Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Dec 21, Heb 7-10

Today's readings are Heb 7-10. Tomorrow's are Heb 11-13.

Our writer refers all the way back to Melchizedek to describe the nature of the priesthood of Christ. The Scriptures record no beginning or end of Melchizedek's priesthood. He was a priest of righteousness and peace in Salem. Salem, which means "peace" eventually became "Jerusalem". Christ is like Melchizedek in many ways including the honor due Him merely because of who He is. The writer does not claim that Melchizedek is equal to Christ. He uses Melchizedek as a familiar figure to illustrate the truth of who Christ is.

Likewise, the former priesthood, established through Aaron, was an imperfect shadow of the priesthood Christ would bring. The high priest, as a representative, was able to go into the Holy of Holies only after careful preparation and even then, infrequently. Christ, as our perfect representative is perpetually in the presence of God, praying for us and interceding for us as our advocate. The previous Holy of Holies was a symbol of heaven, where God is present. The veil at the entrance to the Holy of Holies was a barrier between heaven and earth, there to protect those outside the sacred chamber from coming into direct contact and dying due to His holy perfection and their lack of it. Christ, our ultimate High Priest, removes the veil and, by virtue of our union with Him, carries all believers into the presence of God forever. There is no longer a barrier between heaven and earth!

Heb 8-9 reveal that the Old Covenant has been replaced by the New. While the rituals and sacrifices of the Old Covenant find their fulfillment in Christ, so is the priesthood completed in Christ and all ceremonial/ritual rites are no longer necessary. Christ is the new Priest. His sacrifice is the ultimate sacrifice, eliminating the need for repeated ritualistic sacrifice which was only symbolic and ineffective in forgiving sin. The symbolic rituals for cleansing and atonement are fulfilled in reality, in Christ.

Heb 10 spells much of this out while admonishing believers to develop discipline and stamina by consciously deciding to follow Jesus and encouraging other believers to do the same.

Here's a brief summary of the difference between the Old and New Covenants as shown in "The Holman Bible Handbook":

"OLD AND NEW COVENANT
 Definitionally, a covenant is an agreement between two parties, whether equals or not, that signified a relationship whereby the two bound themselves to each other, either conditionally or unconditionally.
 Theologically, the term was used to describe the relationship God initiated by His grace between Himself and humankind to those who were willing to bind themselves through a personal commitment of faith. This is reflected in the oft-occurring phrase in the OT “I will be their God and they shall be my people.”
 A covenant was made by a sacrifice. Hence the Hebrew idiom for its establishment was “to cut a covenant” (Gen 15:7–21). From God’s perspective His covenant is unconditional and unilateral in establishment, but from humankind’s perspective it is conditional and two-sided. God commands His people to keep His covenant through obedience and alternatively judges and blesses them according to their response.
 The word covenant in the NT is diatheke, and it functions as the equivalent for the OT berit. It occurs thirty-three times, nearly half of which are either OT quotations or references to the OT covenants. But the concept of the “new covenant” did not originate in the NT, for Jeremiah 31:31–34 speaks of God’s intention to establish a new covenant.
 The phrase “new covenant” is found six times in the NT: 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8; 9:15; 12:24. The new covenant is the fulfillment of the old in that it is identified with the death of Jesus and the Christian age. It is superior to the old covenant according to Hebrews 7:20–22; 8:6 and displaces the old according to Hebrews 8:13; 10:9.
 The new covenant was established by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. In the Gospel accounts of the last supper, it was Jesus Himself who related His coming death to the establishment of the new covenant. He is, by virtue of His death, the Mediator of a new covenant (Heb 9:15; 12:24). The sacrificial offering by Jesus on the cross constituted the beginning of the new covenant and is complete and unrepeatable. Entrance into the covenant relationship is by faith in Christ.
 The Book of Hebrews is the NT epistle most concerned with the relationship between the old and new covenants. The writer’s intent was to show both continuity and discontinuity between the two covenants.
 Continuity can be seen in that God is the initiator of both covenants, and both are based on sacrifice. Discontinuity can be seen in that the new covenant supersedes the old due to the final nature of the death of Christ.

 The old covenant was enacted upon inferior promises, lacked finality, and lacked efficacy in that it provided no power to keep its conditions. In contrast, the new covenant is unconditional, final, and spiritually efficacious."

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