blood of Christ

The Heavenly Mountain

Interpreting the Bible can be difficult, especially when personal biases, opinions, and conflicting views are involved. For centuries, the Bible was interpreted as a book full of allegories and metaphors.

The Scriptures were viewed as figurative language for the most part. In more modern times, literalism was the predominant view. This pendular swing of extremes still prevails.

Spiritual discernment—given by God's Spirit—is needed for understanding what is meant to be figurative and what needs to be understood in a more literal sense.

Above all, it's important to remember the Bible is God's revelation given to all humanity. Because it's from God to us, the Bible needs to become personal for us. Not our own personal interpretation but as a personal message from God to us.

Scripture

Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to tens of thousands of angels joyfully gathered together and to the assembly of God’s firstborn children (whose names are written in heaven). You have come to a judge (the God of all people) and to the spirits of people who have God’s approval and have gained eternal life. [vss 22-23]

You have come to Jesus, who brings the new promise from God, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better message than Abel’s.

Be careful that you do not refuse to listen when God speaks. Your ancestors didn’t escape when they refused to listen to God, who warned them on earth. We certainly won’t escape if we turn away from God, who warns us from heaven. [vss 24-25]

(Hebrews 12:22-25 GW) [Context– Hebrews 12]

Key phrase—

You have come to Jesus, who brings the new promise from God

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • Where are we told that we've come to? How is this place described?

  • Who is gathered at this mountain? How many people or peoples are mentioned?

  • Who is spoken of by name and what two things are included with Him?

  • What is the strong warning given here? How is its serious nature reinforced?

Reflection...

This heavenly mountain—Mount Zion—is in stark contrast with the dark, foreboding mountain of Mount Sinai where Moses received the Law. Mount Zion represents not only heaven, the dwelling place of God, but a new relationship with God through Jesus.

This is the fifth and final warning given in the book of Hebrews. It is far more personal than the previous four warnings. Simply put—rejecting the New Covenant of grace is a rejection of Jesus, God's Son. 

The Old Covenant was a Law that required obedience, an obedience the nation of Israel couldn't and didn't keep. The New Covenant is more personal. It is relational. It provides the opportunity for a new relationship between God and humanity.

Jesus came to provide the means of reconciliation and restoration of relationship with God for all humanity. A relationship of trust—faith—based upon God's kindness and favor—grace—gained through the Lord's death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • If this description of Mount Zion—the heavenly Jerusalem—is figurative, why is it spoken of as actual and present?

  • Why do you think it's necessary to have this detailed description of Mount Zion?

  • What stands out to you about this fifth and final warning?

  • Do you understand how personal and relational the New Covenant of grace is?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

A Terrifying Thing

Politicians and lawyers, as well as the media, know how to take a few words someone says, and misconstrue them in order to trap and attack a person with their own words.

The usual retort or defense by the trapped person is that their words were taken out of context. Context is important! This is always true when it comes to understanding words spoken and written.

This issue of context also applies to reading and studying the Bible. But context includes more than just the words and sentences. The time frame and culture of spoken or written words are an important frame of reference for understanding them.

Most of the lack of understanding or misunderstanding of the Bible is due to an ignorance of the full context of history, culture, the Scriptures as a whole, and the nature of God.

Scripture

If we go on sinning after we have learned the truth, no sacrifice can take away our sins. All that is left is a terrifying wait for judgment and a raging fire that will consume God’s enemies.

If two or three witnesses accused someone of rejecting Moses’ Teachings, that person was shown no mercy as he was executed. [vss 26-27]

What do you think a person who shows no respect for the Son of God deserves? That person looks at the blood of the promise (the blood that made him holy) as no different from other people’s blood, and he insults the Spirit that God gave us out of his kindness [grace]. He deserves a much worse punishment. [vss 28-29]

We know the God who said, “I alone have the right to take revenge. I will pay back.” God also said, “The Lord will judge his people.”

Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing. [vss 30-31]

(Hebrews 10:26-31 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What is the strong warning given? What is not available "if we go on sinning?"

  • How is rejection of the Mosaic Law compared to rejection of the New Covenant of grace?

  • What are we told insults the Spirit of God? What result can we expect if we insult God's Spirit?

  • How is all of this reasoning tied into the last strong expression of this warning?

Reflection...

I've seen this portion of text (the 4th of 5 warnings in Hebrews) used to discourage and scare people, which brings both condemnation and confusion. It is a strong warning and exhortation to be sure but is intended to encourage believers to persevere not despair.

This should be clear from the context of this whole chapter (10) and the following chapter (11), as well as the purpose of the whole book of Hebrews.

Once the Mosaic Law was completed and replaced (Matt 5:17; Heb 8:6-13), its provision of forgiveness and atonement was null and void. Trying to go back to the Law meant rejecting the perfect atonement of Jesus brought through His death and resurrection. This would be a rejection of God's grace and the promise of God's Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26) living in us as believers.

Be careful how you handle the truth of God! Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing. Be wary of sitting in God's place and pronouncing judgment on anyone! Rather than a false confidence in religious righteousness, accept and trust God's grace.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Since none of us lead a perfect, moral life, how is this warning an encouragement?

  • Do you understand how and why the rejection of New Covenant grace to rely on the Law is a personal and grievous insult to God?

  • Can you see all of this from the context of these early converts from Judaism to Christianity?

  • Are you living in the freedom of God's gracious forgiveness through Jesus or struggling to be righteous through your own efforts?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Confident to Enter

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lightstock.com

Since the beginning, we humans invest a lot in our outward appearance. The first man and woman covered their shame of nakedness with fig leaves. Today, we Americans spend a lot of time and money on stylish clothing, even for work clothes.

A lot of sayings speak to this tendency—beauty is only skin deep, don't judge a book by its cover, or a house is not a home. Yet we spend a lot of time and money on skin products and houses! The point is that what's on the inside matters more than the outside.

This even truer when it comes to God and our spiritual life. God always looks at the heart—the inner person—not what is presented to others. This has always been true.

Many people are convinced they need to clean up their lives before God will accept them. But they are wrong. God works from the inside out. Just the opposite of us. He opens the way into His presence to those who let Him clean their lives up, beginning in their heart.

Scripture

With one sacrifice he accomplished the work of setting them apart for God forever.

The Holy Spirit tells us the same thing: “This is the promise that I will make to them after those days, says the Lord: ‘I will put my teachings in their hearts and write them in their minds.’ ” Then he adds, “I will no longer hold their sins and their disobedience against them.” (Jer 31:31-34) [vss 14-17]

When sins are forgiven, there is no longer any need to sacrifice for sins. Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place. [vss 18-19]

(Hebrews 10:14-19 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

Because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What has been done forever? How was this done?

  • How does the Holy Spirit confirm this work of God?

  • For how long will "their sins and their disobedience" be forgiven?

  • What are we able to do because of the blood of Jesus? Why?

Reflection...

God intends for His truth to live and remain in our hearts, as well as our minds. This is true when a person accepts God's perfect forgiveness through the perfect reconciliation made by the Lord offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice (atonement).

Being "set apart...forever" is God's work. It's not based on any effort from us but on the gracious gift of God. The blood of Jesus—through His death on the cross—cancels the debt and power of sin for those who accept it.

The presence of God, through the Holy Spirit who is given to dwell in us when we experience new birth, continues this work of setting us apart for God and His purposes (Titus 3:4-7).

This is why a genuine believer has the confidence to enter the presence of God (the Holy Place). Just as the blood of atonement under the Old Covenant brought forgiveness for a year, the blood of Jesus brings forgiveness forever—once for all (Heb 9:14).

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • How is this prophetic promise of forgiveness connected to Christ's once and for all sacrifice?

  • If we are forgiven fully of our sin, what does this tell us about how to handle guilt and shame?

  • Do you have this confidence to go into the very presence of God?

  • How would you explain this blessing of entering God's presence in your own words (IYOW)?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Paid In Full

Blood is life. Blood flows throughout our body, through large arteries and veins and tiny capillaries invisible to the naked eye.

Life takes place within our blood as it flows through various organs in our body that regulate vital life processes. If our blood is contaminated in any way, disease can take hold and lead to serious complications including death if untreated.

When the Bible speaks of blood in relationship to a covenant, blood takes on a spiritual nature. The physical properties and function of blood provide an illustration for an understanding of its spiritual truth.

Scripture

Because Christ offered himself to God, he is able to bring a new promise from God. Through his death he paid the price to set people free from the sins they committed under the first promise. He did this so that those who are called can be guaranteed an inheritance that will last forever.

In order for a will to take effect, it must be shown that the one who made it has died. A will is used only after a person is dead because it goes into effect only when a person dies. [vss 15-19]

That is why even the first promise was made with blood. As Scripture tells us, Moses told all the people every commandment. Then he took the blood of calves and goats together with some water, red yarn, and hyssop and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “Here is the blood that seals the promise God has made to you.” In the same way, Moses sprinkled blood on the tent and on everything used in worship. [vss 20-21]

As Moses’ Teachings tell us, blood was used to cleanse almost everything, because if no blood is shed, no sins can be forgiven.

The copies of the things in heaven had to be cleansed by these sacrifices. But the heavenly things themselves had to be cleansed by better sacrifices. [vss 22-23]

(Hebrews 9:15-23 GW) [Context– Hebrews 9]

Key phrase—

Through his death he paid the price to set people free

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What did Christ do that guarantees believers an eternal inheritance?

  • What needs to take place for a will to go into effect? How is this related to what Jesus did to bring our eternal inheritance?

  • Why was the first promise (covenant) made with blood? What do you think this is talking about?

  • Why is blood used in both the Old and New Covenants? [hint– see Leviticus 17:11]

Reflection...

No more sacrifices are needed. All the sacrifices before (under the Law) were reminders of what was to come—the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. His sacrifice—Himself—was not offered in a human temple but in heaven in the very presence of the Father.

This is called the Atonement of Christ which was prefigured by the sacred Jewish ceremony called the Day of Atonement (Lev 16). The Day of Atonement involved a whole day of fasting and many, many sacrifices. But the Atonement of Christ was done once for all (Heb 9:11-14).

The shed blood of Jesus is greater and more powerful than the blood of animals. Why? Because He was both human and God in nature—physical and spiritual—and He did not have a sinful nature since He wasn't born from the natural seed of a man (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:31-35).

His death on the cross brought a new promise (covenant) into effect. It acted as a ransom that wiped away the resulting debt of sin, which is physical and spiritual death, and provided an eternal forgiveness not possible under the old promise (covenant).

His death and resurrection that followed brought an inheritance for all those who would trust in Christ as both Savior and Lord. This inheritance is eternal, not physical nor temporary. It's not a geographical homeland but an abiding relationship with God and an eternal kingdom.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • How does the blood of Christ provide believers an assurance of their salvation?

  • Do you understand why it was necessary that Jesus offered up His own blood and self as an atoning sacrifice?

  • Have you personally experienced the forgiveness of God and assurance of Christ's inheritance?

  • How has the forgiveness of God brought you assurance, freedom, and peace?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

His Own Blood

Most, if not all, religions are focused on appeasing an angry God or finding a way to gain God's acceptance or a combination of both. In most religions, God is either distant and unreachable or an impersonal spiritual force.

A relationship with God is only possible if He is personal and living. But access into the presence of God may appear impossible without some extraordinary means to gain that opportunity.

Religion is humanity's attempt to build a bridge up to God based on a person's best efforts at being good, or at least reaching some minimum requirement. But these efforts and requirements are just arbitrary hopeful guesses at what God desires.

Can a person have any certainty of reaching out to God and being accepted? Yes, and much more!

Scripture

But Christ came as a chief priest of the good things that are now here. Christ went through a better, more perfect tent that was not made by human hands and that is not part of this created world. He used his own blood, not the blood of goats and bulls, for the sacrifice. He went into the most holy place and offered this sacrifice once and for all to free us forever. [vss 11-12]
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of cows sprinkled on unclean  people made their bodies holy and clean. The blood of Christ, who had no defect, does even more. Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself to God and cleansed our consciences from the useless things we had done. Now we can serve the living God. [vss 13-14]
(Hebrews 9:11-14 GW) [Context– Hebrews 9]

Key phrase—

He went into the most holy place and offered this sacrifice once and for all to free us forever

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are we told Jesus did when He came as a chief (high) priest?

  • Where did Christ enter and what did He use to offer as a sacrifice? How often did this happen?

  • Why is the blood Christ offered so much more valuable and powerful than other sacrifices?

  • What great benefit does the Lord's sacrifice provide for those who trust in Him and why is this so?

Reflection...

Our own efforts at purifying ourselves are useless, just as all the sacrifices under the Old Covenant Law which were only temporary. None of them could make a person pure or free on a continuing basis.

The perfect sacrifice of Jesus—the Victor over sin, death, and the devil by His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection from the dead—brings true freedom. God's Spirit dwelling in those who are true believers empowers them to live in the victory Jesus won.

God built the bridge between humanity and Himself. He came as a person to do what no other person could do. Jesus the Messiah (Christ) fulfilled all the requirements of the Law (Matt 5:17) so we no longer need to try to meet its perfect demands.

Not only are we free from the requirements of perfect obedience and continual sacrifices, we are free to know and serve the true and living God with a clean heart and conscience.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Which do you choose—religious ceremony or genuine spiritual freedom?

  • Which is better—an appearance of righteousness or a right relationship with God and a clear conscience?

  • Have you learned and become convinced that the grace of God is far superior to any religious effort on your part?

  • In what way have you experienced personal freedom to worship and serve the one true and living God through His Son Jesus?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews