Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hebrews 9:16-28 – Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice!

Hebrews 9:16-28 – Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 28, 2012 AM

Far too many folks in our day and age do not have a last will and testament, because they never bothered to have one written. They think it is unimportant or that they do not need to worry about it so they put it off. Some foolishly think that by doing one they might hasten their own demise! It is extremely important to have a last will and testament. Few realize that their net worth is what matters and not, necessarily, what is in their bank accounts. We have all watched TV shows or movies where folks gather to hear the last will and testament of some dearly departed soul. However, did you know that a will is not completely valid until someone has died? This is especially true where the Old Testament is concerned and was not fully understood until Jesus came and established the New Testament when he became the ultimate sacrifice.

What will be your last will and testament to the world? Have you even written one yet? If not, why not? If you do not write one, then the government can decide who gets what you have materially left behind. But let me ask you another question? What kind of last will and testament are you leaving for future generations that will impact them for eternity? You can you know by making sure you have done your share in telling others about Jesus’ last will and testament. Jesus’ last will and testament was so extraordinary that the writer of Hebrews had a tough time trying to convey to his readers just how extraordinary it truly was. We learn that it did not take effect until it was written in Jesus’ blood because Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice! Let’s discover what the writer of Hebrews says about Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice…

READ: Hebrews 9:16-28

We write a last will and testament in order to leave those we care about most something of ourselves. This is exactly what God did as well! The new covenant is so much better than the old one that we often forget what it cost to be implemented. The promises derived from the new covenant are an eternal legacy for all mankind. However, we can never forget…

I. The cost of the new covenant! (Vv. 16-22)

  1. We forget that “In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it.” And the reason is obvious, “because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.” The writer deliberately used the terms that referred to a person’s last will and testament. While “covenants” and “wills” are not in all respects identical, the author meant that the New Covenant is really a testamentary disposition. Like human wills, all the arrangements are secured by a testator and its beneficiaries need only accept its terms. He goes on to explain, “This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.” Something or someone had to die in order for the last will and testament to take effect! Least his listeners forget what happened, he continues by telling them, “When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people.” Death had to occur and the ceremony completed. Remember that during his final Passover meal, Jesus gave new significance to the meal by telling his disciples, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28 NIV) Hebrews reminds us “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” Just as the old covenant was put into effect with blood, so now the new one is written in the blood of Christ! “In the same way,” just as Moses “sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies” Jesus sprinkled everything as well! “In fact,” he writes, “the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” This is the cost of the new covenant!

  EXAMPLE: Remember that Direct TV commercial, where the testator is reading the will of a wealthy man. The ex-wife, bimbo girlfriend, and other family members are gathered as the lawyer drones, “I also will my private jet, my island in the Maldives, and full control of the family business to my soul-mate… Angel. Finally, to my only son Chancy, I bequeath my Direct TV and its vast collection of 6,000 channels, shows, and movies.” The idiot son begins to dance around the room and whoop it up. We all have at one time or another thought of how great it would be if some wealthy relative, we really did not care that much about, died and left us a pile of money. Of course, this is not reality and it kind of erases the truth of the situation. For a will to be read and in effect someone must die, and we must be the beneficiaries of their last will and testament! Isn’t it therefore great to know then that the cost of the New Testament has already been covered by the sprinkling of a better sacrifice?

Far too often, when Christians gather on Sunday morning they have forgotten why they are supposed to. Sunday worship is not about us. Our worship is to make us reflect on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, but more than that, it is a time whereby we are to remind ourselves of…

II. The amazing wonder of the new covenant! (Vv. 23-28)

  1. The writer quickly teaches his listeners the importance of the new will and testament of Jesus. Jesus did not just cleanse earthly implements or people so they could be clean until they sinned again, he cleansed those who trusted him for salvation for eternity! “It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” Jesus was a better sacrifice because “Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence.” Jesus could do this because of who he is! He is not a human becoming a god, nor is he just a good man trying to gain ultimate reality, he is God himself in human form. This is why Jesus did not “enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.” As Gill relates, “Christ entered into heaven with his own blood, he having been altar, priest, and sacrifice: the high priest went into the most holy place every year, but Christ has entered into heaven once for all, where he sits down and continues, having done his work effectually.” If Jesus were not God in human flesh, “Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” The end of the ages began when Jesus died and rose again! He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of all things! Just as “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:3 NIV) Jesus is the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NIV) In fact, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Jesus came once, died once, rose once, and will come again once! It is the amazing wonder of the new covenant!

  EXAMPLE: There is no free lunch. Nothing in life is free. Nothing of value is free. Everything has a price. Anything of value costs something. All of these quotes refer to the price that has to be paid for something we might take for granted. The salvation Christians enjoy came at a great cost and in fact, it cost us nothing and everything as well. We did not have to die for it, Jesus did that, but we have to die to ourselves to obtain it and for some that is a difficult price. It is difficult because we know who we are and we cannot believe anyone would care enough to die for us! Paul put it this way, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!” (Romans 5:7-9 NIV) It is the amazing wonder of the new covenant!

Conclusion:
We learned two things concerning Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice: 1) The cost of the new covenant, and 2) the amazing wonder of the new covenant! It is Jesus’ last will and testament to us for us!
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Hebrews 9:11-15 – The blood of the Lamb of God!

Hebrews 9:11-15 – The blood of the Lamb of God!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 7, 2012 AM

When I was younger, we had a clubhouse we had built in a huge fir tree and then we decided to build another by digging one just down from the tree in the hillside by the railroad tracks. In order to get into the clubhouse you had to know how to enter. We had a set of passwords and booby traps to entrap the unsuspecting who dared enter without knowing the secrets of our clubhouse. Of course looking back on those security measures we had, they seem pretty juvenile now. You know what, there are religions in our world today that have the same kind of secret handshakes and code words that you have to understand and do in order to get into the “secret” inner arena of their spiritual philosophies. It is a matter of genuflections or erasing one’s engrams.

The Old Testament ritual had become, well, so much ritual because of Jesus Christ! But how does one show this to people who had for their entire lives and for centuries lived for and had adhered to those very rituals? The fact is the Old Testament was just pointing toward the New Covenant established by Jesus’ sacrifice and planned by God all along. Those beautiful words of John the Baptist remind us of this wonderful truth when John saw Jesus coming toward him as he was baptizing in the Jordan River and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NIV) Remember, Peter tells us that it is “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19) that we are cleansed and saved. It is by the blood of the Lamb of God! Let’s discover how this is true…

READ: Hebrews 9:11-15

There is a PBS show called Doc Martin where a chief surgeon in a London hospital has to give up surgery and begin again, in a small town, as their area doctor because of his aversion to blood. He used to see people as mere objects of his specialty until he came face-to-face with the fact that those he was performing surgery on were someone’s parent, child, or beloved spouse. We do not like to talk about such things as blood, yet we are intrigued by the horror of it in movies. The plain truth is that sin costs and it demands a tremendous price. We learn that…

I. Jesus entered heaven’s tabernacle through his blood! (Vv. 11-12)

  When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12 NIV)

  1. Now that the Messiah has come, a more perfect system is introduced by which the conscience may be made free from guilt. Under the Messiah, the Jews anticipated greater blessings. They looked forward to better things than they enjoyed under the old covenant. They expected more confirmation of God’s divine favor; a clearer knowledge of the way of forgiveness; and more prominent spiritual satisfaction. Of these, Hebrews relates, “Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here!” Jesus has come, fulfilled his office in every way, and has given us everything! It was by Jesus they were ransomed back; and the time had actually arrived when they might enjoy the long-anticipated good things! Jesus proved he was capable and who he was because he “went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation” to do his ministry of high priest. In fact, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” It was by the means of his body and blood offered as the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus entered into the most holy place in heaven! It was by this means we have “obtained eternal redemption” for our sins! Jesus entered heaven’s tabernacle through his blood!

  EXAMPLE: When we go to the county fair, there is usually a fun house or house of horrors or some such thing. Inevitably, there is a sign that reads, “Enter if you dare!” or “Enter at your own risk!” That is kind of the way it was when the priests entered the tabernacle. How truly wonderful to learn we have Jesus who “went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle” by the power of his sacrifice. Jesus entered heaven’s tabernacle through his blood!

We can intellectually note that we are cleansed by Jesus’ sacrifice, but it is another thing when we have to live with ourselves! We know, as Paul did, that “nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For, I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18-19 NIV) We are inherently spiritually insecure people! Hebrews lets us know that we need not fret because…

II. Jesus’ blood is far better than our sacrifice! (Vv. 13-14)

  The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:13-14 NIV)

  1. In Leviticus 19:9, God related that the ashes of a heifer were to be kept “for use in the water cleansing” because it was “for purification from sin.” The ashes were to be carefully preserved, mixed with water, and then sprinkled on those who were for any reason ceremonially unclean. The “reason” for this appears to have been that the heifer, whose blood has been offered as a sacrifice, and the application of the ashes were therefore regarded as an evidence of one’s participation in that sacrifice. It was needed, where there were so many laws regarding external pollutions where the individual of the Jewish community were regarded as frequently “unclean” in various ways. There had to be some method in which they could be declared to be cleansed from their “uncleanness” and God provided the ashes of a heifer. That is why “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.” “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ” being infinitely more precious than the blood of an animal inwardly cleanse us! Notice too that the trinity is in full display in the act of redemption here because Hebrews also notes that Jesus “through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God.” It is by this wondrous means we “cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death (literally, “dead works”) so that we may serve the living God!” The old covenant acts always lead to spiritual death, whereas the new covenant establish through Jesus’ blood leads to life! Jesus blood is far better than our sacrifice!

  EXAMPLE: I grew up in a church where the priest would walk down the aisle making the sign of the cross while sprinkling holy water on the congregation in memory of baptism to confer grace and blessing on the participants. It is one of many rituals that the Catholic Church believes helps God and us to get rid of any unconfessed sin we might have in our lives. How sad that there are those who in our day still do not understand that Jesus paid it all. That Jesus’ blood is better than any sacrifice we could ever make. Jesus’ blood is far better than our sacrifice!

In our day and age, we hear a lot about advocacy. There are advocates for children, senior adults, parents, different ethnic groups, the poor, and others. You name a group or individual and there is probably an advocacy for it. How marvelous to learn therefore that there is an advocate for our sin! We discover that this is the message of the gospels and the message of Hebrews, namely that…

III. Jesus’ blood sets us free! (v.15)

  For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15 NIV)

  1. So how is it that we who are so easily insecure in our relationship with God are made secure even when may think we are not? The writer states it is for “this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant!” Wow! We are always looking for some excuse as to why God should not, could not, or cannot forgive us of our sin but God can, could, should and did! As the apostle Paul reminds us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast!” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV) God’s grace is exactly that, his grace! It is not won or procured through the endless bloodletting of animals and was never meant to be! It was so “that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance!” Notice the predestination of being “called.” God calls us through the Holy Spirit, to Jesus as the Mediator between God and man, into the new covenant, which Jesus has made through his blood! We gain entrance into the heavenly tabernacle by faith through this same blood! In fact, Jesus “has died as a ransom to set” all of us “free” not only from our present sins, but also “from the sins committed under the first covenant” which were not covered until Jesus. In all of these things, we used to need the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on us, but now we are cleansed by Jesus’ blood! Can you imagine going to Worship every Sunday, hoping your sins will be forgiven, and being sprinkled with ash water? Praise God that Jesus’ blood sets us free!

  EXAMPLE: I will never forget how as a young man the impact of this truth had on my life. I no longer had to try and please God. I no longer had to worry if I had done enough. I no longer had to guess if I had made enough contrition, lit enough candles, said enough prayers, or made enough confessions. For those of you who never grew up in a faith that held you imprisoned to doing good works and had you convinced that you could never know if you were truly saved, that in fact, not even the leadership or your local priest knew for certain if they were saved! Then, you have the glorious good news jump off the pages of Scripture, and you realize that Jesus’ blood sets us free!

Conclusion:

Jesus entered heaven’s tabernacle through his blood, Jesus’ blood is a better than our sacrifice, and Jesus’ blood sets us free! It is all because of the blood of the Lamb of God!
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.