Mediator of the New Covenant

Hebrews 12:14-15, 18-29

God instructed Moses to set up barriers around the mountain to limit the people's access to God. God established these limits to protect the people from death. He also didn't want them to forget the vast gulf of difference between God and the people. He didn't want them to ruin their corporate worship experience by becoming too familiar with Him and paying the penalty for such boldness or carelessness. Centuries later, the fullness of time would arrive and with it, full and unlimited access to God through the promised One, the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham.

The morning of the third day, the people came out to the foot of the mount "to meet with God." As promised, God arrived on the mount. What an event to the senses that was! Moses spoke with God and God answered him audibly. The mountain trembled. So did the people.

Of course, God's New Testament people do not meet Him at any such restricted, spectacular, frightening, deadly place. But that doesn't mean we should be any less attentive and responsive to Him. Hebrews 12:25 warns, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh." In other words, make sure you do not beg off having to listen to Him. Do not make excuses in order to do something else. Do not avoid Him or reject Him. Do not refuse to obey Him.

This ever present Holy One calls His people to acknowledge Him and His presence wherever they find themselves. Whether doing dishes in the kitchen or playing in the park, God's holy people live in holiness before Him. When they live holy lives that way, their formal worship in a church setting will naturally be holy as well. Holiness of life is imperative to approaching God and living in His presence. Our reverence before God should have nothing to do with where we are and everything to do with where He is.

According the Hebrews 12:28, we can "serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." God's people are to set their hearts to serve Him with grace and gratefulness, with awe and holiness, as is acceptable to Him and fitting for Him.

(Excerpted from what I wrote for CLE's new Sunrise Bible 903 Lesson 6.)

Even before man first sinned thousands of years ago, God fully intended to fully redeem him. The old imperfect covenant was a leap in that direction, having within it the promise of something better yet to come. That something was actually Someone! God sent His only Son as "the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Hebrews 8:6). Take note of just a few ways in which the New Covenant that we have is better than the Old Covenant that the Israelites had.

Of the Israelites God says, "I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt" (Hebrews 8:9). What could possibly be better than that? To have God Himself holding my hand and leading me... oh my! For what would you wish to improve on that scenario? Well, I doubt if any human ever even began to faintly imagine the Father's big improvement on that wonderful privilege. But He did bring about something better: "Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20). What a God we serve! Leave it to Him to bring forth something even better than leading us by the hand.

In the Old Testament, when God's people sinned, they could receive forgiveness through the system of sacrifices. But all that blood that was shed could not accomplish the removal of sin, only the covering of it. Notice this backward look to that time as recorded in Hebrews 10:4 -- "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Despite that limitation, the sacrifices still brought the blessed gift of forgiveness from God. Praise God for His provision in that way! But in our day, we have a better way to deal with our sin: "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). My friend, our sin is forgiven and taken away, making us clean from all sin! No wonder God freely promises, "Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 8:12). I'm sure you agree that this is far better!

(Excerpted from The Change of Covenants.)

Today we have been blessed beyond measure. No longer do God's people need to sacrifice continually. The Lord Jesus "hath...appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself...for this he did once, when he offered up himself" (Hebrews 9:26; 7:27). His sacrifice completed and closed the era of animal sacrifice. His death makes possible absolute forgiveness and cleansing. We claim and ask for pardon and purification on the merits of His sacrifice.

We no longer need to offer continual sacrifices for our sins. That alone is a "big improvement" in the New Covenant. But Jesus came to accomplish much more than our forgiveness. He wasn't only "delivered for our offences" (Romans 4:25a), magnificent event that it was!

Jesus was also "raised again for our justification" (Romans 4:25b). The same power that brought the Lord Jesus back from the dead in absolute triumph makes possible our own daily victory. Romans 6:5 puts the matter this way: "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." Gone are the days of the "system" that didn't contribute much toward living in victory over oneself and over sin. Herein lies part of our "lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead": we too can live in victory!

Our relationship with God need no longer be defined and limited by our relationship to the Law. Our relationship with the Almighty is now defined by and contained in our relationship to the Lawgiver. We go from death to life as we go from the Law to the Lawgiver. In a practical sense, that means His work in us accomplishes much more than forgiveness. Now He works in us by His Spirit, bringing us to perfection. In this life we will never mature beyond the need for forgiveness...but I believe that His work in us will take us from victory to victory, thus slowly decreasing the frequency of our failures.

(Excerpted from The Christian's Lively Hope.)

© Copyright 2017, Mark Roth & Christian Light Publications

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