Friday, August 26, 2011

A More Excellent Ministry

For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. (Hebrews 08:03-06, NKJV).
Revealed as more worthy than angels, as having more glory than Moses, as being more of a conqueror than Joshua, as a member of a better priesthood than Aaron, as a bearer of a better hope of drawing near to God, and as a greater High Priest than any before or after Him, we are now informed that Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry, and is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
The superlatives are of an endless supply, all lovingly presented so that we are given irresistible weaponry to fight any temptation to leave the pure and simple faith of the gospel for something we may have believed in the past, or something that appears outwardly more compelling.

This is as effective for us today as it was for the original audience two millennia ago.

Jewish priest served in the things of God as temporary pilots on an endless sea of sacrificial blood. Their ministry was one of conditional blessing based on human performance. The hereditary High Priest was a shaky bulwark against national calamity and corporate spiritual decline, inasmuch as he, too, was a frail sinner in need of cleansing.

He ministered in the earthly place of worship, modeled precisely after, but only a faint copy of, the true heavenly tabernacle. He was the necessary mediator of the Old Covenant of works that provided conditional promises that could be forfeit by human sinfulness.

Our Savior, a fulfillment of what the old priesthood foreshadowed, much like a full-colored photograph fulfills a quick pencil sketch, now sits and intercedes on our behalf at the right hand of the throne of God with command-level access to the true Tabernacle not made with hands, that is not of this creation.
Without doubt then, His ministry is more excellent.

But there's more. As the High Priest was mediator of the contract between God and man based on Law, Christ is Mediator of the new contract based on the Law of Faith. This contract is not dependent on mere human works, but on the singular work of the Son of God Himself, beginning on the Cross, and continuing eternally through His indwelling each one of us who believe on His name, sanctifying us and conforming us to His glorious image.

The old promises of once-yearly fellowship with God and blessing were founded on ritual animal sacrifices that must be repeated daily. The new promises of eternal life and intimate every-moment intimate relationship with God are founded on the once for all offering of Christ Himself.

So that all things were done in orderly fashion and in accord with the Father's magnificent plan of redemption, Christ's ministry must align with the prophetic pictures embodied in Judaism. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. And that offering was not the blood of bulls and goats that could never take away sin, but it was His own blood on the Cross - the sinless Son of God becoming sin for us that we may become the righteousness of God in Him. 

This momentous, unparalleled offering was so vastly superior to all the millions of ceremonial offerings that had gone before, that it did away with the requirement that any future blood sacrifice be made. It removed the stain of sin, rather than merely covering it over.

Everything that had gone on before that moment was only a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, providing both forewarning and confirmation of a far more excellent ministry.

Rejecting Christ, or turning away from Christ to something inferior is a reenactment of the rebellion in the Garden, but with this one solemn and terrifying difference.

Adam's sin, though one of the most tragically significant events in all universal history, and resulting in severe and long-lasting punishment, could be forgiven in Christ.

Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29, NKJV).
Unlike the many disqualifying acts that would forfeit the promises of the old covenant, there is only one sin that will abrogate these better promises of the new, and it is the sin of unbelief.

God died on the Cross to take away our sin. Willfully, stubbornly denying that truth removes all possibility of hope or remedy.

To die in unbelief is to activate the default destiny for everyone in this life.

Do nothing about Christ and suffer eternally. Do this one thing about Him - believe - and become the undeserved, yet guaranteed, recipient of the glorious promises of everlasting life in God's Presence that He purchased on your behalf.

The choice is up to you.