One of my favorite passages in Scripture in Hebrews 10:19-25. On some of my old blog templates, I even included a quote of part of that passage (Hebrews 10:24-25) in the header. Obviously, that section says alot about gathering together, but gathering is not the focus of the passage.
Instead, in Hebrews 10:19-25, the author provides ordination credentials for all of those who are in Christ! That’s right, according to this passage, if you are in Christ, then you are an ordained priest with as much priestly authority as any other follower of Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews chapter 9, the author spells out that Jesus Christ is a high priest above and beyond the levitical priesthood. Then, at the beginning of chapter 10, he tells us that Jesus’ sacrifice is better than the “shadow” sacrifices spelled out in the Old Testament, and that Jesus’ sacrifice ended the need for any other sacrifice. Leading into the section that we’re studying, he wrote, “Where there is forgiveness of these [sins and lawless deeds – see previous verse], there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:18 ESV)
Hebrews 10:19-25 begins with a reminder of some of the benefits we have in Jesus Christ:
Therefore, brothers [and sisters], since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God… (Hebrews 10:19-21 ESV)
Notice the “priestly” and “temple/tabernacle” language used in this passage: “freedom [confidence] to enter the holiest places,” “by the blood,” “way… through the curtain,” “great priest,” “house of God.” The author is putting this section of his letter into the context of the priesthood. While he has already told us that the old temple, priesthood, and sacrifices were only a shadow of the reality in Christ, he is now going to tell us about the new priesthood and temple. (He already said that a new sacrifice is not necessary.)
What follows in Hebrews 10:22-25 is our expected response to this new priesthood. In other words, he is going to tell us about our functions as priests of the new covenant. What are those functions? He breaks them down into three commands/exhortations: 1) Draw near to God, 2) Hold fast to the confession, and 3) Consider one another.
In the next few days, I’m going to publish a post about each of those functions. But for now, I simple suggest that each of those are placed in priestly terms. Each of these exhortation are the responsibilities of those who are in Christ – that is, for those who have a new and living way into the presence of God through Christ and for those who have Christ as a great (better than “high”) priest.
Notice that later in the letter the author will talk about “leaders.” Yes, there are leaders among the church, but those leaders do not hold more of a priestly function than any other follower of Jesus Christ. These functions and responsibilities are presented to all followers of Jesus Christ.
Again… All those who have the benefits of Christ listed in Hebrews 10:19-21 are thus also responsible for living out the exhortations found in Hebrews 10:22-25.