Agonizomai: Heb 9:23-26 - Christ - The Eternal Reality Behind the Passing Symbols

Friday, February 19, 2010

Heb 9:23-26 - Christ - The Eternal Reality Behind the Passing Symbols

Heb 9:23-26 - Christ - The Eternal Reality Behind the Passing Symbols

Heb 9:23-26 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Notice that the earthly things were copies of the heavenly. These were types - representative symbols - pointers. It was always that way and never the reverse. The heavenly things were not developed or evolved from the earthly as men might suppose - particularly carnal men. The eternal things always were and always will be. It is the temporal things that were commanded, ordained and created so that some understanding of the heavenly realities might be garnered by mortal, finite, fallen mankind. The whole sacrificial system was ultimately pointing to Christ as the real and true sacrifice.

Heavenly things require a heavenly sacrifice. The purification of things for the heavenly places and the presence of God requires an infinitely better, infinitely more valuable price than mere temporal and temporary things do. All the things of earth are passing away because the universe has been tainted by the sin of humanity. The sacrifices of animals on behalf of sinners by men who were themselves in need of redemption was like children throwing a toy rocket into the air in place of a starship soaring to the infinity of the universe.

The blood of Christ makes us and the things we touch in heaven clean in God’s eyes. His life given for us - a perfect life perfectly lived and perfectly offered as a sacrifice - is now our life. He gave it to and for us. When God looks at us, He sees us in Christ because He sees the blood of Christ which was His life given for us as our substitute.

But the point being made here is not only the excellence of Christ’s gift, but the permanence of it. Under the shadow system sacrifices went on endlessly, year after year because they never themselves achieved the actual redemption of which they spoke. But Christ, the reality, did actually achieve the redemption of His people once for all. He is the eternal sacrifice because He ever lives to make intercession for us. No more sacrifice - no more death is necessary in order to reconcile us to God because we are reconciled.

And Christ is not continually offering himself as a sacrifice - repeatedly playing out a death. He came at a specific time ordained by God - the right time - to effect the salvation of all who believe, both past and present. To the writer of this sermon, it was the end of the ages. It was the time of the culmination of all that Jewish history pointed to. The scope and power of Christ’s sacrifice was of a completely different order than the repeated and temporary rituals that had taken place in Israel for more than a thousand years, and in the world at large for many times that.

Sin had been put away for all who believed in Him. It was not put away in part, but in whole. It was not a temporary fix or a balm for today’s trespasses until tomorrow’s were committed. It was a provision for all the sins of all God’s people once and forever. Not only past sins, but future ones, too, were paid for with the sacrifice of Jesus. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. We are justified eternally. Now we must simply work it out with fear and trembling.

It is the unbidden, unlooked for, free, gracious, total and eternal forgiveness of sin because the price was paid by a substitute (a substitute Who was God Himself in human flesh) ... it is this, fully apprehended in the soul, that changes a life. Is it embraced and believed in such a way that it penetrates the whole of the person? Or is it mere intellectual knowledge of the facts? It has to be more than that, although it can never be less. The facts apprehended must change the heart subjectively and experientially. And this is something that the mind alone cannot do. The Spirit of God must do it.

The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the preaching of Christ. It says that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for those that believe. But belief itself is not native to the fallen mind; saving faith is unnatural – it is supernatural. In the end, a person must cry out to God until that faith which transforms through gratitude for what has already been given is evidenced in the life.


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