Hebrews 9:15-10:9, The New Testament

[9:15]And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may received the promise of the eternal inheritance.
[16]For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  [17]For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.  [18]Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.  [19]For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, [20]saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.”  [21]Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.  [22]And according to the law almost all things are purified by blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
[23]Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  [24]For Christ has not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;  [25]not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another – [26]He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once in the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  [27]And as it is appointed unto men to die once, but after this the judgment, [28]so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.  To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
[10:1]For the law, having a shadow of the the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, could never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.  [2]For then would they not have ceased to be offered?  For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.  [3]But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.  [4]For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
[5]Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:  “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared  for Me.  [6]In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.  [7]Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come – in the volume of the book it is written of Me – to do Your will, O God.'”
[8]Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and sacrifices for sin You did not desire; nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), [9]then He said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God.”  He takes away the first that He may establish the second.  (NKJV)

We’re used to thinking of “The New Testament” as those books from Matthew to Revelation, and of “The Old Testament” as being from Genesis to Malachi.  While this is a valid and understandable use of the terms, Hebrews tells us that we can’t limit the phrases to those meanings.

Hebrews teaches us that the terms “Old Testament” or “Covenant” or “First Covenant,” and “New Testament” or “Covenant” in its usage describe two mutuallyexclusive, mutually contradictory and mutually incompatible ways of approach to God.  The Old Testament speaks of our coming to God on the basis of our works.  Both the sacrificial system and Israel’s subsequent history show that this is impossible.  The New Testament teaches that we come to God on the basis of Christ’s work.

Perhaps the great majority of professing Christians do not understand or believe this.  There are, on the one hand, those who out-and-out teach works-salvation, ie., by keeping the Law or doing our best, with the death of Christ almost considered of negligible effect, perhaps “to make up the difference.”  On the other hand, there are those who claim to believe in “salvation by grace,” but then they teach that, “Well, yes, we’re ‘saved by grace,’ but we have to keep ourselves saved; we can lose our salvation.”

Then there are those who teach “salvation by grace,” but they also believe that this means that God has simply made it possible for men to be saved, but it’s up to them to exercise faith.  The emphasis is on “exercise,” not on “faith.”  They might say, “God has done all He can do, and now it’s up to us.”

Even though they might admit that faith comes from God, they say that being born again, or saved, is a result of faith, whereas both the Scripture, John 3, and, except for Romanism, the historic creeds of professing Christianity have taught faith to be the evidence of the New Birth, not its cause.  Although there have been those down through church history who have denied this truth, it was only with the rise of John Wesley and then later Charles G. Finney and his successors, most notable of which in our time has been Billy Graham, that this truth has come generally to be denied.  In our time it has virtually disappeared, being replaced with appeals to “make your decision,” or “give your heart to Jesus.”

The Bible teaches with regard to our salvation that we have nothing to boast about.  It is God Who “makes us to differ,” 1 Corinthians 4:7.  We believe “according to the working of His mighty power,” Ephesians 1:19.  We believe “through [or, by means of] grace,” Acts 18:22.

So it is in Hebrews – an absolute separation of Old and New Covenants.   In our text, there are six things about this “New Covenant” (keeping in minds its context in the larger teaching about the priesthood of Christ);
1.  Mediation of the New Covenant, 9:15-17.
2.  Dedication of the New Covenant, 9:18-26.
3.  Expectation of the New Covenant, 9:27-28.
4.  Intimation of the New Covenant, 10:1-4.
5.  Preparation for the New Covenant, 10:5-8.
6.  Implementation of the New Covenant, 10:9.

1. Mediation of the New Covenant, 9:15-17.

He is the Mediator” – not the OT priesthood, not the Romish or Anglican priesthood or any other priesthood, nor any other individual, not the Virgin Mary, not the saints, not the preacher, not some “prophet,” not some “personality;”  Jesus Christ is the only way into the presence of God, and He is the only One with authority to intervene on behalf of His people.  That is why we must come in His name into the presence of God; no other name is recognized in heaven, Acts 4:12.

Basis of the Mediation, “by means of death,” also vs. 16, 17.  It was His death that released “the inheritance” for the enjoyment of His people.  It was His death that cancelled sin on their behalf and that satisfied divine justice for them.

Benefit of the Mediation.
1.  “redemption.”  In the OT, God didn’t just “overlook” the sin of His people.  The animal sacrifices could not take away sin, but they foreshadowed the coming of the One Who could.  The sins of the OT saints were as assuredly paid for by the death of Christ as the sins of the NT saints.
2.  “eternal inheritance.”  In the OT, under the Old Covenant, “inheritance” was temporary, based on obedience.  This is why Israel was so often in misery and was finally cast out of the land, even after the restoration under Ezra and Nehemiah.  Even though they’re in the land once again, Scripture teaches that this, too, will come to an end.  It won’t until the Second Coming of the Lord that things will finally be straightened out.  The blessings of the New Covenant are dependent on the obedience of Christ.

Beneficiaries of the Mediation, “those who are called.”  Even in the OT, though Israel as a nation enjoyed covenant blessing, not every Israelite knew the Lord; perhaps most in Israel’s history did not know the Lord.  But the New Covenant is not “national” in that sense, but individual:  “they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest,” Jeremiah 31:34.  Hence, it is a great mistake to try to pattern the New Covenant church after the Old Covenant nation.

2. Dedication of the New Covenant, 9:18-26.

Foreshadowed in the First Covenant, vs. 18-22.  Although blood was shed, redemption under the First Covenant was neither complete nor comprehensive, v. 22.

Fulfilled by Christ, vs. 23-26.  His sacrifice purified the originals of the things duplicated in the Mosaic tabernacle, though we don’t understand all that is involved or implied in these verses.  And it was a “once” sacrifice; the “Day of Atonement” accomplished by the Lord Jesus will never have to be repeated, either by Himself or by those who would do it ceremonially.  Indeed, such a thought is blasphemy.

3. Expectation of the New Covenant, 9:27-28.

These verses weren’t just inserted to fill up space, but to point out that the expectation and fulfillment of the New Covenant were not to be accomplished at the First Coming, but at the Second.  Considered on the whole, no OT prophecy has been fully realized.  Even those prophecies which do speak of things pertaining to the First Coming have ramifications which impinge on the Second Coming, for example, Micah 5:1-3; Daniel 9:24-27.

In several places, Hebrews mentions “the promise(s)”.  A careful and objective reading indicates that complete fulfillment of these promises is yet future, for example, Hebrews 11:39, 40.  They are dependent on the return of Christ and are not going to be fulfilled before then, as in “the church,” as many believe.  Romans 11 and Ephesians 2 and 3 shed further light on this controversial subject.

4. Intimation of the New Covenant, 10:1-4.

The continual offerings for sin showed that something more was needed.  The OT sacrifices were shadows of the Coming Sacrifice, shadows of “good things to come,” not the things themselves.

5. Preparation for the New Covenant,10:5-8.

“A body”.  From Adam to Mary, God was preparing the physical body of the Lord Jesus, that “body” which was to be offered “once for all,” Hebrews 10:10.  When Adam and Eve heard the pronouncement of their judgment and the promise of a coming Redeemer, Adam already bore in his body the genetic structure of that Redeemer.  The Cross was not a make-shift attempt to patch up an unforeseen disaster, but a carefully-planned, carefully-prepared revelation of the fullness of the divine attributes, wisdom and power.

6. Implementation of the New Covenant, 10:9.

Approach to God by our own efforts, merit or deserving will never be possible.  The OT showed the impossibility of that, and the Lord Jesus has made all such attempts unnecessary.  He came to forever rid men of the idea that salvation is a matter of reward.

By grace, you have been saved.

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Has God Forgotten Our Children?

“What kind of a question is that?  Of course He hasn’t.  Jesus called little children to Himself.  ‘God loves the little children, all the children of the world’.”  It’s certainly true that the Lord Jesus loved children and children seem to have loved Him.

At the same time, it’s a shame that so much of what we believe comes from Sunday School and sentiment instead of from the Scripture.

Certainly, God can’t and doesn’t “forget” in the sense that there become “gaps” in His memory.  There is a verse, however, in which He Himself say He will “forget your children.”

“Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children,” Hosea 4:6.

This came as a result of God rebuking the people of Israel for their wickedness:  “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.  By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed,” Hosea 4:1a-2 (emphasis added).

When God talks about “forgetting” their children, does that mean that there will be a gap in His knowledge, that He actually forgets them and has no memory or knowledge of them?

Of course not.

But read the first part of the verse to get the context of the second part:  Because you have forgotten the law of your God….  Don’t get upset about the second part without understanding the first part.

This verse may be one of those “hard sayings” that skeptics and unbelievers rail against, but, you see,  that’s because, it says actions have consequences.  Every action has a consequence.  Israel, God’s favored, chosen nation found that out the hard way.  We don’t like that; we want things our way, as if God just ran some sort of cosmic Burger King where “you get it your way,” instead of being the King of Eternity.

When God brought the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery and made them into a nation, what was one of the main things He told them to do?

In Deuteronomy 6:6, 7, God said, …these words that I command you this day shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up” (emphasis added)

“Teach them….”

He had already warned them about this earlier in chapter 4.  In v. 9, after reminding them of the great blessing and privilege they had, things not given to other nations, vs. 6-8, he said, “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life, and teach them to your children and your grandchildren (emphasis added).

“Teach them….”  

Talking to the generation that was about enter the land, Moses reminded them of all the things God had done for them, bringing them out of Egypt and sustaining them through forty years in the wilderness, where there was neither grocery story nor Walmart.  “Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years,”  Deuteronomy 8:4.  In Deuteronomy 29:5, he repeated this thought:  “Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet.”  In fact, they were still wearing those same clothes and sandals.

When Moses warned them against forgetting the Lord, forgetting what He had done for them in the land of Egypt, and how He had provided for them in their wilderness travels, was he just warning them against a mental lapse of some sort?

No, no.  It was so much more than that.  In 8:11, he said, “Beware that you do not FORGET the Lord your God BY NOT KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS, HIS JUDGMENTS, AND HIS STATUTES,which I command you this day” (emphasis added).

Israel never “forgot” God in the sense that she lost the memory of Him.  She just, for the most part, did her own thing and went her own way.  This is what Hosea was complaining about.

The sad thing is, there is never a single time when Moses ever expressed any hope that Israel would actually “remember” the Lord like she was supposed to.  It was always from the standpoint of warning her what would happen if she went astray.  She had already done that before he ever came down from Sinai the first time!

“Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.”

He “forgot” them by leaving them to the consequences of their actions.

Is there a lesson here for us?  I write of the US, though it’s applicable to other nations and people as well.

There’s a university that does a lot of advertising in various magazines and through the mail.  One time they sent me a sample CD, with lessons which covered the settling of our country by the Pilgrims.  The thing I found striking was that there wasn’t a single mention of the Mayflower Compact.  This was actually the first document of American history, in which some of the passengers on the Mayflower put into writing for the first time in history the idea of self-governance, an idea later formalized by our Constitution.

The interesting thing in this document is found in it’s opening sentences.  After the obligatory reference to King James, of whom they were “loyal subjects,” they referred to the reason for their own coming to the new world:  “….having undertaken [it] for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith….”

Not a word of any of this in this CD.  And this has pretty much become the norm: ignoring the idea that Christianity had any part of the founding of this nation.  Granted, it was never the “established religion,” as it was in England or Germany or other countries.  Some of the founding fathers had suffered under such regimes, a thing which always happens when religion has civil power.  Witness the Inquisition under Rome and the slaughter of tens of thousands, if not millions, of Anabaptists and other nonconformists under the Reformed churches.  The same thing is true in Islam.  So the Constitution was written to prevent the establishment of any religion as “official.” However, the founding fathers did not, by this, intend the founding of atheism as the official viewpoint, nor the preventing of religious observances, as it has developed.

In fact, the first universities in this countries were founded as “seminaries.”  One of the important founders of Yale University was a man named Asahel Nettleton, whom probably not 1 of a 1000 Americans has ever heard of.  He was, however, a successful evangelist and preacher, much used of God in the early 1800s, who opposed Charles G. Finney, his preaching and his popularization of the “New Measures,” which Finney used, methods which were the beginnings of the altar call and modern fundamentalist forms of “soul-winning.”

McGuffey’s Reader, which was widely used until men like Horace Mann and John Dewey urged the secularization of public education, started off teaching the alphabet with “A:  In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.”  You can imagine what would happen today if a teacher tried to teach that to her little students.

There has, until the last two or three generations, been a strong Biblical influence in this country.  As time has passed, though, this influence has been challenged and today it is even illegal in schools and government.

And parents have to a large degree fallen by the wayside in the teaching of spiritual truths to their children.  I speak from my own experiences in “church,” but parents tended to drop their kids off for Sunday School and expected the church to give them the teaching they needed.  There was little if any corresponding teaching at home. Any such teaching at school, of course, was, and is, out of the question.

And look at our kids today – generally speaking.  There are still good kids out there, but I fear they are in a growing minority – a minority that will never have government approval. You see kids shuffling down the middle of the street, underwear hanging out, a look of arrogance on their faces.  Drive-by shootings.  Bombings. Schools being shot up.  Drugs. Violence.  Sexual degeneracy.  Gangs.  Nurseries for babies in high schools. Teenage abortion.  Rap “music.”

For the most part, our kids are a mess.

They haven’t been taught the Word of God.  In fact, they have been taught against it. They suffer the consequences of these actions every day.

Though it isn’t just the kids.

There’s a lot of concern in the community about “stopping the violence.”  There’s a lot of church leaders in the lead here, along with the police and other concerned citizens. They want the young people to turn in their guns.  Go to counseling.  Hold vigils.  Light candles.  “Stop the violence.”

But “guns” aren’t the problem.  No, they’re not.  The high school I graduated from was the “tough” school in town.  It’s in what is now probably a hotbed of violence and youthful troubles.  Though I’m sure it’s not still there, in the basement of this school, there was a rifle range (*gasp*) with rifles, locked up, of course, and ammunition.  They were common back then.  I, myself, qualified as a marksman on this range.  But there was never, ever, any trouble with these guns.

Furthermore, most of the fellows carried pocket knives.  No stabbings.  I carried one myself for years, even after I graduated, until the day I tried to make a delivery at the local courthouse and had to go through a metal detector.  Oops.  Why, I was carrying a dangerous weapon!  *sigh*  I had to take it back to my truck and leave it there.

“You’ve come a long way, baby.”

I blame these pastors and church leaders for much of our youth’s troubles.  Instead of preaching the Gospel and requiring repentance, faith, and holy living, they want “social justice.”  “Diversity.”  $15 an hour to fry hamburgers.

They want to take folks out of the slums, without stopping to consider the “slum” that is in folks.  We’re all sinners by nature, preference and habit.

Now, social justice is important.  Even our Lord taught that we’re to treat others as we would like to be treated.  And there’s a great deal more about that in the Old Testament.  However, that’s not the emphasis in these modern times. It’s not at all about how we treat others.  It’s about how they are supposed to treat us.  At the same time, we can treat them pretty much as we like.

But isn’t our God a God of love?  Surely, He wouldn’t do as He might have done in the Old Testament.  Praise His holy name, He is a God of love, but He’s still a God where actions have consequences.  America, and most of the rest of the world, has largely forgotten God by neglecting or denying His Word.  We’ve thrown His Word out and told Him He’s not welcome.

As a result of our actions, He’s “forgotten” us by leaving us to their consequences.

I think we can imagine Him asking, “How’s that working out for you?”

[I’m sorry for the “negative” tone of this post.  It’s just that there’s not much to be “positive” about in this year of our Lord 2014.]