The following devotional is intended to be an interaction, where you will be prompted to think and write down your responses to various questions. These prompts will be italicized in bold and my response will follow. However I encourage you to answer the questions yourself first before reading my thoughts. Remember, your thoughts will be yours, and mine will be mine. They don’t have to be the same or agree, that’s what makes our world beautiful.
Comparison of the Old Covenant/ New Covenant
What do you remember about the old covenant established by God to Moses in the Old Testament, specifically in the Exodus story? Write down a few things.
Temporary, annual, has to be repeated. Wrote and difficult, detached from something I can hold and have a relationship with.
What aspect of the new covenant described by Jesus and New Testament writers call out to you the most?
Life giving, eternal, whole, changes me from the inside out so that I do not have to keep returning for redemptive services.
The old and new covenant both accomplished the purpose of reconnecting those who participated in the ceremonies and prayers. But it is in the new covenant through Jesus Christ that full redemption from sins is accomplished and fulfilled. This is where the line is drawn, one was temporary awaiting a final solution, and the other IS the final solution for our atonement from our sinful nature.
Atonement and Offering
But those are thoroughly churchy words. Atonement, offerings, salvation…. When you here the idea of atonement and offering, what images, smells, ideas come to mind for you?
Let’s simplify their meaning.
Atonement – defined in a religious context as “reparation or expiation for sin.” That’s a mouthful. More simply, it can be thought as the removal of sin that cost something to do so. We were atoned for by the costly blood of Jesus
Offering – defined as “a thing offered as a religious sacrifice or token of devotion.” Focus on the word offered, not taken, not given under compulsion, but given freely.
Are these light words or heavy words in our culture?
These are heavy words in our culture, but sometimes as Christians we use them flippantly with levity and do not emphasize their importance. Be wary of this. Words are very powerful tools, and if we use them in ways that diminish their meaning they can lose their impact over time.
Main point today: Jesus was the perfect offering for us and the sin problem that surrounds us in our relation to God. How the awesomeness of atonement occurs, not occurred, in our midst is both mysterious and miraculous and it leaves us with a calling for action.
Read through Hebrews 9:11-15 – circle or highlight nouns associated with Jesus. Also underline phrases or words that stand out to you.
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
Which words/phrases did you underline and why?
What was the purpose of the sacrificial system in the old covenant?
- Heavenly to be an offering for sin.
- Earthly to be an appeasement of our conscience so that we could serve God rightly.
Looking now instead at the new covenant, which is?
On our behalf Jesus was the fulfillment of the needs of the sacrifice. We do not need to perform a ritual anymore because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice that atoned for our sin.
Honest question, Which sacrificial system is easier?
I would make the argument that the old covenant is easier because it was about us. Whether or not you made the right sacrifices and whether or not you performed the right rituals was on you and you were in charge of it. We like control. I think if given the choice we would prefer a system where our good actions are weighed against our bad and we come out on top that way.
Now, it is not on us. Nothing about salvation is about us. It is entirely on Jesus and what he did on the cross. The part we play in the picture is minuscule and I believe helped along by the Holy Spirit anyway.
What is our response in the realization of Christ’s actions?
Our response should be appreciation, gratitude, and a call to action. Jesus did not die that we might simply get into heaven, but that we might live fully alive lives here that are filled with hope, promise, and compassion and love. Look at the end of verse 14 “so that we may SERVE the living God!”
What do we do instead on many occasions?
We still try and earn our salvation by action, thought, attendance; when our calling because of Christ is to be the hands and feet of Christ now in this world and in this place. Not to earn anything, but because now we can serve the living God with a clear conscience.
Our eternal inheritance is made secure (vs 15), but our eternal duty is before us now.
So the question is again, what should our, YOUR, response be because of Christ’s actions?
May God grant you clarity as he opens your mind to what He is calling you to do.