“But now, once for all time…”
Candle Lighter: “He entered into heaven itself…”
Response: “…to appear now before God on our behalf.”
Scripture: Hebrews 9:24-28
24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. 25 And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. 26 If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.
27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,28 so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.
Reader: The word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
As we draw closer and closer to celebrating the day of Jesus’ birth, I would like us to consider the above passage in a contrasting context. “For Christ did enter into an unholy place marked with human rebellion, which was the authentic fallen world. He entered this world to appear now before man on God’s behalf. He did enter earth to offer himself one time and one time only entering the Most Holy Place, not with the blood of sacrificed animals, but with his own perfect blood. His sacrifice and shed blood has removed all of the sin since the world began. The truth is, we all die once and then comes judgment. In the same way, Christ died once which resulted in the sins of many people being forgiven permanently. He returned to heaven and he’s coming back to complete the redemption journey for all those waiting for him.” Sometimes the Nativity of Christ is referred to as the “Great Exchange.” The universal story is that of humans reaching to the heavens for a god. Pagan religions “fed” the gods through sacrifices, sometimes infant sacrifice, killing babies. (Can you imagine killing your own babies?) Human efforts have never reached nor can they ever reach a Holy God. In God’s great love, he came to us out of a heavenly context to make it possible for us to commune with God. Had Jesus not come to this world in which we live, there would have been no way to ultimately solve our sin problem. The Old Testament way was a shadow, a copy, a light sketch of the heavenly model. God was interested in bringing all who would come, into the heavenly realm, to be in his presence, to freely commune in a holy, pure, perfect environment. Only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ covering our sin is it possible. But that is exactly what God did on our behalf. All our sins have been dealt with, even those we have yet to commit! We rest in the Savior as we await his return. His first arrival in Bethlehem was rather quiet as most of the world missed it, except for the angel’s visit to the shepherds. His next arrival on earth will apparently be hard to miss!
Music: “And the Glory” from Messiah Atlanta Symphony Chorus
O God, praise waiteth for thee, and to render it is my noblest exercise; this is thy due from all thy creatures, for all thy works display thy attributes and fulfil thy designs; the sea, dry land, winter cold, summer heat, morning light, evening shade are full of thee, and thou givest me them richly to enjoy. Thou art King of kings and Lord of lords; at thy pleasure empires rise and fall; all thy works praise thee and thy saints bless thee. Let me be numbered with thy holy ones, resemble them in character and condition, sit with them at Jesus’ feet. May my religion be always firmly rooted in thy Word, my understanding divinely informed, my affections holy and heavenly, my motives simple and pure, and my heart never wrong with thee. Deliver me from the natural darkness of my own mind, from the corruption of my heart, from the temptations to which I am exposed, from the daily snares that attend me. I am in constant danger while I am in this life; let thy watchful eye ever be upon me for my defence. Save me from the power of my worldly and spiritual enemies and from all painful evils to which I have exposed myself. Until the day of life dawns above let there be unrestrained fellowship with Jesus; until fruition comes may I enjoy the earnest of my inheritance, and the first fruits of the Spirit; until I finish my course with joy may I pursue it with diligence, in every part display the resources of the Christian and adorn the doctrine of thee my God in all things. Amen.
― The Valley of Vision, p.14
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