Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why the Blood? {Part Two}

Here I am thinking out loud again. Not paying attention to what theology or orthodoxy says but only to what the word of God is saying to me personally through the knowledge of His son Jesus.

"Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption." Hebrews 9:12

So in the last post we talked a little about why there was a need for blood sacrifice. We talked a bit about what happened on the Day of Atonement each year. The Day of Atonement was a day of corporate repentance and atonement of the Israelites. It was also the only day of the year the the high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. Once the appropriate sacrifices had taken place the High Priest could boldly approach the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat there of to make reconciliation for the nation in the presence of God. He also sprinkled blood on the ark to symbolically bind for another year the relationship of the people to God. Remember the ark contained a gold bowl of manna{symbol of God's provision for his people}, the law{symbol of God's justice and call to righteousness} and Aaron's budded rod{a symbol of God's authority through the priesthood}.

Now fast forward to the time of Jesus in New Testament and the great temple in Jerusalem. The day of Atonement was still the most holy of days to the Jewish people. But one very important thing was missing. The holy of holies was empty. There was no ark of the covenant, there was no bowl of manna, there was no ten commandments, there was no rod of Aaron. When the priests entered to sprinkle blood on the Day of Atonement it was sprinkled onto a stone. I can't image that it had the same meaning as when the ark and the mercy seat were there. So what does God do? He sends his Son to make atonement by the shedding of blood and a new covenant by the sprinkling of blood.

"And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." Hebrews 9:15

Now this portion of Hebrews also gives a great analogy of why Jesus had to die to mediate this new covenant. The author uses the concept of a last will and testament. A will is defined as "A legal declaration of how a person wishes his or her possessions to be disposed of after death." Therefore a will is not exercised until the the person making the declaration has died. Think of the covenant in the ark...provision, justice, righteousness, authority. BTW justice and righteousness are the same word in both the Hebrew & Greek. These are the things that God came in the flesh to mediate to us. He had to die so that we may receive our inheritance. Our only access to this inheritance is through the atonement of the blood shed on the cross and the sprinkling of blood on the new covenant.

"For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood." Hebrews 9:16-18

The extraordinary thing about Jesus is that he was a man but he also was God. He came as a man to reconcile man to God. He came as a man so that he could be approached as a man but redeem and reconcile only as God can. Notice all the people that approached Jesus during his ministry on earth; the sinner, the sick, the possessed, the unclean. Now compare that to how the high priest had to approach the Holy of Holies on the day of atonement. If we wasn't ritually clean and with the proper sacrifice he was faced with death. I can't think of any person that died, was consumed, or was swallowed by the earth on account of approaching Jesus during his ministry. Why? Because Jesus was both. He was God and man. He was high priest and mercy seat. He was atonement and inheritance. He was the mediator and the representative of both the parties being mediated! How cool was Jesus! I'm not sure we will ever fully grasp this. What Jesus did was made complete in what he did and was done for all mankind.

"...then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God..." Hebrews 10:9-12

The priest of the tabernacle in the Old Testament were not allowed to sit down because the business of mediating for the people was unending. So in Jesus sitting at the right hand of God making complete our atonement and the atonement for all mankind. We who have partaken of that atonement must rise to take also our inheritance. Now we stand and take office of mediation and reconciliation for the people in the same way the high priest did; in the same way Jesus did. Not to bring condemnation but to bring all men to the cross that all men may take hold of not only the everlasting inheritance but also the earthly one. Remember the ark of the covenant---provision, justice, righteousness and authority.

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrew 4:15-16

This is what Jesus did on the cross. It wasn't just to fulfill a judicial punishment. He shed blood for atonement and also sprinkled blood for our inheritance{earthly and eternal} that we may boldly approach God with no fear of condemnation. An inhertitence written on our hearts and mind that will never fade or that cannot be taken away. It is through the blood of Jesus that we cry Abba, Father. It is through the blood of the cross that we are co-heirs with Christ. It is through the blood that Son was reconciled to Father so we all may pray "Our Father which art in heaven...". We are called as partakers of this inheritance to boldly bring others to this throne of grace. Their atonement has been made. It is already finished. They just don't know it. Now we must give the same offer of deliverence Jesus gave. We must be as approachable as Jesus was approachable and above all must love as Christ loved. Because really isn't that why God sent his Son in the first place?

"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works..." Hebrews 10:19-24

I guess what really stuck out to me in these Hebrew passages is to not just concentrate on what we got out of the cross{which is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE} but to also look at what we are now responsible for because of the cross.  Namely not got squander or shame the inheritence we were given while we are still here on earth.  Instead, we need to multiply it so that the glory in heaven will be all the more glorious.  I want nothing more than to hear my Father will say well done good and faithful servant, you brought as many as you could to the mercy seat.  :)


2 comments:

  1. To Ms Goodpasture;
    Thank you for your quotations - do you see the Levitical priesthood reflected in verse 9 leading you to this question: is Jesus your high priest?

    ReplyDelete
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