“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus – he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh) – and since we have a great high priest over the house of God…” (CSB – Read the chapter)
At long last we are here. I know there were times along the way it seemed like we would never get here. But by God’s grace, here we are. With this “therefore,” the author finally brings us to the conclusion of the argument he has been making for the last several chapters and offers some initial conclusions. We’ll get to his trio of applications tomorrow, Lord willing, but first, let’s do a quick review of how we got here.
“The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For after he says, ‘This is the covenant I will make with them after those days,’ the Lord says, ‘I will put my laws on their hearts and write them on their minds, and I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts.’ Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
God wants a relationship with us. That’s part of why he made us. We were created uniquely relative to the rest of creation. No other creature in the world is capable of relationships the way we are. This is because we of all the creatures on earth were created in His image. Yet sin mars this relationship. Actually, that’s not strong enough. It makes it impossible. As long as there is sin between us and God, we cannot be in a relationship with Him. So, God began to work toward fixing that. Before it came time for the real solution, though, He put in place a stopgap measure that allowed for us to get close, but it never quite got us where we wanted to go. Let’s talk this morning about how God fixed that.
“Where a will exists, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will is valid only when people die, since it is never in effect while the one who made it is living. That is why even the first covenant was inaugurated with blood. For when every command had been proclaimed by Moses to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that God has ordained for you.’ In the same way, he sprinkled the tabernacle and all the articles of worship with blood. According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Therefore, it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves to be purified with better sacrifices than these.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever done something wrong? Actually, let’s go ahead and change up that question to: When was the last time you did something wrong? I mean anything wrong. I’m not talking about just the big stuff. Big stuff, small stuff, medium stuff, all the stuff. When was the last time you did something for which you needed to be forgiven? As the author of Hebrews continues to unpack in more detail how the new covenant in Christ was made, he says something here about how forgiveness happens that should get our attention. Let’s take a look at it together.
“How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is a person whom the Lord does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit! When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever done anything wrong? I have a sneaking suspicion the answer to that question is yes. How did that make you feel? Be honest now. If you did it right, in the moment it probably felt good. That’s the tricky thing about sin. In the moment it usually feels pretty good. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be so drawn to do it. The thing is, though, that in the moment feeling doesn’t tend to last very long. After a while, it gets replaced by something else: guilt. Guilt doesn’t feel so good. Guilt is a feeling we want to get rid of. David in Psalm 32 here tells us how. Let’s see what he has to say this morning.
“Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God. All who wait patiently for him are happy. For people will live on Zion in Jerusalem. You will never weep again; he will show favor to you at the sound of your outcry; as soon as he hears, he will answer you. The Lord will give you meager bread and water during oppression, but your Teacher will not hide any longer. Your eyes will see your Teacher, and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: ‘This is the way. Walk in it.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
The most common characterization of God people have from the prophets is that He is angry. He is filled with wrath and is waiting up in heaven to catch us in some wrongdoing so He can smite us. He’s like a kid with a magnifying glass on a sunny day perched over an ant hill. The first time we show our head out of the pile, He’s going to smoke it off with a blast of lightning. And, there are some passages scattered throughout the prophets that would seem to justify such an image. But what you perhaps don’t realize is those are the exceptions, not the rule. The rule throughout the prophets is something very different and entirely more New Testament-y in their flavor than you might expect. This morning as we finish up our short look at Isaiah 30, I want to set before a passage that is much more in line with the major picture of God we get from the prophets. Let’s talk about it.