In yesterday’s devotional based on our Bible reading, I talked about how the High Priest was allowed in the Most Holy Place once a year, on the Day of Atonement. Today’s Bible reading continues that idea.
The writer says that,
“Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to
come,and not the reality itself of those things, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, purified once and for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in the sacrificesthere is a reminder of sins year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:1–4 CSB)
Every day, the priests offered sacrifices in addition to the annual sacrifice. The writer adds,
“Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:11–12 CSB)
The old covenant sacrificial system only a shadow of the real spiritual reality. Therefore, it is inferior to the once-for-all sacrifice under the new covenant. Every day, priests would stand up to offer sacrifices, but Jesus stood up once, offered His own blood and then He sat down.
Today, we might say that this was a “mic drop” moment. Or we could say that when Jesus offered His blood, He said emphatically, “Game Over”!
Under the new covenant, you don’t need to go to a priest to have your sins forgiven. You don’t need to bring a spotless, perfect lamb to someone else who is authorized to make the sacrifice. The sacrifice has already been made by the perfect High Priest, Who also happens to be the perfect Lamb, Who offered His own blood in the Most Holy Place in the presence of God the Father.
His sacrifice was sufficient. Forgiveness is complete. The perfect High Priest sat down, never again to stand up to sacrifice anything else.
In today’s Bible reading from Hebrews 9, the writer says that the ministry under the new covenant ministry is better than the ministry under the old covenant.
Under the old covenant in the Tabernacle — and later in the Temple — the ordinary priests could enter the Holy Place to do their ministry, but ordinary men couldn’t go there. The High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place (the “Holy of Holies”), but ordinary priests couldn’t go there. And the High Priest could only enter the Most Holy Place once a year, on the Day of atonement. He had to do this every year. The writer says that Jesus’ blood was so much more effective than the blood of goats and bulls in cleansing the conscience of God’s people. (Hebrews 9:13–14). (More on this tomorrow)
Imagine feeling the guilt of committing a sin, knowing that it couldn’t be covered by a sacrifice for 364 days. Imagine carrying the conviction for that sin and every other sin you commit multiple times each day for an entire year. That’s a lot of guilt.
Next, imagine the feeling on the Day of Atonement when the High Priest emerges from the Most Holy Place. All that guilt from all those sins you committed for the past 365 days was covered… in an instant!
Ministry under the new covenant is so much better! No longer do God’s people have to look forward to a day when their sins could be dealt with. Now, we can look back, knowing that our sins have been covered — all of our sins, once for all time — by Jesus’ blood. What a relief!
If you are a believer, you don’t even have to worry if a sin you committed a moment ago is covered. It was already covered almost 2000 years ago, long before the Holy Spirit even convicted you of that sin and you asked for forgiveness!
I’m sure that when Jewish believers read what the writer of Hebrews said in today’s Bible reading, they were not a little bit shocked, and possibly offended.
In a parenthetical statement in Hebrews 7:19, he says, “for the law perfected nothing”. Why would he say such a thing? Take a look at the immediate context: “So the previous command is annulled because it was weak and unprofitable (for the law perfected nothing), but a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.”
OK, that sounds even more offensive to the ears of a traditional First Century Jew! The law was weak and unprofitable?!
Look at what Paul had to say about the purpose of the Law:
Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:23-25 CSB)
The King James Version says that the Law was our schoolmaster and the New Revised Standard Version says that the Law was our disciplinarian. I think that now, we’re beginning to understand what Paul and the writer of the Hebrews
Going way back to Genesis 3, Adam and Eve broke God’s command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He had warned them that the day that they ate that tree’s fruit they would truly die. They did, yet not in the way we expect. They continued to live long enough to have children. But they died that day in relation to having a relationship with God. So God gave their descendants the Law so that they would know what God desired in order to reestablish the relationship: Complete obedience.
Centuries of living under the Law could not restore that broken relationship, regardless of how hard they might try to obey. Why? Because the Law’s purpose was to show how we don’t — and can’t — measure up to God’s perfect standard.
We needed something else. Something else outside of ourselves. Mankind was dead and the Law was incapable of giving life.
But Jesus is!
Believer, you have access to a restored relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus raised Himself from the dead and you were given a new life at conversion as you put your faith in Him!
Keeping the Law couldn’t restore that broken relationship with God, because dead people can’t accomplish spiritual requirements. God gave the Law to show how we were completely lost and totally hopeless.
And then Jesus showed up.
Note: Today’s devotional was supposed to have posted Saturday. Internet gremlins kept that from happening. Our next scheduled Bible reading is on Tuesday.
In today’s Bible reading from Hebrews 6, we come across more scary words. The writer warns that if someone were to have been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift and God’s good word, and shared in the Holy Spirit, and then to fall away, there is no redemption, no repentance to enable them to come back because it would mean
These are very scary words because it means that if it’s possible to lose your salvation, there is no way to get it back!
I remember growing up, never being sure whether or not I would go to heaven or not when I died. Sure, I was a pretty good kid, but with every white lie, every little sin, the thought would cross my mind, “Am I sure that I’m saved?”
Such questions can be healthy. The fact that we ask the question demonstrates spiritual interest. A lost person won’t worry if they’re saved or not because they have no interest; they’re spiritually dead. Spiritually dead people have no spiritual concerns.
Unfortunately, a lot of preachers have told a lot of lost people that since they prayed a
I was saved for almost ten years before I heard that it was possible to know that you’re saved for all eternity; I had never heard, “once saved, always saved.” I grieve for those who have never been told that it’s possible to know that you’re a child of God. And I grieve for those who fear that maybe they’ve committed the “unpardonable sin” (Matthew 12:31)
But the bottom line is, if you are one of God’s kids, you can be absolutely sure that you’re saved. And if you’re one of His kids, know that the security of your eternal destiny is based in your Father’s character. The Holy Spirit has been given as a downpayment for your salvation. (Ephesians 1:14)
For God to take away your salvation,
He would have to forfeit the Holy Spirit!
Getting back to the original point, I think that the emphasis the writer was trying to make was not on those who fall away, but the sufficiency of Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice. His sacrifice is more than enough to cover our depravity and all the behavior it gives birth to. And as I said a couple of days ago, our salvation has nothing to do with our behavior — neither for getting
If you’re one of God’s kids, don’t have to worry about Do. Do. Do. Do. Don’t do. Don’t do. Don’t even think about doing. Just rest in Jesus’ “Done!”
We come across some hard words in today’s Bible reading from Hebrews 4. It’s a good reminder that not everyone who followed Moses out of Egypt made it to the Promised Land. As a matter of fact, only two did: Joshua and Caleb. Even Moses was denied entrance.
The writer of Hebrews warns believers to be careful to not grow hardhearted and therefore to fall short. He wraps up the chapter with
Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 CSB)
On one hand, the writer tells us that we can boldly approach God’s throne of grace, yet he says earlier in this chapter (and in the previous chapters) that we need to strive to enter His rest so no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)
So how does that work? On one
Think about it. You probably love your children more than anything in the world. You’d do anything for them and give them anything they need. But where does obedience figure into that? Will you withhold something from a disobedient child? Of
Later, the writer will tell us that the discipline we receive from our Heavenly Father demonstrates that we are His kids. Disciplining our own children demonstrates our love for them. And even when they’re disobedient, we still love them and will do whatever we can for them. Our love is grace or undeserved favor we give them by virtue that they are our children.
All believers have received grace and mercy from our Father. We didn’t do anything to get the favor He has shown to us. And because we didn’t do anything to get it, His continued favor is not dependent on our behavior. However, the more we know our loving Father, the more we will want to return His love and the more we will want to please Him with our obedience to His commands.
If you’re not interested in changing your behavior to obey God’s commands, you might want to check your spiritual state: Are you really one of His kids or not?
All of His children will enter His rest. Those who don’t enter His rest are not His children.
Some of the scariest words in the Bible are,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’ (Matthew 7:21–23 CSB)
Jesus points out that behavior doesn’t promise eternal life. Knowledge of Him and knowledge by Him does. (John 17:3) Knowing and being known are the key; they signify a relationship with Him.
And that’s what it’s all about.