Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews Lesson 56

In the New Covenant, Jesus is our high priest. Unlike the old order, where the high priest may change from year to year, Jesus is our priest forever. Unlike the blood of goats and bulls shed in a copy of heavenly counterparts, Jesus' blood was taken to the real thing and provides a permanent cleansing of the should. This gives us access to the presence of God and access to help that was unavailable to the Old Covenant saints. This has been the core of the book of Hebrews. So much so that even in his closing comments this theme comes through:

Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.

We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.

For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (Hebrews 13:9-14, NASB 95)

There were several offerings made in the Temple. Here are a few of them:

  • The whole burnt offering: The animal is completely offered to god. It was slaughtered and completely burned. None of the meat was eaten.
  • The sin offering: The animal was offered for a specific sin. The priest was required to eat the meat.
  • The guilt offering: Very similar to the sin offering. The guilt offering was more of a catch-all because it covered sin done in ignorance. Here too, the priest ate the meat.
  • The atonement offering: Made once a year during the day of atonement. It was offered for the sins of the nation. No flesh was eaten.
  • Fellowship offering: Here you brought an animal to be slaughtered before the Lord and eaten by you and your family. You were required to give a portion to the priest who oversaw the offering.

It looks to me that the Writer in this part of Hebrews refers to the Sin/Guilt offerings. His point is that the priest, who officiates over the covering of the sins of God's people has no right to eat at the true altar. The one who has faith in Jesus the Messiah does--and he or she need no be a descendent of Aaron--or even be Jewish!

Because Jesus bore our sin, He suffered outside the city of Jerusalem in a manner consistent where they burned the offal of the sacrifice. According to the Writer, we now have a responsibility to leave community and friends, if necessary, to follow Him. In the specific context, the Writer is calling his fellow Jews to follow Jesus over following their leaders who are currently rejecting the message. They need to be like Joshua and Caleb who stood their ground calling for the invasion of the promised land while their 10 co-spies stirred up fear and apprehension. It is a call to be alone to follow truth.

As a Christian, I should expect to live a life that is at odds with the culture around me. I am to leave its ways behind and seek the ways of God. To become like Him.

Next time will be the finish of this book. From there I will return to the Old Testament and work through the book of Jeremiah.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.