The lectionary text for this Sunday in Hebrews 4 uses the term “High Priest,” a term that is unfamiliar, at best, to most of us. To understand why the writer uses this term, it might help us to know that the Book of Hebrews was written to an audience of Jews who had become followers of Christ. However, they were struggling with a lot of questions of how their new Christian life was to affect their old Jewish life.
These Jewish Christians were very familiar with the fact that the high priest was the only person allowed to draw near to God and actually come into God’s presence. And He could only do it on one day of the year (the Day of Atonement). But the writer of Hebrews tells them that for those who confess Jesus Christ as Savior, Jesus is now their High Priest. He goes on to tell us that Jesus is not just any ordinary high priest. Jesus doesn’t just have access to the throne of God on one day; but rather Jesus is not a High Priest who cannot “sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (v.15, ESV) The writer doesn’t stop there, he goes on to say “Let us then with confidence ‘draw near’ to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (v.16, ESV)
The tense of the verb “draw near” in the Greek language is present tense which means “continuous actions.” The writer was conveying to these Jewish Christians back then and still to us today that Jesus is continually before the throne of God interceding on our behalf. The results is that you and I can draw near to God as often as we want and stay as long as we want; not through some high priest on one day of the year, but anytime we want because the door to God’s presence is never locked.
So, “Why don’t more of us find mercy and grace to help in our time of need?” Perhaps, it’s because we don’t recognize God’s voice when it speaks life, hope, healing, grace and peace into our lives. Why? It’s because most of us don’t have regular communication with God. Call it whatever you want – a quiet time, a devotional life, time alone with God; but we need that time with God and God wants that time with us. It is in those times that we begin to recognize the still speaking voice of God so that we will have confidence to “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Too often the only time we come to God or seek help from our High Priest is when we need or want God to do something for us. God is still speaking to us but are we listening? Perhaps we don’t hear what God’s is saying because we won’t shut up. Most of the time, when we go into the presence of God it is not to hear what God has to say to us, but to tell God what we want Him to do for us. The lack of hearing God speak to us in our quiet times has us feeling as if God isn’t speaking to us; but the reality is we just don’t give ourselves the opportunity to hear what God is saying to us.
Jesus, our high priest, is there to help us. God is still speaking to us. Let’s listen to what God has to say and “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Also, join us in worship this Sunday at Covenant as I’ll be preaching about “Praying in Boldness and Faith” from Hebrews 4:12-16.