“The Blood of the Covenant” – Hebrews 9:15-28
If you have bibles with you, I invite you to open them up with me to Hebrews 9:15-28. Hear now the word of the Lord.
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Hebrews 9:15-28, ESV
One of the most precious doctrines, doctrines are referring to theological teachings that the church confesses, a theological teaching that we as Harvest Community profess, that Christians have professed for two thousand years, is a doctrine known as the penal substitutionary view of the atonement. Now you haven't heard that term before, you may assume that lies on the periphery of important Christian doctrine.
In fact, the so-called penal substitutionary review of the atonement is no different doctrine of Christianity. In fact, it's the doctrine that lies at the heart of the gospel. So the basic question what are we saying when we refer happily the penal substitutionary view of the atonement? To affirm this doctrine, to break down the phraseology of it, is to say something very specific about the nature of Christ. In the particular it is to claim that when Christ died on the cross 2000 years ago, he first of all voluntarily died in our place. Hence, the word substitution.
Then to pay the penalty for our sin by satisfying God's righteous requirements against sinners, hence penal, so that God's sinful people, you and I, could have peace and fellowship with God, hence, atonement.
Now understand that this doctrine is predicated on a few assumptions. It's predicated on the assumption that we, as sinners who have rebelled against the holy God of the universe, deserve nothing less than the eternal wrath of God. When Christ entered into human history, he willingly took our place. He died in our place so that the punishment we rightly deserve for our sin was instead poured out to Jesus for all those who trusted him for salvation. This is indispensable. It's a thoroughly biblical doctrine, and we have to confess with every other Bible believing church.
Yet, in some quarters over the last few decades, this doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement has sadly come under duress. Not because it's not a biblical doctrine. Again, it's a thorough biblical doctrine, but because it sounds far too harsh for many in our sanitized Western Conference. One theologian about 20 years ago or so who sadly rejects this doctrine, has characterized penal substitution as a teaching rooted in violence that imagines the cross as a form of cosmic child abuse, with the Father pouring out his wrath on the Son.
Now there are a legion of problems with that kind of characterization, but the fact of the matter is that this very biblical doctrine that we know as penal substitutionary atonement assumes both a certain view of God, God's character, and a certain view of human sin and humanity, which is simply unpalatable to many people in our western context. You see, when we turn to the Bible, whether we're talking about the Old Testament or the New Testament, one thing we find all over the place is that the shedding of blood is really important and it's really pervasive.
Now we could turn to Leviticus, for example, and read all about the various animals that had to be slaughtered. We could turn to Leviticus and read all about all of the various sacrifices that had to be offered, all the animals that had to be slaughtered, and all the blood that had to be poured out at the altar. Or on the other side of the Bible we could turn to Revelation and read about how, after the great harvest of the Earth, a veritable sea of blood as high as a horse's bridle that comprise an area of one hundred and eighty four square miles filled the earth.
Now these ideas of sacrifice and the shedding of blood, the pinnacle of which is Christ penal substitutionary death on the cross are frankly a bit difficult for many in our modern world to accept even professing Christians. Yet, even if you rightly profess the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement as biblical and necessary, which it most certainly is, perhaps all of this imagery of blood and sacrifice in the Bible raises the question for you. Why? Why was it necessary for blood to be spilled in a sacrificial system of the Old Testament? Ultimately, why was it necessary for Christ to die? After all, God is God, and if you wanted to forgive sin, why couldn't he just snap his fingers and forgive our sin? Why does God's wrath need to be satisfied, and why does all of this blood have to be shed?
Well, fortunately, our passage this morning addresses many of these questions, and for all of the weedy details that we have to work through, its main point couldn't be simpler. That is Christ Jesus had to die. And that's our big idea this morning, Christ had to die. As we work through a passage, we're going to home in on three specific reasons for why Christ had to die. Now again, we might imagine if we were to answer this question in a vacuum, why did Christ have to die? A number of reasons we could give, but just sticking to the text. What we find are three specific reasons given to us in Hebrews by the author in this text for why Christ had to die.
1. Christ had to Die so that We Could Receive
2. Christ had to Die in Order to Represent Us in Heaven
3. Christ had to Die so that He Could Return
Christ had to Die so that We Could Receive
So first, Christ had to die so that we could receive. Now notice when our passage opens, our author reminds us of something that we've heard a number of times already in Hebrews, he says, right out of the gate that Christ is the mediator of the new covenant. Now to review because this is an important concept, a mediator is someone who stands between two parties. In this case, Jesus Christ, the eternal son of God, stands between God and mankind in order to represent us, the people of God, before God. So that we could draw boldly near to God, near to the throne of grace, unencumbered by the defilement of our sin. This is exactly the privilege that we have in the new covenant. Through Christ, we are invited as the people of God to draw near to God. We have the promise that when we lift up our prayers to the Lord in the name of Jesus Christ, that he hears our many prayers. Also that we sojourn this world with security and belonging in an otherwise insecure and lonely world, because Christ Jesus in the new covenant claims you and me and the church as his own. For all of these great blessings that we enjoy in the so-called new covenant, we learned that before any of that belong to us, before any of that was ours, that Christ Jesus had to spill his blood.
The first thing we learned in our passage is that Christ had to spill his blood specifically for us to receive forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness of sins that all of us so desperately need. In order to give us the forgiveness promised in the new covenant, it was required that the mediator, Jesus Christ, spill his blood. But if you look further down in your text, if you're following along with me beginning in 18, we're going to skip around for just a second. Our author tells us that this concept of shedding of blood, which we read all about in the book of Hebrews, how Christ had to shed his blood. Well, we learned that in one sense, this was nothing new because the shedding of blood was characteristic of the so-called first covenant too.
Now we've encountered this language of first covenant elsewhere in Hebrew, so you get that language here in verse 18. When our author talks about the first covenant, well, he doesn't view the covenant that God entered into with Israel all the way back towards the beginning of the Bible, all the way back in the Book of Exodus, which we sometimes call the covenant with Moses. Different names, but same covenant, first covenant, covenant with Moses same deal. In verses 19 through 22 of our passage our author reflects on a few chapters in the book of Exodus that tell us about what happened when this covenant with Moses, this first covenant, was ratified or inaugurated.
Now, to give some brief biblical theology, we find that throughout the scripture, as God enters into a series of unified covenants with his people. It's a way of advancing his singular promises over time. A covenant is a way of securing a special relationship with a people, and the Lord enters into a series of these covenants with his people in the Bible. He enters into a special relationship with Abraham and his descendants, all the way back in Genesis chapter 12. He enters into a covenant with Moses and the nation of Israel, and that's the one that our author reflects upon as he looks back a few thousand years from when he writes. Then there was a covenant that came later with King David and his sons. With each of these covenant administrations, as we call them, there were formalizing events that accompanied the start of each of these covenants.
In verses 19 through 22 of our passage, our author is reflecting on the formalizing event of the first covenant of the Mosaic covenant. Now, if we were to go back in the Book of Exodus, we would find that the formalization of this covenant when this Mosaic covenant, the first covenant actually began, happened right at the start of Exodus 19.
Now, as the story goes, some 50 days after God miraculously delivered his people out of slavery and captivity and Egypt well, he gathered them to a certain place in the desert, a place we know as Mount Sinai. Through Moses, God had some really important things to say to Israel at Mount Sinai.
First, he reminded them how he just saved them, 50 days earlier out of Egypt, all by himself. When they were laboring in Egypt for 400 years in slavery, the Lord stepped in when they did nothing to deserve it and pulled them out of slavery and captivity without them contributing a single thing to their salvation. Then he called them as his people, as his treasured possession to be his own and so to walk, according to his law. After the Lord issues these things, the people of Israel respond, This God seems pretty good to us, so all that the Lord has spoken, we're going to do it. We're going to do it, they say in Exodus 9:8.
Well, following this enactment of the so-called first covenant, Moses, what does he do? Well, he goes up on a mountain, Mount Sinai, and he meets with God one on one. It's on Sinai that Moses received the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, followed by a variety of other specific laws in Exodus 21 to 23. Then in Exodus 24, Moses descends down the mountain, he tells Israel all that God commanded for them, and then Israel responds once again with these ominous words. They say, "All the words that the Lord has spoken, we will do."
Before the covenant was finally ratified, before it was finally stamped as the start of it, one more thing had to be done. The next morning, Moses wakes up early in the morning and he offers a number of sacrifices to the Lord. He builds an altar at the foot of Sinai. He offers oxen on it. He pours out animal blood on the altar and then he sprinkles blood on God's people and on the book of the law that was just received. Now this is the event that our author reflects upon in our passage in Hebrews and verses 19 through 20.
It leaves us with the question I think why all the blood? Why was it necessary that this covenant ratifying ceremony be accompanied by so much blood? Well, the blood symbolized two really important things for God's people to understand.
One reason was that the blood symbolized the penalty for breaking the covenant. Understand that God is holy and that God requires those who bear his name, Israel, be holy too. For God to be the perfect God of justice means that he can't just let lawbreaking and unholiness slide under the rug. Otherwise, he just wouldn't be the God of perfect justice. After all, we would never consider a judge to be just in our own day if he gave a criminal a free pass.
Now we may quarrel from time to time over what might be a just sentence in any given situation. However if a judge failed to uphold the law at all in view of the clear guilt of a criminal, well, we probably wouldn't consider that person to be a just judge in the slightest. So too, with God. This is why God couldn't just ignore sin. His reputation depended upon it, because perfect justice requires that infractions against an infinitely holy God, be paid with life. This is what all the shed blood so vividly demonstrated. It demonstrated that sin is no light matter. That sin is an infraction against an infinite holy God. That sin requires that blood be shed.
On the other hand, just as blood pictured quite potently, the penalty for breaking the covenant. Well, it also foreshadowed it looked forward to a provision, the provision that God would one day make for sinners in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The blood that was spilled at the start of the Covenant with Moses and throughout the long thousand year run of the Covenant of Moses may have been a stark reminder of judgment. It also pointed to the means of our salvation as well.
Understand that it wouldn't take long for Israel after twice repeating that they would do everything that God commanded for them to break their end of the bargain. It's a pretty drastic way too. They transgressed God's perfect law, and every one of them as a result deserved to die a sinner’s death. Though they violated their end of the deal and friends, though we violate our end of the bargain each and every day too, God wouldn't violate his end of the deal. After all, he bound himself to his people by way of covenant. In the fullness of time, he would send his son to be the perfect sacrifice, to do what the bloody sacrifices under the Mosaic Law could never do. That is bring about true and lasting forgiveness to sinners like you and me.
The provision for sin that God's people under the Mosaic Covenant desperately needed and the provision for sin for our sin that we desperately need to be found only in Jesus Christ, our Lord, who died in order that we might live. Christ shed his blood in order to inaugurate a better covenant, the new covenant, a covenant that was better than the first one. In doing so, the sins of all of God's people past, present and future have been completely 100 percent forgiven for all those who put their trust in Jesus Christ.
Just as Christ spilled his blood so that God could forgive, well, so too, we learn as we continue in our passage that he also spilled his blood so that he could give. Now, if you look at verses 16 through 17 in our passage and skipping back to the beginning again, our author gives us another important perspective on Christ's death.
He relates Christ's death to that of a last will and testament. Now, many of you probably know what a will is. I'm sure some of you probably even have wills as well. In a will, we bequeath property and that property that belongs to us, we bequeathed to other people. Usually, it's other family members. We sometimes call those other family members or people who get some of our inheritance, heirs. They are heirs to the estate when what they will receive eventually one day is called an inheritance.
Of course, we also know that heirs don't actually receive their inheritance ordinarily until the one who bequeathed them their inheritance dies. Well, this is the background in verses 16 through 17, when an author tells us that a will takes effect only at death. Only then is the inheritance actually released and distributed to the heirs. When Jesus Christ spilled his blood for you and me, we who belong to Christ, we who, as the Apostle Paul tells us, are heirs according to promise, we received an inheritance, too.
That begs the question what is this promised eternal inheritance that we receive as a result of Christ shed blood and broken body? Well, there are various blessings that are part of this inheritance we receive. One theologian, Charles Hodge, mentions things like justification that is being forgiven of our sins and being declared righteous in God's sight. It includes reconciliation with God, that is being put in a right relationship with God once again. It also includes a title to eternal life, the hope of eternal life that we look forward to after death.
We could also add to this list things like adoption that is becoming members of God's family as well. Above everything else, the chief blessing that binds all of these other blessings together is Jesus Christ himself. Because every other blessing bequeathed to us in the new covenant flows from the inheritance that is the person of Jesus Christ.
Now, as a quick aside, I've been told that there are these certain vacation destinations around the world that are known as all-inclusive. I've never been to one before, but I'm told there are these magical places, typically an exotic or remote locations, where you pay one lump sum and when you arrive, you don't have to pay for anything else. Sounds kind of magical to me. All the food you could ever want is covered. Every activity or excursion you could ever want to do is covered. Transportation is covered, your room is covered. There's nothing, while you're there, that you have to pay for. Nothing that you have to go outside the all- inclusive to get. It's all at your fingertips and you shouldn't have to procure a credit card at any point in your stay. This is how our inheritance in Christ works, too. After all, the Apostle Peter tells us that his divine power has granted us all things, not just some things, not just most things, all things that pertain to life and godliness. The Apostle Paul tells us that in Christ are hidden all the treasures, not some of the treasures, not most of the treasures, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Brothers and sisters Christ Jesus, who we receive as covenant members of the new covenant, is the whole package. When we identify with Christ through faith alone, he gives us everything that the God sized hole in the human heart could ever want. He gives us meaning and purpose so that we don't need to frantically look for it in our vocations. He gives us the kind of belonging and security that we could never find, even in our most intimate partners on Earth. He gives us forgiveness and rest from the toil and endlessly trying to make ourselves acceptable or worthy in his eyes or in the eyes of the world.
Brothers and sisters Christ had to die so that we could receive and when we place our faith in Jesus Christ, well, that's exactly what happens. Boy, do we receive. The exhortation from this first point, then in one sense, it's quite simple. Put away your idols. Brothers and sisters stop hedging all your bets by claiming Christ on the one hand, but then chasing after so many other lovers, on the other hand. Look to the one who gives, look to the one who gives lavishly, look to the one who shed his blood to give, and who gives without us having to do a single thing other than faith alone to receive it. Look to Jesus Christ friends and be satisfied in the God who gives?
Christ had to Die to Represent Us in Heaven
So Christ had to die so that we could receive, that's our first point. But as we continue in our passage, we hear of a second reason for why Christ had to spill his blood and die on a cross as well. That is, second, Christ had to die in order to represent us in heaven.
Now, there's a particularly powerful scene that unfolds later in the Bible, specifically in Revelation chapter five. There the Apostle John, who's peering into the Heavenly Holy of Holies, he sees the slain lamb, Jesus Christ, make his approach to the throne of God. To give a little bit of context after weeping in heaven, in despair that no one was found worthy in heaven to open this scroll and look into it, his eyes suddenly pivot when he sees the lamb of God, Jesus Christ, standing as a slain sacrifice. This lamb then makes his approach to the throne. He takes the scroll from the hand of God, and then all of the heavens erupt in a chorus of praise.
Well, that event that John sees unfold in dramatic, symbolic fashion in heaven is the same event that our author now describes in verses 23 through 26 of our passage, albeit from a slightly different angle. Now, we've already heard in Hebrews that when Christ shed his blood, he ascended into the more perfect tent, that is into heaven itself. Remember, our author has made the argument a number of times in Hebrews already that the tabernacle, this mobile tent of worship in the Mosaic Covenant where all the Leviticus priests ministered and offered sacrifices. It was great, but it was only a copy or a blueprint. As carefully constructed and as outwardly ornate as this thing called the Tabernacle in the Old Covenant was, it was only ever supposed to be a replica of the genuine, heavenly tabernacle made without hands.
Even though the earthly tabernacle was a replica, well, it was still a serious matter under the Covenant of Moses to draw near to God in it. If we were to go back to the Pentateuch, Exodus and Leviticus, we would see that the Levitical priests had to offer a lot of blood in this tabernacle. Day after day, year after year, they'd have to offer a blood upon blood upon blood to cover the sins of God's people. Blood was sprinkled everywhere. Even the priest's clothes were sprinkled in blood.
By one account, over the entire life of the sacrificial system, which would have been close to about a thousand years, over one million animals were eventually sacrificed. That's a lot of blood. Again, all of this points to the fact that human sin is so serious that drawing near to God, even in a divinely instituted copy, because that's all the tabernacle was, required that all of that blood be spilled. Yet, as necessary as all that blood was to enter the copy, there's no chance in the world that it would have gotten you access into the real deal in heaven itself. This is why our author tells us that it was necessary, it had to happen, that the heavenly things would be purified with better sacrifices than the blood of bulls and goats in the old covenant.
So what was this better sacrifice? Well, of course it was Jesus. It was Jesus himself who entered heaven after spilling his blood on the cross. Not by virtue of the blood of bulls and goats, but by virtue of his own sinless, undefined blood. Remember that scene that we just referenced a moment ago in Revelation five were the slain lamb made his approach to throne of God? Well, because of the nature of the sacrifice that Christ offered as the sinless eternal one, he was able to go where no one else, even the most morally upstanding person you could think of would ever dare to go.
Yet, remarkably, when Christ entered into heaven after paying the debt that we could never pay, we read in our passage that he didn't do this for his sake alone. Our author tells us that he entered into heaven itself in, verse 24, now to appear in the presence of God. That's literally before the face of God. Here's the important phrase, "on our behalf."
Understand that Christ didn't ascend into heaven in order to leave us in the rearview mirror. Christ didn't ascend to get away from us and all of the baggage that we bring to the table. Remember what Christ said in his parting words to his disciples in Matthew, 28? Well, he said, "I am with you always to the end of the age." By his spirit, friends, Christ is with us right now on Earth. In heaven the resurrected and ascended Christ represents us. He advocates for us and he invites us to lay our many prayers at the foot of his throne.
There's a story from the Bible, which I think at this point is particularly instructive to illustrate all of this. Earlier in the Bible, in the life of Joseph, this can be found in the latter part of Genesis. We read a story about when Joseph had been unjustly imprisoned, that there was a glimmer of hope at one point during his time in prison when he met two fellow prisoners who were Pharaoh's chief cup bearer on the one hand and Pharaoh's chief baker on the other.
Now these two people, the chief cup bearer and the chief baker, they were one day serving in the courts of the King of Egypt, pretty high up, and then, for whatever reason, they were thrown in prison where they were now sharing a cell with Joseph. As the story goes, and many of you probably know the story, is that one evening these two prisoners dreamed a dream, and when they awoke from their dream, they were disturbed and they were confounded by the dream symbolic nature. They had no idea what their dreams meant, but they suspected that they were probably pretty important.
So one thing leads to another and in steps Joseph to interpret their dreams. First, he hears the chief cup bearer, relay all the details of his dream, and then Joseph tells him the good news that what his dream looks forward to is something that will happen. In three days’ time, he will be released from prison and all things will be back to normal for the chief cup bearer. In just three days, he'd be vindicated. He'd be released from prison. He'd get to go, continue to work in the courts of the King of Egypt, Pharaoh, and all would be well for the good old chief cup bearer.
After interpreting his dream, Joseph has a request for the chief cup bearer. You might know what he says. He says this, "Remember me when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh and so get me out of this house." The cup bearer is a well-connected man. He some of the closest access that you could get to somebody calling the shots in a kingdom. He's the chief cup bearer. He ministers in the courts of Pharaoh. So Joseph asks that he advocate on his behalf, when in three days’ time he gets to go in and minister in Pharaoh's courts once again.
What happens? Well, the narrative ends on a dull note when we read that when the chief cup bearer was released, he, "Did not remember Joseph, but forgot him." There was no one to advocate for Joseph's innocence, and as a result, he sat in the despair of prison for another two years.
In stark contrast to this, the good news of the gospel is that in our guilt, there is one who has not forgotten us. Brothers and sisters, rest assured that Christ has not forgotten any of his people. Jesus Christ tells us as much in John's 6:39, when he declares to his disciples, "and this is the will of him who sent me that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me but raise it up in the last day." Therefore, we need not be overwhelmed by anxiety when we see the church under duress, possibly concerned with whether or not Jesus' church could ever endure the various onslaughts from the world she faces.
We do not fear whether the escalating pool of secularism and worldliness is somehow overpowering Christ's hold on his church. As isolating him as life can sometimes feel for some of you, know that you have not slipped the mind of your advocate. Christ has ascended by virtue of his own perfect blood and from heaven he holds us fast and will by no means relinquish control of any of his saints, any of those who he has already claimed as his own.
As we continue our text our author than roots, this security of ours even deeper when he tells us that unlike the Levitical priest who enter the tabernacle repeatedly, they went in and out year after year with bloody sacrifices in tow. Well, Christ, he doesn't need to enter heaven repeatedly. In fact, if this were the case, our author reasons, that would imply that Christ would have to suffer repeatedly since he'd be sacrificing himself over and over again too.
Now the Levitical priest they had to offer sacrifices repeatedly, but for Christ, his blood was so effective that it was able to cover the sins of every Old Testament believer, every sin of every believer who has lived in a two thousand years since his first advent, and every sin of every believer yet to be born until the second advent. In heaven, our Lord Jesus sits enthroned. His work is done. Ss a result, he claims us as his own. This is why he had to shed his blood so that he could enter heaven and be our advocate in the heavenly places. That is what he does right now.
Christ had to Die so that He Could Return
Before we close out our study of this passage, we're then given implicitly one more reason for why Christ had to die. Third, Christ had to die so that he could return. Later in the Bible and this happens in Luke's gospel, when a priest named Zachariah enters the temple one evening to offer incense, well, we learn that there was a crowd while he was ministering in the holy place in the temple, there was a crowd outside the temple praying. Now, Luke doesn't tell us in that narrative what they prayed, and so we can't be certain. Jewish tradition suggests that when a crowd of people gathered outside the temple when the priest was inside, they prayed for God to accept the priest's offering. In the process, they waited expectantly for the priest's return. If the priests offered the right sacrifices, according to the law, that's what would happen. His offering would be accepted and then he would emerge out of the temple to the relief of the crowd of onlookers. In short, the return of the priest was what the people of God hoped for every single day as they waited outside the tabernacle and temple, prayerfully hoping that their sacrifice would be accepted.
Likewise, the return of our great high priest, Jesus Christ, is what we anticipate too. Yet for us understand that there's no apprehension or doubt connected with his return. After all, if Christ offered the perfect sacrifice, which the scriptures loudly proclaim that he has, then we can trust that it's inevitable. It's guaranteed that Christ will one day emerge from the heavenly Holy of Holies to the praise of his people too.
Now earlier in our text, back in verse 26, our author told us that Christ shed his blood for our salvation. Then he used this phrase, "at the end of the ages." Now that was two thousand years ago, right when Christ shed his blood. According to the New Testament, the time between Christ's first advent and his second is a time that's ubiquitously referred to as the last days. According to the New Testament, we're actually living in the last days right now.
Now, of course, that doesn't mean that we know how many 24 hour days we have left until Christ comes again. That's not a call for us to try to wildly calculate when Christ is going to come again. It does mean that there is no more redemptive work that has to happen again until Christ returns. In God's economy the next best thing, the next big thing, rather that we anticipate as the people of God will believe it or not, it's not the next election. It's not the College Football National Championship, especially because Nebraska is not going to be in it. It's not so many of the things that we care so deeply about in this world.
Now, of course, it's OK to care about those things. It's not bad to care about those things, but those just aren't the kind of things that should take the lead in shaping the most powerful affections that we have. These aren't the kind of things that that should inform the most important decisions we make in the world. Only Christ, and specifically the hope of Christ's second, advent, the hope of Christ appearing a second time should take pride of place in the life of the church in shaping how we walk in these last days.
In summary, the promise that flows from the acceptance of Christ's perfect Blood in heaven is that he is going to come again. As we, as his people are call, we as his people wait for that. The New Testament calls us to wait expectantly for that day to arrive.
Now on the one hand, implicit in that promise is the urgent call for any of you who really don't know Christ Jesus right now to identify with him by faith alone while there's still time. Now author already told us in verse 27 that you're going to die, you will die. You can't avoid it. After you die, our author tells us, comes judgment. Are you ready for that? If you're not, if you're not trusting in Christ right now, well, that the appeal would be to live expectantly right now by putting your trust in the only one who has done everything necessary to appease the wrath of God for his people. Don't trust in your knowledge to save you. Don't trust in your affluence to save you. Trust in Christ, who alone has the power to save all those he advocates for before the Father in heaven right now.
On the other hand, even if you really do identify with Christ by faith alone right now, ask yourself, how am I expectantly waiting for his return right now? Are you harboring grudges and bitterness against your brothers and sisters in Christ or are you learning to forgive one another by pursuing reconciliation as much as it depends on yourself? Are you letting sin fester in your lives and assuming that because no one has seen it in its full ugliness and no one has called you out on it that it must not be a big deal? Or are you constantly learning to put to death that sin that belonged to your former life?
The great high priest, Jesus Christ, shed his blood for you and for me. He had to so that we could be saved. He had to so that he could ascend to heaven and he had to so that he could come again. That's what we eagerly anticipate on this side of glory. But are you ready for that day?
As we live on this side of glory secured by his blood and yet eagerly awaiting his return, well let me make this final appeal to us in closing. Church learned to be a non-anxious presence in this world. Now, I'm sure I never lived under the Mosaic Covenant so I can't guarantee, but I'm almost certain that it would have been a sight to behold to be an Israelite worshipper during the old covenant. To see the care that was taken in worship and everything from the construction of the place of worship, to all the bells and smells that surrounded the worship ceremony. I can imagine that all of that would have reinforced the gravitas of worship. It would have been hard to avoid that conclusion. Yet I can also imagine a certain level of anxiety accompanying that whole process too. After all, what happened if one of the priests who was supposed to be representing you, what happened if he messed up one of the sacrifices he offered?
Well, that happened in Leviticus Chapter 10, Nadab and Abihu were consumed by fire. The whole system, in other words, was marked by care, there were also severe consequences, too. While care and consequences are no less present in a new covenant, we just don't need to worry in Jesus Christ, whether or not our high priest will make a mistake. Because Jesus blood was already offered, it was already accepted. We already have an advocate in heaven. We are already secure in him, and we already have the promise that one day Jesus Christ our Lord will emerge from the heavenly Holy of Holies to save those who are eagerly awaiting his return.
So as we live our lives until that day, understand that we have no reason to be overcome with paralyzing anxiety in the present. Sure, there's a lot to be anxious about in this world. There are global anxieties. There are individual anxieties. But while we could so easily lose ourselves down the endless rabbit trails of anxiety that are ubiquitous in our world, our passenger reminds us that because the blood of Jesus Christ has been shed, we have been freed to be a non-anxious presence in this world. We've been freed from proving ourselves before God and others, and instead we take to heart Christ advocacy for us in heaven and the identity he gives us on Earth. We've been freed from anxiously caring so much about our reputation or our own comforts. In Christ we've been freed to love and to look outside of ourselves and begin to serve as a people who have already had every single one of our most deeply felt spiritual needs already met in the perfect shed blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.
So whatever the paralyzing fear is, that may have taken root in your heart. Maybe fears that you're bringing into the church with you this morning. Trust in the one who offered his blood on your behalf will in Jesus Christ, hold you fast and he will one day bring you and me and his church into our glorious home.
Pray with me. Gracious, Heavenly Father, Lord, we come across these images of blood so often in the scriptures, and we confess that sometimes in our context, that imagery doesn't sit quite well with us. Yet we pray that you would remind us as we continue to encounter that imagery, as we read your word, as we study your words, we hear your word preached and read that you would remind us through it of the seriousness of our sin. The fact that sin is no light matter, but also that you would remind us that we have an advocate. We have one in the heavenly places who's already paid for all of our sin by his precious blood, who holds us fast in heaven, and who will one day bring us home. Lord Jesus, I pray you to remind us of these great benefits that are ours in the new covenant. Benefits that we have not earned, but benefits that we have received through faith alone in Jesus Christ, our Lord. In whose name we pray. Amen.