Have you ever been so hungry that you will eat whatever happens to be on hand? More than that, whatever you try to eat tastes delicious, at least for those first few bites? That’s the way I am handling Hebrews. Something good, anything good, is going to feel like a feast to me.
And Lord knows I need a feast right now…
We get a quick rundown of how tabernacles are constructed, including the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. There is a lot of detail given, of which I will pass on none.
In the tabernacle, the high priest uses blood sacrifices to be cleansed of their transgressions. However, this did not make the conscience of the worshiper completely clean, since the offerings were only of food and drink. But by giving his own blood, Christ made everyone who believes in him blameless, forgiving all of their sins.
The first half of the chapter is a repeat of the last two. The author is really trying to drive home the point that Jesus is the high priest who sacrificed himself, cleansing the sins of everyone who believed in him. As such, believers can enter into the sanctuary.
Interesting note here: A person who keeps sinning after they have had their sins washed clean is screwed. “For if we choose to go on sinning after we have received the full knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but only a terrifying prospect of judgment and a raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” I definitely don’t remember that from Sunday school. Nor do I remember that from any of the New Testament. That doesn’t even ring true with Chapter 8, where God said that he would show mercy for those who sin.
Of course, I am being silly by figuring there will be some type of internal consistency in the New Testament.
I love this chapter. There is a conceit that is established in verse four and runs throughout the rest of the chapter. Each verse starts out with “By faith…” and details a prophet and their struggle or accomplishment. Verse 4: “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did…” By faith, Enoch did not experience death. By faith, Noah saved his family. By faith, Abraham went into the wilderness. By faith, Sarah conceived a child. I think you get the idea.
This conceit runs through verse 31, and is exceedingly well done. If you’ve been reading these updates for a while, you know that I can be sarcastic and cynical. However, I am being honest here. This was a remarkable chapter.
The chapter turns a little gruesome towards the end, as it describes some of the punishments and tortures that people of faith endured (including being stoned and sawed in half!!!). It also marks the rewards that were reaped, including conquering kingdoms and winning battles. It is a person’s faith that allows them to attain paradise or endure hell.
Up next: Damn, what’d Esau do to you?
New installments of The New Testament In Review will be posted each Monday and Thursday. The new posts will always be on my blog, http://biffster.org. The entire series is accessible via http://biffster.org/ntir. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you can get an advance preview on my Facebook page. You can also follow me (@biffster) on Twitter to be alerted to new posts.