April 9, 2020
“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Hebrews 9:11-12.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. In a few short words, God tells us that He created everything. No evolution, no aliens leaving crumbs from a picnic. The word “created” comes from two Hebrew words, “bara’” and “’eth”. When used together, these words take all doubt away as to the fact that it was God who created, not an accident of evolution. It’s hard to wrap our human minds around the fact that at one time nothing existed but God. No sun, moon, or stars. No trees, flowers, or animals. Certainly there were no people. Then God spoke. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Genesis 1:3. The creation of light was just the first day. For five more days God was busy speaking everything into existence. He separated light from darkness, then made the firmament, which He called Heaven, and divided the waters above it and below. That was the second day. On the third day, God gathered together the waters under Heaven and dry land appeared. Then it was time to create life in the form of grass, herbs, and trees. The fourth day was when God created the sun, moon, and stars to be signs for seasons, days, and years. On the fifth day He made the sea creatures and birds. The beauty of creation kept getting more and more spectacular. On the sixth day He made the land animals. He made the cattle, the rabbits, the elephants, and everything that lives on land. Then He created man. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27. Creation was done and on the seventh day God rested. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31. It must have been breathtaking. Verses in the New Testament tell us that it was Jesus, God the Son, who spoke everything into existence. Of course, this all happened prior to Adam’s sin. We only know the world as it is after Adam’s sin, so we miss much of the perfection of creation. That sin separated Adam and Eve from God, and every generation since then has suffered from that separation. There had to be reconciliation, and God had a plan.
How was that reconciliation to come about? When Adam sinned, God taught him about blood sacrifice. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21. Blood was shed from an animal and its skin made coats for Adam and Eve. The skin covered the sinners, but the sin wasn’t taken away. Many years would pass before God’s plan was fulfilled. It would be revealed to people slowly, but the ultimate reconciliation would be perfect reconciliation. First God called Abraham in order to separate a special group of people from others. Even though idol worship was everywhere, Abraham came away from that way of life and placed his trust in God Almighty. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and through many generations, people looked forward to the perfect fulfillment of God’s plan. Even Job looked forward to that perfect solution to sin. “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Job 19:25-27. Job looked forward to his salvation. Because of his faith he will surely see His redeemer in the latter day.
God had made it clear that animal blood was to be shed as a sacrifice for sin. It was a covering over the sin, not the perfect sin offering to take sin away. “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22. Seeing blood can turn a person’s stomach, but that is only a small picture of the stomach-turning ugliness of even the smallest sin. The blood of animals is just that, animal blood. It cannot bring salvation to humans, yet God doesn’t require human blood to be shed for any reason. How, then, did He plan to take sin completely away? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Jesus Christ is God and He created everything. He entered His creation and was fully human and fully God. This is another concept that’s difficult to understand by human terms, but must be understood in order to grasp what God actually did. You see, in order to redeem us from our sin, the blood which was shed had to be human and untainted by sin. Mary was a young woman who was a virgin. She wasn’t a goddess or anything except a normal human. An angel appeared to her and said she would bear a child. Confused, Mary asked how that would be accomplished since she was a virgin. “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35. In this way, the baby which was conceived would be fully human, because Mary was human, and fully God because the Father was God. Therefore, Jesus was able to shed His own blood, untainted by sin, to redeem humans because He was born to a human.
God’s plan to redeem mankind was for Him to be our Sacrificial Lamb. He was born in a manger in Bethlehem for that very purpose. He led a small band of men, who learned from Him and saw miracles. They documented what they saw and we have their accounts in Scripture. They knew He was God incarnate, and they came to understand what that meant to humanity. “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:19-20. The blood of the cross, the blood Jesus shed, brought reconciliation. John the Baptist had proclaimed Jesus to be the Lamb of God, but the full meaning of his statement wasn’t made clear until Jesus willingly allowed Himself to be crucified. He was beaten to a bloody pulp, then nails were driven into his hands and feet. His blood ran down and His body was drained of human life. Only His love for you and me held Him there. The nails were man’s way of shedding blood, but it was within Jesus’ power to step down from that cross at any time. Love kept Him there. He was sinless but took upon Himself the sin of all humans. At that moment, for the first time ever, He felt separation from God the Father which is caused by sin. That separation brought anguish to Him. His cry echoes down through the ages. “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Mark 15:34. Can you feel His pain…feel His emptiness? Humans have always felt the separation from God. We are born with sin within us, and we’re somewhat numb to it. This was the first time that Jesus felt the separation. Then, it was over. The means of reconciliation was accomplished. “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.” John 19:30. His blood was shed and the only means of reconciliation was accomplished. His body was removed from the cross and placed in a tomb. His friend’s grief was deep. All they had hoped for had died on the cross. Unbeknownst to them, God’s greater plan was accomplished. Redemption.
Before Jesus shed His blood for our redemption, the Jewish High Priest would sprinkle the blood of a sacrificed animal upon the Mercy Seat. That yearly ritual only foreshadowed what Christ accomplished for eternity. “But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.” Hebrews 9:7-10. The Jewish priests were sinners just like anyone else. Nothing they did could take sin away. The same is true of priests today. From the Pope to the lowliest priest, they are merely human and therefore sinners. Nothing they do can ever take your sin away. Only the blood of Jesus can make you clean. “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:13-14. It wasn’t the blood of animals that Jesus sprinkle, but His own blood. It wasn’t a tabernacle on earth where He sprinkled it, but the true tabernacle in Heaven. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” Hebrews 9:24. We are only fully reconciled to God by the blood of Jesus.
God did all He could. He entered His creation and shed His own blood for our redemption. His free gift of eternal life is offered, but if you don’t accept it then you choose eternal death. Every person has to make the decision for themselves. Many people believe that infant baptism brings salvation. If they were baptized as a baby but never make the confession of faith for themselves, they haven’t accepted God’s gift for themselves. Baptism doesn’t bring salvation, only individual faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ will bring eternal life. Baptism is obedience. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9. A baby cannot confess with his mouth, nor can he believe in his heart. If you’ve never made that confession for yourself, do it now.
You may celebrate Easter by hunting eggs and eating chocolate bunnies, but that isn’t why Christ died. He didn’t stay in the grave, but arose on the third day. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:55. Rather than celebrating Easter, celebrate the Living Christ. Celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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