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Jul 20 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

July 19, 2020


Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. Hebrews 9:15

Intro: When we began our study in the Book of Hebrews, do you remember me telling you that I love this book?

That is because it is all about Jesus
– to me, it is like a fifth gospel, but it is different in this respect:
• the other four gospels follow Jesus from a human perspective
◦ we read about him from our view on earth
◦ Hebrews follows him from heaven’s perspective
• it’s as if we watch Jesus through the eyes of God’s angels

From heaven, Jesus is seen being made perfect through suffering (Heb. 2:10), taking on our flesh and blood existence (Heb. 2:14), suffering when tempted (Heb. 2:18), and in every respect . . . tempted as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). Heaven watches as Jesus was appointed to be a high priest (Heb. 5:5) after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5:10), and when he offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears (Heb. 5:7). From heaven we see Jesus become the mediator of a better covenant (Heb. 8:6), as he entered the holy places of heaven (Heb. 9:12), and as he offered himself without blemish to God (Heb. 9:14), then raised from the dead, and exalted to the right hand of God (Heb. 1:3; 8:1).

– these are events in the story of Jesus never told in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John
• Hebrews reveals the meaning of Jesus’ life in new depths and dimensions
• so, going through this passage I want you to see Jesus’ imprint on it
◦ and perhaps love him even more

I cut off our study last week at verse 14

There we learned that blood of Jesus does much more for us than Old Testament sacrifices
– that it washes the window of our mind and purifies our consciousness
from dead works to serve the living God (Heb. 9:14)
• dead works can refer to deeds from our worldly life or our religious life
• either way, dead works are not how we reach the living God

Verse 15 begins with Therefore, which indicates that the writer is going to tell us what all that Jesus has done makes him to us; namely,
the mediator of a new covenant
• a well-known role in the social world of the New Testament,
◦ was that of a middleman who worked out agreements between two parties
◦ typically it involved linking a wealthy sponsor for a poor person
(social scientists refer to this as a patron-client arrangement. In Luke 22:25, Jesus refers to patrons as benefactors)
• the broker would match a client to the specifications of a patron
Jerome Negrey suggested that Hebrews represents Jesus as a broker, and that brokers “. . . belong to the worlds of both patron and clients and so fairly represent the interests of both.”
◦ whether that’s so, Jesus is the intersection of heaven and earth
◦ in him deity is linked to humanity
– the new covenant has been the main subject of Hebrews since chapter 8
• what we learn here is that certain gifts come with the new covenant
◦ it contains the promise of an eternal inheritance
◦ to be “called,” in this context, is like receiving a notice from an attorney’s office announcing the reading of a will — we’re invited, because we are included in the will
• Paul also talks about the inheritance that belongs to God’s children
. . . having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe (Ep. 1:18-19; see also Ro. 8:15-17)
– the writer of Hebrews says a death has occurred, a death that redeems
• we know about Jesus’ death,
◦ and that as Paul says, Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:1)
◦ our transgressions have been forgive and we are redeemed
• but what the writer of Hebrews says about death here is different
◦ in fact, because of what we’ve learned so far about covenant relationships,
◦ what he says next is confusing

The writer introduces a new significance to Jesus’ death
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. Hebrews 9:16-17

The theme running through this section is the new covenant
– and we understand that as an agreement between two people
• it creates a relationship and forms a bond between them
• but what is he saying about the covenant here?
William Barclay, “Now up to verse 16 the writer to the Hebrews has been using [the Greek word] diatheke in the normal Christian sense of covenant, and then, suddenly with no explanation of what he is doing, he switches to the sense of [a] will.”
– there are two Greek words that can be translated covenant
suntheke, which is specifically a relational covenant like marriage
diatheke, which is more flexible, can also mean a formal contract
diatheke can be used in both senses – and can refer to a will
◦ the writer is playing on this flexibility of this word, now using its other meaning–a will
Luke Johnson, “The shift is not arbitrary, because the new covenant is precisely about the inheritance.”

Jesus’ death serves as a sacrifice,
– but now, on another level, it serves another function
• our covenant includes an inheritance
◦ but like a “Last Will and Testament,”
◦ the inheritance is given only when the one who made it dies
• Jesus’ death makes the covenant-will effective

It is because of passages like this that we first studied Leviticus
Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:18-22)

The sacrificial ritual of Israel’s worship involved basic elements
– fire, fuel (wood), water, an offering, and blood (the chief element)
• the primary concern of the ritual was to maintain Israel’s relationship with God
◦ this meant atonement, forgiveness, purification, restoration (fellowship offerings), thanksgiving, consecration, and rituals of renewal
• here, the main concern is purification
– the writer combines several different purification rites into one example
• everything having to do with the covenant had to be made sacred
◦ the Book of the Covenant (Ex. 24:7-8), the sanctuary, all the furnishings in sanctuary, and the people
• blood was the primary agent for accomplishing this

The ritual use of blood is outside our comfort zone for most of us
– it’s so foreign that we don’t get it and may even feel repulsed by it
• what we need to know is that in the Scriptures:
◦ nothing is more valuable than life (even animal life)
◦ that the life or soul of living creatures is in the blood
◦ all life belongs to God, and blood is therefore sacred
◦ in sacrifice, Israel offered a life that wasn’t theirs to give
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life (Lev. 17:11)
• God provides a life in place of that of the worshiper

Because of its graphic violence, I cannot recommend that you see the movie, “Man On Fire.” However, to me it contained one of the most beautiful metaphors of salvation I have ever seen. Denzel Washington plays a burned-out ex-CIA agent. In the most dramatic scene in the movie, he saves a child’s life by giving his own. When the exchange is made, Denzel’s character crosses a bridge from one side and the child crosses from the middle. They meet in the middle, embrace, and spend a moment there before they continue across the bridge, the child running to life and Denzel’s character walking to his death. He had made this deal with a drug Lord, who told him the only way to redeem the child was “a life for a life.”

The prototype for Jesus offering himself as a sacrifice is found in Israel’s worship
and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins

Again the writer of Hebrews contrasts old covenant with the new
Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sins by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:23-26

First he contrasts the copies of heavenly things to the realities
– Jesus’ death and resurrection produced effects on earth and in heaven simultaneously
• earth contained the four-dimensional space of sacrifice
◦ that is where purification, atonement and forgiveness were given
• heaven is the extra-dimensional realm
◦ there, in God’s presence, Jesus appeared on our behalf
◦ and the greater work of inner purification and sanctification becomes ours because of what he did there
– one event, Jesus’ death and resurrection, occurred in both realms
• Jesus, our mediator, belongs to both realms
• what he accomplished on the cross correlated to what he did in heaven

The second contrast is between what the priests did repeatedly and Jesus did once for all

The third contrast has to do with the blood offered by the high priest
• it was not his own, where as Jesus offered the sacrifice of himself

The writer jumps to the end of the road (our lives and the last days)
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28

The normal course of human life is that we die once and then face judgment
– Jesus went the normal course in regard to dying once,
• but his death was not followed by judgment,
◦ because his death was a judgmentto bear the sins of many
• and also unlike our experience, he will appear a second time
◦ and that will be to complete the salvation of his people

I want to add one thought. I am not one of those preachers who rummages through current events every day searching for evidence that we are in the last days, certain that Jesus will return within my lifetime. I have seen too much scripture twisting and failed predictions to take most of the literature on the “end times” seriously.
However, I urge you not to let go of the certainty of Jesus’ return or the possibility that it could occur at any moment, with the only “sign” of it, is that it is actually happening. Paul said that we are waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ . . . (Titus 2:13). Hebrews says we are eagerly waiting for him. We can still get up each morning and look toward the east to see whether this is the day of his return.

Conclusion: From the beginning of Hebrews the message has been,

God speaks to us through Jesus
– humans have always wanted to be religious, so God gave us a religion
• for hundreds of years we tried to do it on our own, and failed
• we worked at being right with God by following the rules
◦ but now we follow Jesus, and we are made right with God
◦ the old works of the law has been replaced by a life of love

This is the life we have in Jesus, and it is solid
It will never wear out, never collapse, or disappear
It is forever
eternal redemption (verse 12),
energized by the eternal Spirit (verse 14),
providing us with an eternal inheritance (verse 15)
Take it, enjoy it,
you can have it, it’s yours

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