Saturday, April 4, 2015

Saturday, April 4th: Leviticus 1-3, Hebrews 6 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 1-3; Hebrews 6

The main theme in Leviticus is the holiness of God, and discusses how unholy men can approach a holy God - only through sacrifice.

We see three sacrifices in our reading today.

The burnt offering was voluntary, and it's purpose was to make payment for sins in general.  It showed a person's devotion to God and pointed to Christ, whose death was the perfect offering and the only one that could actually take our sins away.

The grain offering was also voluntary, and it's purpose was to show honour and respect to God in worship. This offering acknowledges that everything we have belongs to God.

The fellowship offering was also voluntary, and it's purpose was to show gratitude to God.  Though this sacrifice symbolized peace and fellowship with God, only through Christ can we experience true fellowship with Him.

Thoughts about our Hebrews passage (this is a little long, but I thought it was very interesting!)

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 

The book of Hebrews is a contrast between Christianity and Judaism.  It's an encouragement to those who have become Christians that they made the right choice.  It's a call to those standing at the edge, those who know all the information, but haven't yet made the commitment.  And it's giving information to those who have never heard it before. 

According to MacArthur, this is how we need to view the entire book of Hebrews.  Always asking ourselves what is it that the writer is saying about the superiority of Christianity over Judaism.  He is not contrasting a new, baby Christian with a mature Christian.  He is contrasting an unsaved Jew in Judaism with a redeemed Jew in the new covenant.  The emphasis is the superiority of the new covenant over the old, the new mediator or great high priest, over the old, that Jesus is better than angels, that Jesus is better than Moses, better than Joshua, better than Aaron, better than Melchizedek, better than everyone.

Some have said that this is talking to Christians, and he's saying to Christians, "You shouldn't be immature Christians. You should be grownup Christians." That's a good principle. That's terrific principle. That's a Biblical principle. I don't think that's what being taught in Hebrews chapter 5. I think he's talking here to Jews who are intellectually convinced, but still hanging onto Judaism and, incidentally, folks, Judaism is the ABCs of the new covenant, is it not? And he is saying to them, "Come on to maturity in the new covenant." Now, I'm gonna try to defend that thesis, because it is a little foreign to most interpretations; but I think it's consistent. So we say then that the question is not a question of whether one's a baby Christian or a mature Christian. The issue an evangelistic appeal. Come on to Christ. Come all the way. Many of these readers have professed to believe, but they're still hanging onto the patterns of Judaism. They wouldn't let go. They weren't saved, and they're in great danger, chapter 6 verse 4, of falling back and then finding it impossible to be renewed to salvation again. So when we're talking about maturity here, we're talking about the maturity of accepting Christ, you see, and coming into all the full-grown truths of the new covenant....

Now, lemme give you an overview of the passage very quickly. In 5:11 through 6:3, the Holy Spirit says, "Grow up from the...the ABCs of Judaism, and come all the way to maturity. Leave the milk of the Old Testament. Come to the solid food of the new covenant. Come to Christ. Leave Judaism." That's exactly what he's saying. Then in 6:4, he says, "If you don't, you're in serious danger of coming all the way up, hearing all of the truth, then falling away, and being lost forever."Because, my friends, if a man hears all the truth of Jesus Christ, considers it carefully, and walks away, he's hopeless. What else can God do once he's known the truth?...

It says they were enlightened, not saved. They've tasted, not eaten. They were partakers, not possessors of the Holy Spirit; and there is no direct salvation term in that passage that is used elsewhere in the New Testament. It doesn't say they were saved, justified, righteous, called, elect, believers, sons, children of God, redeemed, sanctified, adopted, made holy, chosen, bought, regenerated, born again. Nothing. They had all the information. That's the point.

And, finally, in verse 9, he turns to Christians and says, "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you and things which accompany salvation." And, at that point, he turns to Christians and lays on them the need to grow spiritually and to make sure they, too, don't fall back into old patterns. So the passage, then, is directed primarily as a warning to the unsaved. Now, someone is bound to ask me, "Do you think that the passage has anything to do with Christians?" Well, in an indirect sense, very definitely. If spiritual ignorance and fooling around with the ABCs is a serious problem for an unsaved person, how much more serious would it be for a Christian? How much more tragic for a Christian who never really grows up to fully understand the new covenant. But the direct issue is to the unsaved. Each warning in Hebrews is directed to the intellectually convinced who are on the edge of decision, but haven't yet responded to Christ. So we believe it to be a warning to them. (emphasis mine)

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 4-5; Hebrews 7


Conrad said...

Early on, sacrifices became the heart of the worship of God in the OT. But we read that the sacrifice itself, is insufficient. God also wanted the sacrifices accompanied by a humble heart and obedience and devotion to Him.

Today, we are still called to offer sacrifices. Just not of animals, but to sacrifice our lives to Him. The sacrifice we offer today also requires a humble heart, obedience and devotion to God.

Pamela said...

Interesting things to chew on from Hebrews, Tammy. Thanks for posting it.

With this being Easter weekend, I kept noticing the sacrifices made were "without blemish", "most holy", "first fruits", etc. and as I think about the sacrifice made on Good Friday....Jesus is without blemish, he is the most holy, he is not only the "first", but the only, son of God. When we think of the expectations set out in Leviticus, Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice was a perfect payment for our debt of sin.

Hebrews solidifies this:

18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever...

We have hope because of the sacrifice made for us by the perfect, holy, only Son of God.