The writer of Hebrews explains that there was a way into the Most Holy Place, which was the immediate presence of God, but that, for a long time, that way had not yet been disclosed. During that time, God provided His first covenant to His chosen people. There were regulations to obey and sacrifices of animals to be made. There was a tabernacle, or tent of meeting at first, and then an elaborate and ornamental temple building, none of which were merely the result of the ingenuity, philosophy and beliefs of human beings. They existed because God had explicitly commanded His people to construct them.
When the time was right, Jesus came and revealed the new covenant of God. He was appointed by God the Father to be the high priest of that covenant, and finally offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice to redeem all sinners, effectively and eternally (Hebrews 5:5-6). Jesus was sinless and didn’t need to offer sacrifices for His own sins and was to continue to be high priest forever (Hebrews 7:23-24). The truth of the gospel is declared to us in this way, ‘Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them’ (Hebrews 7:25).
How much better this new covenant was to be. The old one was precious and enabled God’s people to be cleansed from their sins, for a time, but it had great limitations. It pointed the way for what was to come in God’s original plan of salvation. The tent of meeting was ‘a copy and shadow of the heavenly things’ (Hebrews 8:5).
Once a year, the appointed high priest was to go into the Most Holy Place, taking blood as an offering for his sins and the unintentional sins of the people. The writer of Hebrews comments that ‘According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation’ (Hebrews 9:9-10). The NIV translation of the bible says ‘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 worshipper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order’.
Aren’t you glad that we live in the time of the new order? Jesus is able to save us to the uttermost, no matter what our sins have been. All is washed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. We are able to approach Father God ourselves, without a human priest acting on our behalf. Jesus is our high priest, always making intercession for us and identifying with our human weaknesses and needs. It’s the time of the new order.
Prayer: I thank You, Lord Jesus, that You’ve made a way for me to cleanse my conscience and be born again, through Your sacrificial death on the cross. I thank You for the tremendous grace, so undeserved by me, which comes as a free gift to me, yet cost You the greatest suffering. I gratefully receive this gift, and pray I can live all my life in a way that’s pleasing to You. Amen.
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