Posts Tagged ‘Hebrews’

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. Hebrews 10:1-3

 A Shadow of Our Savior

We should recall that the writer of Hebrews is admonishing Jewish Christians to not return to their old sacrificial, ‘first covenant’ system. In the Hebrews 10 passage above, they are specifically being reminded that if these old ordinances were of any effect, they would not have to do them over and over. So while it’s true the rituals covered their sin (for a year at a time), it’s also true that they did not remove their sin, doing very little for the conscience and nothing towards salvation. With each and every sacrifice, the liturgies were doing little more than bringing their transgressions, and the guilt associated with them, into their memory.

How was this happening?

shoePut yourself in the Jew‘s shoes. Every year the sinner (in this case, every Jew) would bring his prized little lamb or mighty bull to be sacrificed. As per the law, these animals were to be the best of their best, born and hence maintained to be without imperfection. Naturally, their hearts would ache as they walked these beasts from their homes to the temple, knowing the animal’s fate. Finally, when the priest took possession of the their animal, and the knife was plunged in, and the critter would squeal, and the blood would begin to flow, how could they not lament that their sin caused this dreadful thing to occur. Animal sacrifice was never meant to be a pretty thing and subsequently they were reminded each year, “Nothing has changed; I am still an appalling sinner. Look at what I have done.”

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. 2 Cor. 7:9

God had a purpose in all this — these things were a picture of what was to come in Christ Jesus, but as we have come to know, pictures and shadows do not save a man. Our sin should make us sorrowful, but in Christ Jesus it is a one-time event. After the Law (the old covenant) has done the job of identifying us as sinners, we can take the offenses, along with the guilt and the shame, and leave it at the foot of the cross, once and for all. The accuser of the brethren might bring up our sin, but Jesus never will.

Not to worry…

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. Revelation 12:10

Our new covenant in Jesus, His ultimate and final sacrifice, has done away with the old system. As a result, we no longer lament.

Today, Jesus says in our communion with Him, “Do this in remembrance of Me!”

Nowhere does Jesus ever say, or will He ever say, do this in remembrance of your sin.  So while Godly sorrow (appropriate sorrow) works to bring us to a place of repentance, we do not need to sacrifice Jesus over and over. For this reason we do not recall the sin, but joyfully recall the Savior of our salvation. We celebrate Holy Communion, we don’t bewail it.

The work is done, we are forgiven, we are free, and we are at peace.

For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:13-14

Sacrificial System = Dead Works

But you say, “I’m not sacrificing animals for my sins; never have, never will.”

Me either. However, many are guilty of doing good works that they falsely believe will save them, while others are faulted in rejecting His grace and embracing their shortcomings, beating themselves up with the ugliness of their sinful past.  Jesus would not have us fall into that trap, which is why the Book of Hebrews is applicable to every believer.

Christ desires that we would celebrate Communion often as a reminder that He finished all the work on the cross, and that we need not get sucked back into our own little sacrificial systems; those “Oh, I sinned again,” pity-parties that we have a tendency to throw for ourselves.

Final Exam

Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Corinthians 11:28-29)

Why are we to examine ourselves?

To give worth to Christ’s deed, and not to be consumed with our selfish impulses and false ideologies. When we acknowledge the work is done, we are free and we are at peace with the Lord, hence we do not condemn ourselves. In other words, the examination process is to focus on Jesus (giving Him worth) and not ourselves, lest we fall back into the practices as the Hebrews were doing. Behaving in an unworthy manner only serves to bring judgment upon ourselves.

So let us celebrate our salvation. The tomb is empty, we are free, and we are saved!

Rejoice and stay the course!

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Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. Exodus 33:7-11Moving Day

You gotta love Moses. The Lord just finishes telling him that He will not travel in the midst of camp, so what does Moses do? He moves his tent outside of the camp! Do we all see the lesson in this? As Christians we must be in that place where we can easily maintain our walk with Christ Jesus and if we find ourselves tabernacled where God is not we must re-pitch our tent. Having said that, we know God is everywhere, but we also know that some places are more conducive to an attentive relationship with Him than others.


What I found to be exceptionally insightful (as it pertains to the Exodus passage) is that anyone could have followed Moses, but out of the two or three million people, only one person did—Joshua. Everyone one else opted to stay at home. Israel was intrigued by the spiritual life, but never moved towards it–a behavior we witness today. There is a growing number of people who falsely believe they are in the faith, when all they really are is fascinated by it. Let us recognize that trait and move far, far away from it.

The Competition

…Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus… Hebrews 12:1b-2a

I want us to re-envision *Paul’s race-analogy. Look around…our opponents in this race are not our friends; they are not our brothers and sisters in the faith. The race we run is against our enemies and their goal is not our goal. While our objective is to finish the race, theirs is to take us out of the race by any means possible. As we pursue the finish line, the competition seeks to finish us.

The Relevance of Speed

In this race, speed has no relevance—honestly; we can walk all the way to the finish line. But know this: as we slow our pace evil catches up and if we stop altogether, evil surrounds us. We know (or we should know) that the opposition is powerless; he cannot inflict wickedness upon us, but the closer he is the louder his taunts. Our rivalry is not pleased when we stumble and fall, but when we fail to rise to our feet and complete the race. Our enemy does not want to kill us; he wants us to kill ourselves…and we do that when we accept that which he offers. So whatever the tempo; a crawl, a stoll, or a trot, keep moving towards Jesus.

*I am not dogmatic about it, and although know one knows for certain, I lean towards Paul being the author of the book of Hebrews

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For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.” Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today, ” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. Hebrews 4:4-9

The writer of the Book of Hebrews is making an appeal to Jewish Christians (or Christian Jews, if you prefer), the purpose of which is to point them back to Christ Jesus and away from the traps of legalism and traditionalism. ‘Religious rituals, ’ he might say, ‘are hindrances to faith and diminish what Jesus did on the cross.’ Their purpose is defined in their role as pictures and types of the future glory of Jesus and since Jesus is their fulfillment, the faithful should have little need for them.

Practically speaking, imagine if your spouse went away for a long time, but in their absence they send you photographs and letters. Understandably, you might deeply cherish these mementos. The day arrives when your loved-one walks through the door, arms open wide. But instead of greeting him or her at the door, you turn towards the picture on the mantle and lavish it with your affections. That certainly would be a silly response–no one drools over the menu once the steak arrives.

The True Sabbath

The Sabbath, as we know is a day of rest first ordained by God in Genesis. The writer of Hebrews makes this clear. He also makes it clear that God ordained that the Promised Land also be a place of rest. But the biggest case this writer makes is that God, in the Old Testament, promises a future rest; a rest that was perpetual and best of all free. That rest is Jesus Christ.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us… Titus 3:5a

In that light, the Sabbath day of rest and the Promised Land of rest were really just shadows of the continuous rest we have in Jesus. Our respite was never meant to be a vacation captured in a day off, or a location linked to a Promised Land, but a relation to a living Savior. Unending rest is not realized in a custom, or in Canaan, but in Christ.

The Message of Hebrews

The Bible tells us the faithful in Christ are free to do whatever we want. The message of Hebrews is a reminder to all that traditions can be a snare that hinders our walk with Jesus. As Christ enters in, let us never be found worshipping His shadow.

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