Reading for Tuesday, July 31: Hebrews 9
Daily and yearly ritual was an essential part of Hebrew life, particularly with regard to the Levitical sacrificial system. The Hebrew writer sees this as a deficiency and he contrasts this with Christ’s activity: “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption,” (v12). The quality of the better covenant is based upon a better sacrifice. The blood of goats and rams may have been enough to “roll forward” the sins of the people perpetually from year to year, but “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God,” (v14).
The writer also sees another important difference in these covenants: the better covenant offers “the promised eternal inheritance,” (v15). This inheritance is included in the will (v16) of the one who has died — Christ, our high priest and sacrifice. His death was necessary to secure this inheritance for us, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins,” (v22).
And now, Christ lives — another indication of the superiority of the new covenant. For what sacrifice can claim to live after it has been consumed on the altar? But our Christ has now entered into the holy places, “heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf,” (v24). “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him,” (v27-28).
And we wait…