Agonizomai: Heb 7:18-22 - Christ - The Faithfulness and Honor of God Personified

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Heb 7:18-22 - Christ - The Faithfulness and Honor of God Personified

Heb 7:18-22 - Christ - The Faithfulness and Honor of God Personified


Heb 7:18-22 On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.”’ 22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

The writer comes right out with the re-assertion that the Mosaic Law and its means of providing acceptance with God through the sacrificial system administered by the priesthood of Levites was set aside. It wasn’t diminished, weakened, demoted or allied to a newer system. It was abrogated, cancelled, defunct, superseded, replaced. Old things were passed away. God had done a new thing in Christ.

Yet it was not such a new thing that the old thing did not teach us something about it. We always have needed, and always will need a High Priest. The law never could reconcile us to God. It could only show us what great sinners we were. As Paul said, "When the commandment came, sin revived and I died." {Ro 7:9} The law kills. The Hebrews could not be made perfect in God’s eyes by deeds of the law, for "By the deeds of the law is no man justified." {Ro 3:20,28}

The better hope came in Christ, through whom all believers are able to draw near to God. But what does this mean, that they were able to draw near in Christ? Were they not drawing near by obedience to the Mosaic Law in observing the sacrifices that were commanded? Weren’t the Jews justified all that time when they were slaying animals by the millions and offering them to God. Some were, but not on account of the dead animals. They were accepted by God on the basis of faith, even then, when they sacrificed trusting in God’s mercy and grace to cover their sins, and not acts of their obedience in and of themselves. What’s the difference? The difference is life and death. The difference is everything. The difference is the margin between the narrow gate and way that leads to life and the broad gate and way that leads to death. Few find the former, but many go in at the latter.

Not specifically mentioned here, but also highly relevant to what we learn from the Levitical sacrifices (but more from the Passover of the exodus) is the importance of the blood. The blood of a thing is the life thereof. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Blood means that something (not the offender) died - gave up its life in place of the offender. God passed over former sins when He saw the blood that was offered by faith in His mercy and grace. The blood was not magic. But the blood of bulls and goats, though it never satisfied God’s justice of itself, prefigured the blood of the infinitely precious, perfect, obedient Son of God. And in that blood was the infinitely valuable life of God’s incarnate Son.

This life was given freely as it could only be given freely by omnipotence Himself. The merits of this life of the Son are sufficient for all men, especially those who believe. And this life was both lived and given in active and passive obedience. He passively took all the suffering He did not deserve on our behalf, and offered up a perfect life of human obedience in our stead. In one stroke our guilt was purged and the wrath of God assuaged - and at the same time, in the moment that we first believed, we were credited with His perfect obedience.

Again, the contrast between the old priesthood and the new High Priest is drawn - this time by reference to the oath that God made to Christ in Psalm 110. No oath was ever administered in the making of the Levitical order. It was hereditary and administrative. It was according to outward things - carnal, if you like, in the very best sense. But God’s oath to His Son, making Him a priest forever, at once perpetuated the office of intermediation and guaranteed it eternally. Thus, coming to God through Christ is, on account of the oath, a far better covenant than coming to God through a fellow fallen human being who inherited his human office without any such promise and who, in fact died. If we are in Christ - if we passed through the blood of the covenant - then we are eternally secured by the promise of God to Christ, for He endures forever to make intercession for us by being the eternal evidence of our justification.


6 Comments:

Blogger Roxylee said...

This is the good news of the gospel-we are saved by the blood of the Lamb. It is surprising, but probably shouldn't be, to learn that many people who have been exposed to the gospel don't know what it means. They've heard that Jesus died and rose again, but have no clue as to what He accomplished on the Cross. Oh, they may understand the reality of heaven and hell, but not the awesome redemption that saves us from the power of sin while we live here. Being reminded of what Jesus did for us makes me want to thank and praise Him more and more.

8:43 am  
Blogger Nick said...

I don't consider the notion of 'active obedience' Biblical for the very reason you state in your opening paragraphs: The Law was abolished.
The Mosaic Law is not (nor ever was) a standard that must be met for justification, so active obedience is a mistake at the very least, a form of Judaizing the the worst.

2:08 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...

Nick,

I think you are agreeing with me, but I'm not exactly sure.

The notion of "active obedience" certainly holds for Christ, whose active obedience on our behalf is credited to we who believe.

You would agree with that, right?

Blessings,


Tony

3:27 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

I don't see anything in Scripture stating the necessity, nor the actual 'crediting', of Christ's active obedience (just the opposite, e.g. Rom 3:21-26; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Cor 2:2; etc).

My point about the Law was that, as you said, it was abolished. For Christ to impute his perfect obedience to the Law to us is illogical and even heresy for it makes the abolished remain as a standard we must meet (even vicariously).

3:54 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...

Nick,

O boy - have you missed the point on this one!

I have to go to bed because I'm working tonight but I'll post a detailed reply supporting my "heresy" (and that of Charles Hodge, Matthew Poole etc) when time permits - probably early next week.

Blessings,


Tony

4:28 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...

Nick,

My promised response to your last comment exceeds the maximum character count allowed under comments.

Since I think the whole thing should be read in one lump I'll post it on Tuesday as if it were a regular post it instead of a comment.


Blessings,


Tony

12:11 pm  

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