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Christ Our High Priest! (Part ONE)

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By David Wilkerson
May 6, 1996

God the Father appointed His Son Jesus to become a High Priest for us in glory. Indeed, Jesus is in glory right now -- as both Man and God -- on our behalf. He is arrayed in the garments of a High Priest -- and He stands before the Father interceding for us, even as I write!

No doubt the Father takes great pleasure in having His Son at His right hand. But the Bible does not say Jesus ascended for the sake of His Father. Nor does it say He ascended to regain His glory. No -- Scripture says Christ ascended to heaven on our behalf -- as a High Priest: "Christ...entered into heaven... now to appear in the presence of God... for us..." (Hebrews 9:24).

John caught a glimpse of Jesus in His ministry as our High Priest in glory. He writes that Jesus appeared in the midst of seven candlesticks (representing His church) and ministered among them wearing a particular garb: "...clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle" (Revelation 1:13).

This is the attire of a high priest! Jesus wore a robe down to His feet and a breastplate around His midsection. And that is the same attire He wears as He ministers on our behalf right now in glory!

You probably remember that the high priest in the Old Testament was a type and shadow of Christ. Two priesthoods are mentioned -- an Aaronic priesthood and a Melchizedek priesthood. Aaron was most certainly a type of Christ. Indeed, God gave us an illustrated sermon in the Old Testament high priest. Everything he did illustrated the work and ministry of Jesus in glory!

Everything in the Temple Focused
on Jesus and His Ministry!

Every piece of furniture and every arrangement in the Old Testament tabernacle pointed to Jesus. If you want to know about Christ's ministry to us in glory in these last days, study the tabernacle and the high priest. Exodus 30 gives us a wonderful picture of this ministry:

Between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle was a veil. And just before the entrance to the Holy of Holies stood an altar made of gold, three feet high and eighteen inches square. Incense was placed on this altar and burned at all times.

As high priest, Aaron was commanded to take care of the lamps and wicks. Every morning when he went into the Holy Place to light them, he put incense on the altar. The altar had to have coals of fire in it always, so the fire would never go out. Even at night Aaron was to go in and put sweet incense "beaten small" on the altar.

"And Aaron [the high priest] shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations" (Exodus 30:7-8).

For years, throughout all of Israel's wilderness journeyings, the golden altar filled the Holy Place with a cloud of sweet incense. An incense was constantly rising to heaven!

Now, incense in the Bible represents prayer. And the ever- burning incense on that altar in the Holy Place represents the prayers of Jesus while He was on earth. There was not a day in His life on this planet that Jesus did not pray for His disciples. His prayers for them were a sweet incense wafting daily to the Father: "...I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me...I pray for them...keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me..." (John 17:8-11).

Jesus prayed constantly: He went to the mountains to pray...He sought solitude for prayer...He prayed in the morning and in the evening -- at all times. In fact, Jesus said He did nothing without hearing it first from His Father -- in prayer!

John 17 is all about Jesus' prayers for His disciples and His people -- for those who followed Him and believed in Him.

Yet, Jesus prayed not only for His followers, but "...for them also which shall believe on me through their [the disciples'] word" (verse 20).

What a powerful truth! Jesus' phrase, "them which shall believe on me," includes you and me. Jesus was praying for us when He walked this earth in the flesh! Centuries ago we were on His mind. He even recorded this prayer in His Word, knowing we would be reading it. He wants us to know He was interceding for us to the Father!

Beloved, this prayer which Jesus prayed for us did not vanish into thin air. It has been burning on God's altar all this time -- and God has accepted His Son's prayer for each of us! Our conversion, our salvation, is the result of Jesus' prayers. That is why we are in Him today -- because God answered His prayer for us!

"But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:24-25).

Right now Jesus is praying for transgressors who haven't yet turned to Him. Scripture says He can save to the uttermost -- meaning, "to the end of time" -- all who will ever come to Him.

Throughout my years in ministry I've seen many addicts and alcoholics get gloriously saved. Each time I would think to myself, "This one had to have a praying mother or interceding grandmother somewhere in the past. God is answering those holy warriors' prayers!"

But now I see something better than that -- something far more powerful and effective. It wasn't just a mother or grandparent who was praying for those who now believe. Jesus was praying for them all along!

"...I pray...for them also which shall believe on me through (my disciples') word" (John 17:9, 20).

If you've been running from the Lord, you'll never get away from His prayers! The Father answers His Son. And all who resist Him, continuing in their sinful ways, are hardening their hearts to the prayers of Christ -- who prayed for them on earth, and is praying for them still!

I Want to Talk to You Now About
the Praying of Jesus in Glory!

Once a year, the high priest went into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for Israel's sins. After sanctifying himself -- bathing himself thoroughly, to enter in purity -- he took with him the blood of a bullock and a golden censer (or cup) held by three prongs or chains. The priest then removed some coals from the altar, put them in the censer, took a handful of incense and went into the Holy of Holies.

Inside was an ark, and atop it was the mercy seat -- a lid or plate covering, with a little rib around it. On either side of the seat were two golden cherubim, whose wings spread over it. The mercy seat represented the very presence of God -- where the Lord sat on His throne.

In my previous message, entitled "The Precious Blood of Jesus," I wrote that the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice seven times on this mercy seat. This was for the remission of all of Israel's sins. The blood sprinkling signified the satisfaction of every demand of God's justice and holiness, and every accusation of the devil. By this blood sprinkling, all were made clean.

Then the high priest took the handful of incense and threw it on the fire in the censer. Suddenly, a beautiful aroma filled the tabernacle. The priest would swing the censer in front of the ark until the mercy seat was enshrouded in a cloud of aromatic, sweet incense.

Beloved, this is a perfect illustration of what Jesus has done for us -- and is doing right now! First, it signifies Jesus' death and ascension to the heavenly Father as our High Priest. He went through the veil -- splitting it in two -- and straight into the Holy of Holies, taking with Him the blood of His own sacrifice. There, in a spiritual sense, He sprinkled the altar in glory, saying, "From this day forward, all who believe in Me -- who follow Me and trust in Me, giving Me saving faith -- are covered by My blood. I present this blood, O Father, as a sacrifice for the sins of the world!"

Second, this scene of atonement further signifies the time when Jesus began to pray for us, interceding to the Father on our behalf. Why? The sweet-smelling incense that filled the Holy of Holies represents the prayers and intercessions of Jesus now in glory! We have a friend in glory, an Advocate before the Father's throne, an intercessor at the right hand of God -- for us: "Christ...entered into to appear in the presence of God...for us..." (Hebrews 9:24).

This Advocate, or lawyer, isn't like an earthly lawyer. When you run out of money, He doesn't refuse to show up in court for you. No! He sticks closer to you than a brother. He will never leave you or forsake you. He will always be there -- interceding for you!

The initial work of Jesus' intercession was the sprinkling of His blood on every bond and debt we owed. A bond is "a sealed note of debt or obligation that is binding upon the debtor and his heirs." An example is a bank mortgage note. As long as you live, the law obligates you to pay that note -- and when you die, your children are obligated to pay it.

Likewise, the devil once held the mortgage bond on your soul. He laid claim to you, because you were dead in trespasses and sins. Indeed, there are many in hell even now because the devil foreclosed on their unpaid note!

There must be a cavern somewhere in the bowels of hell that contains a mountain of records, including your note and mine. And right now those notes are due. The notes read, "You must pay with your life -- and the price is eternal death and damnation."

But Jesus was given the keys to hell's vault! Our High Priest went down to the very pits, right into that place of records, and opened up the vault. He began flipping through the records and pulled out our notes -- all the bonds, debts and obligations of those who believe in Him and who will yet believe.

Jesus gathered all those notes and took them to glory. There, in the presence of the Father, He sprinkled His blood over them, announcing, "These debts are paid in full -- by the blood of My own veins!" "...know ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price..." (1 Corinthians 6:19). "...he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman...Ye are bought with a price..." (7:22-23).

The Just Wrath of God Was Turned to Mercy
-- Through the Ministry of the High Priest!

God's justice demands that He be angry at sin. His holiness demands that His wrath go out against all rebellion. But God loves mercy! And now the blood of Jesus has satisfied God's justice and holiness -- so that God can come out to us through the rent veil, showing mercy and grace!

The Old Testament includes a powerful foreshadowing of our merciful High Priest. In Numbers 16, we see the whole congregation of Israel rising up and murmuring against Moses and Aaron. Two hundred and fifty princes had rebelled, and God was angry -- so He destroyed them. Now the people were mad at Moses and Aaron over their deaths: "...all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord" (Numbers 16:41).

God appeared in a cloud, telling Moses and Aaron to stand apart from the rest: "Get away from them. I'm going to consume them instantly -- right now!" (see verse 26).

Suddenly, a horrible plague broke out among the people. Moses was terrified -- and he told Aaron, the high priest, "...Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the Lord; the plague is begun.... And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed" (verses 46, 48).

Moses was saying, "Get the censer -- and run through the camp waving the incense, covering the people!" Aaron did just that -- and the incense went up throughout the camp.

Aaron is a type of Christ here -- and the incense represents Jesus' prayers for a rebellious people. What an incredible picture of God showing mercy through the prayers of the High Priest! We see an image of Jesus running among rebellious sinners, sending up prayers to the Father on their behalf. With each person He sprinkles, He cries, "Lord, I have prayed for this one! I have sprinkled this heart with the blood. I've satisfied Your justice, Your holiness. So, Father, have mercy!"

An advocate is one who tells the court what is legal -- what is right and should be done. In short, he describes the law. And our Advocate Jesus says, "I have fulfilled the law. I have paid the price to fully satisfy God's justice. The devil can never accuse God of being unjust!"

Though 14,700 Israelites died of the plague, 2 or 3 million others should have fallen. All of Israel should have been destroyed. But God showed mercy!

Likewise, you and I should have died long ago because of our sin. But the Father, through Jesus' prayers, has mercifully kept us by His power. He loves mercy!

The Book of Zechariah Also Reveals Something
About Our High Priest in Glory!

Zechariah 3 describes a high priest named Joshua standing before the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. Also present was an angel, who had to be Christ (or Jehovah of the Old Testament), because angels do not judge.

Now, this Joshua was a real man; he was not a type of Christ. Rather, he was the high priest during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Ezra 2:2 records that this Joshua came out of captivity along with the prophet Zechariah.

In Ezra 10:18 it appears that Joshua and his sons had married heathen women and therefore were "clothed in filthy rags." At that time, the worst way a Jew could defile himself was by marrying a Gentile. Thus, Joshua defiled his priestly garments:

"Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel" (Zechariah 3:3).

Consider the scene now, in type: Joshua stands before the throne in his filthy garments, and the devil is at his side, accusing him. In Revelation 12:10, Satan is called "...the accuser of our brethren..." Think about it: The devil stood before the Lord to question Job's righteousness...he stood before the heavenly throne to oppose this high priest Joshua...and he stands before God right now to oppose you and me -- to accuse us of sin and unfaithfulness!

Satan argued against Joshua: "God, You know all things. You know Your law -- and this man has broken it! He has sinned against You, and now his heart is like filthy rags. He is unclean, evil, unworthy!"

The devil's accusations were correct: Joshua had sinned. He was guilty, and his garments were spotted. And now Satan claimed Joshua for himself: "I claim this man as my own. He is filthy, living in darkness -- and that is my kingdom!"

Beloved, this is exactly what happens with us! Many of the devil's accusations against us are accurate. When we fall into sin -- when we fail in our Christian walk, and our garment is defiled -- Satan comes before the throne to accuse, oppose and defame us. He points at us and says, "Look at him! You know all things, God. Don't You see the compromise in this one's life? If You are just, You must give me his soul!"

That is when our Advocate steps in. Jesus stands up and says, "It's true, Father -- there is a blemish here. There has been failure, and his garment is defiled. But there is faith in his heart -- faith in the power of My blood!

"You know I have made satisfaction for this man's sin. Indeed, I have paid for every sin he has committed or will ever commit. So, by every law of justice, holiness and mercy, I hereby call for this man's pardon and freedom. He is a brand I have plucked from the fire. I have sprinkled his heart with My blood -- and caused his iniquity to pass away!"

Jesus then turns to those standing by and says, "Take those filthy garments off of him, and put My robe of righteousness on his shoulders. Take that hat off his head and put on a crown!"

This is just what happens with Joshua in Zechariah 3. Jesus pleads his case, interceding for him: "...I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment" (verse 4). That is the passover -- the sprinkled blood!

Jesus then says to Satan, "...The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" (verse 2).

What a picture! The devil was forced to leave with a sound rebuke. And Joshua walked away with a pardon, a new garment and a crown of righteousness on his head! "...if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous..." (1 John 2:1).

Jesus has been in glory for these 2,000 years praying for us. When He was on earth, He said, " ought always to pray..." (Luke 18:1). And that is how we know He is still praying for us: By His own testimony He said men ought always to pray -- and He is still a Man Himself, even in glory!

You see, it is in His Manhood that Jesus prays for us. He prays as One who experienced all that we experience, who was tempted in all the ways we are tempted. And as our High Priest, He entered into the Holy of Holies understanding every human frailty, every human experience:

"Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Hebrews 2:16-17).

Our Greatest Comfort Ought to Be That
Jesus Came Down and Lived in Our Shoes!

It was necessary for Jesus to take on human nature so He could go through everything we do on earth -- rejection, pain, sorrow, temptation. Indeed, though He was God in flesh, He endured the whole human experience not as God, but as a human, with all our frailties. And that enables Him, our High Priest, to pray for us with tremendous sympathy: "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted" (verse 18).

Consider a dear sister in struggle. She is a lover of Jesus -- but she is discouraged, cast down, feeling rejected. She stands in shame, thinking, "I've been so hurt. Nobody seems to understand me. Nobody knows what I'm going through. I have no one to talk to who really understands." Sometimes she wonders if even God can forgive her of having such weak faith. She is in total despair -- on the brink of giving up.

Satan stands beside her, accusing her: "Look at this one -- she has virtually no faith. She lives in despair. What kind of a Christian is she, God? You have to condemn her!"

That is when her Advocate steps in! Jesus sees her hurt and feels her pain. He knows that her faith is weak -- that she's on the verge of giving up, feeling too unworthy to go on. So He comes before the Father on her behalf and begins to intercede:

"Father, I know what she feels. I've been there! I was rejected by My own brethren, My own flesh and blood. I was mocked by the religious crowd, spat upon by soldiers who put thorns on My head. In Gethsemane I cried in desperation, 'Why hast thou forsaken Me?' I know what it feels like to be misjudged, called names and ridiculed. I sympathize with this woman, Father -- and I have washed away her sins. I know she still has a heart for Me -- and I will not break a bruised reed!"

This is where Jesus' prayers for us come in: "Father, I would that she be forgiven for her discouragement. I would that she be given a new supply of grace from on High -- that the Holy Spirit come upon her with a special renewing of encouragement. I would that she be given a spirit of peace and rest in the Holy Ghost. She is Mine, Father. Satan cannot have her!"

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the woman feels encouraged. Grace is given to her -- through the prayers of our High Priest! He is touched by the feelings of our infirmities -- and He acts in mercy.

Consider now a precious, worried man who stands accused because he has fallen into great temptation. He has sinned grievously against God, and he feels his heart growing cold. He thinks, "I can't make it! I'm too up-and-down, too hot-and-cold. Satan is throwing all of hell at me, and I'm tempted powerfully. I've been overtaken by my temptation many times. Yet, I love Jesus. Oh, Lord -- I want to be free and clean!"

This man is weary, worn out, discouraged. And the devil stands beside him, accusing: "He fell into sin, God. There is no question: He can't withstand temptation. His garment is spotted, filthy!"

But the Advocate steps in between this man and his accuser. He says, "Father, I know what this man is going through. The devil also drove Me into a wilderness and tempted Me severely. I was tempted to blaspheme -- to fall down and worship Satan! I know what temptation is all about. And I know this man's heart. There is a spark of faith still in him -- an ember of love in his heart for Me.

"Father, I would that You look upon him as righteous through My blood. I would that he be delivered from the power of darkness and the wicked one. I would that he be accepted, forgiven, restored -- and given power from on high to resist the devil. I pray for his deliverance!"

The next day, this man picks up his Bible and reads a powerful truth he hasn't seen before. He falls to his knees, and God comes to him with deliverance -- because the High Priest has prayed!

Dear saint, it doesn't matter what you're going through. Jesus has been there and walked in your shoes. And that is what makes Him a merciful High Priest! You don't have to tell Him all your pain. He knows all about it -- because He's felt it all Himself! We haven't been through anything that He hasn't felt.

You may be thinking, "Wait a minute. How can Jesus be praying daily, simultaneously, for millions of believers at one time -- and multiplied millions of transgressors?"

That's a silly question -- especially when you consider that a tiny computer chip is capable of storing and dispensing millions of pieces of data! A chip the size of a fingernail is capable of making billions of transactions. And if that is true of a tiny memory chip, how great must be the mind of God -- capable of monitoring every human thought, every move?

Indeed, Jesus is capable of bringing all the needs, pain, cries and prayers of His people before the Father -- at one time, at any time -- and making intercession simultaneously for all of them. Your Advocate knows your address. He has counted every hair on your head. And He knows your every thought, feels your every pain, hears your every cry. Take heart, beloved: Jesus is praying for you! Hallelujah!

Used with permission granted by World Challenge, P. O. Box 260, Lindale, TX 75771 USA.

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