Devotion – Hebrews 9

Remember that the book of Hebrews is a very Jewish book.  It was probably written at a time when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, and the sacrifices continued to be made by the priests.  In fact, for many Jewish Christians, they probably struggled with how Jesus death on the cross related to the sacrifices made at the temple.

The book of Exodus and the Old Testament Law contains quite a bit about the Tabernacle and the sacrifices that were made for the sins of the people.  God commanded the High Priest to sacrifice animals as an offering for the sins of the people.  The sacrifices were supposed to be a reminder of the price that had to be paid for sin.  But those sacrifices were never enough to completely pay for sin.  In fact, the primary sacrifice of sin, made on the Day of Atonement (the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur) was repeated every year.  On Yom Kippur, the Hebrews would gather, and the High Priest would make a sacrifice for their sin.  He would sacrifice a red heifer for his sin, and sprinkle the ashes on the altar in the Holy of Holies.  He would then sacrifice a goat and sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant.  This ceremonial day had to be repeated every year because the death of animals was never sufficient to completely pay the penalty for our sin.

Right about now, you are probably grossed out.  All this talk of blood might be making you queasy.  And you are probably wondering why God would want animals sacrificed.  Is he blood thirsty?  The answer, of course is NO!  These sacrifices, and the blood that goes with it was a reminder that the penalty for disobedience to God was death (see Romans 3:23).  Because of sin, we all deserve death and separation from God.  The only way for forgiveness is if something, or Someone takes the penalty for our sin for us.  Before Jesus came, God allowed the sacrificing of animals as the way He gave His grace to the people.  The sacrifices made in the Tabernacle or Temple were just a sign that the sin of the people had been paid.

But Jesus did something different.  He is our High Priest.  And He entered into a different Holy of Holies.  When Jesus died for you and for me, He went into the Holy of Holies in heaven, the very throne room of God the Father.  He didn’t offer the blood of goats.  He offered His own blood.  And because this blood being offered to God was the sacrifice of the perfect, sinless Son of God, it is enough.  We don’t need an annual sacrifice, because the debt of our sin has been paid in full.  Jesus has paid for your sin, once and for all!

For the Jewish Christian, there was no longer any need to have the sacrifices made at the Temple for sin.  The ultimate Sacrifice had been made on the cross.  Even though you are probably not Jewish, you can be assured that the Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is enough for your sin as well!  So, even though it is kind of gross to talk about blood, aren’t you thankful for the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for you?!

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