Return of The High
Cross and the Coming of Christ are indelibly linked
together, being as it were the two book-ends of the ONE end-time
[eschaton] event of God's working in humanity's midst. The Cross WAS the
DECISIVE redemptive event i.e., it was the linchpin of God's love
demonstrated toward humanity. There was however an outworking of
this in and on behalf of Israel in that age, which when brought
to its fullness [Rom 11:26] demonstrated the cleansing and
acceptance of Israel, unilaterally to and by God. Israel's
acceptance by God would be the fulfillment of "the promise"
i.e., her resurrection "life from the dead" [Rom 11:15b].
This in turn brought to fullness the restoration of mankind to God [Rom
11:15a] the realization of redemptive history; thus Israel was a
means to an end, and not an end in herself.
have in the account of the High Priest as given in Hebrews 9 a
picture of the realization of redemptive history in the
fullness of forgiveness that Christ's Parousia brought.
customary for the High Priest once a year perpetually, to enter
the Holy Place and offer sacrifices on behalf of himself, and then ALL
the people upon which he would then enter the Most Holy Place with "the
blood of sacrifice" [Ex 30:1-10] for acceptance by God for
the cleansing [forgiveness] of the people.
"So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the
breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy
place, as a memorial before the LORD continually. And you shall put in
the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be
over Aaron's heart when he goes in before the LORD. So Aaron shall
bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before
the LORD continually.
fleshly offered sacrifice though sanctioned and accepted by God was only
a covering for sins, but not their removal Christ's once for
all sacrifice removed forever the offence of sin that
stood against 'man', period. The high priest's "bearing the judgment"
was a type of ceremonial or figurative dying once a year, on
the annual 'day of atonement' in the offering of sacrifices. Thus
Israel's high priest prefigured our Great High Priest's
important event in this ministration of the high priestly role
was the return of the High Priest for his return was
significant in that his returning from the heavenly sanctuary
indicated that the sacrifice being duly offered was
accordingly accepted and a received offering signified and
secured the forgiveness of sins, therefore: no return = no
forgiveness. Outside the Tent of Meeting Tabernacle Temple the
people eagerly awaited the High Priests return, and when he appeared
a second time much were the celebrations, for they knew
forgiveness was theirs to enjoy.
is evidenced in the account of the High Priest Simon from the Apocrypha,
as the noted NT scholar F. F. Bruce comments:
The Israelites who watched their high priest enter the sanctuary for
them waited expectantly for his reappearance; that was a welcome sign
that he and the sacrifice which he presented had been accepted by God.
His reappearance from the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement was a
specially welcome sight. Ben Sira celebrates the joy with which the
people saw the high priest Simon the Just emerge from the "house of the
veil" after completing this sacred ministry
Simon the high priest, the son of Onias, who in his life repaired the
house again, and in his days fortified the temple: And by him was built
from the foundation the double height, the high fortress of the wall
about the temple: In his days the cistern to receive water, being in
compass as the sea, was covered with plates of brass: He took care of
the temple that it should not fall, and fortified the city against
besieging: How was he honoured in the midst of the people in his
coming out of the sanctuary! He was as the morning star in the
midst of a cloud, and as
the moon at the full:
As the sun shining
upon the temple of the most High, and as the rainbow giving light in
the bright clouds
So our author thinks of Jesus as going into the heavenly holy of holies,
to reappear one day in order to confirm finally to His people the
salvation which His perfect offering has procured for them. Meanwhile
they wait expectantly for His parousia.
F. F. Bruce,
The Epistle to the Hebrews, New London Commentaries, [Marshall,
Morgan & Scott, 1974],
pp. 223-224 [bold emphasis mine]
outside of Catholicism the Apocrypha holds no place in "inspiration",
but few questions its historicity. Here in this account the people in
jubilant expectation await and subsequently rejoice at the high priest's
return, his parousia described in apocalyptic and cosmic type language
of "morning star" "moon" "sun" "rainbow" and
last but not least "clouds". His coming or return
from the heavenly sanctuary bringing forgiveness was as on
clouds of glory [Mt 16:27a].
not dissimilar vein to Simon is the gospel account of Zacharias in Lk
let the writer of Hebrews speak:
Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the
heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things
themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered
the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into
heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He
should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy
Place every year with blood of another-- He then would have had to
suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the
end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of
Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the
judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To
those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from
sin, for salvation.
looking at Jesus through the pattern of the High Priest what do we find:
if Jesus our High Priest has not returned but is still
YET to appear, then we are still LEFT waiting, still
LOST and floundering in unforgiveness.
further note on querying translational bias in support of the thoughts
already given: "Traditionally" verses 27-28 have been rendered as given
above. Accordingly, this translation is mostly understood to assert a
post death individual judgment, but is this what is really being said
the Pantelistic view does not believe so. Read in the larger context of
verses 23-28 the focus of this passage is in accordance with the
perpetual sacrificial ministry of the high priests,
typifying and in contradistinction to Jesus' once for all
atoning death. The conventional reading does not reflect the true
intent of the passage, nor the flavour of Hebrews as a whole i.e., the "better
priesthood" or "better
sacrifice", etc. Between the words "it is appointed for"
and "men to die once" is the Greek definite article "the"
and correctly parsed reads "those"
This word is used again in the very next verse of "
who eagerly wait for Him
" so it should rightly read:
And as it is appointed for those men [the high priests]
to die once
[ceremonially], but after this the judgment
[acceptance-acquittal], so Christ was
offered once to bear
the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a
second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
in this fashion gives those two little words as and so
their proper and essential contextual meaning and application. It was in
this foreshadowing ministration of the Old Testament priesthood of
those men that the pattern was laid for Israel's Messiah to come and
perform the ultimate sacrifice, of Himself, "to put away sin" by
His better and more perfect offering, that now sees all redemptive and
prophetic history sealed for the Great High Priest has returned.