Christ Our High Priest
By Stephen Haskell

Christ Our High Priest
Office and Work of the High Priest


THE Saviour has many title, for He "hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name" (Heb.1:4) than all the angelic host of heaven. Of the many titles bestowed upon Him, there is none more dear to humanity than the "Lamb of God" John 1:29,36) and "High Priest." By virtue of these two offices He lifts poor fallen humanity up where they can share in His glorious kingdom of grace, even while in the midst of this sin-cursed earth.

In the typical service the one who realized he was in sinner must bring a lamb for a sin-offering. The priest could not officiate for him without this offering. (Lev. 4:27-29) That entire service was but a great kindergarten lesson, making the way of salvation so simple that none could fail to comprehend it. When we realize that we have sinned, we remember our "Lamb," confess our sins, and in His name they are forgiven; then He officiates as High Priest in our behalf before the Father. He pleads the merits of His blood, and covers o u r life, stained with sin, with the robe of His spotless righteousness, and we stand before the Father "accepted in the Beloved." Eph. 1:6)

How can we fail to love Him who offered His life for us? Christ could say of His Father, "Therefore doth My Father love me, because I lay down My life." {John 10:17) Even the infinite love of the Father for His Son was increased by that act.

In the type, the blood of the sin-offering was shed in the court, and then the priest entered the sanctuary with the blood to present it before the Lord. Heb. 9:12) The Saviour gave His life a sacrifice for sin here upon the earth; and as He entered the heavenly sanctuary as High Priest, He is called the "Forerunner." Under no circumstances, except as He enters "within the veil" of the heavenly sanctuary, is that name applied to the Saviour. (Heb. 6:19)

In all monarchical forms of government the forerunner is a familiar character. In gorgeous uniform, with waving plumes, he rides before and announces the approach of the royal carriage. While he is always hailed with joy by the waiting crowds, yet he is not the center of attraction; their eyes do not follow him as he passes on, but are turned down the road whence he came to get the first glimpse of the royal personage of whom he is the forerunner.

Of the many condescensions on the part of our blessed Master, this is one of the grandest. When He entered heaven a mighty Conqueror over death and the grave, before the entire heavenly host and representatives of other worlds, He entered a forerunner for us. He presented the "wave sheaf," those brought forth from their graves at the time of His resurrection, as a sample of the race He had died to redeem, (Eph. 4:8; Matt. 27:52) thus directing the attention of that wonderful assemblage down the road whence He came to watch–for royalty ? – yes, for royalty made so by His precious blood.(Rev 1:6; 5:10) It is only a company of poor, frail mortals stumbling along and often falling by the way; but when they reach the heavenly gate, they will enter "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." (Rom. 8:17)

It meant much for us that Christ entered within the veil as our Forerunner, for all heaven is watching the church of God on earth. When tempted by the enemy to doubt God's love and care, remember that on account of the great sacrifice made, you are so dear to the Father that "he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye." (Zech. 2:8)

Heaven and earth are closely united since Christ entered within the veil as our Forerunner. The attention of every angel in glory is centered upon those striving to follow in Christ's footsteps. 1 Peter 2:21)"Are they (the angels) not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?'' Heb. 1:14) Why should we falter by the way, and disappoint the heavenly host who are watching for us to come over the same road that our Forerunner passed as a mighty Conqueror over death and the grave?

But let us never forget that it is a blood-stained pathway. "Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously." (1Peter 2:23) We can not follow in His footsteps in our own strength. For that reason "in all things it behooved 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. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted. Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus." Heb. 2:17,18; 3:1)

In the earthly sanctuary not only the high priest but also common priests officiated, because it was impossible for one man to perform all the work; but it required the work performed by all the priests in the typical services to represent the work of our High Priest. The work of one year was taken as a type of the entire work of our High Priest. During the year "the priests (plural, both high and common) went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God." This continued all the year, except one day; on that day, the service changed and "into the second (apartment) went the high priest alone, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people." (Heb. 9:6,7) These priests served "unto the example and shadow of heavenly things." (Heb. 8:5)

When Christ entered heaven, He went as the Antitype of the earthly service God had ordained, and entered upon His work within the first veil of the heavenly sanctuary. When the o typical work ordained by God in the first apartment of the earthly sanctuary had fully met its Antitype, He passed through the second veil (Heb. 9:3) into the glorious apartment of the antitypical holy of holies. There He is to perform the marvelous service which will end in the blotting out and total destruction of the sins of the righteous, nevermore to be remembered by the redeemed host nor by God Himself.

When Christ stands upon the sea of glass, and places the glittering crowns upon the heads of the company who have traveled the road made sacred by the foot prints of their Forerunner, albeit with faltering step and through falling tears, and who are, clad in robes made white in the blood of the Lamb, He will see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. (Isa. 53:11)

He will rejoice over them with singing, and all heaven will ring with melody as the angels who have served under their Commander in the work of saving souls, join in singing, Zech. 3:17) "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever." (Rev. 5:13)

Heb. 7:25. "Is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him."

Heb. 4:15. "Is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.'' "Was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

Heb. 2:18. "For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted."

Heb. 2:17. "He is a merciful and faithful High Priest.

Heb. 7:25. "He ever liveth to make intercession for us."


IN early times the patriarchs were priests over their own households, and God's original design was that the eldest son should take his father's place as priest of the family; but the plan of God was often thwarted by the sins of the eldest son. The Lord's words to Cain would indicate that he was debarred of his inherited position on account of sin:"If thou doest well, shalt thou not have the excellency? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door." (Gen. 4:7) Sin prevented Cain from having "the excellency."

On account of sin, Reuben, the first-born of Jacob, lost "the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power," which was his inherited right. (Gen. 49:3,4) When but a youth, Joseph cultivated those traits of character that gave him "the excellency" above his brethren. It is very probable that the coat of many colors given him by his father, (1 Chron. 5:1,2) was interpreted by his brethren as indicating his accession to the priesthood.

God gave His First-born for the redemption of the world; and for that reason in God's plan the first-born always inherited special privileges. To him came a double portion of his father's estate, the priesthood, and, the first-born in the descent from Isaac, the honor of being the progenitor of the Messiah. If the first-born proved unworthy, his inheritance was given to others, as in the case of Reuben, where Judah became the progenitor of Christ, Joseph received the double portion, and Levi received the priesthood. (Deut 21:17; 1 Chron. 5:1,2;Num. 3:6,9

Artist: Russell Harlen

The first-born was so often unworthy on account of sin that when the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, He said, "I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the first-born of Israel:therefore the Levites shall be mine." (Num 3:12,13) It was because the tribe of Levi stood true to God in time of a crisis, that God chose them to serve before Him; (Duet. 33:8-11) and when the service of the sanctuary was established, the priesthood was given to Aaron and his sons, and the remainder of the tribe of Levi were to do the work of the sanctuary under the direction of the priests. Ex. 28:1)

Aaron was appointed to officiate as high priest and his sons as common priests, the eldest son to take the office of high priest on Aaron's death. (Ex. 29:29)

The consecration to the priest's office was a most imposing ceremony. Aaron was clothed in the garments which were made for him under God's direction. Several sacrifices were slain, and the blood of the ram of consecration was touched to the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot of both Aaron and his sons, signifying that their ears, hands, and feet were consecrated to the service of God. Unleavened bread, denoting "sincerity and truth," 1 Cor. 5:8) and the right shoulder of the sacrifice of consecration, were all put upon Aaron's hands and upon his sons' hands. The priests were to typify the One of whom Isaiah said, "The government shall be upon His shoulder." (Isa. 9:6) They were to bear the burdens of the people. The anointing oil and the blood was then sprinkled upon Aaron and his sons, typifying the blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which alone could fully qualify them to fill the holy office. (Ex. 29:5-35)

The priesthood remained unbroken in Aaron's family until the sins of Eli and his sons made it necessary to change, and for a time Samuel, an Ephrathite, filled the office of leading priest in Israel. (1 Sam. 1:1,19,20) Abiather was thrust out of the office of the priesthood in fulfillment of the prophecy given to Eli. (1 King 2:26,27) But Zadok, who filled the office of high priest in the time of David and Solomon, was thought by many to be a grandson of Eli. As the Israelites departed from the Lord, the priesthood became corrupt, until in the time of Christ it was bought and sold for money.

God designed that the high priest should more nearly represent Christ than any other priest. The work of every priest was a type of Christ's work, but the common priests performed work only in the court and the first apartment of the sanctuary, while the high priest officiated not only in the court and the first apartment, as well as the common priests, but went alone into the holy of holies, (Heb. 9:7) Aaron at times offered burnt-offerings on the brazen altar in the court. (1 Chron. 6:40)

It was impossible for one man to perform all the work of the sanctuary that typified the work of Christ, and for that reason there was a company of common priests to assist the high priest. It is always a rule that a higher official can fill the offices below him. The high priest offered burnt-offerings in the court and sin-offerings in the first apartment. Paul speaks of the high priest offering the sin-offerings where the blood was taken into the sanctuary, (Heb. 13:11)

In the sin-offerings for the priests and the congregation the blood was taken within the sanctuary. Lev. 4:3-7, 13-18) It seems very fitting that the high priest should offer the sin-offerings for the common priests and the entire congregation. In most of the sin-offerings the flesh was eaten in the holy place, and the blood was not taken into the sanctuary. {Ex. 30:7,8) While the high priest could perform any work in the first apartment that other priests could perform, there was a daily service in the first apartment of the sanctuary that none but the high priest could perform. He alone could burn incense upon the golden altar before the Lord, and trim and light the lamps on the golden candlestick. Each morning and evening, twice every day throughout the entire year, the high priest officiated in the first apartment of the sanctuary. (Ex. 30:7,8)

The crowning service of the whole year was on the tenth day of the seventh month, when the high priest entered the holy of holies alone to make atonement for the sins of the people. Upon his breast in the stones of the breast-plate were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes, typifying Christ our High Priest as He thinks upon us individually, and confesses our names as they come up in review before God.

Ex. 28:1, 2. Called of God.

Ex. 29:29. T h e priesthood
passed from father to son.

Lev. 16:1-20. The high priest
made the typical atonement in
the end of the year's service.

Heb. 3:1-3. Appointed by God.

Heb. 7:23, 24 Lives forever.

Heb. 9:14, 26. Christ atones for
sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Contents of Haskell's book "Cross and Its Shadow"
Index to Pioneer's Writings