Jesus Can Help You Draw Near to God

Steve Viars February 14, 2009 Hebrews 7:1-28

- What do 8 track tapes, floppy disks, and analog TV’s have in common?...

- they are all things that have become, or in the case of analog TV”s, are about to become…obsolete…

- and if you are going to live successfully in this day and age…you have to be prepared to make constant paradigm shifts…you have be prepared to change your way of thinking about things…

- now, why is that so hard?...

1. you are giving up something with which you’re familiar…

- we used floppy disks for years…

- I’m actually old enough to remember what predated floppies…

- computers first were programmed using keypunch cards…

- then when the first PC’s came out, you actually loaded the software and saved the programs on cassette tapes – do you remember those days…

- finding a document on a cassette tape was a nightmare…so when someone invented floppies where you could load and save files in a more orderly way…that was the greatest thing ever…

- and it was hard to give these up because you were just used to them…

2. It’s also hard because it’s sometimes expensive…you had a lot invested in what is being replaced…

- when I first came to the church, our pastors or secretaries did not use computers…I think we had one set up somewhere to track membership or something, but it was not a regular part of our office…

- and one of the first things I was asked to do when I came was to go with Mike Hines sr and pick out 3 new computers…

- they were XT’s (for anyone old enough to remember what those were) with monochrome gold screens…

- we paid $10,000 for those three computers and the dot matrix printers…

- that was a lot of money then – it’s a lot of money today…

- well, at some point a new generation of computers came out and we don’t always just upgrade technology around here but as some point it became cost prohibitive to continue using those XT’s…

- so that investment was gone…

3. There’s also the concern that if you don’t time the decision well…the new item you’re changing to may become out of date in a short period of time…

- 8 track tapes didn’t last very long…

- and of course, my first car had an 8 track tape player…

- and then cassettes became the big thing and you couldn’t find 8 tracks any more…

- and some of you remember when someone invented some device you could plug into your 8 track player to convert to a cassette tape player…

- I don’t know about yours, but mine never worked right…

- but it was an attempt to extend the life of something that was rapidly going out of style…

- we could illustrate that all day long – but we would all agree, and perhaps the older we get the more obvious this becomes…changing the way we think about things is not easy…

- now let me ask you this – what if a paradigm shift was required in the way you think about the possibility and the necessary steps to draw near to God?...would you make the change?...

- for example – you might be here and have concluded that you’re too far gone to have a relationship with God – you’re damaged goods --- really?...what if that opinion is biblically obsolete?...

- or those who think – I draw near to God on the merit of my own works…I have earned the way myself…what if that idea contradicts Scripture?...and whatever relationship you think you have on the basis of your own work is not the real thing?...would you be willing to consider a paradigm shift?...(or are you going to stand there holding your 8 track tape player and your floppy disk?)

- what about those who would say that I’m finding a way to joy, or peace, or satisfaction without God---I have a substitute way…I’m in a relationship now with a guy who’s really cute, or I’m going to find satisfaction through my education, my success, climbing the ladder…

- or those who are all into drugs, or alcohol abuse, or illicit sex – at the risk of sounding like Dr. Phil – how’s that working out for you?...if we could show you how to get a digital TV, would you give up your analog dinosaur?...

- see, here’s the question – what would it take for you to make a spiritual paradigm shift if you need one, and (by the way, here’s the real question), what does all of that have to do with Melchizedek?...

- with all of that in mind, please open your Bible this morning to Hebrews chapter 7…page 172 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’re right in the middle of a verse by verse study of the book of Hebrews entitled Finding Hope in Our Sufficient Savior.

- this is part of our annual theme of Finding Hope

- the book of Hebrews is all about the superiority of Jesus Christ…

- Jesus is better than the prophets, and He’s better than the angels, and He’s better than the OT sacrificial system, and He’s better than Moses…

- in chapter 7 the writer is going to significantly raise the stakes…because now he is going to say the Jesus is superior to all the levitical priests in the temple…

- the overall point is going to be…Jesus Can Help You Draw Near to God…and He can do that better than anything, or anyone else…

- now, just like with every other chapter we’ve read in this study – this one is going to stretch us…but if you hang on tight you can understand the main points and the ways this might specifically apply to you…

- read Hebrews 7:1-28…

- we’re talking about how Jesus can help you draw near to God…and with the time we have left, let’s look for…3 reasons Jesus can connect you to the Father like no one else.

I. Because He is a Better Hope – vv. 1-19.

- now, I understand that Hebrews 7 is not for the theologically faint of heart…

- you have to at least acknowledge this – the writer did warn us…do you remember, back in chapter 5?...

- Hebrews 5:10-11 - being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

- you could draw a line between chapter 5 verses 10-11 and chapter 7 verse 1 because everything in between was intended to deal with the “being “dull of hearing” issue…but now he’s ready to help us tackle this subject that even he admits is “hard to explain…”

- however, here’s the promise – even if you are brand new to studying the Bible, the overall point here is not nearly as elusive as it might seem…

- you can get this…and you can find it helpful to where you’re living today…you just need to know a little bit about the Levitical priesthood, a little bit about a man named Melchizedek, and a little bit about biblical typology…after that, it will be a breeze…here we go…

A, The importance of the levitical priests.

- you could argue that the priests were the central part of Judaism…perhaps even more so than the law…

- why…because everyone knew they would break the OT law…that was always a foregone conclusion

- which is why, simultaneous to giving the law, God also instructed Moses to establish the priesthood…a chosen group of people from the tribe of Levi who would offer sacrifices for the sins of the people…

- whether it was in the tabernacle, or later at the permanent temple…the persons understood that their sins separated them from their God…symbolized by the heavy veil in the temple…and that regular sacrifices had to be made for their sin…

- the book of Leviticus literally means in its Greek form – “matters of the Levites” and some have said that you can’t really understand the book of Hebrews apart from a working knowledge of Leviticus…

- so these men, from the tribe of Levi and descendants of Aaron, and their function in the life of Israel was highly prized…

- they were like your 8 track tape player…your floppy disk…your analog TV…

- for the Jewish man or woman, the priests were central to what it mean to drawing near to God…

- that is why the writer of this book is being very gentle with his readers..

- he is appealing to them of the basis of logic…

- he doesn’t just come right out and say --- Jesus is superior to the priests in the temple…

- instead he says…there is another person in the Old Testament…whose story should have prepared you for the day that the OT priesthood would become obsolete…and who is that?...

B. Melchizedek.

- now, before you say – here we go – this is going to lose me…

- no it’s not, and here’s why…we don’t know enough about Melchizedek to “make for a good losing”…

- that’s part of the charm of this whole chapter…

- other than the book of Hebrews, this man is only mentioned twice in Scripture…Genesis 14, and Psalm 110…

1. Genesis 14:17-20

- in this passage, Melchizedek comes out of nowhere…literally…

- here’s the short version…Abraham received word that a group of kings had come together and gone to war against another coalition of kings…and in the process of the battle, Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family was captured…

- so Abraham teamed up with some kings and they went after this group…and it is a marvelous story of military brilliance…but Abraham won the battle, and rescued Lot, and came away with significant resources as spoils in the victory…here’s what happened…

- Genesis 14:17-20 - Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” He gave him a tenth of all.

- so there it is – we don’t know where Melchizedek came from, we don’t know where he went from here…but we know that he was a king and a priest…that Abraham immediately recognized him, that Abraham gave him a tithe of all the spoils of the battle, and that Melchizedek blessed Abraham…although just 2 chapters earlier God promised that through Abraham, the entire world would be blessed…

- in rounded terms, that was 2100 BC…

- we don’t not read anything else about this man in Scripture until…

B. Psalm 110

- which would have been written around 1000 BC…

- this is a royal Psalm; speaking about the coming Messiah…it is frequently quoted in the NT…

- Psalm 110:4 - The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

- God says to His coming Messiah, whom we know to be His own Son…you are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek…

- now, you might say – what do you mean, according to?...

- this is an example of biblical typology…where something is used in the OT to point to a truth that will occur more fully in the NT…

- for example – do you remember the serpent on the pole story in the OT?...the people were told to look and live?...

- we know that that was a picture of Christ…because Jesus told us so…

- John 3:14 - As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;

- that’s a simple example of a type – the serpent on the pole pointed to the Savior on the cross….(even so must the Son of man be lifted up…just like that…)

- believe it or not, now all of this can begin falling into place…

C. The 3 step logic.

1. Melchizedek was superior to the levitical priests.

- the people would have known that…they would reluctantly nodded their heads…

a. Because Melchizedek was a priest and a king – v. 1

- that is emphasized in both Genesis 14 and Psalm 110…

- under Mosaic law, a priest could not also hold the office of king (cf. why Saul got into so much trouble when he tried to offer a sacrifice before going into battle)…but Melchizedek was…

b. Because Abraham tithed to Melchizedek – v. 2

- they were used to tithing to the levitical priests…here’s an example of someone Father Abraham tithed to…

- and this will stretch your brain – the point of verse 10, because all of the levitical priests were also descendants of Abraham, they were (as Scripture says) in Abraham’s loins so they too tithed to Melchizedek…

c. Melchizedek was a priest perpetually – v. 3

- he did not have beginning of days or end of life…

- the point is – the levitical priests could only serve from age 25 – 50 and then they were done…

- we have no idea where Melchizedek came from or where he went---in that sense he was a precursor of the greater priest to come…

- now, let’s stop right there and get a breath of fresh air…

- the people to whom this book was written had grown up thinking that the best way to have access to God was through the levitical priests in the temple…and that no one could ever be better than that…

- this writer is very gently saying…that can’t be…you know that’s not true…

- because there was already somebody who preceded the levitical priests who was superior to them…

- and that opens the door for the possibility that someday the ministry of the levitical priests will be obsolete…why?...

2. Melchizedek was only a “type” of Christ.

- they should have known, on the basis of Psalm 110:4, that the day was coming when a superior priest would appear…

- because He would be a prophet and a priest, and his reign would be eternal…

- Psalm 110:4 - The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

- the point is –

3. If Melchizedek was superior to the Levitical priests, and Jesus is superior to Melchizedek, it is time for a paradigm shift.

- the OT sacrificial system is like an 8 track tape…it’s not that it’s bad…it’s that it’s been replaced with something better…

- in fact, more accurately stated, it’s been replaced by Someone better…

- now, the veil in the temple has been torn in two, and what does verse 19 say?...Hebrews 7:19 - …there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

- now, even if you only got a fraction of that…please think with me now about…

4. The joy and value of drawing near.

- I’m wondering about the person here this morning who really believes he/she can earn a relationship with God on the basis of your good works alone…

- maybe that’s what you were taught…maybe that’s what you’ve just always believed…

- but when you open the pages of Scripture you learn that your sin has separated you from a holy God and that apart from trusting Christ as Savior, you can never genuinely draw near…your wrong belief about how to know God is like an 8 track player…it won’t work and its of no value…are you ready to trade it in?...

- or the person who’s look to a relationship with a guy or a girl for satisfaction…or you think you’ll find that in material things, or more degrees, or maybe at the bottom of the bottle…

- friend, when it comes drawing near to God…Jesus is a better hope…

- this is also true because…

II. Jesus is a Permanent Priest.

- remember, Psalm 110 is…

A. Based on an oath made by God Himself.

Psalm 110:4 - The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

- and please lock on to that word “forever”…

- these readers would have known that the levitical priests didn’t last very long?...why, according to verse 23?...

- Hebrews 7:23 - The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing,

B. Jesus conquered death.

- Hebrews 7:24 - but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.

That’s why…

C. He can save completely.

- Hebrews 7:25 - Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him…

- there was nothing complete about the work of the levitical priests…their work was never done…

- that frees Christ up to…

D. He always lives to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 7:25 - …since He always lives to make intercession for them.

- can I ask you this morning, are you taking advantage of the privilege of drawing near unto God because the access gained by your priest and king?...

- having access is only beneficial if you use it…

- picture this – let’s say that you an analog TV set that’s really old and the picture’s starting to fade in and out…and the tuner doesn’t work very well…and in a matter of weeks or months depending on who you listen to, you won’t be able to receive a signal at all…

- so someone gives you a brand new big screen digital TV---it doesn’t cost you a dime…

- they install it for you, and show you how to use it…but you never even turn it on…you don’t even learn how to use it…

- and then the NCAA tournament comes on – and Purdue is in the final four…they’re going to be great games…and the next day the person who purchased the TV for you says – how’d you enjoy the game?…and you say…well, I didn’t even turn it on—I kind-of miss my old set…

- what good is having superior access to the Father if we don’t make full use of the benefit of drawing near?...

- now, on the other hand…if you would say – PV, drawing near to the Father because of the finished work is my life-line…

- here’s the good news – everything you have learned about cultivating that relationship will never become obsolete – why?...because He continues forever, (and) holds His priesthood permanently.

III. Because He is the Perfect Savior.

A. Holy

Hebrews 7:26 - For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;

B. Offered Himself, once for all.

Hebrews 7:27 - who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself

C. He has been made perfect forever.

Hebrews 7:28 - For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video