From the previous chapter, we learn that there remains a rest for the people of God. There remains a rest for the people of Israel, for God spoke to them of “another day” when they would enter into the rest which the Torah or Joshua could not provide. (4:7-9; 7:19; Dt 5:12-14) The “rest” that God promises is fully entered in the fulfillment of the redemption and the possession of the promised inheritance. It is only through Jesus/Yeshua and the New Covenant that this rest is received. Living faith in Jesus and in His sacrifice and resurrection for our salvation and justification assures us of entering this full rest when the Lord returns and the saints are either resurrected or raptured. (Mt 11:28-30; Rom 8:16-23; 1Thes 4:13-18; 2Thes 2)
We have the Word of God so that we do not fall away; and it is the Word of God, Who is Yeshua, that will judge us. (4:12-13; Jn 12:48; Rev 19:11-16) And, we have a great High Priest, Yeshua, who knows us and is sympathetic with our struggles and sufferings in this world, and He intercedes for us from the Throne of Grace that we will overcome, and stand victorious at the end of the the race, at the end of the war, at the end of the harvest. We can call upon Him for mecry and help with full confidence of faith. God is for us!
v 1-3 Under the Torah, which God gave to Israel, the High Priest was selected according to the commandment and instruction of YHVH. The High Priest was the mediator between God and the people, and they were also human and sinners and lacking full knowledge, just as those whom they represented and served. They were to be sympathetic with the people, who were also there brothers and sisters as the Children of Israel, chosen by God. The high priests also needed to offer sacrifices for their own sins, not only for the people.
v 4 Not just anyone could take the honor of being the High Priest, and take it for himself, but only the one called by God, as Aaron was.
When the united kingdom of Israel under Kings David and Solomon was divided after Solomon’s death, the King for the Northern Kingdom of Israel was Jeroboam, and was appointed by God. But Jeroboam decided to rebel against Judah’s king Rehoboam of the House of David, whom YHVH God had promised with an oath to always have one of his descendants on the throne in Jerusalem. Jeroboam told the inhabitants of the northern kingdom that they would have their own holidays, like those in Judah; he changed dates for those holidays; and he appointed priests that were not of Levitical lineage. (1Kg 11:26-40; 2Kg 17:19-23; 2Chron 11:5-15) God judged the Northern Kingdom of Israel as totally idolatrous, having no good king who followed YHVH and led the people to do so. God sent away the entire kingdom by the Assyrian invasion around 722BC.
In the rebellion of Korah (Num 16 – you need to read the Bible to know about this, which also Jude refers to in his epistle for our learning and admonition today), he and some others rebelled against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Korah was a Levite, just as were Moses and Aaron. But Korah wanted the leadership that goes with being equal with the priests/cohanim, and Moses was the Leader/Apostle and Law-giver, chosen by YHVH, for the nation. The Levites were to help their brothers who were priests, but only Aaron’s family was chosen to be cohanim, from whom came the High Priest, also chosen by God’s commandment. (The Levites today might be considered like deacons, and the priests like the elders of a congregation, but both without tribal or family requirements.) You cannot take the authority for leadership on your own; it must be given by God. In the rebellion, the earth opened up and swallowed up Korah and the other rebels. These are lessons for us to learn from in the fear of the LORD.
God loves us, and because He does He also warns us of the dangers of not hearing and obeying His Word and abiding in His Way.
v 5-6 Yeshua submitted to the Law of God, and did not take for Himself the glory of being a High Priest, but it was God who said: “You are My Son; today I have begotten You” (Ps 2:7; Acts 13:30-33); and in another place (Ps 110:4): “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Both of these verses are also quoted in the first chapter of this letter, proving Yeshua to be higher and greater than the angels; and Peter quotes the first one to show that the resurrection proves that Yeshua is the Son of the Highest. (Lk 1:30-33) He already was God’s Son, but the resurrection is what proves it to us.) [Mt 3:16-17; Jn 1:47-51; 2Sam 7:12-14a]
v 7 But while Jesus was alive before His death, He was fully Man as well, and prayed and supplicated God with loud cries and tears to His Father, who was able to save Him out of death, and by His fear of God, He was heard.
When we are facing our worst troubles, pain, loss…in humble submission to the God of all the Earth, we can cry with great emotion to our Father, who is able to save us out of the darkness. He hears us. We come boldly to the Throne of Grace, with living hope in Him who raises the dead, and we have a Mediator – a High Priest – who knows and understands what we are going through.
v 8-9 Even though Yeshua was God’s Son, He learned obedience by the things that He suffered. (Ps 119:71) And by learning as a Man through suffering to trust and obey the Father who called Him to glorify His name, so, too, will we when we allow ourselves to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus/Yeshua for help to suffer for His sake. The Holy Spirit will give us power to help us overcome by our faith in Who Jesus Christ is, and in His blood of atonement for our forgiveness of all our sins. God loves us, and chastens His children so that we will become more like His Son – holy, blameless, pure.
And Yeshua, showing Himself perfect in all respects, has become the author of eternal salvation for all who obey Him. Being saved by grace gives us a heart and mind to obey the Lord because of His love and goodness to us. Jesus says that if we love Him, then we will do what He says. (Jn 14:15)
v 10-11 Yeshua/Jesus has been designated by God a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek – not of Levi, as under the Law of Moses. The writer of the letter here, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes that he has much to say about this, but it is hard, because we do not always want to listen in order to learn. The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel is doing a new thing since the death and resurrection of the Messiah, and it is difficult for Jewish believers (and, I believe, also for Gentiles who have grown up in Christianity, but have trusted in that without being born-again by the Holy Spirit) to accept as Jews. (Is 42:8-9; 2Pt 3:11-18)
v 12-13 This epistle was written some time before the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70AD. The writer here is saying that these believers had been believers long enough to already be teachers, but that they were still having a hard time with the basic doctrines of God’s word! They were immature in their faith, and were still requiring very simple teaching, rather than teaching with more substance and depth. Their walk with the Lord was not according to the righteousness of God; and therefore, they were not suitable as people of God for every good work for Him.
Surely, the Holy Spirit is also speaking to some of us here today, is He not?
v 14 Solid food is not for new believers in general, and not for immature believers, but for those who are spiritually mature: those who exercise their senses to discern both good and evil, according to what God’s word says is good, and what God says is evil or bad. (Gen 3:5; Is 7:16; 2Tim 3:14-17; 1Tim 4:1-6; 1Cor 2; 3:1-9) The Holy Spirit and the Word of God are active and powerful to sanctify us to having a moral character that is honoring to our Father in Heaven, and to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is His will for us, that we become conformed to His image and likeness. Please, Lord!
Three points to take from this chapter 5:
1. We have a High Priest that God chose as a new thing in Messiah/Christ, not according to the Law of Moses;
- Our High Priest – Yeshua/Jesus – suffered in His human body to learn to trust wholly in God His Father, and to be sympathetic to our sufferings and cries for help and support;
- We should be growing in spiritual maturity, learning from our life experiences to know what is good to God and what is evil to Him, and to be able to teach others.
Please receive with patience this exhortation in this epistle.