POSTURES

We continue looking at the Letter to the Hebrews, and in chapter 10, verses 11 to 14 we read,

Day after day every [Jewish] priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,  and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.  For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Again our author returns to this constant theme to remind us that under the Old Covenant a priest needed to repeat the sacrifices every day without fail. Not only that, but also, these sacrifices are useless in taking away sins and restoring full friendship with God.  No wonder a new arrangement was necessary.

The posture of a priest is standing. A priest stands to make sacrifices and offerings, is never seated. So it was with the priests of Judea in Jerusalem in the Ancient World. And so it is today with many modern priests.

But Jesus’ posture in sacrifice was to allow his precious body to be stretched out and nailed to the tree.

But then he is said to have entered and stood with his blood in the heavenly sanctuary. Now, his posture is seated and at the place of greatest exultation, power and influence where he waitsfor his enemies to be under his feet.

The Letter to the Hebrews over and over, gives a clear and unmistakable assurance to anyone who wants to draw near to the Father, that the way is open—a full, complete, sacrifice has been made by Jesus in his death for the many, for us, and one that makes “perfect” forever.

This perfection is “for those who are being made holy”, those who are in his way, pursuing his truth, living in his endless life. This is both a done deal and an ongoing process! Cool, eh?

The result is again, one sacrifice has perfected (the Greek verb here means the action is done, final) those in the on-the-earth process of being made holy (the Greek verb here means the action is ongoing).

Then in verses 19-21, we read that this is a new and living way. Not the old, not a dead way! Not a theoretical or philosophical way! This way is his body, Jesus’ body,  that wonderful body which men and women touched and by which they were touched. How different this is to Greek ideas with its abhorrence of the human body. How much this underlines the fact that these heavenly things are realities and not just “spiritual”. A real, warm, flesh and blood, human body sits (that is, reigns) beside God Almighty right now, for us.  Moses is no longer in view. Jesus has replaced Moses—the great high priest over the house (Greek, oikos) of God. The household, true family.

So we can draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance. We do not have to pretend, to act it out, to imagine or have some magical or mystical access—or be insincere. It is a matter of sincerely believing. And drawing near to stay, not to withdraw, to abide, permanently! Jesus told the 12 that it was better for him to go away—because they could have access to him in his absolute reign on high continually.

The place to be!

4 responses to “POSTURES

  1. Thanks Stewart for your wisdom here!

  2. So I guess Ian, the author of Hebrews just happened to forget the 10 times in Leviticus where YHWH says when certain animals are brought to the priest at the tent of meeting according to His own instruction, that He forgives/pardons(Strongs # H5545) their sin? Or perhaps as I have heard some suggest, that God didn’t really mean what He said – afterall they say, the book of Hebrews was written after the time of Moses so it must be more authoritative?

    • Thanks for the comment. I don’t believe it is necessary to guess. I trust that the Holy Spirit inspired our author who, as a believing Hebrew, could do no other than point to and glorify Jesus in the face of that great sacrifice which was so effective that it ended all other sacrificial offerings that God graciously commanded under the Old Covenant. Those were promises/foreshadows of the true Lamb of God then yet to come. Our author stresses that Jesus’ sacrifice cleanses the conscience of the sinner which the animal sacrifices could never do. Neither could these make perfect the ones drawing near, as Jesus’ offering of his own perfect and human flesh and blood has provided for the many. Jesus’ work goes far beyond the old, far beyond a mere legal forgiveness for his elect nation, Israel. God did mean what he said in Moses’ day and now God means what he says through the apostles under a New Covenant. God has spoken in these last days through his Son.

    • Leviticus is full of cases where there was no offering available to cancel the sin, and the penalty was death. e.g. Reading the horoscopes in the paper each week, or becoming angry with your parents and saying something you regret – no sacrifice was available to cover your sin, and the penalty was death for both. From what I’ve read Leviticus only provided sacrifices for accidental sin – there was no sacrifice available for willful sin. Leviticus 4 “when anyone sins unintentionally…” etc etc. Leviticus 16 is your catch-all, the scape-goat, offered by the high priest once a year, but that didn’t help the willful sinner who had already and rightfully been put to death during the year. What hope was there for you if you sinned wilfully a month before the day of Atonement?

      And then Jesus comes along and says if you hate someone you have committed murder (no sacrifice gets you off that one), and what hope do any of us have if he was right?

      And then he died in our place… for all our past and future sins, wilful and unintentional… he died in our place! The book of Leviticus is closed/paid-in-full, and there’s nothing anyone can ever do now to make God re-open it. Psalm 40:6 “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire”, Jeremiah 31:31-34 “… I will make a new covenant … I will remember their sins no more… “, God knew Leviticus was a death sentance for everyone, it was never His intention that we’d have to bear it. Life and death is now purely: will you let Jesus take the place you (and I) deserve on that cross, and will you let the risen Jesus be Lord to you?

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