HYMN (Praise 452) Yes, finished! The Messiah dies
Tune – Before the throne
Yes, finished! the Messiah dies,
cut off for sins, but not his own;
completed is the sacrifice,
the great redeeming work is done.
Yes, finished! all the debt is paid,
justice divine is satisfied,
the grand and full atonement made:
God for a guilty world has died!
2. The temple curtain is torn down,
the living way to heaven is seen;
through Christ, the middle wall has gone
and all who will may enter in.
The ancient shadows are fulfilled,
the law’s harsh sentence is applied,
the sinless Lamb of God is killed,
the covenant is ratified.
3. The reign of sin and death is done,
and all may live, from sin set free;
Satan and his pretended throne
are swallowed up in victory.
Saved from the curse of God I am;
my Saviour hangs upon a tree!
See there the meek and silent Lamb;
his final breath he breathes for me.
4. In Christ accepted and brought near
and clothed in righteousness divine,
I see the path to life made clear,
and all your merits, Lord, are mine.
Death, hell and sin are now subdued,
all grace is now to sinners given,
and so I plead the atoning blood
and by your gift, receive your heaven.
READING HEBREWS 9:1 – 10:18
Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.
6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7 But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
The Blood of Christ
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He 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. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All
10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”
17 Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
SERMON 9 The Old has passed away;
The New is now here
9:1-10 The author now goes on describes the wilderness tent/Tabernacle and then describes the ritual linked to that sanctuary. The original tabernacle was introduced just after the announcement of the covenant in Exod. 24.
The writer starts off by underlining that the tabernacle and later the Temple were both temporary. The wilderness tent-shrine was made up of the court, outer compartment and inner compartment. The Outer Compartment held a ‘candlestick’ or ‘lampstand’, made of gold with branches from the main stem and situated on the south side.
The table was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold, had special crockery. The west end of this outer compartment had a linen curtain, the ‘second veil’, this was the entrance to the Inner compartment or ‘Holy Of Holies’ (9:3-4).
The two pieces of furniture in this Holy of Holies were the Golden Incense-Altar and the Ark Of The Covenant. The ark was a box made from acacia wood and contained the covenant-terms engraved on two stone tablets (Exod. 25:16,21,22). It also contained the gold jar of manna and Aaron’s staff that had budded.
Finally, our author mentions the lid of the ark which was a golden slab called the mercy-seat or atonement cover (place of propitiation). The God of Israel had vowed to appear in the cloud on the mercy-seat (Lev 16:2). Meanwhile the ‘cherubim’ were two gold figures that hovered above the mercy-seat (Exod. 25:18- 22; 37:7-9) speaking of the invisible presence of Israel’s God. Our writer now presses on to discuss the significance of this sanctuary on the annual Day of Atonement (9:5).
Heb 9:6 reminds his readers that the outer court of the tabernacle – and the later temples – was constantly in use. The priests trimmed the lamps on the lampstand (Exod. 27:20f) and burnt incense on the incense-altar (Exod. 30:7f), also replacing the bread cakes weekly on the table of showbread.
However, says 9:7, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. It had to happen once a year on the Day of Atonement.
The key lesson from the Holy Spirit in 9:8 is that in the era of the old covenant, there was no direct access to God. That unrestricted route was opened up only through the sacrificial ministry of Christ, our great High Priest.
When Christ came, a true ‘re-formation’ and transformation could and did begin. The outward and earthly copy gave way to the inner and heavenly reality (9:9-10).
9:11-14 Christ’s New Way by His own Blood – Christ has now appeared and the shadows have passed away. The perfect and lasting reality is now here. Christ, the Priest-King is now enthroned in, and ruling from, His heavenly sanctuary, having voluntarily given His perfect self-sacrifice. He now functions as high priest of the new and eternal order (9:11).
The salvation he had secured was both perfect in nature and eternal in validity (9:12). Under the old covenant, animal blood and ceremonial washings did achieve an outward effect of removing ceremonial pollution.
The old sacrifices could restore a person to a formal level of communion with God and with fellow-worshippers but could never cleanse the conscience or deal with the guilt of sin! (9:14)
Our writer can now reach the pinnacle of his argument in 9:14-15 as he claims that this act of redemption was achieved through the eternal Spirit. The link here may well be with the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 42:1 in which the Servant yields His life to God as a guilt-offering for many, bearing their sins and achieving their justification. The Servant carries out every phase of His ministry in the Spirit’s power, ultimately when He is both Priest and Victim.
His work satisfied the two things: God’s will and the terrible human predicament (Heb 10:5-10 cf Ps 40:6-8). What was needed was a solution for inward and spiritual defilement (Mk 7:15,21,23). ‘Acts that lead to death’ in 9:14 refers to actions and attitudes that pollute people and build barriers with God. Human beings need to be set free from inner bondage to be enabled to worship God in spirit and truth.
9:15-22 Christ, the Mediator of The New Covenant, by His Unique Sacrificial Death, Contrasted with the Old Order
At great cost to Himself, God opened a way to forgive and redeem those who had broken the law. It required the marvel of the New Covenant by which God has promised ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more’ (Jer 31:34).
Grace and glory are God’s gifts to those who have been called to the ‘obedience that comes from faith’ (Rom 1:5).
This is our heavenly calling and heritage, as children of God and heirs of the living God in Christ. The necessity of Christ’s death being at the heart of this New Covenant provision is explained by our writer in 9:16-17.
Christ provided an inheritance, died to make that inheritance valid for the inheritors to collect, but then was raised from death to live on and to administer that inheritance to those who actually did not deserve it in the first place!
The New Covenant is unilateral in orientation. It is not a worked-out agreement between people and divinity! This New Covenant is valid only because its author has died! Even the old covenant required death (9:18) by the shedding of blood, but not the death of the one who made it.
9:23-28 The Perfect Sacrifice of Christ
‘Therefore’, writes our author in 9:23, it was indeed necessary for the copies, the sacrificial items in and around the material sanctuary, to be cleansed by animal blood. Such ‘washing’, however, was only external and temporary.
Human defilement needs inward cleansing so that those very humans may come to God free of defilement, and at the same time be made a suitable dwelling-place for the Holy Spirit of God (Eph 2:22; 1 Peter 1:2,19,22f; 2:5).
In 9:24 Christ achieved His goal of entering heaven by that very sacrifice and by entering heaven both on His own behalf AND on behalf of sinners like ourselves. That is the only way that we can ever enter God’s presence in heaven by having our High Priest representing and indwelling us for all eternity.
Jesus came once only, to deal conclusively and finally with sin. 9:27-28 then concludes that people die once by God’s appointment, with their judgment to follow. Christ also died by God’s appointment, but He bore our sins by that death, so that His death would yield all the benefits and blessings that we will enjoy in their fullness when our great High Priest returns at the end of the ages. All of this has huge implications for how we should live in the here and now, but our writer wants one more opportunity to underline the utter magnificence of this new order.
10:1-18 The Reality of the New Order Under Christ, our Enthroned High Priest
Both the apostle Paul and our writer view Christ and His new order as the perfect reality to which OT sacrifice and priesthood pointed, but could never, in and of itself, deliver true perfection into the image of the Son (10:1).
There is an ongoing inability of sacrifices to solve the sin problem and so our writer says ‘therefore’ in 10:5! There is a solution to this dilemma and the writer uses Ps 40:6-8 to deliver the goods! God’s desired sacrifice from His people is complete obedience to Him, modelled on that of His only Son. Our author applies these words to Jesus in 10:5-7.
10:8-9 announce and explain the abolition of the old order of sacrifice, because Christ’s perfect submission to the will of God has established the new order. The law will now be written on the hearts of God’s people. That is what happened with the Christ Himself – he obeyed the Word and Will of God supremely and thereby, though His shed blood, He inaugurated and validated the New Covenant. That is how we have been washed, justified and made holy for Christ (10:10).
Yet again, our author throws the spotlight, this time using language from Ps.110, on the truth that Christ’s high-priestly work as sin-bearer is absolutely unrepeatable! (10:11-12). Christ completed His sacrifice once-for-all and sat down. His work had been completed and accepted by God. His work now is to intercede on our behalf at God’s right hand. We now have access to all the grace and power of God!! It might be that 10:13 serves as a warning to the readers – see 10:26-31 – not to be counted among the enemies of Christ, but to make sure that they – and we – remain friends of Christ by enduring and persevering right to the very end. There is huge encouragement to continue in faith, for in 10:14 we are told that Christ, by His sacrifice of Himself, has eternally ‘perfected’ His holy people: cleansed conscience; fit to worship; related to God; new power for life (10:15-18).
HYMN At the Name of Jesus, even knee shall bow
At The Name Of Jesus
Every Knee Shall Bow,
Every Tongue Confess Him
King Of Glory Now.
‘Tis The Father’s Pleasure
We Should Call Him Lord,
Who From The Beginning
Was The Mighty Word:
Humbled For A Season,
To Receive A Name
From The Lips Of Sinners
Unto Whom He Came,
Faithfully He Bore It
Spotless To The Last,
Brought It Back Victorious
When From Death He Passed.
Bore It Up Triumphant
With Its Human Light,
Through All Ranks Of Creatures
To The Central Height,
To The Throne Of Godhead,
To The Father’s Breast;
Filled It With The Glory
Of That Perfect Rest.
In Your Hearts Enthrone Him;
There Let Him Subdue
All That Is Not Holy,
All That Is Not True:
Crown Him As Your Captain
In Temptation’s Hour;
Let His Will Enfold You
In Its Light And Power.
Brothers, This Lord Jesus
Shall Return Again,
With His Father’s Glory,
With His Angel Train;
For All Wreaths Of Empire
Meet Upon His Brow,
And Our Hearts Confess Him
King Of Glory Now.