Stepping Over the Line

Therefore, He is the mediator of a New Covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15 HCSB

Adam and Eve disobeyed a directive from God not to eat of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. They stepped over the line and violated God’s plan. In so doing, they willfully refused to do God’s will. There are many times we all willfully step over the line and do something that is against God’s plan for our lives.

The Greek term “redemption” has the connotation of “liberation” or “to be set free”. The Greek term “transgressions” means “violations”. Those who believe in Jesus Christ have been set free from transgressions. Under the law the people were constantly in violation of breaking the rules and continually needed to bring offerings to be sacrificed. Christ’s death on the cross made it possible for people to be redeemed from sins’ power and eternal consequences.

Challenge: Have you stepped over the line? Have you willfully disobeyed God? Thank Him that through His Son, Jesus Christ, the price has been paid for your transgressions and He has set you free. You now have the promise of forgiveness and an eternal inheritance.

Blood and Ashes

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:13-14 HCSB

Leviticus 16:6 records that Aaron, the high priest, had to present a bull as a sin offering on the Day of Atonement to atone for his and his family’s sins. The blood from the bull was to be sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. Leviticus 16:7-16 records that there were to be two goats used on the Day of Atonement. One goat was to be sacrificed as a sin offering for the people. The other goat was sent into the wilderness, symbolizing the sending away of the people’s sins. The blood from the slain goat was to be sprinkled on the mercy seat. The ashes from a young cow were to be used in the ritual cleansing as outlined in Numbers 19. A red cow or heifer was to be slaughtered and burned completely, with cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson yarn thrown into the fire. The ashes were gathered and placed outside the camp in a ceremonially clean place. The ashes were then used in water as a sin offering to remove impurities. When a person became ceremonially unclean for some
reason, the person was to sprinkle the specially prepared water with the ashes on his body to purify himself.

The writer of Hebrews referred to these sacrifices as a way to illustrate that the blood of Jesus and the sacrifice of His body has once and for all provided everything that we might need to be forgiven and be made clean before God. Jesus’ blood shed on the cross provides what is needed to atone for the sins of the priests and all the people. Through Jesus Christ we are made ceremonially clean so we might have a relationship with the living God.

Challenge: Thank God for the perfect sacrifice that provides atonement for your sins and makes you clean. Jesus’ sacrifice makes it possible for you to have a relationship with the living God. Spend time in prayer seeking God’s wisdom and direction in your life.

Having a Clear Conscience

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:13-14 HCSB

Many are the times I have helped someone who has asked for benevolence aid and have questioned in my mind if the person was actually telling the truth about his situation. I have always tried to err on the side of helping the person and doing what Jesus would do. If a person lies about his situation, he will have to live with his conscience and will be held accountable to God. One’s conscience helps to discern and understand right from wrong.

Hebrews 9:14 tells us that Jesus Christ will cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Christ’s death has the power to cleanse us on the inside. The ritualistic ceremonies of the Levitical priests only made a person clean on the outside without bringing any inward change. The idea of “dead works” could refer to the legalistic attempts by people to be holy enough to earn salvation. When believers put their faith and trust in Jesus, they are saved from a life of sin to a life of service, to serve a living God. The Greek term for “serve” has a meaning of priestly service.

Challenge: Do you have a clear conscience? Jesus has the power to cleanse your conscience and change your life’s center. A clear conscience leads to a commitment to a living God and service for Him.

The Ransom Has Been Paid

He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:12 HCSB

Frank Sinatra Jr., son of the famous singer, was kidnapped at the age of 19, on December 8, 1963 at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Hotel. Sinatra was released two days later after his father paid $240,000 (about $1,832,000 in today’s dollars) ransom that was demanded by the kidnappers. The kidnappers were later arrested, convicted, and spent time in prison. Over the years, people and nations have paid a ransom to get people back who have been kidnapped. Right now there is discussion concerning the United States paying ransom to the terrorist group ISIS to get kidnapped Americans back. The American policy is not to negotiate with terrorist or to pay a ransom.

The word “redemption” means “to free by paying a ransom”. Jesus has paid the ransom for our sins when He shed His blood and died on the cross. Mark 10:45 says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life – a ransom for many”. Christ willingly laid down His life on our behalf. Instead of the blood of goats and calves, Jesus used His own life and blood to offer as a sacrifice to pay the ransom for the sins of the world. His sacrifice is eternal, everlasting, once and for all.

Challenge: Thank God that He has paid the ransom for your life. You have been bought with a price – it cost Jesus His life. He suffered and died a very painful death so you might be forgiven and have eternal life.

The Good Life

But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), Hebrews 9:11 HCSB

The world tells us that we should work hard so we can achieve the “good life.” In America, the “good life” is usually achieved by making more money to afford a bigger home, a nice car, fashionable clothes, expensive food, and time to enjoy some recreational activities such as golf, fishing, hunting, or tennis. Others would say the good life would afford the opportunity to travel or to own a second home on the lake or in the mountains.

This verse tells us that Jesus is the high priest of the “good things”. In the spiritual realm, the “good things” are all the things that Christ has accomplished for all believers. We now have our sins forgiven and enjoy direct access to God. Additionally, we have purpose and reason for living each day. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John10:10). Some day we will enjoy the good things of eternal life in heaven.

Challenge: Thank God for the “good life” you now have as a believer and for the “good things” you will someday enjoy in heaven.

Be Merciful

For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins. Hebrews 8:12 HCSB

It is a challenge for me to forgive and be merciful toward someone who has hurt me or my family in some way. Our human nature tempts us to seek revenge and hurt a person the way he or she has hurt others. We sometimes rejoice when the wrongdoer seemingly gets what he or she deserves, but that is not God’s way. God has been merciful toward us and wants us to be merciful toward others. We have all hurt God deeply by not obeying, thus rebelling against Him and His love. Yet, He is merciful and sent His Son to die on the cross so our sins could be forgiven and we could have a relationship with Him. He is gracious and forgives us over and over again.

This verse in Hebrews reflects God’s merciful nature. The Greek word used for merciful means to help those in need. We all are in need of forgiveness. Mercy indicates that we really do not deserve forgiveness, love, and compassion, but God is merciful and forgives our sins. Additionally, this verse reminds us that God does not remember our sins. They are never brought up again. He never says, “Remember when you did …”. We may remember what we did, but it is comforting to know that God forgives and forgets.

Challenge: Thank God for His mercy. Pray that you will be merciful toward those who have hurt you in some way. Read Romans 11:30-32 and Ephesians 2:4-5 for more information on the mercy of God toward sinners. Listen to the song “Who Am I?” by Casting Crowns on YouTube at (

Change of Heart

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds and write them on their hearts, I will be their God, and they will be My people. Hebrews 8:10 HCSB

My wife and I recently attended the new movie, “Left Behind”. It is the story of what happens in the world when the rapture occurs and all of the Christians are taken from the earth in the twinkling of an eye. In one scene, a girl who has been left behind goes to the church searching for answers only to find the pastor on the first pew. The pastor acknowledges that he knew the Bible and could quote it, but he did not believe. He did not have a changed heart. There are many people who have a head knowledge of Jesus and may even believe that He is the Son of God, but they have never made Him the Lord of their lives. Their hearts have not been changed.

When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within our hearts, minds, and souls. The Holy Spirit gives us new desires and helps us to obey God. Without changed hearts we are only going through the motions of following God’s rules and are still rebelling against God telling us what to do and how to live our lives.

Challenge: Have you had a change of heart? Do you desire to follow God and His plan for your life? Do you seek to do what is right in the eyes of God? Pray that God will change your heart and give you the wisdom and strength to follow His rules.

Promises, Promises, Promises

But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises. Hebrews 8:6 HCSB

Have you ever made a promise to do something and then failed to follow through? Maybe someone made a promise to you and then failed to do what they had promised. Most of us intend to keep our promises, but at times circumstances prevent us from carrying them out. We all are human and often make mistakes.

Jesus is a person of His Word and always keeps His promises. He has promised that if we believe in Him and make Him the Lord of our lives, we will become children of God and have forgiveness of our sins and will someday inherit eternal life and the kingdom of God. The original covenant between God and man based on the laws were impossible to keep. The new covenant is based on Jesus paying the price for our sins and making it possible for everyone to be forgiven, regardless of what we have done. We have been promised eternal life in heaven if we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior.

Challenge: Have you made Jesus the Lord of your life? He promises to save you and give you eternal life. He promises to always be with you in both the good and bad of life. He promises you a room in God’s house in heaven. Thank God that you can count on His promises. Be a person of your word and strive to keep your promises. Be careful what you promise.

Copy Cat

Now if He were on earth, He wouldn’t be a priest, since there are those offering the gifts prescribed by the law. These serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was warned when he was about to complete the tabernacle. For God said, Be careful that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain.Hebrews 8:4-5 HCSB

I can remember the first copy machine that I saw. It only made black and white copies and took several minutes to complete the copying process. A copy is only a replica or shadow of the original. Today we can place an original on a copy machine and it makes a perfect copy, even in color. Sometimes the copy seems to be even better than the original. And today, even the printers we have in our homes are capable of making copies.

The earthly priests were a copy or shadow of the original or heavenly priest – Jesus Christ. Because Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, He would not have qualified to be a priest under the Jewish law; only those from the tribe of Levi were eligible to become priests. The tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness was to be an exact duplicate of the perfect tabernacle in heaven. God instructed Moses to make everything according to the pattern shown to him.

Challenge: God is a God of details. He wants everything done exactly as He has prescribed. Just as Jesus was the original for the earthly priests to copy, He is also the perfect example of what each Christian should strive to be like. Work at becoming the copy or shadow of Jesus Christ in everything you do and say. Do others see Jesus in your life?

The Main Point

Now the main point of what is being said is this: We have this kind of high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle that was set up by the Lord and not man. Hebrews 8:1-2 HCSB

In seminary I took a class under Dr. Finley Edge entitled “Teaching for Results”. Dr. Edge had written a book by the same title. The point of the class and the book was that a teacher must have a measurable goal in mind to know if he has truly succeeded in teaching. If he does not have a goal in mind, he will not know if he accomplishes the task of teaching. I have heard it said, “If you aim at nothing, you usually hit it.” The main point of any lesson or sermon is to produce some measurable change in the life of the participant.

This verse reminds us that the main point of the previous verses at the end of chapter 7 is to declare that the High Priest (Jesus) intercedes on our behalf. He is the perfect sacrifice and has accomplished what no man can do. The word “minister” could be interpreted as “servant”. Jesus came to serve in the true tabernacle that has been established in heaven. The original tabernacle Moses used in the wilderness was only temporary, and even the majestic tabernacle built by King Solomon was destroyed. The “true” tabernacle set up by the Lord in heaven will never be destroyed.

Challenge: What is the main point of your life? Are you living for God or for yourself? The main point of Jesus’ life was to die in our place and pay the penalty for our sins so we could be reconciled to a holy God. Thank God that Jesus came to serve us and now sits in the position of authority and power to intercede on our behalf.