Monday, April 4

Monday, April 4

Reader: “By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way”

Response:  “through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.” 

Scripture: Hebrews 10:19-25

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Some thoughts:

In keeping with the “press on” theme of yesterday, the writer of Hebrews gives added insight into the process of “drawing near to God.” In Philippians Paul urges his readers to push on “that you may know him.” Here Hebrew’s author makes three theological points and three practical applications of those points.

The first has to do with entering the very presence of God. How does one enter the presence of God? In the old way, a very thick curtain separated the Most Holy Place from everyone except for the High Priest, who could enter God’s presence only one day a year, Yom Kippur. Many animal blood sacrifices had to be offered for the High Priest and the people in preparation for his meeting with God. Jesus’ shed blood of atonement  opened a new way as the curtain was ripped top to bottom. If you will, as the curtain of separation was torn, so Jesus’ body was torn in his beatings and his blood was shed in sacrifice to make it possible for every person to enter the very presence of God on any day of the year. Jesus’ death and blood of atonement opened the way into God’s presence. 

Second, under the New Covenant, Jesus serves as our immortal High Priest replacing the Old Covenant mortal priest. The blood of the new High Priest opened the way. Jesus became the sacrifice, the curtain, and the High Priest. Therefore we always approach God the Father in worship through Jesus, our eternal High Priest. Jesus is leading our worship as the true Minister of worship. The result is that we can go into worship with cleansed hearts, with guilt free hearts, having been washed clean by the blood of Jesus.

Third, the writer carries this vertical interaction of worshiping God a step farther to encountering fellow worshipers. The worshipers confess faith together and seek ways to encourage one another through acts of kindness and love in anticipation of Christ’s Return. He then slips in a very important admonition: do not neglect to meet together as is the habit of some. I fear the closing of many churches during recent pandemic issues have led many people to neglect gathering in person for worship now that things have opened up. 

Worship is both vertical and horizontal. Two of the primary words for worship in the Scriptures are worship and serve. . . the vertical and the horizontal. People who have rejected God, interestingly, have a similar “pattern of ‘worship’” as outlined in the first chapter of Romans. There is much to say in comparing the two passages, but too much for here!

Music: “Praise to the Lord, the  Almighty”    Fernando Ortega

Bonus:“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”     Ancient of Day    (India)

Prayer:Gracious Lord, Thy name is love, in love receive my prayer. My sins are more than the wide sea’s sand, but where sin abounds, there is grace more abundant. Look to the cross of thy beloved Son, and view the preciousness of his atoning blood; listen to his never-failing intercession, and whisper to my heart, ‘Thy sins are forgiven, be of good cheer, lie down in peace.’ May the matter of my prayer be always wise, humble, submissive, obedient, scriptural, and Christ-like. Give me unwavering faith that supplications are never in vain, that if I seem not to obtain my petitions I shall have larger, richer answers, surpassing all that I ask or think. Unsought, thou hast given me the greatest gift, the person of thy Son, and in him thou wilt give me all I need. In his name, the name of Jesus, this I pray. Amen.            ―The Valley of Vision, p.149