries when Israel falls on hard times. It’s from these foolish ancient Jews that we get the notion today that when God doesn’t rush to give us what we want, He must be ignoring us. No, God always answers us. “No” and “not right now” are answers. It is very damaging to your faith to accept this notion of God ignoring you.

It’s clear that Rabbi is thinking of Jesus’ struggle in Gethsemane when he says:

While Jesus was here on earth, He offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the One who could rescue Him from death.

But was Jesus really heard “because of His deep reverence for Yahweh?” Of course not. First of all, Jesus is God, not a human. God-to-God communication can hardly be compared with human-to-God communication. So whenever you hear someone describing Jesus like just another human being, you know that person is speaking foolishness. Jesus is God. When we forget this, we go astray.

Even though Jesus was Yahweh’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered. (Heb. 5:8)

Wow, really?? So now not only is Jesus just another human who doesn’t even get how special He is, but He’s also some Halfwit who hasn’t yet figured out what it means to obey God. Rabbi is getting downright blasphemous here. Where does he get off suggesting that God Almighty has to learn anything? And notice what Rabbi says Christ had to learn: obedience.  Spiritual obedience is about doing what God wants. So Christ needed to learn how to do what He wanted?  God doesn’t know His own mind?  God struggles to obey Himself? And if Jesus learned obedience to God through suffering, what was He doing before the suffering began? Was He rebelling against Himself? Rabbi is talking like an absolute idiot here.

In this way, Yahweh qualified Jesus as a perfect High Priest, and Jesus became the Source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him. And Yahweh designated Jesus to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. (Heb. 5:9-10)

So according to Rabbi, it was because fog-brained Jesus was such a good student of pain on earth that He earned the right to serve as the Intercessor for New Covenant believers. Does this sound right to you?

There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. (Heb. 5:11)

It’s pretty rich to hear Rabbi calling others spiritually dull when he is speaking like such a moron.

You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about Yahweh’s revelations. (Heb. 5:12)

Heaven help us if Rabbi is the one who is going to be teaching us the basics about Yahweh’s revelations. This is the guy who keeps putting words in Yahweh’s mouth that He never said. This is the guy who can’t even decide if Christ is God or some bumbling human being.

You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. (Heb. 5:12-14)

Hopefully you are seeing some of your own maturity shine through as you recognize how much baloney Rabbi is slinging. Wisdom comes from God, not men. When we listen to God, He opens our minds to discern truth from lies. When we listen to foolish men, we end up talking like Rabbi.

Today in the Church, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a pastor or teacher who dares to say that the author of Hebrews was full of guff. Why is this? Why are we such weenies about calling things by their right names? Why have we all bought into this theory that the ridiculous teachings of some dead guy ought to be put on the same level as a direct revelation from the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit certainly isn’t the One reducing Christ to some imperfect human with limited understanding and an aversion to exalting Himself. Flip over to Revelation and you’ll get a good eyeful of just how much Jesus enjoys basking in His own magnificence. Read through the Gospels and you’ll find Jesus constantly claiming the status of God and boasting of His Authority over all things. Jesus is awesome and He knows it. He teaches that if we fall short of aligning with His lofty opinion of Himself, we’ll all roast in Hell. He never had to learn anything or be perfected because as God, He already knows everything and He is already perfect.

At this point we have to wonder what fools decided that this Christ-bashing letter of Hebrews ought to be included in our sacred Bible in the first place. Talk about souls who were seriously lacking in discernment. But the good news is that you don’t have to be just one more in a long line of spiritual idiots. You can choose the path of wisdom and look to God directly to tell you what’s right and what isn’t. As we’re learning through this study of Hebrews, you can’t afford to lower your guard when you’re reading the Bible.

UP NEXT: Applying Hebrews 6: To Doubt Is To Be Damned

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