Often people overlook or ignore the Old Testament. I have been told the God of the Old Testament is an angry God, filled with wrath … saying “don’t murder” but telling Israel under Joshua’s to annihilate all the inhabitants of Palestine … and supporting king David in his military excursions … and all the do’s and don’ts. Often what people fail to see is that God is holy and mankind are sinful. From Genesis chapter three we find God taking us and showing us just how depraved mankind are. If one had to select just one word to describe the pagan world and then Israel, the word would be “rebellion”. When we see man’s perpetually rebelling against a holy God, we are able to see God’s constant anger against His people because He, as a loving, caring and providing God … He is abused! We started the section Matthew 5:17-20 yesterday. Let’s read it again:
Mt 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
What does Jesus mean by not abolishing the Law and the Prophets and then saying … I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them? Jesus came to fulfill everything the Law and Prophets said about Him, Messiah!
1) The Levitical Priesthood. The priesthood started with Moses’ brother Aaron. The name Levitical comes from the tribe of Levi. Without going into the intricacies of which sons became priests and what the others Levites did … the main function of the ordained priest was to educate the people as to God and His requirements, bless the people—
Nu 6:24 The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
—perform sacrifices and exercise judgement of the Torah (interpretation).
2) The Sacrifice. The Book of Leviticus in particular outlines the various types of sacrifices for various sins and requirements.
(i) The role of the High Priest was a type of Spiritual and “Political” Leader all wrapped up in one. By political I don’t mean in the way of being a politician. Rather, he was effectively the leader of Israel in all spheres. Under God he was the head of the nation until the people secured kings. One of his most important functions was to take the blood of a slaughtered animal into the Holy of Holies once per year. He entered behind the curtain, the dividing wall and sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat to expiate for his sin and that of his people. Expiate means to blot out. The sprinkled blood appeased the anger of God legally blotting out all sin from God’s sight.
(ii) The sacrificing priest would offer animal sacrifices brought to them day by day because of sin.
3) The Altar. Each blood sacrifice was a substitute for a person’s sin and needed to be offered on the altar set apart for that purpose.
4) The Prophets. God used them to speak to the people. He spoke to prophets in dreams and visions. They went to the people saying … “This saith the Lord”. Jesus said … I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them?
(a) Messiah as Prophet. He is God’s final word to man. He fulfils the function of a prophet speaking to man on God’s behalf.
Heb 1:1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.
We are not being arrogant when we say Jesus is God’s final word to man because the Bible says so! God will not send another messenger in the shape of Messiah. Jesus fulfilled the Prophetic Office. Jesus was the last and final prophet!
(b) The Messiah as High Priest. The Levitical Priesthood was never intended to be a permanent one. In talking about Jesus the writer to the Hebrews says
Heb 7:11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?
The order of Melchizedek was a far more noble order than Aaron … than the Levitical High Priest. Who killed Jesus? The Jews; Pilate … the Centurions … God gave His Son for the purpose of expiation.
Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
But then Jesus is God! If He gave Himself it means He is the True High Priest for:
Mt 27:51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
The High Priest went into God’s presence once a year … Jesus as High Priest broke that barrier wall (curtain). He allows all believers now to enter the presence of the Father for grace and mercy. Jesus fulfills the office of Priest and High Priest. In the Church of Jesus were don’t have priest anymore because Jesus was the last one!
Heb 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.
(c) The Messiah as Sacrifice. I can’t say it better than God:
Heb 10:9 He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
No more sacrifices. Jesus was the last sacrifice … never to be repeated!
(d) The Messiah’s Cross as Altar. Although Judaism continued to sacrifice until AD 70, the Cross was the final altar God accepted. This is why in the Christian Church we do not have altars because the Cross of Jesus was the last altar. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them? The last Prophet, High Priest, Sacrifice on the last Altar, the Cross. There is meaning in:
Heb 8:13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
Thank You Lord Jesus for coming and fulfilling these offices. Our Salvation is complete. Amen.