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Christ at the Right Hand (3)

P Harding, Newton Stewart

The Permanent High Priest (Heb 8.1)

This statement in Hebrews 8.1 is the climax of all that has been taught in the previous chapters. Two declarations characterise the whole epistle - "Thou art my Son" (1.5) and "Thou art a priest for ever" (5.6; 7.21). The eternal Son who stepped into this scene and went to Calvary is now in heaven as a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. Chapter 1 unfolds the deity and supremacy of Him who is High Priest. Chapter 2 speaks of the mystery of the incarnation and thus gives us the humanity of the High Priest. In chapters 3-4 the writer shows that Christ Jesus "the Apostle and High Priest of our profession" (3.1) is greater than Moses the earthly mediator (3.5-6) and Joshua the earthly rest-giver (4.8), and that He has passed through the heavens (4.14). This gives us confidence to come to the throne of grace. The statement, "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec", in chapter 5 is developed in chapter 7 where we see that now there is a superior priesthood (vv.l-10), a spiritual priesthood (vv.11-19), a stable priesthood (vv.20-25), and a suitable priesthood (vv.26-28). This brings us to chapter 8 where we have the climax showing our High Priest seated at "the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" (v.1). Thus we see that it is in the heavens that our blessed Lord exercises His priestly office, and, since He lives "after the power of an endless life", that exercise will never cease. What a comfort to us that now there is One who is able to succour us; who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities; and who is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him (Heb 2.17-18; 4.15-16; 7.24-25).

The Perfecter of Those Sanctified (Heb 10.12-18)

The section in which v.12 is found, we suggest, commences at v.5 and ends at v.18. First, we have the contrast between the oft repeated sacrifices of a past economy and the work of Christ, then the application of that finished work of Christ to the people of God. The sanctification of the believer mentioned here is not experimental or practical sanctification but the believer’s standing in Christ, i.e. being set apart to God as a result of the work of Christ. The believer is eternally and completely set apart to God. We see that the sacrifice of Christ is perfect and is based upon the will of the Godhead. The efficacy of the work of Christ is eternal, and in the perfection of Christ believers are ever before the Father. As to the believer’s position, it is unassailable for he is before the throne of God in all the acceptability of Christ. Through His own death the Lord Jesus Christ has sanctified believers and presented them unblameable before God.

We, as the people of God, rejoice in the fact that the death of Christ has taken away all our sin and guilt and we are made "the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor 5.21). Perfection now belongs to us as the result of the perfect, complete and final work of Christ. We judge that the introduction here of Christ at the right hand of God is to show the completeness and finality of His work in relation to His people. We stress that the perfection here is positional and will be fully realised at the coming of Christ. However, we should seek now to live in the light of this glorious truth; to live experimentally as those who are set apart to and for God. Sin in any form should be a grief to the child of God and he is expected to judge self in the light of the holiness of God. Let us ever seek to live a sanctified life.

The Prince or Pattern of Faith (Heb 12.2)

In chapter 11 the writer has given a great cloud of witnesses who testify that in every possible circumstance, and under every kind of suffering, it is possible to live a life of faith. In the light of this, we, who are the people of God in this dispensation, are called upon to run the race with patience remembering the testimony of those who have gone before. However, the saints brought before us in chapter 11, whatever their achievements, are not to be the object on which we are to fix our gaze. There is One alone who is to fill our vision, the Lord Himself who is the Author and Finisher of faith (the little word "our" is not in the original). Many lived by faith but He alone had perfect faith. He, in the pre-eminence of His faith, surpasses the examples in chapter 11. Indeed, the great cloud of witnesses recedes into insignificance as we fix our attention on the perfect pattern of faith. W E Vine states, "As the Author and Finisher (Perfecter) of the faith He is the perfect example of it, for in the days of His flesh He trod without deviation the path of faith and brought it to a perfect end in His own person". Surely the language of Psalm 26.1, "I have trusted also in the Lord", of Psalm 11.1, "In the Lord put I my trust, and of Psalm 16.8, "I have set the Lord always before me", was His! By faith He rested in the Word of God and men (although in mockery) recognised that He trusted in God (Mt 27.43). But now the One who manifested perfect faith is seated at the right hand of God. He is the leader of all who tread the path of faith and we are to fix our gaze on Him. The legitimate things of life that would hinder us in the race are to be cast aside as well as the sin that so easily can come into our lives, and with One Person filling our vision we are to pursue patiently the course set before us. Only as we look away unto Jesus will our attention be diverted from the circumstances that surround us; only by looking away to the lovely Man at God’s right hand can we be sustained and strengthened for the race.

The Potentate Supreme (1 Pet 3.22)

It is important to appreciate the background to the passage in which this verse is found to understand the full import of why Christ is presented at the right hand of God. The Old Testament prophecies had taught these Jewish believers that Christ would come to reign on the earth, with the throne of David supreme. In that day Israel would be the chief nation with the Gentiles subjugated. These Jewish saints believed that Christ had come and they testified to this fact, but their testimony was rejected as Christ was, and they were being persecuted by the Gentiles (who were far from being subjugated) as well as by their own people. This passage explains why Christ was absent from the earth and what His absence involved. His absence reveals His rejection by the world, and thus the saint on earth during that absence must share in His rejection and suffer for righteousness’ sake. In order to comfort and encourage the saints in the midst of persecution the apostle directs their attention to One who had suffered but who is now at the right hand of God. He is there as the Potentate Supreme - angels, authorities and powers subject to Him. Since this is true, nothing can prevent His sitting upon the throne of David as the Son of David, but the time is not yet come for that. The day will dawn when the Gentiles will be subjugated and Israel will become the head of the nations, but in the meantime the Lord is absent from the earth. However, although absent He is still the Potentate Supreme seated at the right hand of God. As we suffer for righteousness’ sake in a world filled with unrighteousness and corruption let us remember that our blessed Lord who suffered, as no other would suffer while in this scene, is now at the right hand of God as the Potentate Supreme. This fact will strengthen and comfort us in the midst of persecution. The time will come when all persecution will be over and we shall share with our blessed Lord His glorious reign.



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