Friday, May 02, 2003

Hebrews and the Gospel

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

Access to the Throne of Grace

The warnings in Hebrews should cause us to take inventory of our faith. But faith remains the way of salvation and by it we have resources the Old Testament saints could only wish they had. I will introduce this with an event that happened the moment Jesus died:

And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:37-38, NASB

The curtain torn, anyone walking around the outer court of the temple that day would be able to look into the Holy of Holies. This was the place that the high priest could visit once a year to make atonement for the nation. When Jesus died, the curtain tore, and all people have access. What symbolically happened when Jesus died is something Hebrews tells us has a tremendous reality in heaven.

The Old Covenant temple was all about restricted access. You had the general population in the outer court. The tribe of Levi could lead the worship and take care of the temple. The descendants of Aaron were the priests and they alone could offer up the gifts at the altar and enter the Holy Place to replace the Bread of Presence, burn incense, and keep the menorah burning. The High Priest alone could enter the Holy of Holies. He is the one who could pass through the veil to meet with God's presence.

Because of Jesus, our High Priest, we have access to the Holy of Holies in heaven:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

We have "help in time of need." We receive mercy and grace. This is most valuable when:

  • When we are tempted
  • When we have sinned -- again.
  • To receive a complete cleansing of guilt.
  • When we need perspective or wisdom
  • When we need power to overcome.
  • When we need to intercede for another.

In the old, the high priest could enter. In the new anybody can. It was once a year, but now anytime. It was in a symbol, but now it is in heaven itself. It was in fear, but now it is with confidence. It was for an external cleansing, but now our consciences are made clean. It was by law, but it is now by faith. This is extraordinary.

I encourage you to walk in this reality. 

Monday: The Hall of Faith

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


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