Who can really know God? You!
This week we return to the subject of priesthood. If we accept that God exists, how can I be sure that God recognises me? I know that there are people who do not believe that God exists, and other people who think that God exists but we can not know it. If that’s you, I’d like to have a coffee with you and listen to your thoughts. But as lunch time approaches, today we’ll assume that God exists and we can know him. Such a wonderful creation and with such complex creatures, I want to know my creator. It may be that you also want that. This section of the letter is wants to leave us convinced and encouraged that we can know God through Jesus.
That God would know us is his desire and his long-term plan
The first thing we must clarify is that God wants to know us. That may seem strange since he is not obvious. Well, we must understand that God does not hide himself so that it is difficult to find or believe in him. This is not a game of hide and seek. God chooses not to become obvious so we can make a real choice. You know the effect of being in the presence of a powerful person, it can be a policeman, a judge, a teacher, a person who for some reason has more physical or psychological power than you. It’s hard to resist them, right? Well, then, if God were totally present? It would be impossible.
Instead of being obvious because of the effect it would have, the letter of Hebrews reminds us that God has left enough clues to overcome doubts. These clues are found in history. That is, they are events, not just thoughts nor scriptures. That is why this letter reviews the history of Israel, and not only begins with the person of Jesus. Knowing that Jesus fulfils something is more powerful and sure than that Jesus brought a new philosophy. Thinking like that would leave history before Jesus without hope. The clues assure us that we are in something that takes into account the entire history of the world. And they are like treasure because realising what it means is pure gold.
I have a timeline. Kids, there are four boxes hidden in the room. Search for them!
The writer calls our attention to four things:
- Abraham (7.1-10): We have am account about the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek. Abraham was blessed by God in a special way. God gave him a promise to establish Abraham and his descendants as his own people. And this promise is for all human.
- Melchizedek (7.17): a man who fulfilled the role of mediator between God and Abraham in an particular momento.
- The covenant (7.22): God made an agreement with his people.
- The sanctuary or tabernacle (8.5): The reality that God wants to dwell with his people.
Why does the writer call our attention to these people and events? Because it shows us the activity of God in the world, seeking to relate to us, and it means that Jesus does not represent a new thing but the fulfilment of God’s desire to know us.
When people say there is no evidence of God’s participation in the world, the Christian responds: “Actually, I have this history book that tells what God has been doing and it has proven to be reliable for thousands of years.”
This is very reassuring! Christians did not invent something new. This is not the plan or discovery of any person. God has had a purpose in all this: to restore the relationship that was lost in the Garden of Eden. God never left us.
The best mediator!
The role of Jesus in all this is to bridge the gap between creation and its creator. Until Jesus, a human priesthood functioned to make clear the need and the blessing of coming close to God. Now Jesus fulfils this role in such a way that we do not need this more. The writer says in verse 7.17 – “You are a priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek”. In other words, this clue from the past about the possibility of a priesthood that is bigger than time is now working.
It may be that you have doubts about the need for a priesthood, a mediator between the creation and the creator. I think a mirror helps us understand why it is necessary. It is interesting to see a baby or a child when they are in front of the mirror. It is the first moment of discovering themselves. But something changes in adolescence and adults when they are in front of the mirror. We look not only at the outside but also at the inside. Who am I? Do I like myself? The endless campaign in the life of an adult is self-evaluation – Am I okay? Sometimes we are satisfied for a while, a comment from another person, an achievement, these things leave us satisfied. But it does not take long, and like the evil stepmother of Snow White, we ask again the Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Or any characteristic or thing that we believe will bring us consolation.
The lack of being satisfied by the comments of others, of things we achieve is that deep down we lack the “yes” of our creator. Only our creator can give us the true consolation and the certainty that we are okay. As that relationship has gone through a serious break, we live with the anguish that the mirror cannot remedy.
But Jesus can remedy it completely and permanently. And the letter say it in a very visual way. In 8.1 – Now the main point of what we are saying is this: we do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.
What do priests, intermediaries, usually do? 7.27 – Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people.
Unlike others, Jesus, 7.27 – He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
As we spoke about two weeks ago, Jesus is not a third party but concretely represents the two parts of the covenant, God and us. And to show that it is enough, for the first time in the history of the world the priest stops making sacrifices and sits down. We do not have to ask the mirror anymore.
An unparalleled mediator
And it turns out that Jesus can close the gap between our creator and us so that it disappears.
Let’s read 8.10-12:
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbours,
or say to one another, “Know the Lord,”
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.’
That is, it’s as if the mediator was not there; the gap closed. That’s why we don’t use formal language with God. He does not want any kind of distance between himself and us. The idea of law here is not list of obligations. Law means the good intentions of the creator for his creation. It is what instinctively we know is good but we fail to do. Remember that Jesus said that the summary of the law is: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ (Matthew 22.37-40)
When you know that you are right with God, that he does not have anything against you, it is in this environment that you can begin to see the goodness of God’s law and his goodwill. Remember that Jesus has sat down. Leave the mirror and look at him.