Third Tuesday in Advent

Third Tuesday in Advent             GREAT EXCHANGE  17

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.

Some thoughts:

     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.Sometimes the Nativity of Christ is referred to as the “Great Exchange.”

     “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 on the Most Despicable Cross, not with the blood of sacrificed animals, but with his own perfect blood. His sacrifice and shed blood removed all the sin since the beginning of the world.

     The truth is, we all die once and then comes judgment. In the same way, Christ died once on earth which resulted in the sins of many earthbound people being forgiven permanently. He returned to heaven and he’s coming back to complete the redemption journey for all those waiting for him.”

     The universal story of humanity is that of reaching either to the heavens to find some kind of god or futilely exploring within themselves to find the god within. Pagan religions “fed” the gods through sacrifices, sometimes infant sacrifice, killing babies. (Can you imagine killing your own baby? Sadly, our world has no problem in doing so by the millions.) Human strivings have never reached, nor can they ever reach a holy God. Undaunted by repeated failure, people continue to strive to rule themselves and one another bending the truth as they see fit.   

      But in God’s great love, he came to earth out of a heavenly context to make it possible for all peoples on earth to commune with himself. God’s plan is that Jesus will take our place at our moment of judgment. The condemnation that is justly ours he has covered. Had Jesus not come to the world in which we live, we would all be damned with no possibility of ever solving our sin status with God. Only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ covering our sin is forgiveness even possible. Sometimes I wonder if we realize how utterly hopeless our situation is without Christ. Yet millions of people all around us live in that very reality. How can we keep silent?

     The believing world rests in the Savior awaiting his return. His first arrival in Bethlehem was rather quiet as most of the world missed it. Much of the world is still ignoring his presence today. His next arrival on earth will be missed by no one and it won’t be to deal with sin but salvation and judgment.

Music: “The Wexford Carol” Alison Kraus and Yo-Yo Ma


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 defense. 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, ed. Arthur Bennett, The Banner of Truth Trust: Edinburgh, p.14

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