March 11 - Hebrews 9
WHY IS SALVATION SO GROSS? The one thing that comes out over and over in chapter 9 is the association between blood and salvation: The Hebrew priests could only make atonement (payment for sin) with the blood of goats & calves (v7, 12-13), and even covenants needed to be sealed in blood (v18) (see yesterday's introduction to 'covenants' if you missed it). The need for blood is summarized in v22:
Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness (Heb. 9:22).
To our 21st century sensibilities this all seems disgusting. When we think of a worship service, we think of cute kids singing their Sunday school songs during the offering, long winded preachers, and then coffee & fellowship after the service; the thought of the blood of freshly sacrificed animals being sprinkled upon people and things doesn't really fit in our understanding. The point of Hebrews 9 is that all of those Old Testament Tabernacle & Temple rituals involving the blood of bulls and goats was a picture of what was required for the atonement of sin: Blood represents life, and God's holy justice demands that life is the price to be paid for sin.
BUT ANIMAL BLOOD WASN'T SUFFICIENT: We are justifiably proud of our agri-businesses here in Southwest Minnesota. We grow food on a massive scale that helps feed the entire world. We're very familiar with large, modern & sophisticated animal feeding operations that outpace anything that's come before us.
Yet these ancient tabernacle and temple ceremonies required a massive effort to slaughter and process thousands of birds, bulls and goats each day to produce enough blood to cover the sins of the Israelites. But there was one day each year that was special: the Day of Atonement when the High Priest would take blood behind the massive curtain separating the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple - a reminder that the people were separated from God's holy presence - and make payment for Israel's sins. But all of this was just a picture: v9 indicates these bloody offerings were not able to clear the consciences of anybody, and year after year, the process needed to be repeated. The people remained separated from God.
FINALLY, A SUFFICIENT SACRIFICE HAS BEEN MADE: v12 summarizes how all of these Old Testament symbols and ceremonies which had been incomplete and pointing forward have been fulfilled in the work of Jesus Christ:
Jesus 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, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
This is why we look forward to Christ's return: the priests needed to offer insufficient sacrifices over and over, but Jesus was sacrificed once for the complete forgiveness of our sins, and when He comes back, it will not be because another sacrifice needs to be made, rather it will be to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him (v28).
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God is holy, therefore His perfect justice demands that even the smallest of sins be paid for with blood representing life.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God that you are covered by the blood of Jesus, who made a final, complete and sufficient payment that results in the complete forgiveness of your sins.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: