I recently read through Hebrews on my own, and found basically the entire middle section to be confusing. All the mentions of Old Testament rituals, of high priests and Melchizedek… It was difficult for me to figure out what was being communicated in several sections, and I confess that I begged the question more than once, “But what does any of it have to do with today, with the here and now?” (Turns out, EVERYTHING.)
Enter family devotions.
My husband has been guiding us through Leviticus. Yes, good ol’ Leviticus. (I promise this connects to Hebrews, hold on!) I must confess here, too, that it has been a great battle for me each night to stay focused on the passages before us. So.Much.Ritual. Not at all pointless, mind you! For if there is anything that I have taken away from this book, it is that my God is a holy God. Holy, holy, holy. Perfect in every way, unable to stand in the presence of sin without destroying it, and yet – Holy, Creator God desires relationship with His people. And this is Leviticus, the book where the gracious Father God designs a way to meet with His people. This is why there are ceremonial washings and sin sacrifices, burnt offerings, grain offerings…because mankind is permeated by brokenness. Sin. Flaws. Imperfection. And because God is the gracious and perfect Father who desires to live among His people, there must be cleansing and the shedding of blood and a high priest as mediator. And what makes Leviticus really astounding to me is the fact that God, through all the rituals and washings and EVERYTHING, points to and foreshadows the coming of Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, I have been getting bogged down with all the sacrifices that were a necessity in Leviticus, all the uncleanness permeating humanity (surely we are sinful from birth, as the Psalmist says!).
Enter Hebrews, and the so-confusing-to-me middle portion of this book where my husband and I found ourselves last night during family devos. We had just read Leviticus 15, which was a rather disgusting chapter on how to cleanse oneself from different kinds of discharge (Yup.), and hubby just really wanted to see verses that talked about how Christ cleanses us before the Father from such things. We turned to Hebrews, and <Pause.> I will never be the same again. For when I had previously read through sections of this holy book that appeared to me like muddy waters, last night they were clear streams of life-giving water.
My heart danced with joy as my eyes were opened to greater depths of understanding regarding what Christ has accomplished for me:
“The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God…Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. (Heb. 7:18, 23-27)”
Deep truths of the gospel unfolded even more as I read:
“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins… Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God..For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Heb. 10:1-4, 11-14)“
The power of the blood of Christ!!! His one-time sacrifice is all that was needed to pay for our sinful, flawed brokenness. All that my hubby and I have been reading in Leviticus – it was never able to save God’s people, and it was never His ultimate plan for redemption! All the ceremonial washings, sin sacrifices, and regulations regarding disease and discharge that we’ve been reading about – they’re no longer necessary! For Christ has come, and He has been offered by the Father, and He has defeated the grave and lives forever as our great High Priest! We wear His perfection. We enter the presence of God by His blood. We are blameless FOREVER because of Christ.
I’m amazed that Leviticus (and every passage throughout the O.T.) so perfectly points to Hebrews, and ultimately Christ, as the hope we need to anchor our souls and give us Sabbath rest in God. I love how God so beautifully planned and wrote the story of redemption for His people. I cherish the nights I have with my husband to dig deep into the treasure troves of Scripture and find such profound and beautiful gospel truths interlaced throughout the Old and New Testaments. I rejoice that all of God’s Word points to Christ, the only Sacrifice sufficient to bring us to God!Have some time on your hands? Even if you don’t, I encourage you to carve some into your schedule to read through Leviticus and Hebrews! I pray that God, by the power of His Spirit, will reveal to you the depths of His wisdom in these pages; and I pray that you will never be the same because of what you find.