Hebrews 7: 22-25 “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
God makes promises. And God keeps promises. There is one thing God cannot do; God cannot break His promises. It’s impossible for God to not keep His word. We don’t need to go far to see this to be true. In Hebrews 3 we find a sobering example- at least I hope it has that effect on you. God swore in His wrath, that is, He promised, that those who went astray in their hearts, the disobedient and rebellious among His people, God promised they would not enter His rest. Canaan, that faint and dim foreshadow of true rest, would not be theirs to enjoy. The Scriptures tell us that that generation fell in the wilderness. There are a number of places we could go. But Jude 5 is the most provocative and stunning. It says-
“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”
We don’t think of Jesus in such terms. Few do. But God keeps His promises. He’s faithful to His word. Which means He’s faithful to Himself for His Name’s sake.
It’s for His Name’s sake that He made another promise. With an oath He confirmed the unchangeable character of His purpose, His gracious purpose. It’s recorded in Psalm 110 verse 4. And it’s cited here in Hebrews 7:21 (What David prophesies, Hebrews applies to Jesus, the fulfillment). In Psalm 110, God speaks of His unchanging purpose, a purpose anchored in the sea of eternity past, before the dawn of time. It’s a purpose that culminates in the Person & Work of Jesus Christ, even as a new priest for a new covenant. The oath? Not to us, but to David’s Lord, the Son of David, the Lord Jesus, God says:
“You are a priest forever.”
The Lord has sworn this “and will not change his mind.” Consequently, as Priest, Christ is not like the old priestly line. He is rather, Melchizedekian, a priest without end of days.
This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. That’s what this divine oath does. It makes Jesus a guarantor, or a surety. If you’ve ever co-signed for a loan, you know what a guarantor is. If you’ve ever done that, you were the guarantor of that loan. You accepted legal responsibility that that loan would be repaid in full, guaranteeing the terms of the transaction. So, not only is Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant (the One who establishes it), He’s also the One who guarantees all that it promises. It’s rather fascinating to discover the English words synonymous with ‘guarantor.’ They are numerous – ‘promise,’ ‘assurance,’ ‘pledge,’ ‘vow,’ ‘oath,’ ‘commitment,’ ‘security,’ and even ‘covenant.’ Beloved listen carefully: Christ guarantees everything promised in the New Covenant. Christ will make it happen. Christ is its assurance. Christ secures it. Not you! Not us! Christ! Christ as priest guarantees the covenant He put in force. As a better priest of another class and kind, not like the Levites, not according to Law, but by PROMISE, even the oath of God, His work (not ours), His performance (not ours), His Person: Jesus IS HIMSELF Guarantor.
A better covenant is precisely what He guarantees. He guarantees not the old covenant, not the first one, not the one made obsolete, not the one that was but a shadow of the good things that have come, not the covenant Moses put in force with blood, when he sprinkled blood on the altar and all the people, not that covenant, but the secondcovenant.
This covenant is called a better covenant. It’s a better covenant with a better hope enacted on better promises guaranteed by a far better priest. Who doesn’t wish for that which is better? Who doesn’t wish for a better car, a better situation, a better deal, a better computer, a better job, a better, that is, more excellent, superior life? People naturally long for better things. Should the people of God not long for a better, that is, a more valuable, more advantageous covenant? Why cling to that which has been set aside and of no eternal good (with its frail and finite priesthood)? Christ is guarantor of a BETTER covenant. If words mean anything, the old and new covenants are not one, but two. No one compares one thing with itself. That makes no sense whatsoever. Nor does it make any sense to cling to any part of the first covenant. Here’s why:
Christ guarantees what the old covenant cannot. Verse 23 – ‘The former priests,’ the Levites, ‘were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office…’ [Isn’t it amazing to think that the very thing which prevented them from continuing their priesthood was the very thing by which Christ began His priesthood?] ‘The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but He [Christ] holds His priesthood permanently.” Death does not prevent Christ from His Work as Priest. Death was the door through which He walked to get to His ‘desk’! Verse 25- ‘Consequently,’ [BIG word- There’s a consequence of Christ’s permanent priesthood. Something is bound to happen because of it.] ‘Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him…”
The more I looked at this, the more I realized this has nothing to do with evangelism or new conversions or whatever. This is about those ‘who draw near to God through Christ.’ Unbelievers don’t do that. Unbelievers stay away from God. They surely do not draw near to Him through Christ. The consequence [one of them] of Christ as a priest forever and thus Guarantor of a better covenant is ‘He is able to save to the uttermost…’ To save to the uttermost is to save completely. Entirely. Forever. This is the power of Christ. As Guarantor, Christ guarantees it. All who draw near to God through Him, He saves completely.
This is what the writer wished to so impress upon his readers, his Jewish readers. I can almost hear them in the distance: “Was Christ enough? Is this new covenant in fact sufficient? Will letting go of the old damn us? Maybe we should go back to it!” Hebrews answers pastorally: Jesus IS enough. He’s able to do, and will do, what the shadows can’t and won’t.
And then there’s this concern, the concern of perseverance, which is a very practical concern. Hebrews deals with it in a very specific way. There’s no making much of people, no psychology, no counseling, no attempt at boosting self-esteem. All this talk, this exalting exposition Hebrews gives, unfolding the glories of Christ, that is the method. That’s how Hebrews deals with these converts. The writer is concerned to boost Christ esteem in his readers so that they not fall away. “We share in Christ, “ he writes earlier, “IF indeed we hold firm our original confidence firm until the end.” So, to bolster and buttress that confidence, he speaks of a Guarantor, an exalted Priest, One more than able to save completely, from beginning to end. I love what the commentator writes of this:
“They can be sure that this hope is secure because the covenant that embodies it is guaranteed by one whose position as high priest is assured by God’s oath. Christ’s exalted status thus gives his followers their assurance.”
And finally, there’s this connection between saving to the uttermost and always living to make intercessions for those who draw near through Him. “… he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Is Jesus said to pray here? If so, we’re not told what Jesus prays for on the behalf of ‘them.’ In a sense, I don’t care. It’s enough to know that Christ Himself prays for His beloved. If He prays for those who draw near, it must be good! It can’t be anything but good!
On the other hand, as Guarantor could Christ be pleading that every new covenant member know the ‘not yet?’ We who love Christ know the ‘now’ of the new covenant. We don’t know its consummation. Not yet. We don’t know the rest of Heaven. We have yet to sit down with Christ at the Marriage Supper and drink sweet wine with Him. We have yet to experience the new heavens and the new earth. We have yet to be completely and finally saved. But Christ has secured that covenant which ensures that salvation. He Himself guarantees it, a Guarantee/Guarantor confirmed by divine oath! And this One, this Christ, this Great High Priest exalted in the heavens pleads even now to that end. Praise be to His Name. He is indeed a God for us!
And yet, could it be that what is meant here is not that Christ gets down on His knees, bows His head, and prays, but that He Himself is the intercession? Could it be that Christ as Guarantor….as Covenant…as Priest…as holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted in the heavens, made perfect forever….could it be that He Himself is the intercession? The thought both warms and satisfies my soul, even as it most assuredly exalts Him to His rightful place.
As we eat and drink once again, let’s be stirred by these things…
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/todd-braye.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Todd Braye (B. Mus., M.Div) is the pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Blacke, Alberta, Canada. After graduating from the Canadian Theological Seminary, he served a Baptist church in eastern Ontario for six years before coming home to Alberta. He has been SGBC’s pastor since October 1, 2005.[/author_info] [/author]