"FOR THIS HE DID ONCE"
"Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled;
...who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to
offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then
for the people's; for this he did once, when
he offered up himself."--Heb. 7:26,27.
HAD St. Paul written this epistle for the purpose of explaining the typical and antitypical Sin Atonement, he would have written differently. As heretofore shown, he was merely combating the prevalent thought amongst Jews of his day that the Law Covenant and its priestly arrangements were Divinely intended to be perpetual. Whoever so thought would be unable to discern the fact that God intended a new priesthood, symbolized by Melchizedek--one combining the kingly with the priestly office. Until the Jews could get this view of the matter, they could not properly understand:
(1) That the Jewish nation and priesthood and sacrifices and legal code must pass away.
(2) St. Paul would show them the Divine intention of a New Covenant with a new high priest and new underpriests and better sacrifices for its institution.
(3) Only by so seeing could they comprehend the Gospel message: that Christ the New Creature is the High Priest of a new order and that we, "his members," are the underpriests of that new order, as spirit-begotten New Creatures. Only from this standpoint could they comprehend how the spirit-begotten Jesus, as the Priest, could put to death Jesus in the flesh and make of him a sin-sacrifice. Only from this standpoint could they understand how the members of Christ, under the headship of the glorified High Priest, could follow in his footsteps of sacrifice and, begotten of the holy Spirit as New Creatures, present their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God through the merit of the High Priest already entered into the Most Holy as their Advocate and the Mediator of the New Covenant for the world. Only from this standpoint could they understand how we are called of God to suffer with Christ, that by and by we, his members, may share his glory--as his Bride.
Our text declares that Christ our High Priest "needeth not daily [continually] as those typical high priests, to offer up sacrifices--first, for his own sins, and then for the people's --"for this he did once, when he offered up himself." Turning to the record in Leviticus XVI, we find that the typical Priest made two offerings; the first "for himself and his house," and the second for all the remainder of "the people" of Israel. The first sacrifice was a bullock. The second was a goat. These St. Paul elsewhere refers to as the typical "better sacrifices." (Heb. 9:23.) Let us meet the question squarely. What is signified by these two sacrifices--the bullock and the goat. Our opponents, and indeed everybody else, say that the death of our Lord Jesus is the antitype of both-- the slain bullock represents him and the slain goat represents him. They tell us that both sacrifices took place at the same time, being finished at Calvary.
We request them to explain why two animals should be killed to represent the one death of Jesus, but they cannot answer. They merely repeat that they believe the two sacrifices were one and simultaneous--that they merely represented two aspects of the same sacrifice. We ask if that be so, why did the Apostle state the matter so differently--"First for his own sins and then for the sins of the people." Why was this same order distinctly marked in the Day of Atonement type? (Leviticus 16.) They have no answer. We ask them further how they understand the statement that the High Priest offered [R4546 : page 11] sacrifice first for his own sins? Did our Lord Jesus have sins of his own which needed a sacrifice? Was he not holy, harmless and undefiled? Again they have no answer.
The answer to this question presented twenty-nine years ago, when the pamphlet, "Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices," was first published, is the only answer consistent with the facts and the testimonies of Scripture. Those who now are opposing these teachings once believed the presentations of "Tabernacle Shadows" or claimed that they did. Now their blindness is so sudden and so complete that they hesitate to admit that they ever believed our presentations. To beginners they endeavor to make it appear that THE WATCH TOWER has suddenly changed its teaching on this subject.
We recommend to all WATCH TOWER readers a careful, prayerful review of the teachings of "Tabernacle Shadows"-- a re-examination of the first principles of the "mystery of God." Meantime we briefly rehearse certain features of the teachings applicable to the text under consideration.
In the preceding verse (26) the Apostle declares our High Priest "holy, harmless and undefiled, separate from sinners." We should not, therefore, understand his statement in the 27th verse, that Jesus offered up sacrifice "first for his own sins" to mean the contrary of what he had just stated-- that our Lord had no sins. We should understand him here, in harmony with his statement elsewhere, to refer to the Church as the Body of Christ. The "Head" was perfect, but the "Body" was imperfect. The Head needed no covering during the day of sacrifice, but the Body needed the white linen garments symbolical of justification. It is the Church, therefore, that is referred to as "himself," his "members," for whom he offered the first sacrifice--his personal sacrifice finished at Calvary.
The Leviticus account shows that this first offering was not for himself only, but also "for his house"--in the type the house or tribe of Levi; in the antitype the "household of faith"--the "great company." We cannot think of any objection that any reasonable mind could offer to this explanation, which is the only one that in any sense of the word fits the facts. At one time we supposed that only these two classes were intended to be saved. And as a matter of fact, none others are yet saved in any sense of the word. Unbelievers have not escaped the "condemnation that is upon the world." The unregenerate have not received the mark of Divine acceptance of the holy Spirit. "The whole world lieth in the Wicked One"--unto this day.--I John 5:19.
The type shows us that the great Priest not only sacrificed, but additionally that he made appropriation of the merit of that sacrifice in the "Most Holy" before he offered the second sacrifice--"the Lord's goat." How was this fulfilled? We reply that forty days after our Lord completed his sacrifice at Calvary and arose from the dead, he ascended on high, appeared in the presence of God for us (his members or Body and his house). He applied the merit of his sacrifice on our behalf, and secured for all consecrated believers of this Gospel Age full reconciliation with the Father and full privilege to become dead with him to earthly interests and restitution favors, and alive with him to the glories, honors and immortality of the Spirit nature.
The manifestation of the Father's acceptance of the arrangement was given at Pentecost. The disciples and others, "about five hundred brethren," had already exercised justifying faith and had already consecrated to be dead with him, but this arrangement could not go into effect until it had the Father's approval. And God could not approve nor consider our sacrifice "holy and acceptable" (Rom. 12:1) until our great Redeemer, the Chief Priest of our order, had appeared for us and applied on our behalf the merits of his sacrifice-- justifying us to restitution rights. As soon as these were properly credited to us, our sacrifice of them could be accepted, and no sooner. Hence the Pentecostal blessing signifies:
First, that our Lord's sacrifice was every way acceptable to the Father.
Second, that it had been applied to the household of faith, including his proposed Body.
Third, the Church there waiting at Pentecost was representative of the entire Church and household of faith of this entire Age.
Fourth, the impartation of the holy Spirit signified God's acceptance of the Church's sacrifice already tendered--signified the killing of the Lord's goat, as represented in the type. Thus the two sacrifices of the great antitypical High Priest have already been performed, though the second one has not yet been completed. The first one Jesus made at Jordan, when "he offered up himself." There the Father's acceptance of his sacrifice was indicated by the descent of the holy Spirit upon him in the water. That sacrifice he finished at Calvary, as we have seen. His second sacrifice--"the Lord's goat"-- was offered at Pentecost and acknowledged by the holy Spirit. This work of sacrifice in the various members has progressed for over eighteen centuries. Soon, we believe, all the sufferings of the Body of Christ will be accomplished. Already the members have begun to go beyond the veil and to be joined to the Head. Soon the last member will have completed his share in these sufferings of Messiah and shall have passed beyond the veil. Then a little while longer and the special tribulations of the close of this Age upon the "great company" class will serve for the destruction of their flesh, that they may attain spirit conditions on a lower plane than the Body of Christ.--I Cor. 5:5.
Thus will be accomplished first, the glorification of the Head; secondly, the union of the members to the Head will complete the glorious High Priest, who, as Prophet, Priest and King, will be the great Messiah, the great Mediator of the New Covenant, which through natural Israel will bless all the families of the earth. The scapegoat class will constitute the servants of the glorified Priest.
Do our opponents inquire why our text says, This he did once, after specifying two offerings, "first for his own sins, and then for the people's"?
We reply: that when the Apostle wrote these words the High Priest had already made both sacrifices, and had sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High, awaiting the time when the last member of his Body shall have suffered with him faithfully unto death--awaiting the end of this Age-- for the inauguration of the great Mediatorial Kingdom which is to bless Israel and the world. "Once" is here used in the sense of already. This he did already.
Do our opponents inquire what is meant by "daily" in the statement, "Who needeth not daily to offer up sacrifice"? We reply: that the word daily here is used as we frequently use the term, in the sense of continually. We have already called attention to a similar illustration, where Daniel's prophecy speaks of antichrist taking away the daily sacrifice. We have shown that this signifies that antichrist set aside the merit of the continual sacrifice of Jesus. (See Vol. III. STUDIES, page 25.)
As a matter of fact, the sin-offerings here described were not performed every day, but merely on a certain day every year--"year by year continually," or time after time on the appointed day of the year. In this text the thought would be that our High Priest needs not to be continually repeating his "better sacrifices," as did the earthly priests year by year repeat the types. The once doing of this sacrificial work in the beginning of this antitypical "Atonement Day" is sufficient for all time. And as the High Priest, when the first sacrifice was finished, applied its merit for justification to his Body and to his house, so at the end of the second sacrifice--the sacrifice of the Lord's goat, which typified his "members," he will present the blood of that sacrifice to God on behalf of the world. But he will not apply it directly on behalf of the world, because the world is in no condition to be reconciled to God; hence we are shown that with the blood of these two sacrifices the High Priest will seal or negotiate the New Covenant with Israel, that under its terms all the families of the earth will have the privilege of its blessings--the mediatorial blessing.
In the type the blood of the goat was sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat or propitiatory, just the same as the blood of the bullock, but for a different purpose. As the first was for the Body, the "members," and the household, the second was not for those, but for all the people of Israel other than those [R4546 : page 12] represented in the tribe of Levi. The antitype of this is clear and shows us that the great High Priest will apply the blood of the antitypical goat on behalf of all the world of mankind, who by restitution and instruction will be brought into relationship with God as his Israel--under the terms of the New Covenant.
Both sacrifices were made by the priest, not by the bullock, not by the goat; and when our Lord shall present the blood of his secondary sacrifice--the blood of his Church, "holy and acceptable to God" (Rom. 12:1)--he will be presenting "his own blood"--not yours, not mine. Our individuality was all surrendered to our Lord at the beginning, so that his faithful followers, even in their earthly lives, are reckoned as his "members" and their flesh as his flesh. Moreover, since all the merit which justified us and made our sacrifice acceptable was appropriated to us by our Redeemer --loaned to us for the purpose of sacrificing it--is it not eminently proper that the results should be spoken of as his blood? It surely is!
Take another view of the matter. Our Lord at his consecration surrendered up all his right to earthly things as a man, as an act of obedience to the Father's will. He did not [R4547 : page 12] appropriate those earthly rights to the world or to anybody. (Heb. 9:14.) Those earthly rights, therefore, were to our Lord's credit in the heavenly accounts--at his command, to be used as he might please. When the Father rewarded his obedience with high exaltation to a spirit nature in his resurrection, it left him with those human rights to his credit for his disposal. He had not disposed of them to anybody, up to the time that he "ascended up on high." Then he appeared in the presence of God for us--as our Advocate. He applied those earthly rights to us--not thereby giving us heavenly blessings, but restitution rights, represented in his sacrifice of the earthly things. But it was not the Divine Plan to give the elect those earthly restitution blessings to keep, and thereby to cut out natural Israel and the whole world from restitution.
Those restitution rights were given to us conditionally, or, we might say, they were loaned to us, or made ours reckonedly for a time, and for a purpose. The purpose was that we, accepting these by faith, might consecrate them to the Lord unreservedly--even unto death--that thus the merit loaned to us would go back again to the credit of our Redeemer, in order that he might use that merit over again, applying it the second time for the release of natural Israel and the world from condemnation and death. Meantime the blessing granted to us through this loan or imputation of restitution earthly rights secured by our Lord's death, gives us the privilege of sacrificing those earthly rights as members of the Body of Christ. And this in turn gives us the right, the privilege, of sharing with him in his glory. "For if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him." If we drink of his cup and be baptized by baptism into his death, we shall thus share life and blessings on the spirit plane and sit with him in his Throne.--2 Tim. 2:12.