Monday 26 October 2015

Bible Book:

] purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God.” (v. 14)

Hebrews 9:2-3, 11-14 Monday 26 October 2015

Psalm: Psalm 118:1-18


The author of Hebrews wrote for readers who couldrelate to a world of animal sacrifices, ritual impurity and culticpriests. We are far from that. But by an immense leap of theimagination we can recover a little of what the writer intends. ForHebrews appeals to images and ideas in the Old Testament thatspelled out how the people of Israel, liberated from slavery inEgypt, were to worship God as they meandered through the wildernessfor 40 years. (For the detail, read Exodus25 and 37).

What took place in the mobile shrine that Israelerected wherever they camped becomes a foil for the Christianmessage. A poor quality copy of an art work is replaced by theoriginal! What was temporary and repetitive was replaced bysomething eternal and permanent. What dealt only with ritualdefilement and breaches of cultic rules was replaced with thecomplete ("perfect" (v. 11)) transformation of individual humanhearts ('purifying the conscience' (v. 14)).

The outcome is a new people of God living incommunion with God (and the angels in heaven): in worship theycelebrate the gift of becoming inwardly at one with God; and theylead holy lives pleasing to God.

How was that achieved? God was the author of thisspiritual reformation. God's own Spirit filled and guided the lifeof Christ (verse 14). The climax of Christ's ministry was his deathon the cross - an act of total self-sacrifice which once and forall opened up the possibility of complete harmony between God andhumanity. Christ was both high priest and the sacrificed victim.What Christ achieved at Calvary was affirmed by God: to extend theimagery being used, Christ was worthy to present his act ofsacrificial love in the eternal shrine of heaven. There is nofurther need for animal sacrifices managed by the leviticalpriests.

To Ponder

  • What does the word "redemption" (v. 12) mean for you?
  • "Worship the living God" (v. 14). Drawing on your ownexperience, what is the most important change that would enhanceChristian worship in your congregation Sunday by Sunday?
  • Many today assert that not only is ancient sacrificial religionalien nonsense, but so is the Christian message - one martyr (outof thousands in the Roman Empire) whose death changed humanpossibilities in every age and culture. So what in your experienceare the creative starting points for conversations today which makefaith credible and attractive to people who have had no contactwith the Church?  
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