Hebrews 9:23-27 God can use works that seem insignificant to initiate a revival
The cleansing power of Christ’s blood extended from the earth to the heavens. The life of Jesus, though obscure and forgettable in the eyes of the world carries eternal and earth-shaking implications. Today’s passage teaches us the necessity of getting out of our zone of exclusivity and comfort, being willing to empathize with the sufferings of others. We must also not judge the impact of our work through the eyes of the world. God can use what seems small and insignificant to initiate an unprecedented revival in our nation.
23 Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
“Therefore” draws reference from the previous section – the cleansing power of Christ’s blood. As the earthly tabernacle was a copy of the heavenly tabernacle, the cleansing of the earthly tabernacle by animals’ blood infers the corresponding cleansing of the true tabernacle in heaven by Christ’s blood. However, unless the tabernacle was defiled, it requires no cleansing. Therefore, it was not only the earthly tabernacle that needed cleansing (due to the people’s sins) but the heavenly one as well. Every time a sin offering was made on behalf of sinners on earth, the true tabernacle in heaven became defiled by it.
24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
Moses was asked to set up a tabernacle on earth based on the model of the true tabernacle in heaven. The earthly tabernacle can be understood as a kind of proxy of the heavenly tabernacle. Correspondingly, the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies became a proxy of God’s throne. As Christ entered the holy place in heaven as high priest and atoned for the sins of humanity, the veil of the earthly tabernacle became torn in two – the throne of God became accessible to men. How did Christ enter into the holy place? He appears in the presence of God for us by his death, resurrection and ascension. This defines the forward movement of Christ towards the throne of God through definitive stages. By His death, His blood was brought into the Holy Place and became a sin offering of men; by His resurrection, the Father forgave sinners once for all; by His ascension, the Father seated Christ at His right hand and gave men access to Himself.
25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
The Day of Atonement was meant to serve as a pattern of Christ’s sacrifice in the heavenly tabernacle while looking forward to its consummation on the cross. Therefore, the high priest’s yearly sacrifice (with blood that is not his own) can be understood as a priestly petition for God’s provision of the perfect Lamb that would once for all take away the sins of the world. Christ consummated the high priest’s earthly ministry at the tabernacle when Christ manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Christ’s sacrifice had made redundant the earthly tabernacle and priesthood that functioned as a pattern of the heavenly. In their time, the tabernacle system of worship was relevant as intercessions and petitions to hasten the coming of Christ, perfect sacrifice.
27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
This puts into perspective the eschatological purpose of Christ’s sacrifice – to save men from condemnation on the day of judgment. The system of the first covenant that was put in place since the time of Moses was meant to usher in the coming of Christ, the Messiah. The efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice led to an immediate cessation of the earthly system of sacrifices. It also predestined Christ’s second coming, this time no longer as a sacrificial Lamb, but as reigning King and Savior over those who eagerly await Him.
We must not glory in our zone of exclusivity and comfort but be willing to empathize with the sufferings of strangers. Some people draw a very unyielding line separating those who are family and those who are not. While they show much patience and mercy to their own family members, they were harsh and cold towards those outside. Such are not willing to extent their hospitality and private time outside of their familial zone of comfort. I have seen people posted pictures of their family’s many revelings on social media inviting others to “LIKE” their blessed life. But they have rarely involved themselves with the sufferings of others. Many even forbid their children to mingle with those who are perceived to be lower in social status.
God allowed His heavenly tabernacle to be defiled by our sins of addictions, adultery, idolatry and curses of poverty and sickness. God extended His hand of fellowship to sinners on earth resulting in the defilement of the holy place in heaven. For the sake of humanity, God is willing to forego the sanctity of His heavenly abode; and allow His son to be abused by wicked men. If God would accept sinners by living among us forsaking the sanctity of His heavenly abode, we should likewise be more forthcoming in reaching out to strangers.
Our humble works though unnoticed carries eternal and earth-shaking impact. Often people do not take notice of works that are done in obscurity. The world gravitates towards glamour and high-sounding achievements. Ministers alike prefer to hold huge crusades and be associated with big names so that they can trumpet their achievements and raise their prominence. But they do not like to hold small training meetings targeting the appropriate people even though that may be more effective. Philanthropists love the limelight as benefactors of charity NGO’s while shunting the slumps and the dirty work of serving the beneficiaries.
Jesus, by humbling Himself served the people and washed their feet. He was crucified in one obscure corner of the earth and numbered with the criminals. When He was about to be forgotten, God raised Him from the dead and appointed Him as Lord over all creation. Jesus died in the most accursed place on earth, but He appeared before God in the most glorious palace in heaven. His ministry on earth though short and unglamorous by comparison, but it carried eternal and earth-shaking impact. Therefore, we must not judge the impact of our ministry by the world’s standards. God can use works that are small and insignificant to initiate unprecedented revivals. Resources and power may make lives more livable and comfortable for a time. But works of one man done in humility and sacrificial love can regenerate the hardest of hearts and transform entire generations.
- Are you accustomed to valuing your work according the perception of others? We must learn to live for the audience of One in heaven. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40. As long as we obey God’s instructions one day at a time without being overly ambitious, we will accomplish the calling God has placed in our lives.
- Do you guard your personal and family time so jealously that you neglect serving others during the weekdays? Many children grew up becoming self-centered and some turned against their parents. This increasingly common phenomenon is the consequence of parents putting themselves and their children as the center of their world. If we place God as the center of our world and in serving others, we embed into our children the virtues of Christ. Joshua, the great general of Israel said, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Our children are learning by observing how we spend our time serving others!
Dear Lord, I thank you for putting me in a place of comfort and security. Your life has taught me to go beyond my comfort zone to be involved in the sufferings of others. Today, as I am a beneficiary of your selfless work on the cross, use me to become a blessing for others. Teach me to serve others in humility trusting that my works of love will result in an unprecedented revival in the future. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.