Worship in the First Covenant
October 17th, 2018 | Hebrews 9:1-10
Architecture and design of buildings and physical spaces often convey meaning. A Gothic cathedral directs the eye and mind upward to heaven. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater incorporates domestic space within the natural landscape. A Japanese garden is intended to instill peace and calm.
In the same way, says the author of Hebrews, the glorious tabernacle of the old covenant also conveyed its own limited nature. The author reminds us of the spatial layout of the old sanctuary. The outer court (the “Holy Place”) contained a “lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread” (v. 2). Beyond that, the inner court (the “Most Holy Place”) contained the altar of incense and the ark of the covenant. Above the ark were “the cherubim of the Glory” (v. 5), indicating that this was where the glorious presence of God resided on Earth.
The author of Hebrews reviews these details in order to point to their meaning as an “illustration for the present time” (v. 9). He names their limitations. First, they offered limited access to God’s presence. While the priests could enter the outer room regularly, only the high priest could enter the inner room, “and that only once a year” (v. 7). By this, the Holy Spirit was showing that “the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed” (v. 8).
Second, while the high priest offered blood “for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance” (v. 7), it provided only limited cleansing. Scripture tells us that “the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper” (v. 9). These were ultimately matters of “food and drink and various ceremonial washings” (v. 10), but not able to cleanse fully. Something more was needed.
APPLY THE WORD
The old covenant provided only limited access to the Most Holy Place, but at Christ’s death, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two” (Matt. 27:51). The limited access of the former covenant has been expanded. We now have full access to the Father through Christ. As you pray today, give thanks for the access you have to His presence.
PRAYER | BANGLADESH
“The believers in my discipleship classes are growing in faith together. They have put their faith to action by praying for healing for those who are sick. They also share the gospel message with their neighbors and friends,” says trainer Sister Monjuri. Praise God!
Today in the Word’s Devotion is a production of Moody Global Ministries
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