8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”(although the law required them to be made). 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. Heb 10
God's purpose in this letter is to show us that the New Covenant and Ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has superseded the old covenant of the Mosaic law. His purpose for the institution of the Mosaic law was to teach all of God's people from all time by the Holy Spirit about the enclosing of the Presence of God from sinful humanity, the presence of continual sin in humanity, the existence of the heavenly sanctuary, and the requirement for the shedding of blood. The New Covenant is the eternal Gospel which results in the salvation and purification of all of God's people through Christ's fulfillment of His Father's will. The promises of God require for us to persevere in our assurance of faith in the New Covenant so that we may be saved.
I. The Holy Spirit's Revelations from the Old Covenant
God's purpose throughout eternity from beginning to end is to display His glory through the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of His people and the consummation of His judgement against all that stands in opposition to this purpose. Even as God finished the creation of the world, His eternal purpose with the Gospel was finished because the Sovereign unchanging nature of God allows for the certain carrying-out of the preordained will of God and the impossibility of any other turn of events. "And yet His work has been finished since the Creation of the world" (Heb 4:3). In this sense all who have believed the Gospel, whether they have believed beforehand in the promised Messiah [all of the children of God who lived before the birth of Christ] and all who have believed in the finished work of Christ's death and resurrection [all of us who have believed since Christ's ascension into heaven] enter into a "Sabbath rest for the people of God" (Heb 4:9). This state of belief is referred to as a "rest" because the people of God have fully surrendered their own works of the flesh and believed in the complete and perfect work of God for the sanctification of their souls. "Anyone who enters into God's rest also rests from His own work, just as God did from His" (Heb 4:10). For those who lived under the old covenant, the work of their Savior Jesus Christ to become the Savior of the world, had been as sure of a promise to those who had faith as the promise of the Gospel is for us who have been granted the finished proclamation of the work of Christ on earth. Thus, the same peace, that is, the same rest, that results for the people of God through the Gospel has been available from beginning to end. 'For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”' (Rom 1:17)
For those who had lived under the old covenant before the coming of Christ, their faith in the coming Messiah was granted to them by God. Furthermore, the same Holy Spirit who was sent by Jesus to live inside of us had been teaching and revealing the Gospel of Christ to the children of God who lived by faith prior to Christ's coming. God's purpose in instituting His Law given to Moses and for requiring for the building of an earthly tabernacle and sanctuary where He would dwell among the people was to teach His people the eternal Gospel. The Holy Spirit has used the elements of the Mosaic law to establish these earliest believers in their faith in what is to come so that they may live within the Sabbath-rest of God's completed sanctifying work. Now 4 of these teachings of the Holy Spirit from the Old Covenant will be described:
1. The Enclosing of the Presence of God from Sinful Humanity
According to the command of God, the high priest was appointed to enter the Most Holy Place once a year to offer a sacrifice of blood for the forgiveness of his own sins and the sins committed by the people. The Most Holy Place was separated even from the other Levite priests who served in the tabernacle. The Presence of God was among the people and yet the people could not approach Him in the Most Holy Place. The blood sacrifice made by the High Priest indicated that it was precisely the sin of the people that separated them from the Presence of God. Similarly, when Moses went up to the mountain to speak with God and to receive His Laws for the people, limits were set-up around the mountain. "18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a Voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them,20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” (Heb 12). For those who walked by faith, the enclosing of the Presence of God in the earthly tabernacle filled them with the fear of God for His forgiveness and a zealous desire and longing for His Presence. The Presence of God was regarded as the utmost requirement for these who walked by faith. As Moses prayed "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here" (Ex 33:113). And as King David prayed "My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord' my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God" (Ps 84:2) and "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His Temple" (Ps 27:4). And as God prophecied deliverance and restoration for His people, His ultimate promise was always that His dwelling place will be with them; "I will be their God, and they will be My people: (Ex 37:27).
The question we consider is "Were these earliest Christians truly separated from the Presence of God?" or "Was the Presence of God enclosed so that only the High Priest could ever experience the glory of God?". As we consider that "the righteous have lived by faith", that is, faith in the coming Messiah for the forgiveness of sins, and that many of the people of God spoke of Him as a refuge, a strong tower, a shield, their strength, their song, their salvation, the One whose Word they praise, the One who is near to those who are broken and contrite in heart, the One who is filled with mercy and compassion, abounding in love....we may be completely certain that those who lived before the coming of Christ who had faith in God's "finished work" have experienced the Presence of God. The Most Holy Place in the earthly tabernacle was a means through which the Holy Spirit convicted them of the sin that would have separated them from God outside of God's finished work. Thus the need for the finished work was understood in this way as the Holy Spirit taught them through these earthly representations of the eternal Gospel.
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 standing. 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. Heb 9
2. The Presence of Continual Sin in Humanity
An important element of the sacrifice system of the old covenant is that the sacrifices were made repeatedly. The Holy Spirit was teaching through this repetition that our sinfulness had filled humanity with records of accumulating guilt as well as the filth of our ever-present sin, and also that even as we continued to live on this earth, we were prone to stumble again and again. Our sin was ongoing before we had come to Christ and no amount of temporary covering of past and present sin would free our consciences from guilt and shame. Only the permanent sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins was able to cleanse the conscience and remove guilt. The result of this cleansing of the conscience through the Gospel is that the children of God are given the Resurrection power and the grace which was able to prevent them from falling into sin deserving of condemnation. Even if our sins were temporarily covered again and again, the conscience could never be cleansed. And we know that the cleansing of the conscience results in the love and gratitude towards the Savior and the denying of ungodliness (Titus 2:11-12). Only the saving Gospel which permanently cleansed the soul from sin and its effect could result in the bestowing of Christ's righteous title onto a saint. The ongoing sacrifices involved no fulfilling of God's justice, no revelation of the love and glory of God through Christ's sacrifice, no weight of the worth of the Godhead humbling Himself to death on the cross, and no shedding of the blood of the One and only Perfect Lamb of God, the Son of God, who alone could be offered as the permanent sacrifice for our salvation. The Holy Spirit was revealing to these early Christians through the ongoing sacrifices that the righteousness of Christ to cover our souls was necessary for the cumulative sin of our existence. "By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (Heb 10:14). Furthermore, faith in the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit in the children of God allowed for the Law of God to be written in their hearts.
The question we consider is, "Was the Law of God written on the hearts of the earliest Christians?" And we are certain that for those who had faith in the righteousness of Christ, the Law of God was written on their hearts. As King David describes the righteous man, "The Law of God is in his heart. His feet do not slip" (Ps 37:31). The writing of the Law of God on the hearts of God's children is the antidote to the continuation of the sin of the soul. For "No one who is born of God continues to sin because God's seed remains in Him" (I John 3:9). The writing of the Law of God is the planting of the Seed, that is, the Word of God, in the soul of the saint. For the earliest Christians who believed in God's finished work, the Law of God was written on their hearts by the same power of the Spirit and the same belief in the teachings of grace that we hold dear. The ongoing sacrifices of sins was means for the Holy Spirit to indicate the need for the "washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).
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 If it could, 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 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goatsto take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
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, O God.’”
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First He says:
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put My Laws in their hearts,
and I will write Them on their minds.”
I will remember no more.”
The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high Priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.
3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices,and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Heb 8
4. The Requirement for the Shedding of Blood
The Mosaic law required that almost every article used in the temple should be cleansed with blood. Apart from the Spirit, we would not understand the need for the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of our sins. We would have been like Cain who saw the sacrifices of disobedient self-effort as fit for an offering to the God of heaven. But Christ "has purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Rev 5:9). These purchased souls have been granted an inheritance and they have been given the Holy Spirit as a deposit
guaranteeing the inheritance that is to come. Included in the will or testament (διαθήκη: compact, covenant, arrangement) of God is the granting of the forgiveness of sins, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the perfect union with God and God's people. An eternal law is that the death of the giver of the will must be proven before the will is in effect. "The life of a creature is in its blood" (Lev 17:11) and thus the blood of the creature is proof of its death. The animal sacrifices were used to inform the children of God that blood had to be shed in order to atone for sin. Since the "wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23), the only perfect sacrifice that could be made on our behalf was the perfect sinless spotless Lamb of God, the Son of God. The infinite unworthiness of our sinful souls could only be paid for by the sacrifice of infinite worthiness and glorious righteousness: the Light of the glory of God: JESUS CHRIST. He has entered into heaven by His own blood proving His own death. However, because death could have no power over Him, the Living Christ proves His own death by His blood. He is the "Lamb that was slain FROM THE CREATION OF THE WORLD" (Rev 13:8). Thus the earliest believers saw the animal sacrifices and were taught by the Holy Spirit that their eternal Savior was slain and the death of the Giver of the will of righteousness and redemption has been proven. Therefore God's will and covenant is in effect even during their lives on earth. Their faith was in the "Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world". Because God's will was in effect, their faith was not only in the first coming of their awaited Messiah, but in His second coming: when He would come to bring salvation to all who wait for Him.
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 commandment 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 man-made sanctuary 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 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,28 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.Heb 9
II. The Superior New Covenant
The Mosaic law with its commands and instructions for the building and sacrifices of the tabernacle was given to Moses by God Himself who spoke to Moses "face to face, as a man speaks to His friend" (Ex 33:11). Though the old covenant was incomplete and imperfect in its inability to cleanse the conscience and grant eternal redemption to the people, God had preordained for this covenant to be used by His own Spirit to teach the earliest believers of His eternal Gospel. Since Christ's death and resurrection on the earth still awaited them, God chose to use this system to teach them the Gospel since they did not have the written Gospels as we have now.
The old covenant was not the saving covenant. It did not result in the fulfillment of the eternal Gospel because it could not forgive sin. The old covenant could not purify the heart, cleanse the conscience, teach the soul the righteousness that comes through faith and grace. The old covenant did not allow for the law of God to be written on the hearts of men so that they will never turn away from God. The old covenant could not grant union between God and His people.
But Jesus has come to fulfill the New Covenant of God for His glory and for His beloved people. This Covenant is the ultimatum, the epoch, the complete revelation and splendor to mankind of His glory, the only way of salvation for God's people, the radiance of the Light of the Father, and the perfect display of justice. The New Covenant is the eternal Covenant and the perfect Covenant. This is the Covenant that we cling to for the life of our souls. This is the Covenant in which we put all of our hope and faith.
The understanding of the New Covenant, by both the early Christians and the Christians who were born after Christ's earthly coming, allows for the surpassing of the old covenant by the superior New Covenant. For we believe in Christ as the One who is "faithful to the One who appointed Him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house" (Heb 3:2) because "God is the builder of everything" (Heb 3:2). He is the Builder of His House and "we are His house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast" (Heb 3:6). He is the builder of the unified people of God who have been "bought at a price" and granted holiness, righteousness, and redemption (I Cor 6:20). His sanctifying work is to "build us up in the Most Holy faith" by which we are granted the righteousness of Christ (Jude 1:20). He has entered "the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb 9:12). His permanent high Priesthood is based on "the power of an INDESTRUCTIBLE LIFE" and He is a "Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek" by the oath of God Himself (Heb 7:16-17). Thus His eternal Priesthood allows Him to "save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them" (Heb 7:25). The Priest of the New Covenant meets our need for He is "holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens" (Heb 7:26). His blood has cleansed our consciences from acts that lead to death so that we may serve the living God! (Heb 9:14).
when I will make a new Covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to My covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put My Laws in their minds
and write Them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be My people.
11 No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know Me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more. ”
III. The Righteous Live by Faith in the New Covenant
God has purposed that we understand the superior New Covenant because this is His eternal saving Covenant for us. The result of the understanding of the superior New Covenant is that God's people are filled with confidence and assurance of their inheritance because the will and covenant of their God has been put into effect based on the proven death of the Risen Christ by the eternal sacrifice of His blood. Now our calling is to persevere in the will of God so that we will receive the eternal Life that He has promised especially that perfection which is coming after we see Him face to face. He tells us "My righteous one will live by faith". If we had not understood and believed in His Covenant with the faith that He grants by the Holy Spirit, we would shrink back and be destroyed by His eternal wrath.
38 But My righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.”
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Heb 11
Summary of Iowa Christian Conference (5/25-5/27)
Our family (including Anand and Prasanna) went to a Christian conference in Iowa this past weekend. The theme of the conference was "The Living Word". God has blessed me greatly with the treasure of this conference. The main blessing for me came from God showing me His glory several times (which made me trying to hold back tears for much of the time) by revealing His love and grace to me, Pastor Naveen's sermons, a few unforgettable conversations with people, the receiving of God's love and grace from many people, and the children whom I already miss. From Pastor Naveen's sermons some favorite things are:
- The Seven-fold Spirit refers to the Spirit of the Lord, wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord (Is 11).
- The Word of God is Jesus (John 1), not only the "Words in red", but the entire counsel of the breathed Word of God because "men of God spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" and the "Spirit will take from what is Mine [Jesus] and make it known to you".
- The purpose for all of the children on God is for His glory. All of the true wisdom and knowledge that we encounter in the world is hidden in Christ and for His glory. The study of knowledge without the desire for His glory is idolatry. Understanding of the Mind of God perfects the understanding of all wisdom and knowledge (including academia).
- The only purpose of a father is firstly to glorify God, secondly to love his wife and wash her with the Word, and thirdly to train his children in the Word (Deut 6). In the process of loving his wife a man crucifies his flesh and submits to the Lord. Thus his learning to love his wife benefits his own soul which is conformed into the Image of Christ in the process. A wife's faith in the Gospel alone will grant her the grace to submit to her husband rather than to fear which is the root cause of irreverence.