Friday, June 03, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 33

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

The Better Mediator of the Better Covenant

How many ways can you say that Jesus carried His own blood to the God as an eternal offering for the sin of mankind? The Writer of Hebrews has already stated this once. He now states it again:

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. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.

Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you." And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 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 9:15-28, NASB 95)

The point, of course, is that the New Covenant is superior to the Old by virtue of:

  • A better Mediator
  • A single effective offering vs. multiple symbolic offerings

And that becomes the important thing: a single offering that is able to do the whole job and "put away sin."

There is an interesting play on words at the beginning of this section, "For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives." Covenants are often just contracts between individuals or groups, and not all contracts require the death of a party to become effective. But a will is a covenant is a contract between a person and his heirs--and is changeable up to the moment of death--after which it becomes permanent. The New Covenant is, then, closer to a will, and the Old was closer to a contract between parties. In the Old Covenant, if the people obeyed blessings would follow; if they disobeyed curses would follow. But this New Covenant was promised, and became effective when Jesus, the Son, died. Furthermore, since Jesus took on our flesh and blood, we became His heirs. By His death, we came into the inheritance of the Son.

And finally, for today, I see a verse often quoted to different purposes than that of its author. How often have you heard it said, "it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment?" How often has it been used to instill fear in the hearer. When the Writer of Hebrews says these words, there is no fear, because "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." I like these words "without reference to sin." When the Lord, through Jeremiah, spoke of the coming New Covenant, He said, "I will ?forgive their iniquity, and their ??sin I will remember no more. "

How many ways can you say that Jesus carried His own blood to the God as an eternal offering for the sin of mankind? The Writer of Hebrews is not done yet.

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Test everything. Cling to what is good.

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