Thursday, November 05, 2009

Heb 7

7:25. We know that the writer is arguing for the greatness of this "change in the priesthood" (7:12). Heb 7:18-19 talks about the changeover between "the former commandment" and "the better hope."

"He continues forever ... consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost" (7:24). And this was not true of the former system. Its priests died.

What are the implications of Christ living forever? Less for us, if it is our death that ends all our relationships and our existence. However, this is not the perspective here: Christ's ability to save to the uttermost, because He continues forever, is stated. If someone says "that just means to the uttermost of our lives," what is that? Is that a time reference, or not?

Assume first of all that it's not a time reference. To save to the uttermost would then possibly mean "in every type of circumstance throughout life, until death." That implies, by restricting its domain of discourse in such a way, that Christ can rescue us from everything -- until we die.

How is that "a better hope" than the human being has who is unhelped by Christ the Priest? Isn't everyone, including every unbeliever, saved from dying until he or she dies? That is kind of a tautology.

If that were all there was to it, then the reason the writer gives for why Christ is able to "save to the uttermost" doesn't make much sense. It's two reasons: 1) He always lives; 2) He always lives to make intercession for "those who draw near to God through him." That's a time reference.

The geneology-based priests of Aaron, as long as they lived, made intercession for those who lived during their lifetimes. Therefore under the Old Covenant there was always a priest available to intercede. But there wasn't the same priest over all time. Christ continues forever.

Remember one of the things that the writer claims Christ has accomplished: having tasted death, to destroy the one who has the power of death, 2:14, delivering those "in subject to lifelong slavery" through "fear of death." (2:14).

There are those, soldiers and warriors for example, who are trained to not fear death. Countless stories of their courage show that they in fact do not fear death. This is slightly (!) different than the description of Christ in 2:14. There, it is a deliverance of those who, whether they fear death or not, were subject to lifelong slavery through the fear of it. Unfortunately, banishing the fear of it once, doesn't mean it's automatically and forever gone.

Soldiers sometimes call the necessity of re-training a "re-qual." The skills, both mental and physical, are subject to the "re-qual," the re-qualifying tests and training. In the same way, the Old Covenant needed to repeat things "daily" (7:27). The writer constantly brings out the necessity under the Old Covenant do things repeatedly, yet it never made anything perfect. But Christ "has been made perfect forever." No re-qual applies to Christ's work -- and he remains alive to intercede for us.

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