The One Mediator
of the Covenant between God and Man
|For there is one God, and one mediator
between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 1 Timothy 2:5
Let us discuss the role of the mediator as set forth in the above verse. What is mediation?
In secular life, the role of a mediator is to work to reconcile two parties that cannot be reconciled by their own efforts. In modern life this takes place when there is a contract that needs to be negotiated, for example, between company management and a labor union. An objective outside mediator communicates between the two and seeks to bring about reconciliation.
A mediator is necessary in order to bring God and man together. God cannot be reached by man because He is Holy and man is sinful. He uses a mediator -- someone to go between Him and man and establish the lines of communication. Man does not even know God exists until God reveals Himself to man; and He uses mediators -- prophets -- to reveal Himself to man. Even when man knows of God, reconciliation still seems impossible, because he cannot reach God because of the gap that separates them. God and fallen man are an eternity and infinity apart. The fall of man is related in the opening chapters of Genesis, and its consequences are explained in Romans, Chapter 5.
The entire Bible is about God's plan to reconcile fallen mankind to Himself. He is the initiator and it is His Plan, not man's. God deals with mankind through covenants and mediators of those covenants. A covenant is an agreement between two parties, but not in the sense of a contract. One "cuts" a covenant with another, and bound up in that meaning is the idea of a binding of the blood of the two parties.
That idea of the blood as necessary is established by the words, "The life is in the blood." (Lev. 17:11) And "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin."(Hebrews 9:22) Without settling the sin problem, God and man cannot be reconciled. There can be no Covenant between Holy God and man unless the sin issue is dealt with. And Scripture clearly sets forth that involves the shedding of blood. In the Old Covenant, God established a system of blood sacrifices foreshadowing and pointing to One Perfect Sacrifice that would seal the matter forever. The link between the Old and New Covenants is blood sacrifice for sin.
Your Bible is divided into two sections. The larger section is called the Old Testament, or Covenant. The smaller section is called the New Testament or New Covenant. Contrary to what many may believe, the New Covenant was not an afterthought of God because the Old Covenant "did not work." The New Covenant is hidden in the old, and the Old Covenant is revealed and fulfilled in the New. The two are parts of One Plan that God had to reconcile fallen mankind to Himself. (Read Galatians 3:15-17)
Covenants between God and man must have a mediator. It cannot be too overstated that, God will not directly communicate with man because man is in a fallen state, separated from God by sin. God will not, because of His holiness, communicate with a vessel that contains sin; that vessel must first be cleansed of sin. God is Spirit; He is Holy. Fallen man can understand only that which is of the flesh until God provides a way to communicate with man that bypasses the flesh and lifts man up to a level where communication is possible. For God and man to communicate, they must first be reconciled. God is never reconciled to man, meaning descending to man's spiritual level; rather He seeks to reconcile man to Himself and bring man to a higher level. He took on human flesh in order to do so, but without descending to the sinful state. In order to be reconciled to God, man must somehow change states; he must gain somehow the spiritual dimension that he once had, but lost through the fall of Adam. (opening chapters of Genesis.) After Adam's fall, man eventually lost all consciousness of God. Man must have God revealed to him and come to know that he is lost before man begins to seek reconciliation with God. In the past God has used prophets to reveal Himself and His Holy ways to man. God revealed Himself in the Old Covenant by establishing His chosen people and His law. In the law He revealed His Holy requirements to His Creation. The law serves to impute the consciousness of sin. When man, through the law, is brought to understand his sin and his need to be reconciled to God, then he is drawn to seek reconciliation. We are told, "The law is a schoolmaster that brings us unto Christ." (Gal. 3:24)
In the Old Covenant that God established with man through the nation of Israel by way of the law, He used an authoritative mediator - Moses, His prophet of the Old Covenant. He called Moses to that office and instructed him in the ways and means of the Old Covenant. We read all about this in the Book of Exodus. God spoke only to Moses; He did not speak directly to the people. On a few occasions it is implied that He may have spoken directly to Aaron, but we cannot carry that implication too far. It is quite possible He always spoke to Moses and Moses conveyed what He spoke to Aaron. Most of the time, it is stated that God told Moses and Moses told Aaron, who spoke for Moses to the people. Or Moses told the people directly. Moses then, as mediator, and in his role of prophet (one who receives from God and speaks for God to the people) passed what God gave to him to the Israelites.
Moses was of the Tribe of Levi, which God appointed to be the priestly tribe. Tthe Levitical priests served also as mediators, but only in the prescribed manner that Moses received directly from God. Keep in mind that even after Moses died it was the law of Moses received by him from God on Mt. Sinai, that directed the Israelites in the Old Covenant. Even when Jesus came upon the scene, it was Moses that the religious leaders looked to, and the law that he gave from God, that was the foundation of all of Israel's government and religion. Jesus had several discussions with the religious leaders about the authority of Moses. One reason that they hated Him so was that He represented Himself as having more authority than Moses. This was blasphemy to them because to them the Law of Moses was the Revelation of God and had all authority in religious life. (Read John 6:26-66 to see an example of Jesus' confrontation with the religious leaders.)
The Old Covenant served as a temporary reconcilication of God to a certain called-out people, Israel. Israel was to be used to instruct all of mankind, all of fallen Adam, in the righteousness of God. In Isaiah 60:3, for example, we are told that Israel was to be a light unto the Gentiles. The Old Covenant with Israel was to teach the entire world that perfect holiness comes when and if one perfectly keeps God's law. The moral law and the ceremonial law were given to Israel -- two inseparable parts of the law of God. The moral law shows man God's righteous requirements and teaches man he is a sinner. It imputes guilt to the conscience. (Romans 6:12-14) The ceremonial law is a picture of Christ and thus a picture of God's mercy and grace in dealing with the broken moral law. It demonstrates that we can indeed be reconciled to God because He Himself provides the way! In every facet, every aspect, the ceremonial law points to something and someone future; Someone greater; Someone Who truly reconciles God and man as the Perfect Mediator. The One Who would come and fulfill all types and shadows set down in the Law and be the One Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)
We learn from the writings of the Apostle Paul that the law itself cannot redeem or reconcile man to God. No one can keep the law perfectly. When one breaks even one of God's laws, any time during his life, he is lost. The only way that man can truly be reconciled to God is by God's mercy and grace, and there are pictures of this throughout the Old Covenant ceremonial law. That is why the Apostle Paul is so adamant in the New Testament about not returning to the law to save us or keep us saved. (Galatians and Hebrews, in particular.) The only way we can be saved (reconciled to God) is to have faith in the God Who saves us by His mercy and His grace.
So the Old Covenant was far from perfect. It revealed sin, man's lost state; but it did not correct or remedy man's lost state. Even if all sin was forgiven by way of the ongoing animal sacrifices, the law could in no way reverse the fallen nature of man and restore man to a state of fellowship with a Holy God. Therefore, it lacked the ability to reconcile man to God. It pointed to ultimate reconciliation but it was made of lesser promises than the New Covenant, which was always in God's Plan. (Rev. 13:7,8)
In the New Covenant, made of better promises than the Old, Christ is the Mediator between God and Man. There are things very unique about Him which no other person possesses or ever will possess. There are special reasons why the role of the One Mediator is uniquely His.
We are reconciled to God when, by faith, we believe and accept that Jesus Christ, the Perfect Sacrifice, died for our sins so that we might be reconciled to God. Thus He becomes the One Mediator of the New Covenant between God and us who believe in, put our faith and trust in, Christ. The just shall live by faith. (Rom. 1:17 and Hebrews 10:38)
He said, at His last Passover meal with His disciples, "This is the New Covenant in my Blood." The New Covenant is God cutting a covenant with man and man cutting a covenant with God in the Person of Perfect Man and Holy God -- Christ Jesus. And then He went to the Cross for all those who will come to Him by faith. In His death we die. The Old Adam goes to the grave with Him.
Moses was the prophet of the Old Covenant; Jesus is the Prophet of the New, which is foreshadowed in the Old. Hebrews 1:2-4 tells us God:
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
But in the Old Covenant, there were not only prophets as mediators, but a priesthood, also: Aaron and his sons, and their descendants. Jesus fulfilled the type(s) of the priesthood just as He fulfilled the type of the Old Testament prophet.
Priests in the Old Covenant were ordained to carry out specific ceremonial rites, which rites were themselves a form of mediation. The priests of the Old Covenant ministered to God for the people and to the people for God. The mediation they carried out was encompassed in the rites of the Tabernacle -- later the Temple -- primarily bound up in rites of blood sacrifice. Man offered blood sacrifices to God and God accepted them as a temporary atonement for sin. The offering by man and its acceptance by God make the priests as Old Covenant mediators necessary.
The rites of the Old Testament pictured man's reaching up to God and God reaching down to man through the priests. We see this as we study the Tabernacle. (If you have not yet studied the Tabernacle, its structure, furnishings, rites and priesthood, see: Tabernacle.) The ordinary Israelite could not go any further into the Tabernacle than right inside the gate where was the brazen altar of sacrifice. There the offerer placed his hand on the head of the animal, signifying the passing of his identity (and perhaps his family's identities) along with his sin, upon the animal sacrifice. The sacrifice thus became a substitution for himself. ("Substitution" is a key word in both Old and New Covenants. An innocent lamb must die so that the offerer does not die for his sin.) The offerer then slit the throat of the sacrifice, or the priest slit it, pouring out the blood which the priest caught in a vessel. Then all the subsequent activities were carried out by the priests. Why couldn't the offerer of the sacrifice proceed further and go into the Tabernacle itself to offer up the blood before God? Because no ordinary ritually unclean man could proceed into the Presence of God. God by His Shekinah Glory resided in the Holy of Holies, and if one ritually impure person had proceeded closer to God than He had ordained, he would die. Only those mediators who were ritually clean and ordained for the purposes of ritualistic worship could approach God. These mediators or priests had to participate in ritualistic cleansing and had to be of the tribe of Levi, ordained to their various duties as God prescribed to Moses.
You can read all about the rites of the Old Covenant priesthood in Leviticus.
Even the ordinary Levitical priest could not go all the way into the Holy of Holies and into the very Presence of God. Only the High Priest was allowed to go that far, and then only once a year on the annual Day of Atonement. The ordinary priests were assigned many duties in the outer court and in the Holy Place. But they could not go beyond the Veil into the Holiest of all, the very presence of God, lest they die.
All of the rites of the Old Covenant speak of the necessary mediation of priests. These priests were necessary because there still existed a barrier between man and God, typified in the thick Veil that stood between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies See Veil. A Mediator was needed to represent the people in God's Presence and God to the people. This was the role of the High Priest. Our Eternal High Priest, as He was dying on the Cross, cried out, "It is finished," and as He died, the veil in the Temple was rent from top to bottom, (Matt. 27:51) signifying that the work of redemption was indeed finished and the one-time Perfect Sacrifice had been made and accepted by the Father, opening up the way for all through the rent veil and into the Holy of Holies.
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:19-22)
Do you, the reader of this article, know that the work has been done and that you now have access into the Holy of Holies and the Presence of God merely by exercising faith in the finished work of the One Mediator? Therefore, there is no longer the need for a Levitical priesthood, or any New Testament church's priesthood! You have full access into the Presence of God by faith! In Christ's finished work alone, you are reconciled to God!
The wonderful difference in the Old and New Covenants is that, when Christ became Mediator and died and rose again, all who throughout the ages have faith in that finished work are in Christ. Therefore, His mediation encompasses all who are in Him, taking them with Him into the Very Presence of God. Christ fulfills all the types of Prophet, High Priest, priests and the Sacrificial Lamb. He also fulfills all the types of the furnishings and rites of the Tabernacle, as well as the structure of the Tabernacle itself! It is God's own Blood that is shed for mankind. "The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) When we are placed in Him by virtue of being born again, i.e. when the veil is rent for you and for me, there remains no longer a barrier between us and God. The mediation has been successfully completed and fulfilled. All who are "in Christ" by faith participate in His Perfect Mediation. He alone went boldly into the Holy of Holies with His own Blood. By faith, we are "in Him," and He is "in us!" Therefore we go boldly with Him through the Veil before the Throne of God in the Heavenly Holy of Holies.
If you search the scriptures to see if these things be so, you will know and understand why there can be only one Mediator between God and man and how Jesus accomplished the great work in reconciling us to God. Receive it by faith. Live in it; walk in it. Account it settled!. Only One was fully God and fully Man, only One overcame Satan and the world. Only One triumphed over the flesh, hell and the grave.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven givenamong men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12, and see also Philippians. 2:9, 10)
Unfortunately, some of God's "ministers' attempt to bind something else on a born-again believer other than Jesus Christ as the One Mediator. Many want to put people under the bondage of works and law-keeping. They want to lay guilt on others because they are not going to church on Saturday, or because they add instrumental music to hymn singing, or because they are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit instead of "in the name of Jesus" only. Some churches have instituted their own priesthood, not carrying out any of the work of the Old Covenant priests, but inventing their own work in an attempt to adapt the "Levitical" priesthood to the New Covenant. They attempt through earthly priests to mediate between God and man as though the veil, the barrier between God and man, has not been torn down! Salvation is all of grace, received by faith in the finished work of Christ. It is all about accepting the mediation of the only one Who can be the One Mediator, the One Who is both God and man -- Who, as God, died for man, and Who, as Man, represents the New Adamic Race before God! Who comes to live in believers by His Spirit, for if we do not have His Spirit we are none of His. (Rom. 8:9)
Our One Mediator did something else great and wonderful when He ascended back to God. He sent us His Spirit to dwell inside of us and thus He becomes our Lord by that indwelling Spirit! He leads us (not drives us) by His Spirit and He gives us His Word -- sola scriptura -- to teach us His nature -- the very nature that we are to be transformed into! For our destiny as true believers is to be transformed into His image. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18)
Don't let anyone tell you religious works can save you or reconcile you to God. Don't let anyone tell you that you must belong to their institution or get baptized in their tank to be redeemed by God. Don't let anyone tell you there is any co-mediator or co-mediatrix of the New Covenant besides Jesus Christ Don't let anyone tell you that you need a priest in the New Covenant. For you yourself, if a believer, are a priest unto God. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9)
Don't let anyone replace your faith in Him with dead works, rituals, meaningless religion. Don't let anyone rob you of your faith in this One Great Mediator between God and man.
HEAR YE HIM! - Matt. 17:5
Index of Tabernacle Subjects