Jesus Is Better #12 -- Hebrews 9:1-14 -- Jesus Sets Us Free To Serve God

Introduction

  • God made us to enjoy and partake of him, but our sin separated us, so he sent Jesus to draw us back to himself. His desire is to produce freedom for us before God.

    • Exodus 19:6 (ESV) — 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

      • Israel's priests did serve God, but it was exclusive and trepidatious.
    • 1 Peter 2:5 (ESV) — 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

      • But now Christ brings us into a new service of God. Freedom.

1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness [Old Covenant system].

  • 1 Regulations / Earthly place: Hebrews 8:5 (ESV) — 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.

2 For a tent was prepared [he referred to the tabernacle - purer], the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, 4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

  • 5 Of these things we cannot now speak in detail: He quickly recorded the elements inside the tabernacle.
    • He did not refer to everything outside the tabernacle, but only that which was inside.
      • lampstands / table with bread / altar of incense / ark of the covenant

6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes [exclusive], and he but once a year [rare], and not without taking blood [trepidatious], which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins [incomplete] of the people.

8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic [parabole] for the present age) [their present age; past for us today]. According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation [outward vs. inward nature of the New Covenant].

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) [they were only a copy and shadow - 8:5] 12 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 [an "eternity" rather than "day" of Atonement].

13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh [the outside], 14 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.

  • 13-14 If that old sacrificial system could sanctify for the purification of the flesh (make clean on the outside), then the New Covenant blood of Christ can purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
    • Conclusion: Through Christ my conscience is perfected and purified, which enables me to serve God.
      • Under the old system:
        • the worshipers only had shadows to work with.
        • the worshipers were kept out.
        • the worship only cleansed externally.
      • But we have a New Covenant so we, ourselves, not the priests, can go in and serve the living God.
      • Jesus gives us freedom...

1. To Have God At The Center.

For a tent was prepared... (9:2)

  • It was an earthly place of holiness (1).

  • It was a mere tent.

    • The tabernacle was a humble structure.
      • 45 feet x 15 feet wide x 15 feet high.
    • A place for God and man to meet.
  • It enabled them to center their lives upon God.

    • Arrangement of Israelite camp — God at the center.
      • The middle: The Levites with the tabernacle of God.
        • And when they packed up and moved on, God was at the center then, as well.
        • Truth illustrated: Israel was great when God was at the center.
          • But so often they failed.
  • Jesus' better ministry enables me to center my life upon God.

    • Before the New Covenant, I could not fix my life upon him.

    • Center your life on God.

    • Though he will help you, expect a struggle with your flesh. You will be drawn to living life centered upon other things the world system tells you is of utmost importance.

      • Strange Days: Life In The Spirit In A Time Of Upheaval by Mark Sayers: We are born for struggle, created for a cause, formed for a great battle. We as individuals find meaning in struggle. And the church is God's army. However, in the West she has been away from battle far too long. Not only has she forgotten how to fight, but she's forgotten that she's in battle. What is more, she's come to expect peace. Resistance is foreign to her. "What battle?" she says. The armor of God is gathering dust in the corner.

      • Example: Parents -- 6 Supra-Cultural Parenting Principles: does my parenting style prioritize God's kingdom?

2. To Bear God's Light For Others.

...in which were the lampstand... (9:2)

  • The lampstand:
    • It was one solid gold piece which weighed 75-pounds (Exodus 25:31).
    • It had six branches jutting out to each side, which meant, since a center stick had a lamp as well, seven lamps total (Exodus 25:32, 37).
      • The lampstand represents the light of God.
  • Jesus' better ministry enables me to bear the light of God.
    • Jesus: John 8:12 (ESV) — 12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
      • He illuminates God, humanity, individuals, others, and your path.
    • Jesus' people: Matthew 5:14–16 (ESV) — 14 “You are the light of the world...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
      • In Revelation, local churches are represented by individual golden lampstands, giving God’s light to the dark world (Revelation 1-3).
    • The priests kept the fires going.
      • Paul to Timothy: 2 Timothy 1:6 (HCSB) — 6 Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you...

3. To Receive God's Sustenance For Ourselves.

...and the table and the bread of the Presence... (9:2)

  • The table and bread:

    • Small table only 3 feet wide, 1.5 feet deep, and a little over 2 feet high.
    • 12 loaves were to be place in two piles of 6 each and replaced on each Sabbath day (Leviticus 24:5-9).
      • These 12 loaves were likely intended to represent God's desire to sustain the 12 tribes.
      • The priests would eat it before the Lord (Leviticus 24:9).
    • Jesus: John 6:35 (ESV) — 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
  • Jesus' better ministry enables me to be sustained by God.

    • God does not only call us away from an old life, but into a new one.

    • Christianity is more than repression of desire, but a better desire.

      • “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” - from Weight Of Glory by C.S. Lewis

      • Example: Ethiopian Eunuch from Acts 8:26-40.

        • He read from Isaiah, which Philip explained to him.
        • He wondered and wanted something more.
          • Promises to Eunuchs — Isaiah 56:3–5 (ESV)—3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 4 For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, 5 I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.
          • Christ: left a heritage without marriage or children.
            • He wants to sustain you!

4. To Pray To God.

...having the golden altar of incense... (9:4)

  • The altar of incense:
    • A 3 feet high, square altar for burning a special blend of incense before God.
    • Strictly speaking, though the author puts it inside the Most Holy Place, the altar of incense was not in the same room with the ark.
      • The priest would take an censer, fill it with incense, and bring that behind the curtain.
  • Jesus' better ministry enables me to pray to God.
    • Regularly: they offered incense in the morning and at twilight (Exodus 30:7-8).
      • The high priest burned the incense each morning and evening, a reminder that we should open and close the day with prayer and during the day “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
    • According to God's will: they offered authorized incense (Exodus 30:9).
      • When strange incense or fire was offered, God did not hear them.
      • No matter how fervent a prayer might be, if it is not according to God’s will, it will not be answered.
    • By the blood: They atoned for all these instruments, including the altar of incense.
      • The altar of incense was not a place of sacrifice, but it was a place for atoning blood. On the Day of Atonement, Aaron had to anoint the horns of the altar of incense with blood from the atoning sacrifice.
      • We get to pray, not because of our works, but Christ's work.

5. To Partake Of God's Grace And Mercy.

...and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. (9:4-5)

  • 4-5 Ark / Mercy seat: a chest made of acacia wood covered with gold, 3¾ feet long, 2¼ feet wide, and 2¼ feet high, with rings for polls along its side to carry it without touching the ark itself. On top was an ornate lid called the mercy seat.

    • Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) — 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

A. Daily

  • Exodus 16:7 (ESV) — 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord.

B. Fruitfully

  • Numbers 17:8 (ESV) — 8 On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.

C. Inwardly

  • Exodus 19:8 (ESV) — 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.