Saturday, October 4, 2014

"Confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through the blood of Jesus ..."

Day #281:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - October 5th

Scripture Reading:  Hebrews 8 - 10 ...

As you read through God's Word there are passages that make you stop and think ... and then there are passages that make you amazed and thankful and awestruck!!  These chapters do all of that and more!  Having described the supremacy of Christ and the uniqueness of the "priesthood" that Jesus fulfills, the writer of Hebrews now ushers us into the inner sanctuary, into the very presence of God, "behind the second curtain" (9:3), where Jesus Himself is seated at the Father's right hand.  NO ONE would dare to enter ... but through the blood of Jesus we who believe enter without fear, with confidence that our sins are forgiven and we are holy in God's sight.  How can this be possible?  What did Jesus do to give us access to the very throne room of Almighty God, our Creator, the great "I AM"?

We left off in Chapter 7 by seeing that the earthly priests from the tribe of Levi could only offer the blood of bulls and goats as ceremonial sacrifices to God.  They first offered sacrifices for themselves and then for the people.  But these sacrifices had to be offered daily.  Jesus was different ... "If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood ..., why was there still need for another priest to come ..." (7:11).  "Because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood.  Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through HIM, because He always lives to intercede for them (US!).  Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens" (7:24-26).

So we begin Chapter 8:  "The point of what we are saying is this:  We DO have such a high priest!" (8:1).  Jesus, the eternal Son of God, now fully man, is able to do what no mere man could do.  Jesus offered His own blood, not in an earthly sanctuary, but in heaven itself!  The writer of Hebrews says of the earthly priests, "They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven" (8:5).  You heard it right!  The tabernacle, and then the temple, were copies of what exists in heaven itself!  God had made His covenant with Israel through the law given at Mt. Sinai.  The Law said, "Do this and live!"  But because of their sinful nature they could not keep the law.  It could only condemn them. So God promised a new covenant, a covenant where HE would provide the sacrifice for sin and where He would send His Spirit to transform hard hearts and open blind eyes.

As he describes the old covenant in Chapter 9, the writer explains that the high priest could enter into the inner room, the inner sanctuary, "only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance" (9:7).  This is where it starts getting exciting!!  "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 standing" (9:8).  BUT, "when Christ came as High Priest ... HE entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption" (9:11-12).  This is the new covenant!  This is the fulfillment of all that the Old Testament, the old covenant, had pointed to.

What the old covenant could not accomplish, weakened as it was by human failure, JESUS DID!  "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!" (9:14).  Jesus died and rose again and ascended into heaven, there to serve as our great High Priest, so that we could have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through His blood.  We come without fear, confident not in our own goodness, but in His perfection.  "He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (9:26-27).

Are YOU waiting for Jesus?  Are you longing for His return?  Do you live every day with Jesus as your Savior and Lord, trusting Him, loving Him, serving Him, giving thanks for Him, offering yourself as one of His disciples, confessing His Name to the world?  What is JESUS to YOU???  You and I must answer that question, for it is in our answer that our eternal destination is revealed.  No other sacrifice can bring to you and me the perfection we need to enter into God's presence - LITERALLY!! Those who imagine that all people will one day enter heaven, and finally live in God's presence, beholding His glory in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness, are living in a fantasy.  It will not happen.  God has made ONE way to enter His presence, through the blood of the Lamb of God, the Christ, Jesus, our Savior and Lord.  Only by confessing His Name, by believing in Him, by trusting in His sacrifice, can sinners like you and me be made perfect.  And this is exactly what God reveals here through the writer of Hebrews.

"When this priest had offered for all time ONE sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God.  Since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool, because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (10:14).  The blood of Jesus removes our sin from God's sight ... AND, substitutes HIS perfect righteousness, so that God already sees us as perfect as we are in the process of being made holy by the work of His Spirit within us.  We will be like Jesus!!  And God already sees us that way!!  "THEREFORE ... since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God ... Let US draw near to God ... Let US hold unswervingly to the hope we profess ... Let US consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds ... Let US not give up meeting together ... Let US encourage one another - and all the more as you see THE DAY approaching!!" (10:19-25).

The day of the Lord, the day of God's wrath and judgment, is fast approaching.  With all that is in me I believe that we are living in the last generation ... that some, maybe most who are living today, will experience all that God has said will take place prior to the return of Jesus Christ to gather His people to Himself, when the dead will be raised and we who are alive will be changed in the twinkling of an eye!    Yes, "it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (10:31).  But if you know Jesus, the great High Priest over the house of God in heaven, you can have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through His blood.  "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised" (10:35-36).

Your confidence must not be in your own accomplishments, or in the religious exercises of priests who offer earthly sacrifices today, but only and completely in Jesus Christ and the promises of God's new covenant with all who put their faith in Him.  You can know that His Spirit is at work within when you stop trusting in yourself and place your hope in Jesus.  This IS the will of God:  to believe in His Son, for whoever believes in Him will never be put to shame.  Draw near today with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith and KNOW that you HAVE eternal life ... for you have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through the blood of Jesus!!

"O LORD, my God, how can I possibly begin to thank You for the gift of forgiveness and life through Your Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ?!  I believe Your promise and I claim the blood of Jesus as my only hope, yet also as my sure and certain hope of eternal life with You.  I long for Jesus' return, when all who believe will enter into Your sanctuary and live there forever with You, made like Jesus, restored to Your perfection and glory.  Father, help me to set my heart and mind on serving You, the living God, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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