Hebrews 8:3 - "Every High Priest is appointed to offer gifts and make sacrifices. It follows, therefore, that in these [heavenly] holy places Jesus has something that he is offering..."
...which is a logic that made perfect sense to the Hebrew readers of this epistle, but, let's be honest, you and I are not Hebrew readers and, I bet, most of us don't know all the forms and functions of the historical High Priests of Israel. Beyond, say, the Day of Atonement and the regularly-offered sin offerings, do you know what a High Priest's main duties and responsibilities were? Because, if they're a representation of what Jesus is now perfectly up to on our behalf, I'd sure like to know what those duties were and are...
Well, in doing some research this week, I think I found the full list of all that they did. And wow! do they delight my heart in what Jesus is up to for me!
Here we go...
I. The High Priest conducted the service on the Day of Atonement and entered the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16 & Exodus 30) – which, as it pertains to Jesus, I'll leave for further thoughts from Hebrews 9 & 10 - there's just too much for right now!
II. The High Priest offered continual sin offerings not only for the sins of the whole congregation, but also for himself (Leviticus 4) – which, with Jesus, was unnecessary: He Himself was perfect; and His one perfect offering – Himself! – covers all our sin for all time, end of story.
III. The High Priest was the mediator between God and the people (Numbers 16:20-22) – wherein, as Hebrews 7 said of Jesus, “he is always living to intercede on our behalf” – in fact, He has probably turned to the Father half a dozen times over the last few minutes to explain you and me – and our faults – to Him!
IV. The High Priest was charged with the responsibility of pronouncing blessings over the people (Numbers 6:22-27) – which, with Jesus, would seem to be one of His highest and favorite works toward us, as He is Himself the best and greatest Blessing – a living alive Blessing! – that mankind has ever received.
V. The people could go to the High Priest in order to know the will of God, (ie. the Urim & Thummim) (Moses, Numbers 27:21) – which Jesus now reveals to us – anytime we ask! – by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) and by His bestowal of the “thoughts of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2) within our minds.
VI. The High Priest oversaw the responsibilities of all the other priests (Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 19:11) – which, since we are now the new “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2) for the Kingdom of Heaven, means that we are directly under His perfect, ever-helpful oversight.
VII. The High Priest offered a meal-offering every morning and evening for himself and the whole body of the priesthood (Leviticus 6) – of which, perhaps, Jesus was thinking when He said, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6) and then “Do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself” (Matthew 6), ie. He will take care of tomorrow!
VIII. The High Priest kept guard over the sanctuary (Numbers 18) – and Jesus’ "sanctuary" is now both the Throneroom of Heaven and your inner life: It is His work within you that matters most toward your experience of being made new.
IX. And – (and how good is this?!) - when a High Priest died, all those in the cities of refuge were granted freedom (Numbers 35:28) – and it is by Jesus’ death that, once and for all time, we WERE and ARE and FOREVERMORE SHALL BE free!
I think this is just a beginning of the flavor of the activities and blessings and offerings that Jesus is engaged with - on our behalf - in the presence of the Father right now, today. And isn't that all pretty wonderful?