Lesson 23: "Christ. . .Is the Mediator of the New Testament" (Hebrews 9:14-15)
Hebrews 9:1--10:18 continued
The Book of Hebrews. Welcome again! This is lesson #23... (the text is Heb. ch. 9-10:18). In lesson #21 we read these verses, a long 45-verse block and then we touched on the first 8 or 9 verses of ch. nine. It's v. 9 that has the "pertaining to the conscience" statement. We devoted most of lesson #22 (our last lesson) to that thought. In doing so, we skimmed through the entire block. That thought as connected to the "reformation" idea (expressed in v.10, i.e. the change of covenants) is woven into almost every verse. Back in Gal. 3:19, Moses was said to be the "mediator" of the old covenant, i.e. "till the seed should come to whom the promise was made" or in other words: until Christ should come (connecting that to Gal. 3:16). Christ is the mediator of the new testament (here in Heb. 9:15). Paul said to Timothy: "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (that's I-Tim. 2:5). This is part of the promise that God gave to Abraham (Gal. 3:18)...you need to go back and review that. Someone will ask you: what is "the promise" (in Acts 2:39)? Do you remember on pentecost? Peter said: "for the PROMISE is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off...?" You see. Peter was talking about the promise that was given through Abraham. Those people had been looking forward to this for 100's of years. Peter was saying: the promise is here... the promise is in force... the Christ is come. And that's the big point the HEBREWS writer is emphasizing to his brethren in and around Jerusalem in the AD 60's. Those people were Christians and they knew this! But, you see, the HEBREWS writer is explaining it in such a way that they could easily make convincing arguments that would persuade their Jewish friends and neighbors; those that were tugging at them to come back to the temple worship, keep the law of Moses, and participate in the Jews religion, you see.
Thus, as we said before, this discussion centers around a contrast between the old and the new. Notice the way our writer says this in v.11, "Christ being come a high priest of good things to come." Christ is our high priest...not a Mosaic high priest now...but, after a new order. This ties into all of that Melchizedek discussion in previous chapters. But, Christ is not only our high priest, Christ is the mediator of the new testament, i.e. the new covenant, the rules by which we live in the Christian age. Then beyond that, Christ is the propitiation for our sins...and beyond that, the sins of the whole world (I-John 2:2). Not just the Christian age; but, all ages. Look at the middle of v.15, "by means of death" the blood of Christ was given "for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the FIRST covenant." In summary (down in Heb. 10:20), our writer says "by the blood of Jesus" we have "a new and living way." All things are become new (II-Cor. 5:17). There is so much repetition here that it becomes a little trite, actually. Yet, the need is so great to understand this clearly. As you think back over Paul and all the Judaizing teachers he bumped heads with; this was the central issue. It still is today! Our world of denominational cafeteria-style religions is the product of this same misunderstanding. They pick a little from the old, .a little from the new, toss in a modern day prophet or two of their own and stir it to suit them. All it is...is a modern day version of the same problem...a lack of understanding. Some say they are keeping the sabbath day. Some ARE through Easter and Christmas and a few more saint so-and-so days, trying (in effect) to keep the old feast day of the Mosaic dispensation. They have never obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ (the death, burial and resurrection) in even becoming a Christian...let alone living the Christian life. So, it bears repeating;1., and that's an under statement. Now, I don't want to beat this to death. I'm sure you can read as well as I can...maybe better. If you get the picture (and I don't know how to say it any clearer than the way we have framed it), if you get the picture, then if you will cautiously read these verses; I'm sure you can analyze this as good as I can. The big thing is getting the overall picture, keeping it in context. Who was the writer talking to? Why did he say what he said? How does this fit into the overall picture? How does it apply to me? What is the difference in the old and the new? When did the new testament come into force? (v.!7)...do you see that word "force?" The word "testament" (v.16-17) obviously means what we would call A WILL. It's the will of God. For a will or testament to come into force there must first of all be the death of the testator (v.16). How could it be illustrated any clearer? Then in saying all this, don't get the idea that the first testament or the Mosaic covenant was bad in any way. There was nothing bad about the Mosaic system... it served its purpose.' It was replaced by the law of Christ, yes, a better law for us. This was the logical, prophesied, predetermined way that the Mosaic covenant was to come to an end. Christ said: "I am not come to destroy the law, or the prophets" [by those two words "the law, or the prophets," Jesus meant the O.T. or the old covenant]. He said, I came to fulfil...i.e. bring it to a logical and predetermined conclusion. It served its purpose. It all fits like a hand and a glove when you get the right slant. Be sure you get the right slant.
In v.18-22, our writer goes back to the O.T. covenant again. It was dedicated properly (v.18). Moses done it right (v.19, 20, 21). "Almost all things are by the law purged with blood" and there is a general principle here: "without shedding of blood is no remission." Now, why is that? What does blood have to do with remission of sins? Well, very frankly, I don't know the answer to that question as I would like to understand it. All through the Bible there seems to be a spiritual blood connection. There seems to be a greater association with blood than just to carry oxygen from the lungs. In the covenant that God made with Noah following the flood, God said: "but flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat." Life is in the blood. The eating of blood is forbidden (Gen. 9:4). Further over in Lev. 17:11, this is repeated, "the life of the flesh is in the blood." Three verses down, it is said that blood "IS THE LIFE of all flesh." There is a spiritual association with blood that I do not understand. In Gen. 4:10, for example, God told Cain, who killed his brother, Abel, the first murderer, "thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." Is that literal? Blood is sacred. No blood is to be eaten, not even of animals. God of course can even change water into blood (Ex. 4:9). Then, as we approach the Mosaic covenant, they were instructed to put the blood of a lamb on the door posts in Egypt, just before the exodus to Sinai. "Almost all things are by the law purged with blood" (Heb. 9:22). The old was a shadow of the new. The Mosaic system came from the same God as the Christian system. The Mosaic system was our school master to bring us "unto Christ" (Gal. 3:24). Now, it didn't bring us "into Christ," it brought us "unto Christ." We are baptized "into Christ" (Gal 3:27). You can participate in this new covenant or you can reject it. You are encouraged; but, you are not forced. Over in Rev. 1:5, it is said: Christ "washed us from our sins in his own blood." You see there is a blood connection in baptism. The blood of even animals was never to be eaten as a food, throughout the Bible. Yet, as part of the Lord's Supper, we are to figuratively eat blood, represented by the fruit of the vine in memory of Christ's blood that was shed on the cross for us. When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, he said: "this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." THIS IS MY BLOOD. In John 6:53, Jesus made an allusion to this, he said to the Jews: "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." Life is in the blood. Spiritual life, life after death, is associated with the blood of Christ. Our sins can be remitted through the blood of Christ. Under the O.T., the blood of bulls and goats, in those animal sacrifices they offered, REMINDED THEM of this blood connection. Those sacrifices did not take away sins (Heb. 10:4)...there was a remembrance (10:3). It was "through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (10:10); that their sins (and our sins) can be remitted. Where remission is, "there is no more offering for sins" (10:18).
As our writer brought this section to a close (10:17), he goes back to that Jeremiah prophecy and quoted it again and reminds us that God has said: "their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." When sins are remitted, they are remitted, "there is no more offering for sin." Christ's blood was offered once for all (10:10). Either your sins are remitted -OR- you are still in your sins. Which is it? There is no sin too big or too heinous for the blood of Christ to remit or to blot out (Acts 3:19). Yes, but, Bro. Horsley, I'm just so mean, and so bad and I've sinned so much, I don't see how the Lord can forgive me! The problem there is a lack of faith. God set up the system. Are you willing to follow it?
Oh, it takes a change in heart, a genuine change in heart, you better believe it. What will bring that about? Faith in Jesus! Understanding who Jesus was/ who Jesus is/ and understanding what Jesus did. "Faith cometh by hearing" (Rom 10:17). This faith part of it is a very important aspect. Here in Heb. 10:19, our writer does another digression, if you will permit me to call it that. This digression consumes the rest of chapter ten. It reminds me very much of that digression back in the last half of Heb. ch. five. Do you remember? "Ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God..." Do you remember? What would you call that? Pointed admonition? It was admonition with a point...so pointed, you might call it criticism, actually. Here in ch. 10, beginning in v.19, our writer gave them another dose of that pointed admonition. He told them, "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." He gets into the "fiery indignation" of God (10:27). Our writer was not above a little hell fire and brimstone preaching. And then, in what we call ch. 11, our writer came back to the faith aspect (that we just touched on) and he drives it home. By faith the elders received a good report, by faith Abel offered, by faith Enoch was translated, by faith Noah done so and so, by faith Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and all the prophets. Faith in God was a characteristic of all those godly people in the past. Our writer summarizes the O.T. to show you they all had faith. I mean real faith! That's a preview of coming attractions as they say at the theater. We'll get to that.
But, right now, for the few minutes we have left; let's try to close out this 45-verse-block made up of Heb. ch. 9 and Heb. ch. 10 (down thru v.18) that we carved out and that we have been examining in the last couple lessons. The writer wants us to see, the O.T. blends right into the N.T. and the new is really just an extension of the old in one sense. The new grew out of the old. This was not an accident. God set up the old covenant with this view in mind, he said: "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days..." And, not only did the new grow out of the old, the old was designed as a shadow of the new. By that, I mean, the old had design and outline, spoken of here as a "pattern" (Heb. 8:5, 9:23), or what we would call a blueprint. Diagrammed into this blueprint, as our writer sees it, are certain shadow-type likenesses, i.e. evidence that both plans came from the same Architect. In both covenants we find hundreds of reference to it's counterpart. The two covenants are interwoven, so-to-speak. You can't separate them. However, only one was /is in force at any one time. "He took away the first that he may establish the second" (Heb. 10:9). Our writer through his shadow-image discussion, wants us to see resemblance, make associations, recognize correlations, get the comparison and understand the similarity that exists. He does a marvelous job in this. It is truly a work of the Holy Spirit.
By way of illustration, let me ask you: what would you think if you should see a house, a standard size house, with a chimney, with steps, with bay windows and shutters, with a balcony, with a certain kind of roof and we'll say you observe every detail. Then you go ten blocks away and you see a birdhouse (2 feet square) with exactly the same design, there's the little chimney, the little bay windows and shutters, the balcony and the roof has the same angles and gables and valleys, even the same color. One is the exact shadow-image of the other. Now, they are vastly different in size. I said, what would you think? Just an accident! Just a freak of nature? It just happened? YOU KNOW that the first thing that would pop into your mind is that the same architect designed both. Both patterns came from the same mind. Right? Well, in effect, the Hebrews writer is trying to get us to see both covenants came from the mind of the same God. One did not exist totally separate and apart from the other. Once you begin to see this correlation and you make a few observations with respect to the O.T. and the N.T., the law of Moses and the Law of Christ, the timing, the prophets, the interrelation-ships, the miraculous associated with the establishment of both; you cannot help coming to the conclusion there is a God and that both came from the same God, Jehovah God. As you lay this alongside the creation story in the book of Genesis; the correlations are there. There is a great infinity or eternity back there, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Then as we come to the book of John, "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.. .All things were made by" the Word. That "Word" personifies Jesus the Christ. Then down in v.14, "the Word [i.e. Jesus] was made flesh, and dwelt among us." As we then turn around and look toward the future, we see another eternity, vast and bright and although it extends beyond your physical view; by faith it blends into this same spiritual architecture that brought us from the garden of Eden, beyond the Noah flood, across the plains of Mamre down to the promise to Abraham, through the Red Sea, over the mountain of Sinai where "the law was added because of transgressions" (Gal. 3:19). Then in Jesus we see this first shadow covenant fulfilled and the second (the real image) appears in Jesus Christ, our Saviour. From the mouth of Jesus, it extends beyond our view. He said as he prepared to purchase us the next day: "In my Fathers house are many mansions...! go to prepare a place for you." By faith, they are just across on that evergreen shore. That's the promise. Have a good day!