Thursday, April 9, 2015
In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 10:19-23
Up until this point in the book of Hebrews, the author has been explaining and then emphasizing the absolute sufficiency of Jesus' sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins once and for all, contrasting his work on our behalf with the Old Covenant's ultimately ineffective sacrificial system.
He sums it up in verses 19-21, from which I think we can conclude:
1. We have every reason to enter the “holy places” with confidence, not with dread or hesitation. You might remember that this refers to the TRUE holy places where God dwells in his full glory. (Hebrews 8:1-2) We are not “good enough” to have a relationship with an uncompromisingly holy God. He would be less than perfect if he just shrugged and threw up his hands at our sin. But God has made it possible for us to be with him without shame or fear of condemnation.
2. This is made possible by the infinite worth of the payment Jesus offered: his own body and life-blood, which endured the punishment we were due. This payment made the inner temple curtain obsolete. This curtain was used under the Old Covenant to separate everyone from the revealed presence of God. (Only the High Priest could go beyond the curtain and even then just once a year to offer a sacrifice.) At the climax of Jesus' suffering on the cross, this curtain was torn in half. (Luke 23:44-46) The new “curtain” that was brutally “opened up” to give us access to God, is the flesh of Jesus. Through his sacrifice, our guilt no longer prevents us from being in relationship with God.
3. Jesus is the ultimate bridge between us and God. The Old Covenant function of priests was to mediate the relationship between people and Yahweh. Jesus is the ideal and ultimate priest over all “household affairs of God” (See the “In Search Of Truth” notes on Hebrews 3:6). He is both over us and beside us. He takes away sterilized formality and brings intimate familiarity to our relationship with God.
These are realities that can change and revitalize the way we think about and approach every area of life. In light of these truths, the author begins describing how we can and should approach everyday life.
We should constantly be moving deeper into relationship with God, sincerely involving our entire inner being. If the author hasn't been clear enough, superficial ritual does not interest God or bring us closer to him. A true worship-relationship with God is one that learns and reflects on truth and responds and invests emotionally. (John 4:23-24) The religious leaders of Jesus day were in some ways like modern geeks. They were really into the Tanakh (Old Testament). They analyzed it and debated over it. They obsessed about complex intellectual concepts. And these are actually good things! But they kept their faith a matter of the mind, and never let the truth penetrate their hearts. They kept themselves at a cold, intellectual distance from God, when their study should have led them deeper into an authentic, emotional investment in God.
The second half of verse 22 likely refers to the spiritual cleansing we receive from Jesus and the physical washing (baptism) that symbolizes it. We should trust, and then experience inwardly, that we have been made clean. The evil that once defined us has been washed away(despite the fact that a frustrating, superficial remnant remains. Romans 7:18,25). Despite the broken way that the world looks at things, we are not defined by our appearance, our character flaws or our weaknesses. Believers in Jesus have those elements wiped from their definition.
We should hold on securely to a habit of openly expressing (“confessing”) the hope we have because of Jesus. We should remind ourselves and each other that we are being perfected by God and will be made perfect one day. We are constantly being invited, through our mundane, everyday lives, to be used by God for his epic and cosmic “household affairs”. We have no reason to be ashamed in the presence of a holy and perfect God. The pain, frustration and suffering in this life will be over before we know it, and we can look forward to a thrilling and fulfilling eternal future with Yahweh-God, who amazingly calls us his kids, and his friends!
Geeks really enjoy fixating on and obsessing over things. But we often fixate and obsess over things that really aren't that helpful (“which is better, DC or Marvel”) and might even be harmful (reliving or dreading difficult social/relational situations). Despite the pointless topics or negative thoughts we so easily prefer to dwell on, there is so much hope worth remembering and obsessing over! And the promises our hope is attached to are made by the same God who has proven repeatedly throughout history that when he says something... it's going to happen!