Have you ever thought about what life was like back in the olden days?
Not just when our grandparents were little but way back, before Jesus was even born? Sometimes I try to think about what I would be like if I was born into that time. What would my life be like? What would I be doing?
Most of the time when I read Old Testament Scripture, it’s hard for me to apply it to my own life. I don’t live in a desert or see people every day with leprosy. I don’t know any shepherds or even how to make unleavened bread. So when our pastor told us we were going to go through a series on the Old Testament for six weeks, I was thinking it would be snorezilla. And if I can be honest, a lot of the history went over my head. But God spoke through our pastor and my small group to me this past week.
Our small group has been going through the book of Hebrews. This week chapters 9 and 10 referenced a lot of Old Testament Scripture. Not only did it reference the Old Testament, but it also talked about the old covenant, the old way of life. It was a life where people had to make animal sacrifices and cleanse themselves to purify themselves before God.
The high priest would go into a tent where God’s presence was (in a holy place) every year to sacrifice on behalf of the entire city. He would have to do this year after year and be reminded about the city’s and his own past sin. There was never a sacrifice that was made for sin that could completely cover the sin of the people.
Hebrews 10:1,3-4 says:
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
This is what struck me. The people of this age didn’t know of a time where Jesus came and sacrificed himself for all sin, past, present and future. Not only did he come to purify them on the outside but to cleanse their hearts from the guilt and put them in right standing before God. This was the one true sacrifice.
Hebrews 9:11-14 says:
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Since Jesus came to sacrifice himself we no longer need to make sacrifices for our sin. We are now free to serve the living God with a peaceful conscience knowing that our sin has been paid for because we have faith in Jesus. The work is done!
God, I pray that because of these stories of the past you would refresh our hearts to know the magnitude of your sacrifice for us. We haven’t had to make animal sacrifices or purify ourselves to pay for our sins, but I pray that you would make these stories real to us. Help us to see just how great you are! I thank you for your Word and for making the Old Testament stories connect with our lives today. I love you!
[This post first appeared on Radical Everyday Living, December 17, 2013.]