For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
A double aspect of Christ's priesthood.
Reading: Isaiah 6:1-3; Revelation 1:9-13.
Isaiah's vision presents the Lord Jesus Christ in his royalty and in his priesthood. Whenever the Scriptures, be it in the Old or the New Testament, presents the Lord Jesus Christ dressed to the feet, it is showing him as the great high priest. And whenever we see him with a gird about the breast, it shows his royalty. Jesus Christ is the great high priest at God's right hand, and he is also the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The high priest interceding at the right hand of God
In this passage in Isaiah, the Holy Spirit is revealing the Lord Jesus Christ in this perspective: as the one who was made a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is he who has no beginning of days nor end of life. Blessed is our great high priest, at the right hand of God, interceding for us!
In the midst of everything sublime, in the middle of the great throne where there are seraphs, where the angelical voice resonates, the glory is so great. There, at the right hand of God: there is a Man! I do not know if we are able to comprehend this: In the midst of the glory, of the most sublime things: there is a Man! There is not a glorified angel: there is a Man! There is a Man at the right hand of God!
He entered as a fore-runner; he went on ahead of us. As a legal representative, he is there, at the right hand of God, fulfilling a wonderful function. "when he had made purification of sins", says Hebrews 1, "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high". He is not only there to be worshipped and blessed by the angels, or to be applauded as the King of kings and Lord of lords. The glorious mission that our great high priest is fulfilling is to intercede day and night for us.
Isaiah shows Jesus as the high priest, who intercedes. In Hebrews we are told that he lives to intercede, which is to say that he does not rest, day or night, staying awake, favoring each one of us in particular and his people in general. "Now in the things which we are saying the chief point is this: We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" (Heb. 8:1). The expression 'such' says something much more wonderful than 'a great', or 'a good'. The word 'such' means that he has no limit; a larger expression does not exist. We have such a high priest, at the right hand of God, interceding for us. He does not have to offer for his own sins, as the old priests did. It also says that he entered in with his own blood, in such a way that he cannot even be compared by any of the high priests who existed during the whole history of the people of Israel. No, this man is classified by the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, as "such a high priest". He is so great, so glorious, he is eternal.
"...by so much also hath Jesus become the surety of a better covenant. And they indeed have been made priests many in number, because that by death they are hindered from continuing: but he, because he abideth for ever, hath his priesthood unchangeable. Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such a high priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" (Heb. 7:22-26).
" Wherefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17).
"...in all things to be made like unto his brothers...". When he walked on the earth, since the day he was born until he was crucified, he lived a life full of sufferings, of persecution, of insults and of condemnation. He knows his brothers very well, he knows what it means to be tempted, he knows that life is not easy here. And he knew that they were going to despise us and to condemn because of his name.
"Wherefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest". May your hearts be comforted. The sadness that you are experiencing today, the pain that you are facing, the tribulation that you are enduring, the wounds in your soul that have still not healed, are all so well known by the high priest. And: do you know why, in spite of the ordeals, the temptations and the weaknesses that we have, we are still standing? It is because he does not fall asleep, because he pleads your cause day and night. Do not believe that it is because of your loyalty and your spirituality that you are still standing; it is because he is at the right hand of God, interceding for us. It is not because you are holier than others; it's because he is pleading your cause. When you sleep, he is watching. If you ever went to bed distressed by a particular situation, he did not sleep. Whilst you sleep, he is awake, so that the evil spirits do not lord over your soul. He is keeping us, hiding us, helping us. He loves us.
On his shoulders and in his breast
There is a figure of the high priest in Exodus 28. The Lord Jesus Christ is revealed to us as a priest with his garment, his ephod, the breastplate, the checkered vest, the turban that went around the head and the girdle. There is a very great spiritual wealth here. There isn't time to describe each one with its spiritual explanation. I would like to consider the beautiful stones that the high priest wore when ministering. On his shoulders he wore two stones that were different in color and type, one on each side. Upon them were recorded the names of the tribes of Israel. In the breastplate were twelve beautiful stones: emerald, carbuncle, agate, onyx, etc., different in beauty and quality.
What do the stones on the shoulder and the stones on his breast mean? The stones on his shoulders prefigure our Lord Jesus Christ, our great high priest, sustaining us on his shoulders with that great responsibility. He is establishing us, so that we should not stumble and fall down; we are supported by his powerful hand, by his omnipotent arm. And what of the stones in the breastplate? It means that he not only has us on his mind, but he also has us next to his heart. He loves us in such a way that each of our individual names is on his heart.
If he knows all the stars by name: will he not then know our names? He has us in his heart. Such that if you have been comforted, it is because he has drawn us near to himself, or when he says to us: "...do not be afraid, I am for you; do not be afraid, I am with you, do not fear anything". Are we living through problems, conflicts, deep sadness or difficult situations? I encourage you, and even my own heart: We have such a high priest at the right hand of God, interceding, living to intercede. I like this expression: he lives to intercede for us. So much so, that we are standing by his strength, because he has become responsible for us, and because he also has us in his heart.
The high priest in the midst of the churches
We have seen the Lord Jesus Christ from the perspective of the high priest in the vision of Isaiah 6. Now, let's see how Revelation 1:9-13 shows him. Here John also shows him as a high priest, but in a different time and in a different place. Isaiah 6:1-3 shows a high and exalted throne. Here, we see it in the midst of the candlesticks, confirming his presence, despite the weaknesses of the churches. Let's look, then, in the Old Testament, at the figure of this priesthood.
"And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee olive oil, pure, beaten, for the light, to light the lamp continually. In the tent of meeting… Aaron and his sons shall dress them from evening to morning before Jehovah: it is an everlasting statute, for their generations, on the part of the children of Israel". (Exodus 27:20-21).
To understand what his mission in the midst of the candlesticks is today, we must remember that, in the Old Covenant, in the tabernacle or in the temple, the priest had the duty of making the lamps or candlesticks burn continuously from evening until morning. To do this, he needed pure olive oil. So that is what they every evening, adding oil and lighting the lamps. He also had a tool called a snuffer with which, after having extinguished the lamps, he would cut off the rest of the burnt dry wick so that, when lighting it again, there would be no smoke or bad odor. Thus the place of burning would always be well-lit and clean.
This figure gives us wonderful clarity about what our great high priest does in the midst of the churches today. Whilst in the vision of Isaiah we see him on the throne interceding incessantly, here in the midst of the church he is constantly providing us with his Spirit. That's why, by his Spirit we can give testimony of our faith. He is here with us, speaking to us... "And I turned to see the voice that spake with me" (Rev. 1:12). He is lighting up our hearts, to love him, to serve him, to worship him; every day looking after us, feeding us, taking us forwards, healing our wounds with his fresh oil.
But with the snuffers he is also disciplining us; he is correcting all that is defective, all that is of our old nature - the flesh with its passions and desires-, removing everything that cannot serve his purposes. So, if someone is enduring discipline today, know that the one who is in the midst of the candlesticks is correcting something that hinders him in his purpose, to clean us of our own self-righteousness, and leaving that which is new, so that we might shine brightly and give off the pleasant fragrance of Christ, of life and not death.
So I ask you: can you now see Jesus walking in the midst of the candlesticks? "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them". Can you see that the great high priest is here in our midst right now? Can you see him and ascend to the heights, and see that he is there also, exalted at God's omnipresent, omniscient right hand? He is there, and he is here. Blessed is the Lord!
Let's give thanks to the Lord, to the great high priest, and let's say to him that we need him in our midst, so that he may correct the defective, so that he may instill his life, his ministering and his edification. Blessed is The Lord Jesus Christ!