It was not without an oath!
Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’” Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:20-25).
I like guarantees. I shop for items that have a guarantee. I believe that if a company trusts its product, perhaps I will too. If a product doesn’t last as long as the company claims, well, those things happen. More than once I have contacted a company because its product did not live up to the company’s claims and have put into effect their guarantee. If a company does not have enough faith in its product to back it up with a guarantee, then why should I believe in the product and purchase it? A guarantee is not a ‘something for nothing” agenda, but rather an assurance that what the manufacturer said about the product is true, and the company is willing to replace the item if it falls short of the advertised claim. I like guarantees.
What I especially like are items that have a ‘lifetime guarantee.” The folks who make such an item know that they have made a quality product and that when you buy one of their products you will never have to purchase that particular item again. If the product breaks, you can bring it back and they will replace it, free of charge and with no questions asked. I like the idea of paying for something once and never having to pay for it again.
Many products we purchase are made with built-in obsolescence. This means the manufacturer has built into the product a certain length of time that the item will work properly, after which it begins to break down and you must purchase another one. Automobiles are the perfect example. Ford, General Motors and Nissan know that if they built a car that never wore out, fewer and fewer of us would purchase new vehicles. The reason for built-in obsolescence is to ensure the future sale of another one of their products. Therefore, car manufacturers build their vehicles to last only a certain amount of time before things start to wear out and break. They build into the car the fact that one day it will be so rundown and obsolete that we will be compelled to purchase another one, and they will survive as a company. They may guarantee their cars, but it is a limited guarantee.
The greatest guarantee I have ever found is the one Jesus offered us.
The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is a “guarantee.” In fact, the author told his readers that Jesus is a guarantee of a better product than the one they had grown accustomed to, for “Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (7:22). Not only that, but Jesus is a lifetime guarantee. But what does the author mean when he says that Jesus has become the ‘guarantee” of a ‘better covenant”? To understand this, we must do a word study.
The word ‘guarantee” translates the Greek word, engyos, which has a number of applications. It is used for a person who guarantees someone else’s overdraft at a bank, or for someone who puts up bail for a prisoner, guaranteeing that the prisoner will appear at the trial. The engyos is the one who guarantees that some undertaking will be honored. The Old Testament has some wonderful examples of a guarantee.
When Jacob told his sons to return to Egypt for a little more food, Judah reminded him that they had to bring Benjamin along also, or they would not see Joseph and receive any more help. ‘Then Judah said to Israel his father, ‘Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life’” (Genesis 43:8-9). That is the position that a guarantor takes; he personally ensures that he will fulfill his promises.
The old covenant between God and Israel had Aaron as a mediator (Galatians 3:19), but the high priest was not a guarantor. There was no one who guaranteed to God that the people would fulfill their obligations before God. At one point the people said, ”We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey’” (Exodus 24:7). But there was nobody who could guarantee that they would obey, and they didn’t. But now, under the new covenant between God and His church, Jesus guarantees that the conditions of the ‘better covenant” will be fulfilled. His plan is to make for Himself a Church, a bride that is ‘radiant,” ‘holy,” ‘without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
This guarantee of Jesus is two-sided:
- Jesus guarantees to us that the Father will accept the sacrifice of the Son,
- but He also guarantees to the Father that the Bride He brings home will be acceptable to the Father.
That is why Jesus is so unrelenting when it comes to the maturity of the Church, the perfecting of the saints, and the maintaining of His most holy ways. We will find ourselves kicking against the goads of God (Acts 26:14) and swimming against the current of His Spirit if we try to live any other way than the way prescribed for us by our Savior. When we became a Christian, we gave Jesus permission to make us holy and blameless before God, and Jesus continues to fulfill that mission throughout the rest of our earthly lives. Jesus, the groom, desires a bride who is more than just saved from the penalties of sin and more than simply betrothed because the contract says so. Godly men desire pure, godly women who are beautiful in the eyes of their family, especially in the eyes of their father.
I went to high school in Thousand Oaks, California, a community of one hundred thousand about forty minutes west of Los Angeles. Quite a few times I would bring my date home to meet my parents, talk about the day or the evening we had spent together, and get to know one another. Of all the ladies that my parents met, only once did my dad say to me, “That is a gorgeous girl, Jim. Keep her.” Her name was Pamela, and I haven’t seen her in twenty years. She was smart, athletic (she made the boys varsity soccer team, but her mom wouldn’t let her play), the winter sports queen and in love with God. That my dad would say such a thing about a girl I brought home has never left my mind. The Lord has since blessed me with a beautiful, godly woman, one that I am proud to take and meet my parents. In the same way, I believe that Jesus wants to be proud to bring His bride home to meet His Father. My question is: In what ways am I making myself into the beautiful bride that my groom will be proud of? How many of us who claim to be Christians actually put in less time preparing our spirits for eternity than the typical bride does in preparing herself for her wedding day?
Jesus shows himself to be the guarantee of a ‘better” covenant and presents Himself
to His bride in such a manner that the bride cannot help but conclude that Jesus is the greatest lover who ever came her way and that He is better in every way than any other relationship she ever had. She has no need to look any further—Jesus is the man. This response to Jesus is more than just a feeling, more than the Bride saying, ‘I just knew He was the one when I saw Him. I can’t tell you how. I just knew it.”
The author of Hebrews has gone to great lengths to prove how Jesus is the ‘one.” Now in chapter seven we will see twelve ways in which Jesus, our guarantee of a better covenant, is better than Aaron, the mediator of the old covenant.
First, Aaron was just a man, but Jesus was the ‘Son of God” (vv. 3, 28). Second, Aaron belonged to the tribe of Levi, but Jesus sprang from the royal tribe of Judah (v. 14). Third, Aaron was a priest ‘on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry” (v.16), whereas Jesus was a priest ‘on the basis of the power of an indestructible life” (v. 16). Fourth, Aaron could make ‘nothing perfect” (v. 19), but Jesus could and did. Fifth, Aaron was alone when he approached God in the Tabernacle, unable to bring sinful mankind with him into God’s presence; Jesus enables us all to ‘draw near to God” (vv. 19, 25). Sixth, Aaron did not become high priest under an oath from God, but Jesus did (v. 21). Seventh, Aaron had many successors to his office as high priest (v. 23); Jesus had none (v. 24). Eighth, Aaron died (v. 23); Jesus ‘always lives” (v. 25). Ninth, Aaron offered sacrifices for himself because he was a sinner (v. 27); Jesus is ‘holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners” (v. 26). Tenth, Aaron was the priestly head of an earthly people, but Christ has been ‘exalted above the heavens” (v. 26). Eleventh, Aaron offered sacrifices ‘day after day,” but the sacrifice of Christ was done ‘once for all” (v. 27). Twelfth, Aaron was ‘weak,” but Jesus ‘has been made perfect forever” (v. 28).