Sunday, October 2, 2011
Hebrews Chapter 8 and 9
vs. 8:1-5; 9:1-15
- “Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There, He ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.”
- There is a temple in heaven. The Tabernacle plan that was given to Moses in the wilderness, was a replica of the Tabernacle in heaven. It was to be a mirror.
- “And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If He were here on earth, He would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning. “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.”
- We're moving over to chapter 9 for a minute...
- The first 10 verses are explaining the old covenant worship. The purification process, the order of things and the placement of objects in the temple.
- “That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron's staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark's cover, the place of atonement.... When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use. This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.”
- Once a year, the priest would go in that inner room and use the blood to cleanse himself and the people. Now, the important piece of furniture here is the mercy seat or the atonement cover (whichever your translation uses.) The mercy seat sat on or covered the ark of the covenant. Once a year, the priest would go into the Most Holy Place, and he would take the blood and wipe it onto the east side of the mercy seat. In Jewish theology, the east side was the judgment side. So when they sprinkled the blood on the east side, it was to stave off judgment.
- Now, when Christ died and went to heaven... it was as that perfect sacrifice. If everything in the earthly Tabernacle was a mirror of the heavenly Tabernacle, then we can assume that the mercy seat was also in heaven.
- “So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With His own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.”
- Christ walked in to the Most Holy Place... and put HIS blood on the mercy seat to stave off judgment. The perfect sacrifice. The perfect salvation. The perfect plan.
- “Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people's bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why He is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.”
- Think about it... God... before He created anything, set a plan in motion... that would require HIM to sacrifice Himself... for us. For His creation. He set up a system that would require HIM to give something up.
- How many of us would do that, given the chance? Would we set up anything at all that required us to give something up? Required a sacrifice on our part? We are such selfish creatures... created by the most Selfless being in all of history... Our God... loves with abandon. Loved us so much, to set up the system so that we could SEE how much He loved us. So that the only way for us to be saved from our own sinful selves... is to see how much He loves us. And accept that He loves us enough to feel pain, to be humiliated, to die a human death... Do any of us love to that extent?
- Revelation 5; 15
- Exodus 40:20-21
- Leviticus 16:3-22
- Colossians 2:8-23
- “But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for He is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises. If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it....”
- Now... the first covenant, was a shadow of what was to come. The Tabernacle, all the things in it, the sacrifices, they all had meaning. Down to the measurements of the building. Everything had a meaning behind the purpose. (It would fill books to try and explain it all...)
- The law was given largely to show the people how much they needed something better. They couldn't ever measure up. Every time there was sin... they had to come to the temple to make a sacrifice to cover the sin. At the end of the year, they had to make a sacrifice to cover all the sins that they'd committed... that they didn't realize that they'd committed...
- If nothing else... it was to show the people that they couldn't save themselves... no matter what they did...
- It was also a living out of what was to come. They got in the habit of accepting the blood sacrifice for their sins. Of having to go ask someone else to offer up a sacrifice for their sin... because they couldn't do it on their own...
- The old covenant... was like training wheels on a bike. You're still pedaling. You're still learning to steer and make the bike go forward... but... you're not totally on your own. You're still completely dependent on those training wheels to make sure you stay standing.
- The new covenant, was like taking those training wheels off. It's no longer just about following all the rules. It was about maintaining a balance of rules and relationship. You can't depend on the training wheels anymore... they're not going to hold you up. You have to depend on your balance. You have to depend on your relationship with God. Sure part of that relationship is still following the rules... but as your relationship deepens... the rules... get easier. They don't feel so much like rules anymore... they're more like... things you do or don't do because you love God... not because He dictates them to you...
- II Corinthians 3:4-4:7
- I Corinthians 11:23-26
- Mark 14:22-26
- These verses are quoted from Jeremiah 31.
- “But when God found fault with the people, He said: “The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make anew covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them our of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, 'You should know the Lord.' For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already. And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means He has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.”
- A covenant was made for generations... until somebody broke it. God held up His end of the deal... however... the children of Israel walked away from the covenant time after time. And time after time, God would renew the covenant. He would go to the people, turn them around and restore the covenant. How many times did the new high priest or the new judge, go through the land and tear out all the idols and renew the temple worship... only to have the people turn again to their idols in the next generation?
- So finally God said “Enough! I'm letting you go! But I'm not abandoning you... No... Instead, I will make a NEW covenant with the people. One that will be not based on your actions... not based on how good you are... but rather... on your heart. I'm not writing out laws on paper or stone. I'm not writing it out so you can see it... I'm writing it out on your hearts. In your consciences. I'm putting my Spirit in you so that my law will come more naturally. You'll be constantly reminded of right and wrong in a different way. Not by a law... not by ceremony... not by other people watching your actions... but by My Spirit communing with yours. I will forgive all your sins and they will never be remembered again. There will be a new sacrifice... one that will wash the sins away... not just cover them up temporarily. I will be your God and you will be My people...”
- Jeremiah 31; 32
- “Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead. The will goes into effect only after the person's death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.”
- A will is a document that is read after you die. In it, you state what you want done with all your properties or possessions after you have died. If you wish to leave your house to your son or daughter, then you would make sure that you put that in the will.
- However, writing the document does not mean that it goes into effect right then. The Will only goes into effect once you have died. I mean... if you made a Will and it went into effect right then... WOO! Wouldn't that be a mess... Turning assets over to your kids when they're only 5 years old? Haha...
- But anyway... so once you have died, your Will goes into effect.
- “That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. For after Moses had read each of God's commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God's law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you. And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness [of sin]. That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals.”
- The blood is the key. Without death, the will can't go into effect. God's plan, can't go into action. The first covenant went into effect with the blood of animals. The second covenant... the better covenant, went into effect upon the death of God's own Son. HIS blood, HIS death, brought about the new covenant.
- footnote- “When the people sacrificed animals, God considered the people's faith and obedience, cleansed them from sin, and made them ceremonially acceptable according to Old Testament law. But Christ's sacrifice transforms our lives and hearts and makes us clean on the inside. His sacrifice is infinitely more effective than animal sacrifices. No barrier of sin or weakness on our part can stifle His forgiveness.”
- Side note on Christ as High Priest. When Christ died on the cross, the veil that separated the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple, was ripped in half. This was no simple task... “Only God could have carried out such an incredible feat because the veil was too high for human hands to have reached it, and too thick to have torn it. (The Jerusalem temple, a replica of the wilderness tabernacle, had a curtain that was about 60 feet in height, 30 feet in width and four inches thick.) Furthermore, it was torn from top down, meaning this act must have come from above.”- http://www.the-tabernacle-place.com/tabernacle_articles/tabernacle_holy_of_holies.aspx
- Christ's death meant no more middle men. Christ went in to the Most Holy Place to place the perfect blood on the mercy seat.... for the last time. There is no more sacrifice... and no more mediation by men. Christ is now our permanent mediator. He sits at the Father's right hand and mediates whenever we need Him to... not just when we do good things... or not just when we deserve it... And we don't have to bring Him an animal to do it. He does it because He loves us... unconditionally.
- “For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And He did not enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began, But now, once for all time, He has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by His own death as a sacrifice. And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes the judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him.”
- One time deal. Perfect. No need to continually offer up a sacrifice. Christ paid the ultimate price. He paid off the loan. We are no longer in debt to our sin. There's no more need for a payment. It's been paid off. The only debt we now owe, is a debt of gratitude.
- I Peter 3:18
- I John 1:5-10
- I Timothy 2:3-6