Digging in Deeper: Hebrews 12:18-24

“For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm, to the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of words. Those who heard it begged that not another word be spoken to them, for they could not bear what was commanded: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.’ The appearance was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’ Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

For twelve chapters now, and seven months, we have been joining the author of Hebrews on an explanation and exploration of why God’s new covenant in Christ is greater than the old covenant He made through Moses with the people of Israel. Here, just before his big lightning round finish, he sets the two covenants against each other one last time. This contrast, though, is different from all the rest. Let’s take a look at what he says here and what it means for us.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 10:19-21

“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.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 10:5-10

“Therefore, as he was coming into the world, he said: You did not desire sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me. You did not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings. Then I said, “See — it is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will, God.” After he says above, You did not desire or delight in sacrifices and offerings, whole burnt offerings and sin offerings (which are offered according to the law), he then says, See, I have come to do your will. He takes away the first to establish the second. By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I’ve tried to talk about it with every different example and illustration I’ve been able to imagine. I’ve run out of them, and the author is still making the same basic point, saying the same basic thing. The new covenant was always God’s plan. The old covenant was always intended to be a placeholder. We know this because God started telling the people what His plans were a very long time ago. Using a quote from Psalm 40, the author of Hebrews shows us one of the times this happened. Let’s change things up today just a bit and talk about interpreting the Old Testament through the lens of the New.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 9:24

“For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands (only a model of the true one) but into heaven itself, so that he might now appear in the presence of God for us.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Everybody wants access to the boss. One of the greatest gifts the leader of an organization has to give is his time and attention. People will compete with one another endlessly for these things because it gives them access to power. And if we can’t have power ourselves, having access to it is a close second. Under the old covenant, access to the time and attention of God was severely limited. Under the new covenant it is not. Let’s talk about why.

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Morning Musing: Hebrew 9:1-10

“Now the first covenant also had regulations for ministry and an earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was set up, and in the first room, which is called the holy place, were the lampstand, the table, and the presentation loaves. Behind the second curtain was a tent called the most holy place. It had the gold altar of incense and the ark of the covenant, covered with gold on all sides, in which was a gold jar containing the manna, Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. The cherubim of glory were above the ark overshadowing the mercy seat. It is not possible to speak about these things in detail right now. With these things prepared like this, the priests enter the first room repeatedly, performing their ministry. But the high priest alone enters the second room, and he does that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was making it clear that the way into the most holy place had not yet been disclosed while the first tabernacle was still standing. This is a symbol for the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the worship’s conscience. They are physical regulations and only deal with food, drink, and various washings imposed until the time of the new order.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever done something you thought was necessary, but later discovered was a waste of time? It’s hard to imagine something more frustrating than that. But what if this thing you were doing actually was necessary at the time. It was even good. You needed to be doing that then. But it wasn’t good enough for your ultimate aim. It was a placeholder. There was something more to get there, but it wasn’t time to learn about that part just yet. This is what the author of Hebrews here describes the old covenant to be. It did something good and important and necessary, but there was more. The more is for us. Let’s talk about it.

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