Monday, April 28, 2003

Gleanings from Hebrews

Jesus and the New Covenant(6)

This marks the second division of a series that introduces the Book of Hebrews. To start at the beginning, click here.

One very central tenet in Hebrews is the superiority of Jesus and the New Covenant over Moses and the Old. This second section of Gleanings from Hebrews will cover this central message.

Jesus: The Final Offering

According to Hebrews, Jesus is:

  • A King -- Upholding all things by the word of His power
  • A Prophet -- He is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His nature. He reveals God more truly than any messenger ever sent.
  • A Mediator -- He was the mediator of a new covenant based on better promises. He and the New Covenant outshine Moses and the Old Covenant.
  • A Kinsman -- The Son took on humanity in order to become our kinsman. In so doing he took on the responsibilities of the redeemer and rescued us.
  • A High Priest -- The Son is king and priest. His priesthood is based on a prophetic oath made by God is Psalm 110 and is certified by the resurrection.

Hebrews systematically connects Jesus with points of the Old Covenant and declares Jesus superior.

Jesus is the great eternal high priest. He has provided purification of sins for us. This, however, raises two questions: In what temple did He serve? -and- What was His offering? The answer is that Jesus carried His own blood, spiritually speaking, into heaven itself. As Hebrews has told us, Moses erected the Tabernacle as a copy of things that he saw in heaven. Jesus carried His offering into the Holy Place from which Moses copied his:

Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See,” He says, “that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. (Hebrews 8:1-6, NASB)

And, as I have mentioned, Jesus carried His own blood into this place:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:11-15)

In this way, the salvation that Jesus brings is complete and perfect.

For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. (Hebrews 9:24-28)

KAL V'CHOMER

I have previously mentioned the rabbinical argument form of KAL V'CHOMER. It has the form: If this light thing, how much more this heavy thing. KAL V'CHOMER means light and heavy.

If mortal priest serving in a copy of the tabernacle in heaven using daily blood offerings provided a covering for mankind's sins, how much more did this one offering of the eternal high priest with His own blood do for us:

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:13-14)

It is no wonder that early on in Hebrews, the author admonished his readers:

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. (Hebrews 2:1-4)

We have a great salvation. In the final section of this study, I will look into Hebrew's Halakah. Let's see how we should then live.

Tuesday: The Stubborn Heart

<>< Test Everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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