The High Priest We Have
“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, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.”- Hebrews 8:1–2
Lest we miss the significance of what Hebrews 7 reveals about the Melchizedekian priesthood, the author of Hebrews begins chapter 8 by stressing that what he has said is true not merely in theory but also in reality. Surely, a high priest from Melchizedek would be superior to a high priest from the Levitical order if one were to exist. Thankfully, one does exist. The High Priest in Melchizedek’s order has come, and He is the One who sits at the “right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (8:1)—the Son of God, whose session at God’s right hand we first read about in 1:1–4.
In referring again to Christ’s being seated at the right hand of God the Father, the author of Hebrews stresses even more so the dignity and glory of our High Priest. The right hand of God is the place of divine favor and authority (Ps. 110:1). To sit at God’s right hand is to share in His sovereignty and in His victory over all His enemies. Consequently, the New Testament makes much of Jesus’ ascension to heaven and session at God’s right hand (Acts 5:31; Eph. 1:20). To have Jesus as our High Priest is great enough, but what we actually have in Jesus is the supreme High Priest-King who not only saves us from our sin but also from all His and our enemies. His reign as the High Priest-King is most glorious, for He was raised by the Holy Spirit in order to give us the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). John Calvin comments, “It is by the power of the Spirit which gloriously appeared in the resurrection and the ascension of Christ, that the dignity of his priesthood is to be estimated.”
Hebrews 8:1–2 introduces an idea that becomes quite important in Hebrews 9–10, namely, that Christ’s priestly ministry occurs in the true tabernacle of God in heaven. It is not that the old covenant tabernacle and temple were actually false means of approaching the Lord. Rather, as we will see, they were but copies and shadows of the real thing that depend on the real thing for their effectiveness (v. 5). And once the High Priest enters the real, eternal tabernacle, there is no reason to abandon Him to go back to the old order. Looking to the old covenant tabernacle, John Owen makes this application: “It was an institution of God, that the people in all their distresses should look unto and make their supplications towards the tabernacle, or holy temple, 1 Kings 8:29–30. — And it is unto the Lord Christ alone, who is both the true tabernacle and the minister thereof, that we are to look in all our spiritual distresses.”
When we are troubled, we are to run to Jesus, who even now is ministering in the heavenly temple. To attempt to solve our problems and find lasting comfort on our own is foolish indeed, but Christ will calm our distresses when we rest in Him. He brings peace to our hearts and gives us wisdom for our problems when we ask Him.
Passages for Further Study