Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Gospel in Hebrews - Keep Calm we have an Altar

Keep Calm We have an Altar!

Every time we read, meditate, or preach the Word of God we deal with the Holy. Holiness is not just another attribute of God; it is His very “Godness”. He is merciful, right? His Mercy is a Holy Mercy. He is wise, His wisdom is Holy Wisdom. He Judges. Even His judgment is Holy. But it’s hard to appreciate His Holiness until His Holiness has broken out on you.
Why do I mean by that? Imagine how Isaiah felt in when he saw the Lord. Isa 6:3 One called to another, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at His voice; the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: "Woe is me! For I am undone; I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"
The Holiness of God broke out before him. Later he prophesied: Isa 66:1 Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool; what is the house you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? 2 All these things my hand has made, and all these things came to be, says the LORD. But to this one I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
Hosea prophesied a time when all God’s people would be affected by His Holiness: Hos 11:10 They will walk after the LORD, He will roar like a lion; He will roar And His sons will come trembling …
Jesus Christ’s holiness broke out on people, too. Like the woman who touched the hem of his robe. Luke 8:47 When the woman saw she had not escaped notice, she came trembling, falling down before Him, declaring in the presence of all why she had touched Him…
How about when Jesus calmed the sea? Mar 4:41 they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this…
Or the women at the tomb on the 1st day of the week? Mark 16:8 They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing… for they were afraid.
     Hebrews is Inspired by Holy Spirit. The writer wants God’s Holiness to break out on them! He elevates Jesus like they never heard before. He taught and warned, encouraged and maybe even threatened them to look to Jesus. In Chapter 13 he wraps it up. These are His final words. And, it’s my prayer that through this study the Holiness of God will break forth onto you. May your worship be greater. May your love be stronger in light of His word and may your faith be rooted in the Living Lord, Jesus Christ.  

Heb 13:10  We have an altar of which they have no right to eat, those who serve the tabernacle. 
Heb 13:11  For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the Holy of Holies by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 
Heb 13:12  Therefore Jesus also, so that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 
Heb 13:13  Therefore let us go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 
Heb 13:14  For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 
Heb 13:15  By Him, then, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, confessing His name. 
Heb 13:16  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 

Let him who has ears to hear, hear and understand.

     The Jews put a high value on the altar on the temple grounds where sacrifices were killed. The blood of the covenant was shed there. It was sanctified originally by Aaron himself. The animals killed there were tangible evidence they were following God’s law and buying another year’s worth of mercy. Now in light of what we know about Jesus, that is pretty sad. But in these final words the author of Hebrews reminds them they do have a New Altar and they have New sacrifices!
I.       We Have an Altar: Now an altar is where animals are sacrificed to God. The Greek word actually means "place of sacrifice." What is our altar? The cross is one example of that. Jesus died there. That’s why we have a cross hanging here in our worship center. It reminds us where Christ was offered up and how He gave His life for us. And I’m glad that it is made of rough wood. The highly decorated, gold plated, pearl inlaid crosses are a bit incongruous. They can be quite beautiful. But Jesus died there! He bled there in torture. He groaned there in agony. Now that cross in the baptistery is not where Jesus died, but it reminds us that we have an altar! There was a sacrifice!
     We have an Altar! And those priests who serve at the temple’s altar don’t have access to this altar! Not that they couldn’t have if they turned to Christ. But they are not trusting in God’s Lamb! They are trusting in animal sacrifices. And the blood they carry into the Holy of Holies is just that, the blood of a dead animal. That animal has not experienced the wrath of God. So God’s wrath is still aimed at sinners! Let me repeat that. Under the Old Covenant, God’s Holy Anger is still aimed at people of sin!
     We have an Altar! But, it’s a different altar! We have an altar where blood was shed - not at the hand of the priests, but at the hand of God! God’s wrath, poured out on Christ for all who believe! We have an Altar!
     When the priests would kill the sacrificial animal they’d take it outside the camp to burn it. They committed to the animal the sins of the people. In its unclean state they would burn it outside the camp. V12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. This is a radical departure from tradition. Jesus wasn’t slain inside the camp, inside the temple grounds. He wasn’t carried outside Jerusalem, He walked, He volunteered! And, part of the way, He carried His Own Altar! We Have an Altar!
     Why did it happen this way? Well, He died to make US holy! To Sanctify, to change us! He doesn’t make us gods, He gives us Christ’s righteousness. He gives us the indwelling Holy Spirit. He makes us His Children, part of the family of God!
Bohdi tree
     But also there is the fact that he is rejecting the Temple sacrifices. He wouldn’t be offered there. He is ending the Priesthood. He didn’t need a Levite Priest. He gave Himself! He is ending this religion of good works, of earning temporary grace! And He ushers in a Relationship of eternal Grace, of never ending Peace with God  We Have an Altar!
      So what do we do with this altar?

II.                II. V13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp. Up until this time they went physically to the temple.
             Today, Jews travel to Jerusalem to pray at the western wall. Muslims go to Mecca on the Hajj and perform their rituals. There are estimates of 100 million people a year going on religious pilgrimages. Hindus to the Ganges river, Catholics go to Lourdes or Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, or the Vatican. Buddhists go see the Tree where Buddha meditated. Bahai’s go to north Israel. Pagans go to Stonehenge, and Christians go to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Galilee.
But here He says, Lets Go To Him! We have someone who has done everything for us. Sure I’d like to go to Jerusalem, but it’s because I have already come to Christ, not so I might meet him!
Let’s go to Him Outside the Camp! We too must leave behind religion. Offering sacrifices in order for God to be pleased with us! Don’t tell me you never tried that. “Oh God forgive me. I’ll do this and this for you.” I’ll stop cussing. I’ll stop gossiping. I’l do this and I’ll do that. Come To Jesus! We have An Altar where the Son of God was slain for us!
III.   And We have Our Sacrifices to make! We are to bear the reproach He endured! Oh wait! We have to bear something? 
What is reproach? Reproach is disapproval, being scorned, held in contempt! Jewish scholars saw the death of Christ as a reproach! Hung on a tree? That’s unacceptable! Claimed to be God’s Son? Unacceptable! Expelled from Jerusalem to die? Unacceptable! And you want to follow this man? You are unacceptable!
   Often in this world Christians are just Unacceptable! Just make sure it’s for being like Christ you are rejected. No good in being rejected just for being a jerk! But coming to Christ is entering into His Reproach. It is being willing to be scorned for Christ!
Another Sacrifice we offer is the sacrifice of Praise. (V15) These are not sacrifices that earn God’s favor. They reflect God’s grace back to Him! They are not the fruit of the womb or the fruit of the field but the fruit of our redeemed lips! It's like the words we sing in Blessed be the Name of the Lord, "Every blessing You pour outI'll turn back to praise." (Matt Redman)
   And then there are the sacrifices of good works and generosity! Once again, reflecting the Good Work of Christ, the Generosity of God who has lavished upon us the riches of His grace!

Coming Out to Jesus is not traveling across the globe to see Bethlehem. It is the heart'Reaching out to Christ. Responding to His love for you. Rejoicing in His presenceReveling In His Amazing Grace!
 Have you Come out to Him? Are you still Coming out to Him?

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