May 13, 2011

Saturday after the Second Sunday after Easter


Lectionary

Morning – Ps. 72, Ex 24:1-11, 16-18, Heb. 9:1-14
Evening – Ps. 33, Is. 45:5-12, 15-19, 1 Pet. 5:8

Commentary

Hebrews 9:1-5 describes the Tabernacle as God directed it to be built in the wilderness of Sinai.  The plan of the Tabernacle was given directly to Moses, and was followed strictly in the Temple built by Solomon.  The point of this passage is the temporary nature of the Tabernacle and its services.  This is shown in verses 6 & 7, which tell of the repetitive nature of the services.  The priests entered daily into the holy place, and the high priest entered annually into the Holy of Holies to conduct the services and worship of God.  So, the temporary effects of the service illustrate the temporary nature of the entire system.

Verses 9 and 10 make another important point; access to the presence of God, symbolized by the Holy of Holies, is no longer prevented by a physical barrier.  In Christ the veil, which acted as a barrier to separate the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Sanctuary, is removed and access to God is open to anyone who will come to Him.  Meat and drink offerings and washings (9:10 & 13) are now irrelevant to the real worship of God.  Under the Old Covenant, they had their place and function, but the sacrifice of Christ alone can purify the heart and bring a person into the true Holy of Holies.  Verse 14 makes an excellent point about the Old Testament sacrifices and services.  They did what God wanted them to do, and they did it effectually.  They made a person symbolically clean and allowed him to participate in the covenant community of Israel.   If such small sacrifices could accomplish their purpose, then the surpassing value of the sacrifice of the Son of God is also able to accomplish its purpose, the complete forgiveness of our sins and the complete restoration of our souls to God.  If this has been accomplished for us in Christ, we are free from the need for meat and drink offerings (dead works) to serve the Living God through faith in Christ (9:14).

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