What God’s High Priest Will Do for the People
“Such a high priest as this was suitable for us, loyal, guileless, undefiled, separated from the sinners, and become higher than the heavens.”—Heb. 7:26.
1, 2. What reactions are there to the flight of so many persons from the priesthood, and what timely questions are asked about this condition?
TODAY there is a flight from the priesthood, especially so in that religious realm called Christendom. Already there is a shortage of priests in her. The day is coming in the foreseeable future when there will not be a man on earth serving as a priest. What does this mean to you? Well, to many religious people such a thought is very disquieting. Will the world of mankind be able to get along without priests on earth? “Yes!” shouts the atheist, and adds: “Good riddance to the priests!” Yet such a hostile outcry against priests hurts the feelings of many religious people of all faiths who still have affection for what priests they have left. Will these religious people be hurt, will they be missing something absolutely vital when there is no longer a human priest on earth?
2 According to the highest authority, this priestly situation is what faces the race of mankind in the future. Since the office of priest always carries with it the idea of “God,” will this coming situation leave a godless world? Will it leave the human race forever floundering about in its weaknesses, imperfections, injurious habits, diseased and dying condition, till the human race dies off of its own impurities, imperfections and self-destructive tendencies or is destroyed by some universal catastrophe from outer space? Whatever may be our attitude toward priests, these are serious questions that touch upon the welfare of us all.
3. What has history shown about priests and man-made gods?
3 Students of history today well know that for thousands of years men have set up their own gods and have made their own priests to offer sacrifice to these man-made gods. The ancient Babylonians had their gods and man-made priests attending upon these. The ancient Egyptians had their gods, together with magic-practicing priests. The ancient Assyrians had their gods and priests. So did the ancient Persians and Medes. So did the ancient Greeks. So did the ancient Romans. The pagan inhabitants of the ancient Middle East known as Canaanites had their gods, together with priests who even offered up human sacrifices. Those gods are dead. In testimony to this fact, their temples and altars lie in ruins today. Not unreasonably the questions pop up in the modern mind, of what use anyhow were those priests of lifeless gods to mankind? What good did those priests really do for the people? The records of human history give no praiseworthy answer!
4. Though the Hindu and Buddhist priesthoods serve millions of people, what do we ask about those being served, and is the answer favorable for these priesthoods?
4 The Hindu priesthood came into existence centuries before our Common Era, which some persons mistakenly call the Christian era. Likewise the Buddhist priesthood was introduced long before this Common Era. Hindu priests and Buddhist priests still serve for hundreds of millions of religious people, but the same question must be asked with reference to them. What have these priests done for the people, particularly their own people holding to Hinduism and Buddhism? The present-day condition of these people gives a better answer than one that we can put into words. The answer is one that is not favorable to the gods of these priests.
5. Which religious group has become strongest in our day, and what queries do we have to make about them?
5 Has Christendom anything to brag about over the so-called heathen or pagan realm? No! In the history of world religion the priests and clergymen of Christendom have come to be the strongest religious organization today. For centuries they have had a commanding voice in world religious affairs. Even to this year their religious denominations include over nine hundred million members. Among these religious denominations, if not also among all religious organizations of the world, the Roman Catholic Church is the most numerous and strongest. For this reason they have held a most responsible position in this world, and they can be held accountable for much. Out of fairness to the so-called heathen religionists we are obliged to ask, What have these priests of Christendom, Catholic and Protestant, done for the people? Have they made the so-called Christian nations a model worthy of being copied by the thousands of millions of “pagans” whom they have tried to convert? Have they brought the one living and true God to the people or have they brought the people to the one living and true God? Who will say Yes to those questions?
6. Since God’s true priesthood has been misrepresented, how do many feel about God, but is this really the proper attitude to take?
6 Certainly, when we look at the record of the priests and clergymen, who claim to represent him to the people, we see that God has been misrepresented to mankind as a whole. Not only that, but the true priesthood of the one living and true God has been misrepresented to humankind. It is no wonder that God has died to the hearts and minds of countless persons, and it may be said that to them God is dead. They do not want to have anything to do with God or his true priesthood. But their lack of discernment and faith, due to man-made priests, does not deny or disprove that there is a living, most high, almighty, all-wise God. Neither does their lack of faith and understanding knock out of operation the loving purpose that this supreme, all-powerful God is carrying forward today for the blessing of all mankind. Their lack of knowledge of the truth does not put out of office God’s self-sacrificing High Priest; it merely blinds people just now to all the good that God’s High Priest will do for the needy people, in addition to all that he has already done.
7. (a) Rather than becoming cynical, what are persons called on to do? (b) Who is the first priest of God mentioned in the Bible?
7 Let persons who have been disappointed at the many kinds of man-made priests not become cynical, sneering at the record of history. The one living and true God has had true priests on earth and these have really done good things for the people and have been effective agents acting for God in behalf of mankind. The record of such worthy priests is contained in that sacred book now circulating all around the globe in more than one thousand two hundred languages, the Holy Bible or Sacred Scriptures. The name of the first appointed priest of God on record is very meaningful. Do you know what it is? It is mentioned in the very first book of the Bible. It is Melchizedek, and this name means “King of Righteousness.” A very fitting name indeed, for this priest of the twentieth century before our Common Era was at the same time the king of Salem, an ancient city in the mountains of the Middle East. Evidently the city of Jerusalem, over which there is such international and religious dispute today, marks where ancient Salem stood.
8. (a) How might one who has lost faith feel about this information on Melchizedek? (b) How should we view this information?
8 “So what? Who cares? Melchizedek lived three thousand eight hundred years ago! He does not live in our day to benefit us.” So someone who has lost faith in the existence of any true priests of God might exclaim in boredom. But we all ought to care. There is good reason for caring. That first officially designated priest of God to be mentioned in the Holy Bible is a prophetic figure. He pictures God’s High Priest, his High Priest of today. This is what God himself tells us in his inspired written Word, the Holy Bible. That is why we can raise the question, “What will God’s High Priest do for the people?” Because he is a priest after the likeness or manner of ancient Melchizedek, the people have cause for expecting much, yes, everything, from him.
MELCHIZEDEK SETS THE PATTERN
9. Who was Abraham, and who was Abraham’s God?
9 Back there in that twentieth century before our Common Era two highly important figures met. One was priest Melchizedek, the king of Salem. The other was Abraham the son of Terah. Who was this Abraham? Ask the Moslem Arabs today, and they will tell you about him. Also, ask the monotheistic Jews, and they likewise will tell you about this Abraham. Abraham’s burial place in Hebron in the Middle East is held sacred by both Moslem Arabs and Jews. Both races claim him as their forefather. Unlike many people of our day, this Abraham believed, had faith in the one living and true God. In worship Abraham called upon the name of this God, and the name Abraham called him is found in Abraham’s own words as recorded in the American Standard Version Bible, in Genesis 14:22. Let us quote for you that Ge 14 verse 22 from the American Standard Version Bible, as follows: “I have lifted up my hand unto Jehovah, God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth.” These words were spoken shortly after Abraham met Melchizedek at Salem.
10, 11. Why was Abraham called “Jehovah’s friend,” and what covenant did Jehovah make with Abraham?
10 Either because he was a descendant of Eber (the great-great-grandson of Noah) or because he came from the other (eastern) side of the Euphrates River, Abraham is called “the Hebrew.” (Gen. 10:21; 11:16; 14:13; Josh. 24:3) Because of his faith and obedience toward God, Abraham came to be called “the friend of God,” or “Jehovah’s friend.” (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8; Jas. 2:23, AS; NW) To this faithful friend Jehovah God made a marvelous promise, and, although it was made in the twentieth century B.C.E., it takes in us people of the twentieth century C.E. Before Abraham came over from the other side of the Euphrates River into the Promised Land, God made this promise or one-sided covenant. The American Standard Version Bible records this event, in Genesis 12:1-3, in the following language:
11 “Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”—Gen. 12:1-3, AS.
12. (a) How can a person share in the blessing of Abraham by God? (b) Under what circumstances did God confirm his promise of blessing Abraham?
12 Are you one of the “families of the earth”? Then you are one who is to be blessed in God’s friend Abraham, provided, of course, you do not curse Abraham, for then God will curse you. God will bless those who bless Abraham. This Abrahamic promise that takes you in was later confirmed to Abraham by God’s own solemn oath. This was about fifty years later, after God had proved that Abraham was willing even to sacrifice his specially loved son Isaac by offering him as a sacrifice to God. Here is the way the American Standard Version Bible, in Genesis 22:15-18, describes how God made his sworn statement through his angel: “And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”—Gen. 22:15-18, AS.
13. Why is the promised blessing assured, and why does the world of mankind need the blessing?
13 Are you a member of one of the “nations of the earth”? Then you of this twentieth century C.E. may entertain the hope of being blessed in or by means of the Seed of Abraham. Should you not be interested? Remember that this is according to the sworn oath of Jehovah God. He will not perjure himself. He will not prove false to his oath, which he backed up by swearing by himself because he could swear by nobody higher. So the blessing of all the families and nations of the earth is bound to come. Certainly the world of mankind today needs this blessing, for they have never received such a blessing through their man-made priests. Be of good hope. Exercise the faith in God that Abraham had, for the blessing is yet to come through God’s High Priest. It is at hand!
14, 15. (a)How did Jehovah give evidence that he indeed was blessing Abraham? (b) Who was Melchizedek, and what occurred when he met Abraham?
14 As an evidence of God’s blessing upon Abraham, God gave him a military victory over invading kings from around Mesopotamia who plundered the country and made off with Abraham’s nephew Lot and Lot’s family. It was after rescuing Lot and his family that Abraham, homeward bound, met Melchizedek at the city of Salem. Who was this Melchizedek? The inspired Bible record does not say that he was a Hebrew. Certainly he was not a Jew or an Israelite. Even through his inspired prophet Moses, God did not reveal the family relationship of Melchizedek. Neither does the Bible make any mention of the death of Melchizedek. He is brought into the Bible account because of what he was and what he did when meeting victorious Abraham and because he was a prophetic picture of God’s eternal High Priest. Here is the brief account about him:
15 “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine, and he was priest of the Most High God. Then he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth; and blessed be the Most High God, who has delivered your oppressors into your hand!’ At that Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”—Gen. 14:18-20.
16. (a) Who besides Abraham was included in the blessing by Melchizedek? (b) Whom did Abraham recognize Melchizedek to be, and so what did Abraham do?
16 Melchizedek blessed, he did not curse, Abraham, and thus he confirmed God’s blessing upon Abraham. In so doing Melchizedek also blessed Abraham’s yet unborn “seed” in whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Melchizedek laid the credit for Abraham’s military victory to “the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth.” He blessed the Most High God because He had delivered the oppressors of Abraham into his hand. Abraham took note of that fact, and for that reason he felt indebted to the Most High God. He recognized Melchizedek as being “priest of the Most High God.” On this account he gave to Melchizedek a tithe or tenth part of the spoils of victory over the oppressive enemies. All the recaptured goods Abraham returned to the original owners. Thus no person on earth could claim that he had made Abraham materially rich. He trusted in the blessing that the “priest of the Most High God” had pronounced upon him.—Gen. 14:21 to 15:1.
PRIEST “ACCORDING TO THE MANNER OF MELCHIZEDEK”
17. (a) Though Melchizedek dropped from sight after this event, how do we know Jehovah remembered him some four hundred years later? (b) After the passing of another four hundred years, and more, of whom was Melchizedek made a model by God?
17 After that meaningful event of the twentieth century B.C.E. Melchizedek king of Salem dropped abruptly out of sight. He had no line of successors; he established no dynasty of kings and priests to keep his name in remembrance. The priests of the false gods of Babylon, Assyria, Egypt and Canaanland went on ministering to their deities, but Melchizedek disappeared from their midst in mystery. But the Most High God did not forget his priest, the king of Salem. More than four hundred years later he caused the brief record of Melchizedek “priest of the Most High God” to be written down in the Torah, the inspired book written by Moses, in that part thereof now known as Genesis. More than four hundred years after that (or about 1070 B.C.E.) Jehovah God the Most High called Melchizedek to mind in a most surprising way. He held Melchizedek forth as the model of the coming High Priest of God who will really do something for the people, something of eternal value. How did the Most High God do this, and just when was it?
18, 19. (a) Where did King David set up his capital city? (b) What did Jehovah inspire David to write that now appears as the 110th Psalm, and who of special interest to us is there mentioned?
18 It was in the days of the first King David, the king of Jerusalem. David was a descendant of the patriarch Abraham, “the friend of God.” King David was a lover and worshiper of Jehovah, the God of Abraham. Jehovah the Most High God had enabled King David to capture Mount Zion, the citadel of Jerusalem, about the year 1070 B.C.E. There on that ancient Mount Zion King David set up his capital city, and built his royal palace, and there he brought the most sacred piece of religious furniture, the ark of Jehovah’s covenant, the symbol of Jehovah’s presence with his chosen people. (2 Sam. 5:4 to 6:19) Thus King David, ruling on the earthly Mount Zion, was the visible lord over all twelve tribes of Jehovah’s chosen people. Sometime after this Jehovah inspired King David as a prophet and moved him to write down a psalm. It is now numbered as the 110th Psalm in the Bible’s book of Psalms, Hebrew edition. In it Jehovah God foretold someone to come who would be a Lord even over King David. So in the psalm King David acknowledges the lordship of this coming one and foretells what office he will hold, and where, and what he will do. David said, in the language of the American Standard Version of Psalm 110:1-4:
19 “Jehovah saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. Jehovah will send forth the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people offer themselves willingly in the day of thy power, in holy array: out of the womb of the morning thou hast the dew of thy youth. Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever after the manner of Melchizedek.” (Marginal reading of “manner” for “order.”)—Ps. 110:1-4, AS.
20. Who was to be of even greater importance than Melchizedek, and what position would this one come to have?
20 Can we now see why that Melchizedek “the priest of the Most High God” of more than three thousand eight hundred years ago was so important? Yet, however important the original Melchizedek may be in the history of true priests of the one living and true God, even still more important is the one whom Melchizedek prefigured or the one whom Jehovah God swore to make a priest “after the manner of Melchizedek.” He means much more to us today. This priestly one like Melchizedek was to be Lord even over King David, who in his day ruled over the Middle East from the Euphrates River to the river of Egypt. This coming one, a descendant of King David, was not only to be King but also to be priest, namely, a “priest of the Most High God” like Melchizedek. Not only was he to be higher than King David in lordly rank, but he was also to sit at the right hand of Jehovah God in the heavens. So the Zion out of which the royal rod of his strength was to be sent forth was, not the earthly, but the heavenly Zion. Just who, then, is this one?
21, 22. What circumstances in the days of Jesus caused Psalm 110 to come under discussion in Herod’s temple in Jerusalem, and what difficult question did Jesus ask in connection therewith?
21 For more than a thousand years after King David wrote Psalm 110 under inspiration of God’s spirit Melchizedek is not named in the Holy Scriptures of the Bible. Then because of remarkable events in the Middle East in the first century of our Common Era Psalm 110, involving Melchizedek, is brought up for religious discussion, right there at Jerusalem, the successor of Salem where Melchizedek used to be king and priest. It occurred there in the magnificent temple that had been built by King Herod the Great. In the discussion a thought-provoking question is put up. If you had been back there having part in the discussion, could you have then answered the question? The best brains of the religious sects of the Sadducees and the Pharisees could not answer it. The question was put by Jesus, a true descendant of King David, and it was about the Messiah or Christ.
22 Here is an eyewitness account of the discussion, in Matthew 22:41-46: “Now while the Pharisees were gathered together Jesus asked them: ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ They said to him: ‘David’s.’ He said to them: ‘How, then, is it that David by inspiration calls him “Lord,” saying, “Jehovah said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet’”? If, therefore, David calls him “Lord,” how is he his son?’ And nobody was able to say a word in reply to him, nor did anyone dare from that day on to question him any further.”
23-25. (a) When was the question raised by Jesus due to be answered? (b) What occurred on the day of Pentecost to show it was time to understand the fulfillment of Bible prophecy?
23 This discussion took place on Tuesday, Nisan 11, of Jerusalem’s religious calendar, of the year 33 of our Common Era. Yet, only fifty-four days later, on the morning of the religious festival of Shabuoth, or Pentecost, on Sivan 6 at Jerusalem, that question of high importance to us today was authoritatively answered, under inspiration of the Most High God. Before then this controversial figure Jesus had been nailed to a stake till dead on Friday, Nisan 14, and had been resurrected from the dead on Sunday morning, Nisan 16, and had ascended to heaven forty days from then, on Thursday, Iyyar 25. There are many more than the two or three eyewitnesses to the truthfulness of all this. But ten days after Jesus’ ascension to heaven came that most outstanding day of Pentecost, Sunday, Sivan 6, 33 C.E. Before nine o’clock that morning a miracle occurred. God’s holy spirit was poured out, with a visible manifestation, upon one hundred and twenty disciples of Jesus who were waiting in an upper room in Jerusalem. In further evidence of this, they all began speaking in many foreign, non-Jewish languages, telling about the magnificent things of God.—Acts 2:1-4; 1:1-15.
24 As news of this got around Jerusalem, thousands of Pentecost celebrators gathered to become eyewitnesses of the miraculous spectacle. They did not understand that the ancient prophecy of Joel 2:28, 29 was being fulfilled before their eyes. Then one of the 120 disciples of Jesus got up and explained that the eight-hundred-year-old prophecy was beginning to be fulfilled concerning the pouring out of the spirit of Jehovah God upon all sorts of flesh. Then the speaker, Simon Peter of Galilee, went on to say:
25 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man publicly shown by God to you through powerful works and portents and signs that God did through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know, this man, as one delivered up by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you fastened to a stake by the hand of lawless men and did away with. But God resurrected him by loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to continue to be held fast by it. For David says respecting him.”
26, 27. (a) What was Peter’s explanation by holy spirit of Psalm 110:1-4? (b) Why, therefore, is any application to popes of Rome of the title “Melchizedek in Order” incorrect?
26 After applying David’s words written in Psalm 16:8-11 as being fulfilled in this Jesus the Nazarene, the disciple Simon Peter concluded his speech, saying: “This Jesus God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses. Therefore because he was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promised holy spirit from the Father, he has poured out this [spirit] which you see and hear. Actually David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’” Therefore let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled.”—Acts 2:5-36.
27 Consequently this resurrected Jesus, who is David’s Lord and who is also the Christ or Messiah of God, is the one to whom the rest of Psalm 110 applies. He is the one concerning whom Jehovah God has sworn that he should be a priest forever “according to the manner of Melchizedek.” (Ps. 110:4) He is, like Melchizedek of old, without a successor. Therefore the title “Melchizedek in Order” has wrongly been applied to the popes of Rome and Vatican City. This is a man-made title and is false, and the popes have done nothing for the people to deserve such a title.a The length of time for Jesus Christ to serve God as the antitypical Melchizedek did not end with the installation of Pope Leo I, for Jesus Christ is a “priest for ever after the manner of Melchizedek.” Nobody else shares this priestly glory with him. (Ps. 110:4, AS, margin) This is very important for the people of earth.
WHAT HE HAS BEEN ABLE TO DO FOR THE PEOPLE
28. What priesthood, at one time approved by God, did Jesus put our of business?
28 Because of what has already been done for the people by Jesus Christ as God’s High Priest “according to the manner of Melchizedek,” he put another priesthood out of business. How was that? Had you ever noticed that, after the priesthood of Jesus Christ as the antitypical Melchizedek came into operation, the priesthood of the Jewish people went out of operation? This was not accidental, but was according to the will of the Most High God. But why? Was not the priesthood of the Jewish people established by the Most High God, the one alone whose name is Jehovah? Yes! That ancient priesthood was established in the family of the Levite Aaron, the brother of the prophet Moses. Aaron became the first high priest and his sons became the underpriests. This Aaronic priesthood was put in office in the year 1512 B.C.E., after Jehovah God delivered his chosen people from slavery in Egypt. It served the nation of Israel according to the national contract or covenant that Jehovah God made with that nation through Moses as mediator.—Ex. 28:1 to 29:44; 40:1-32.
29. How long did the Aaronic priesthood operate, and what brought about its end?
29 This priesthood kept on functioning in Israel for 1,581 years, from the year 1512 B.C.E. down into the year 70 C.E. Its first high priest was Aaron the Levite; its eighty-third and last high priest according to the historic record was Phannias, or Phinehas,b whose term of office came to an abrupt end in the year 70 C.E. How so? Because of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in that year, during which destruction High Priest Phannias (Phinehas) doubtless perished. After that the genealogical records of the priests and of their temple servants, the Levites, were lost. The Hebrew word for priest is Cohen; and there are many Jews today who are named Cohen, and also other Jews whose family name is Levi. But none of these can positively prove by genealogical records that he is a descendant of the priestly family of Aaron or of the tribe of Levi.
30. Why would the priesthood of Aaron be of no value today?
30 Even if such a Mister Cohen or Mister Levi could identify himself as of priestly or Levite descent, it would be of no real value to him today. Why not? Because their place of business is gone. Ever since 70 C.E. no temple to the name of Jehovah has been built on the temple mount in Jerusalem. Today, on the once sacred spot, there stands the Mohammedan mosque, the Dome of the Rock.
31. While Jesus did not denounce the Jewish priesthood, what did he denounce and predict when speaking on this matter, and when did the prediction come true?
31 The Jewish religious leaders of Jerusalem tried to put Jesus Christ out of existence as the Messiah and as the antitypical Melchizedek by killing him through the hands of the Romans. However, he never did denounce the Jewish priesthood, for he knew it had been ordained of Jehovah God. He did denounce the scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees, the Jewish sects to which the priests, Levites and religious rulers belonged. (Matt. 23:1-36; 22:23-34) Three days before his death at Calvary Jesus Christ foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple by the Roman legions. This, of course, was also a prediction that the Jewish priesthood of the family line of Aaron would be forced out of their priestly service. Ever since that frightful destruction in 70 C.E. no Aaronic high priest has served the nation of Israel. (Matt. 23:27 to 24:3, 15-20) Thus no people, either Jew or Gentile, can expect any real, lasting help from any Jewish religious leaders of today.
32. Since when is Jesus Jehovah’s High Priest, and for how long?
32 Did the destruction of the Jewish priesthood leave the God of the Holy Bible without a high priest? No, by no means! On the resurrection day of Nisan 16 in the year 33 C.E. God raised up from the dead his everlasting High Priest, Jesus Christ, who Jehovah God has sworn would be a “priest to time indefinite according to the manner of Melchizedek!” So he survived the year 70 C.E.
33, 34. (a) What did Jehovah know about the Aaronic priests and their sacrifices? (b) Of what were the Aaronic priesthood and the sacrifices a prophetic picture?
33 Jehovah God really has the interest of the people at heart. He knew that the Aaronic priests whom he had ordained in ancient Israel were all imperfect men, subject to death. He knew that the sacrifices that he had appointed them to offer on his temple altar were mere animals and birds, whose life value was less than that of a human creature. He knew that these animal and bird sacrifices could never, by the shedding of their blood, take away human sins and cancel out the condemnation of death that rested upon all sinful mankind. Thus the blood of those animal and bird victims could never open up the way for the people to enter into everlasting life on earth under a perfect heavenly government. (Heb. 10:1-4) What, then, did he do?
34 From the year 1512 B.C.E. down to 33 C.E., Jehovah God used the Aaronic high priest as a prophetic figure or type of the coming perfect High Priest who would really provide the sacrifice to God to take away the sin of the world of mankind. He used those animal and bird sacrifices as a picture of the perfect, sin-removing sacrifice that God’s true High Priest would provide. That is why Jesus’ forerunner, John the Baptist, pointed to Jesus Christ and announced to the people: “See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Jesus Christ is God’s High Priest not by being in the family line of Aaron the Levite, but he is the immortal High Priest by virtue of the sworn oath of Jehovah God. (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:15-17) He is far higher and more valuable than Aaron the Jewish high priest and all his successors down till 70 C.E. This was pictured when the ancient priest Melchizedek, king of Salem, blessed Abraham, the forefather of Aaron the Levite. Thus Aaron, as yet unborn in the loins of Abraham, was blessed by Melchizedek, and thus Aaron was proved inferior or less than the priest Melchizedek.—Heb. 7:4-10.
35. Why is no earthly temple needed by Jesus, Jehovah’s High Priest, and what sin-removing presentation did he make to Jehovah?
35 Jesus Christ needs no material earthly temple such as the Aaronic high priests used in offering sacrifices in ancient Jerusalem. After laying down his own perfect human life as a sacrifice in innocence, he was raised from the dead on the third day and ascended into heaven to appear in the actual presence of God. Up there he presented to the one living and true God the full value of his perfect human sacrifice in behalf of the people. The Aaronic high priests carried merely the blood of bulls and goats into the Most Holy of the earthly temple, which blood was only pictorial and could never take away human sins forever. But Jesus Christ ascended into God’s heavenly presence with the merit of his own blood, the value of a perfect human life.—Heb. 9:22-26.
36, 37. What was Jesus willing to do to vindicate his Father’s name and sovereignty, and in proof of Jesus’ innocence what did Jehovah God do for him?
36 Just as ancient Melchizedek was higher than Abraham and his yet unborn descendant, Aaron the Levite, so Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s High Priest “according to the manner of Melchizedek,” is higher than the ancient Jewish high priest. He is, in fact, the Son of God, whom his heavenly Father sent down from heaven to become a perfect human. This was a tremendous humiliation for the Son of God, but he was glad to humble himself for the vindication of God’s name and universal sovereignty. As a man, he was subjected to the greatest temptations by Satan the Devil and also to rabid persecution by the religious leaders of his own nation, including the Aaronic high priests. Despite all of this he kept his integrity in absolute loyalty and obedience to God, preaching God’s kingdom and doing good to the people such as the religious priests of all nations could never do. Because of his perfect obedience to God and unswerving devotion to God’s kingdom, he was put to death, an absolutely innocent man but falsely charged with blasphemy and political sedition. In this manner he died as a perfect human sacrifice entirely acceptable to God.
37 In proof of his Son’s innocence, Almighty God raised Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day. Hence the apostle Peter writes of him as “being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18) In this state he ascended as a spirit person directly into God’s presence in heaven to present to the God of justice the full value of his perfect human sacrifice for redemption of the people. Jehovah God, therefore, had no reason to repent for having sworn that his Son Jesus Christ should be a “priest to time indefinite according to the manner of Melchizedek!”—Ps. 110:4; Phil. 2:5-11; John 3:15-17.
NO PRIEST LIKE HIM
38. What claims do some priests in Christendom make, but what can they not do?
38 Tell us, now, What earthly priest, Jewish or otherwise, has been able to do that for the people? There are certain priests of Christendom who claim that by repeating the words of Jesus at his institution of the Lord’s supper they literally change mere bread and wine into the literal blood and flesh of Jesus Christ to be sacrificed over and over again. They also claim that he is God and not merely the Son of God. Then they claim that they eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ by eating the bread and drinking the wine at their church ceremony. This would make cannibals out of them. And, as one observer of this practice of these priests of Christendom said, “The God whom they create they eat.” Even if we were to suppose that such priests actually re-created the body and blood of Jesus Christ, to offer such in sacrifice, which one of those priests ever ascended to heaven into God’s presence to present to him in heaven the value of that religious sacrifice? Not a single one! Therefore, the people get no real benefit from such repeated religious “sacrifices” by their priests. Their priests cannot do what Jesus did for the people.
39. Why is the claim of priests of Christendom that the sacrifice of Jesus needs repeating shown to be false?
39 The Jewish priests had to repeat each year their animal sacrifices, because those sacrifices were subhuman and did not have enough value to ransom mankind. The priests of Christendom repeat daily their sacrifices because they claim that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was only of limited value in itself and needed to be repeated, by means of earthly priests. But contrary to this, God’s written Word plainly declares repeatedly that the perfect human sacrifice was completely adequate and satisfactory and needs not to be repeated anymore. (Heb. 9:27, 28; 10:10) On this account the Christian apostle Paul states that “Christ, now that he has been raised up from the dead, dies no more; death is master over him no more,” not even in the religious sacrifice of the Mass. (Rom. 6:9) He is now a heavenly priest immortal, and because of his deathlessness he remains a High Priest forever. At all times he is able to serve personally for the everlasting salvation of the people for whom he laid down his perfect human life.—Heb. 7:19-28.
A HIGH PRIEST BRINGING DELIVERANCE
40. What now is the value of all other sacrifices, animal or human, by priests of false religion?
40 What, then? Well, since the presentation of Christ’s sacrifice in heaven in the year 33 C.E., all other sacrifices, animal or human, by priests of the world empire of religion have become valueless, unacceptable to God. In harmony with this, Jehovah God let the sacrifices rendered by the Aaronic priests of Israel come to a tragic end in the year 70 C.E., when the pagan Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its temple, never to be built again.
41. What have the priests of Christendom done to show they are not underpriests of Jesus Christ?
41 Jesus Christ is not the High Priest of the priests of Christendom, and they are not his underpriests. Let not the people misjudge Jesus Christ by the actions of those who claim to be his vicars and vicegerents and ecclesiastical priests in Christendom. The religious clergy of Christendom have formed unions of Church and State, and have themselves mixed in politics and encourage their church people to do so. They have blessed the nations of Christendom when at war with one another and have blessed their church people for taking part in such carnal warfare. But do they represent Jesus Christ, God’s High Priest, in doing so?
42. What did Jesus avoid when on earth, and so what do his followers avoid?
42 Jesus Christ mixed in no earthly politics, not even in the attempted Jewish politics of his day. (John 6:14, 15) Rather than preaching even an earthly Jewish kingdom, he took up the words of John the Baptist and preached: “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matt. 4:12-17) When standing before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate on the false charge of sedition, Jesus said: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” (John 18:36) For this powerful reason the true attendants of Jesus Christ likewise preached only “the kingdom of the heavens,” “the kingdom of God.” They have not become responsible for any of the bloodshed that has stained the earth because of the conflicts of the kingdoms of this world.—2 Cor. 10:3, 4.
43, 44. Besides being a High Priest, what other role does Jesus fulfill, and what will he do to the wicked?
43 Today the peoples are groaning under the oppressions carried on by the kingdoms of this world. Let them remember that, just like the ancient Melchizedek, Jesus Christ is not only the High Priest of the Most High God but also a King, the King anointed with the holy spirit of the Most High God. As a heavenly King he has a role to fulfill. The 110th Psalm graphically foretells this. Right after saying, “Jehovah has sworn (and he will feel no regret): ‘You are a priest to time indefinite according to the manner of Melchizedek,’” the 110th Psalm continues on to say:
44 “Jehovah himself at your right hand will certainly break kings to pieces on the day of his anger. He will execute judgment among the nations; he will cause a fullness of dead bodies. He will certainly break to pieces the head one over a populous land.”—Ps. 110:4-6.
45. How does Revelation 19:11-21 describe the activity of Jehovah’s High Priest and King?
45 In the twentieth century before our Common Era Jehovah God was certainly at the right hand of faithful Abraham when he fought against the marauding kings and rescued God’s servants from their grasp, and then returned and received a blessing from Melchizedek king of Salem. (Gen. 14:13-20; 15:1; Heb. 7:4-10) No less so, according to the prophetic Psalm 110, Jehovah God will be at the right hand of his High Priest and King, Jesus Christ, in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Armageddon. (Rev. 16:14, 16) The last book of the Holy Bible, in Re chapter nineteen, describes how, through Jehovah God, this High Priest and King will “break kings to pieces” on that day of God’s anger; how he will “execute judgment among the nations” and remove the oppressors; how because of the worldwide opposition to God’s kingdom he will “cause a fullness of dead bodies” all over the earth, letting no enemy escape; and now no ruler, no matter how populous and mighty the land over which he is the head one, will avoid being broken to pieces for the relief of the distressed people. (Rev. 19:11-21) The people need him to do this for them.
46, 47. (a) What does the name Melchizedek mean? (b) So what will the Greater Melchizedek do that could not and cannot be done by the League of Nations or the United Nations?
46 What will the result of this be for the people? This is suggested in the name of the city over which ancient Melchizedek was king in the Middle East. On this the inspired statement in Hebrews 7:1-3 says: “This Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, . . . is first of all, by translation [of his name], ‘King of Righteousness,’ and is then also king of Salem, that is, ‘King of Peace.’ . . . having been made like the Son of God.”
47 Ah, yes, Jesus Christ the Greater Melchizedek will not be King of any Salem over in the Middle East on earth, but will be a heavenly King of Peace, for the name Salem means “Peace.” To this day the United Nations as successor to the League of Nations has not brought and maintained peace and security for the world of mankind; and no human international organization for world peace and security ever will do so. But the Greater King of Salem can and will and is appointed to do so. No small wonder, then, that Psalm 110 foretells that Jehovah God, through him, had to break in pieces all the ruling elements of the earth that disturb the peace and threaten the security of the people.
48. Who are to be with Jesus in his heavenly kingdom, and what will be their position?
48 According to the generosity of Jehovah God, his Son Jesus Christ will not be alone in the heavenly kingdom. He will have a definite, foreordained number of associates in that heavenly government, 144,000 of them according to the last book of the Bible. (Rev. 7:4-8; 14:1-3) Concerning these faithful footstep followers of Jesus Christ, Revelation 20:5, 6 says: “This is the first resurrection. Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.” Thus it is Biblically established that, after the war of Armageddon and the binding of Satan the Devil and his demons, Jesus Christ, the Greater Melchizedek, will rule as heavenly King and serve as God’s High Priest for a thousand years in behalf of the people on earth.—Luke 22:28-30; 2 Tim. 2:11, 12.
49. What is to happen to the priests of the Babylonish world empire of false religion, and who will serve for man’s everlasting blessing?
49 When, by the “first resurrection” of these Christians who have been faithful to death, they are transferred to the heavens to “be priests of God and of the Christ” and to “rule as kings with him for the thousand years,” this will leave no ordained priests of Jehovah God here on earth. The priests of the false Christianity of Christendom, yes, all priests of the Babylonish world empire of false religion, will have been put out of office and executed in the approaching day of Jehovah’s anger, when he executes judgment among the nations. (Ps. 110:4-6) As a result the people on earth will have only God’s High Priest and his true underpriests to serve in their behalf in heavenly power, in direct contact with God. What an everlasting blessing that will be for all the people, for God’s High Priest and his heavenly underpriests are truly that promised “seed” of Abraham, whose number was once unknown just like the number of the stars and in whom all nations of the earth will be eternally blessed! (Gen. 22:17, 18) They will apply the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice to all.
50. How, then, will sins truly be forgiven, and what may then accompany such forgiveness?
50 Then the sins of mankind will be really forgiven, not by their going into some confessional box in a religious building and confessing to some imperfect, sinful priest, but by repenting and going to God privately in prayer through his High Priest Jesus Christ and asking forgiveness. (Matt. 6:9-12; 1 John 1:9; 2:1, 2) Their sins will really be forgiven in heaven. Healing benefits to the human body may even accompany such forgiveness from heaven.
51. (a) What did Jesus do to show one man had his sins forgiven? (b) What were some obligations of the high priest and underpriests in Israel, and so what can we look forward to under the Greater Melchizedek?
51 Remember how once Jesus Christ on earth healed a man of his infirmity in expression of the forgiveness of his sins. (Matt. 9:1-8) Remember, also, that among God’s chosen people under the law of the prophet Moses Jehovah’s high priest and his underpriests watched over the healthful conditions of the people and applied the sanitary provisions of God’s law. (Lev. 13:1-8; 14:1-32; Matt. 8:1-4; Luke 17:11-19) In a more powerful and effective way God’s High Priest like Melchizedek will watch out for the health of the people here on earth under his kingdom. The God-fearing, obedient ones will be blessed with gradual restoration to full perfect human health and bodily completeness as all their sinfulness is taken away through Christ’s blood and righteous discipline.
52. (a) What thoughtful, loving question is now asked? (b) How have the priests of Christendom shown they are of no help to the people?
52 “But is there not something missing?” you may ask, and then add: “All of that is unspeakably grand and beautiful for all men of goodwill who will survive the war of the great day of God the Almighty at Armageddon, but—but what about the thousands on thousands of millions who have died and returned to the dust of the earth ever since sin and its penalty death entered the earth about six thousand years ago?” A very thoughtful, loving question indeed! How helpless the priests and clergymen of Christendom and the priests of the so-called pagan world would be, were they faced with such an earthly situation! Believing in the immortality of the human soul, they have preached the dead ones immediately into a spirit world where angels or demons are, and they have performed religious ceremonies for them or even offered some sort of “sacrifice” for the dead, such as the “sacrifice of the Mass,” not without some costs to the surviving relatives. By this, what have they really done for the people? But what about God’s High Priest?
53, 54. What will Jehovah’s great High Priest do for the dead in the graves?
53 Jesus Christ, the Greater Melchizedek, laid down his perfect human life in sacrifice, not only for the redemption of the survivors of the battle of Armageddon and the binding of Satan and his demons, but also for all who have died before then because of inheriting imperfection and sin from their original earthly parents, who sinned in the garden of Eden. (Rom. 5:12-18) During his serving as King and High Priest for the foretold thousand years he will see to it that all these coming under the benefit of his ransom sacrifice get the full benefit thereof. But how? By resurrecting them from the dead to life on earth under the heavenly kingdom. He himself said so when on earth, and, to illustrate his power to do so, he raised a number of persons from the dead, and so did his faithful apostles. (John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15) Thus the opportunities for attaining to everlasting perfect life on a cleansed, paradisaic earth will be opened to these resurrected ones. Finally, there will be fully realized God’s promise of Revelation 21:4:
54 “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.”—Compare Isaiah 25:7-9.
55. What standard, spoken of in Malachi 2:7, did Jesus measure up to, and what, then, are the prospects for the future under God’s High Priest, Jesus Christ?
55 Do the priests inside and outside Christendom teach the people these comforting things today? You can answer for yourself. You know whether such priests measure up to God’s standard for a priest as set out in the last Hebrew prophetic book before the first coming of Christ, in Malachi 2:7, in these words: “The lips of a priest are the ones that should keep knowledge, and the law is what the people should seek from his mouth; for he is the messenger of Jehovah of armies.” On earth as a man Jesus Christ measured up to that standard. In heaven as God’s High Priest he will not fail the people in this respect. All shall be taught about the one living and true God and his provision for the people’s deliverance from sin and death. Their taking in this knowledge and obediently living in harmony with it will mean for the people everlasting life in an earthly paradise of peace and happiness under the heavenly kingdom of Jehovah God and his High Priest.—John 17:3; Isa. 11:9.
a See the book entitled “The Pope the Vicar of Christ, the Head of the Church,” by the Roman Catholic Monsignor Capel; also pages 306, 307 of The Time Is at Hand, published in 1889 by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Note on page 308 the letter that St. Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, wrote to Pope Eugenius III, in 1150.
b According to the Holy Bible, the historian Josephus and an old Hebrew chronicle, the Seder Olam. See also M’Clintock & Strong’s Cyclopœdia, Volume 8, page 58, and Volume 4, page 251. See also The Jewish Encyclopedia, Volume 10, page 21, under “Phinehas ben Samuel.”