“Unit 28, Day 2: Hebrews 7–10,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 28, Day 2,” New Testament Study Guide
The Apostle Paul taught that Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the “new covenant with the house of Israel” (Hebrews 8:8). He explained that the Savior’s sacrifice was superior to the sacrifices that the high priests performed under the law of Moses. He also explained that the Mosaic ordinances pointed the people to the Savior and His Atonement.
In the spaces provided, identify the object that produced each shadow.
Why are you able to identify what the object is based on its shadow?
The Old Testament tells about many ceremonies and ordinances that symbolized and foreshadowed the Savior and His Atonement. Because Paul knew that the Jewish Christians, or Hebrews, were familiar with these ceremonies and ordinances, he referred to them in his epistle as he taught these Saints about Jesus Christ.
All scriptures contain types, shadows, symbols, and similitudes of Jesus Christ. Types, shadows, symbols, and similitudes are representations of greater realities. Much of this imagery is in the form of people, objects, events, and circumstances.
The law of Moses was intended to be a type and shadow of Jesus Christ, or a symbol that pointed the Israelites to Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice (see 2 Nephi 11:4; Jacob 4:4–5). The Apostle Paul explained how several parts of the law did this. He wanted to help the Jewish Saints remain faithful to Jesus Christ instead of reverting to following the law of Moses, as some were doing.
You read in Hebrews 2:17 that Paul referred to Jesus Christ as “a merciful and faithful high priest.” From Moses’s day to the time of Jesus Christ, the high priest was the presiding officer of the Aaronic Priesthood, which is sometimes called the Levitical Priesthood, referring to the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood held by members of the tribe of Levi (see Bible Dictionary, “Aaronic Priesthood”).
Melchizedek was “a notable prophet and leader who lived about 2000 B.C. He is called the king of Salem (Jerusalem), king of peace, and ‘priest of the most High God’ [Hebrews 7:1]” (Bible Dictionary, “Melchizedek”; see also Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:25–40 [in the Bible appendix]). Paul understood Melchizedek’s greatness and used him as a type and shadow of Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews 7:15–17 Paul referred to an Old Testament prophecy about the coming of a priest “after the order of Melchizedec” (Hebrews 7:17; see also Psalm 110:4). Paul taught that Jesus Christ fulfilled this prophecy.
“One of Paul’s purposes in Hebrews 7 was to show the Melchizedek Priesthood’s superiority over the Levitical or Aaronic Priesthood and its accompanying ordinances. If perfection and exaltation were attainable through the Levitical Priesthood, why was there a need for a change to the higher priesthood? Paul taught that perfection, or being ‘made like unto the Son of God’ (Hebrews 7:3), does not come by the Levitical Priesthood but through Jesus Christ and His order of the priesthood. Jesus Christ ‘sprang out of Juda,’ not Levi, so Paul taught that His right to the priesthood would be based not on ancestry but on ‘the power of an endless life’ (see Hebrews 7:14–16). As the premortal Jehovah, He had created the earth and governed the events of the Old Testament with the same priesthood power He would hold during His mortal ministry” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 480).
Read Hebrews 7:23–28, looking for the differences between Jesus Christ and the Levitical high priests who administrated Aaronic Priesthood ordinances for the people. The phrase “maketh men high priests which have infirmity” in verse 28 means that they have weaknesses. Also read Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 7:25–26 (in the Bible appendix).
In Hebrews 7:25 the phrase “he ever liveth to make intercession for them” means that Jesus Christ’s mission is to intervene on our behalf to help us return to God’s presence.
How would you explain the differences between Jesus Christ and the Levitical high priests?
Read Hebrews 8:1–4, looking for the gift, or sacrifice, Jesus Christ offered. Note that the Joseph Smith Translation of Hebrews 8:4 reads, “Therefore while he was on the earth, he offered for a sacrifice his own life for the sins of the people. Now every priest under the law, must needs offer gifts, or sacrifices, according to the law” (Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 8:4 [in Hebrews 8:4, footnote a]).
What truth can we learn from Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 8:4 about what Jesus Christ did for us?
- Ponder what the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ means to you personally, and complete one of the following statements in your scripture study journal. Consider finding an appropriate time to share what you wrote with a family member or friend.
I am grateful for my Savior because …
I know my Savior loves me because …
I have been blessed by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ because …
A mediator is one who resolves differences between two persons or groups. The Atonement of Jesus Christ reconciles human beings (all of whom are sinners) to God the Father. Because of His sacrifice, Jesus Christ is “the mediator of a better covenant” (Hebrews 8:6), a covenant in which the Lord declared He “will put [His] laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts,” and He “will be to them a God, and they shall be [His] people” (Hebrews 8:10). This covenant, if accepted by the people, would help them come to “know the Lord” (Hebrews 8:11) and be cleansed from “their sins and their iniquities” (Hebrews 8:12).
We read in Hebrews 9–10 that the Apostle Paul continued to compare the Levitical high priests to Jesus Christ by discussing the duties those high priests performed on the Day of Atonement.
Once a year on the Jewish holy day called the Day of Atonement (also called Yom Kippur), the high priest was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place (also called the Holy of Holies or the Holiest Place) in the tabernacle or, later, the Jerusalem temple. Before going in, the high priest sacrificed a bullock as an act of atonement “for himself and his house” and then sacrificed a he-goat as an act of atonement “for the congregation of Israel.” He sprinkled the animals’ blood in special places and on specific items in the Most Holy Place as further acts of atonement. He then “confessed all the sins of the people of Israel” over another he-goat (called the scapegoat), which was driven into the wilderness, symbolizing the removal of the people’s sins. Afterward he changed his clothes and “offered the burnt offerings of two rams for himself and his people” (Bible Dictionary, “Fasts”; see also Leviticus 16).
The high priests were permitted to enter the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle once a year on the Day of Atonement. What “holy place” (Hebrews 9:12) could the Savior enter (and all humankind as well) because of His Atonement?
What could Jesus Christ’s sacrifice do that “the blood of bulls and of goats” (Hebrews 10:4) could not do?
Even though animal blood could not actually atone for the sins of the people, the Levite high priests performed these ordinances to demonstrate “a shadow of good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1), or to point to the Savior’s Atonement.
Read Hebrews 10:17–20, looking for what the Savior’s sacrifice makes possible.
According to Hebrews 10:19, we can enter “the holiest” place, or God’s presence in the celestial kingdom, because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. The phrase “new and living way” in Hebrews 10:20 refers to the gospel of Jesus Christ, or the plan by which we can be forgiven and sanctified through His Atonement and thereby become worthy to return to God’s presence.
Read Hebrews 10:22–24, looking for what we must do to enter the celestial kingdom. Then complete the following principle: Because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement, we can enter the celestial kingdom if .
What do you think it means to “hold fast” (Hebrews 10:23) to our faith in Jesus Christ?
Read Hebrews 10:35, looking for the counsel Paul gave that can help us hold fast to our faith in Jesus Christ. You may want to mark what you find.
What do you think it mean to “cast not away … your confidence”? (Hebrews 10:35).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what it means to “cast not away [our] confidence”: “In Latter-day Saint talk that is to say, Sure it is tough—before you join the Church, while you are trying to join, and after you have joined. That is the way it has always been, Paul says, but don’t draw back. Don’t panic and retreat. Don’t lose your confidence. Don’t forget how you once felt. Don’t distrust the experience you had. That tenacity [firmness] is what saved Moses and Joseph Smith when the adversary confronted them, and it is what will save you” (“Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” Ensign, Mar. 2000, 8).
- In your scripture study journal, write about someone you know who is a good example of holding fast to his or her faith in Jesus Christ and not casting away his or her confidence.
- Think about your commitment to hold fast to your faith in Jesus Christ. In your scripture study journal, write how you will increase your commitment and ability to do this.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Hebrews 7–10 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: