Today’s Reading: Hebrews 8:1 – 10:10
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. – Hebrew 8:6
Wow! That’s exciting! I know this isn’t new information. We have probably all read through Hebrews before, but this verse has the potential to breathe new life into our day. As the angels said, this is good news that brings great joy! Jesus negotiated a new agreement or a new covenant with God on our behalf – a far better covenant with far better promises.
God keeps His promises so “better promises” does not say He did not keep His original promises. The problem was that the old covenant written on stones was broken by God’s people, not by Him. Now there is a new covenant written not on stones but in our minds and on our hearts – declaring that we are God’s people, that He is our God (8:7-10). This new covenant was made possible by the blood of Jesus Christ, our High Priest.
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.
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. – Hebrews 9:11-15
For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. – Hebrews 9:22b
This new covenant just keeps getting better. The old covenant involved the shedding of animals’ blood and had to be repeated on certain days and at certain ceremonies. Even then, the cleansing from those sacrifices was not perfect, not permanent and not capable of taking away feelings of guilt (10:1-2). Jesus’ blood was SO sufficient that He only had to die ONCE. His blood was so pure and His sacrifice so perfect, that it took care of the need for blood to be shed ONCE AND FOR ALL!
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 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. – Hebrews 9:26-28
One more point comes out of these chapters of Hebrews – a point that speaks loudly to me this morning and is consistent with Paul’s teachings.
For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, ONCE FOR ALL TIME. – Hebrews 10:10
So, if God’s plan is for us to be holy, which is possible because of the blood of Jesus, what happens if we choose to continue in sin rather than walk in holiness? What happens if we continue to give in to the urgings of the sinful nature instead of giving in to the urgings of the Spirit God has given us?
The writer of Hebrews talks about those who have repented of their sins, experienced all of the wonderful things a relationship with God has to offer, including the Holy Spirit, but then reject the Son of God. The writer says, “by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame” (Hebrews 6:6). How heartbreaking! Jesus died for our sins – why would we want to reject this salvation by continuing in sin?
God’s plan is for those of us who are working for Him and showing our love for Him to KEEP on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what we hope for will come true. His plan is that we would not become spiritually dull or indifferent but that we would follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their FAITH and ENDURANCE (6:10-12).
Oh God, we hold tight to the hope that lies before us – the hope given through this new covenant made possible by the death of Your Son, the perfect sacrifice. Lord, we desire to let go of our own plans and all this world offers and cling to You and You only. Thank you for this hope that we have in You. It is a trustworthy anchor for our souls, giving us faith and endurance to keep on loving – to keep on serving (6:18-19). Amen.