The Book of Hebrews #33 chapter 9:15-28
The Book of Hebrews
The New Covenant, Part 6
Hebrews 9:15-28
 
We are continuing our study of the new covenant from Hebrews 9.  We have arrived at verse 15.
 
The writer of the Book of Hebrews is writing to this Jewish community to show them that they can leave Judaism and come to Christ. In order for them to do that, He must prove to them that Christ is superior to Judaism in every way.
 
IN particular, chapter 9 talks about the new covenant in contrast to the old.  The old covenant was unable to accomplish what Jesus did in providing access to God.   It was temporary and imperfect.
So Jesus comes along and brings a better priesthood, a better sacrifice and a better covenant.
 
Beginning at the end of chapter 4, He began to talk about His better priesthood. Then, as we moved into chapter 8, He began to talk about His better covenant. Now, as we move through 9, He moves from the covenant to the better priesthood, and it's all tied together. He's been talking about the covenant that is better, and now He's going to talk about the better priesthood.
 
verse 15
 
Now initially what this verse says is the only way He could provide for men what He wanted to provide was to die. The word "mediator" has to do with a go-between. Jesus, by the act of death, became a go-between from God to man.
Now, you remember that God made certain standards which said "the soul that sinneth, it shall die," and the only way that somebody could come to God was if they had paid for their sin. When Jesus died and paid for sin, He then opened the way. Jesus' death was payment for sin, which became a bridge to God. His death, then, was the primary act of mediation that opened the way. And Jesus Himself said, "I am the way."
 
The Old Testament priest could not become a go-between in the fullest sense. The veil was always there. He couldn't mediate fully. Jesus became a perfect mediator, bringing men to God, a mediator of a better testament, and He did it by death. He removed the barrier of sin. "The wages of sin is death." That was the barrier. Sin put up a barrier of death. Christ died, thus removing the barrier and giving access to God.
 
Now, I want you to notice something very important. It says that in His death, as a mediator of a new covenant, He brought about redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant.
 
People wonder about those in the Old Testament and how they were saved.  There is the answer. When Jesus died, He redeemed those under the first covenant.  They were saved by the same way you and I were saved, by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. They were saved by the death of Christ on their behalf. In fact, this verse says, “it was for this reason” He died.  He died to make possible salvation for those who believed, looking forward to the coming of the Messiah.
 
 
And He became the mediator not only in order that He might pay the penalty of sinners who lived since the cross, but that He might pay the penalty of sinners who lived long before the cross. When Jesus died, He gathered up all the sinners from the beginning of time to the end of time in that one sacrifice. That's the point that He's making.
 
And don’t lose sight of the fact that the author of this book is preaching to Israel. He wants them to know what the death of Christ means for them. So He simply says, "It is the sacrifice of Christ not only that redeems from now on, but that goes all the way back and covers redemption for everybody who's ever lived and who has believed throughout time."
 
Christ's blood forever satisfies the requirements of God's Holy Law.  Forgiveness under the Old Testament came on credit.  There was no sacrifice that truly satisfied God. But God forgave them on the basis of their faith in the fact that He would have a perfect sacrifice coming in Jesus Christ. And since God operates in an eternal now, and there is no past, present and future, Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world. In God's mind, it was already done anyway.
 
So the point he’s making in verse 15 is that the old sacrifices never took away sin. They were merely symbols of an act that would eventually take care of the sin problem.
 
Now, notice at the end of verse 15 it mentions "the eternal inheritance." What is that? Well, it certainly has to be salvation. It has to be all that salvation is, and it came to them in the fullest sense.
Total access to God, perfection in the sense it's used in Hebrews, came when Jesus died.
 
So just so we’re clear, let me summarize the verse and the reason I want to do that is because this verse introduces us to the death of Jesus Christ and everything else he says up through chapter 10 gives the detail of that, so I want to make sure we get this verse.
 
Think about it this way:  God designed for mankind an eternal inheritance and He guaranteed it with a promise.  But there was a problem with us inheriting the inheritance and that was sin.  So that obstacle had to be removed.  The Old Covenant couldn’t remove it.  Therefore, God had to initiate a New Covenant to remove the obstacle.  That’s why Christ came because this new covenant was ratified by the death of Jesus Christ and provided the full salvation that Israel had been waiting for since the very beginning and at the same time provided salvation for all who believe.
 
That’s pretty simple, isn’t it?  Especially from the perspective of a New Testament Christian.  But that has always been a stumbling block to Israel. A dead Messiah never fit their theology. They couldn’t make that connection.
 
So upon that introductory thought, in the following verses, 16 through 28, He gives three reasons why Jesus had to die.
 
Why did it have to be death that got the eternal inheritance? Why not something else? Why did He have to die?
 
1. A Testament Demands Death
 
Verse 16
 
Now verse 16 is legal language and the word "testament" refers to a will. And what he says is, in order for a will to be in effect, a death has to take place.  That's a simple, straightforward point.
 
Verse 17 takes it a step further
 
As long as the guy is alive, you don’t employ the will.
 
So what’s the point?  God made a will and in that will He made a promise to Israel. In fact, through Israel, God made a promise to all men, and the promise was eternal inheritance. But you cannot receive the promise of God in inheritance until the one who made the will dies. That's the point of the verse.
 
Now remember, from our previous study, the word “testament” or “covenant” could have a couple of different meanings in the Greek.  This particular word indicates a one-sided offer.  It was not a negotiated agreement, but a single-sided offer.  And remember, this is always the word that's used to speak of God's covenants.  He always calls the shots, and men can take it or leave it. You don't bargain with God and say, "If you'll adjust your covenant a little bit your way, I'll adjust a little my way." God's truth is absolute.
 
And the best way to illustrate the use of the word is the fact that it's used to speak of a will. A will is not a bargain between two people. A will is something made out by one person, and the other person either takes it or leaves it.
And so He is saying here, God has promised an inheritance. And that inheritance depends upon the death of the one who made it, in order for it to be received. A will cannot operate until the one who made it dies. Therefore, Jesus had to die to release the promised inheritance from God to men.
 
So the first reason for death, then, is simply that. Testament demands death.
 
The second reason for the death of Christ is
 
2. Forgiveness Demands Blood
 
Verse 18
 
Now, this is continuation of the previous thought with a different illustration.  Here we see the word "covenant" used in terms of a covenant rather than a will.  So in verses 16 and 17 we are talking about a will, but he shifts gears in verse 18 to speak of a different idea and that is the ratifying of covenants.
 
And the point is whether you are referencing the Old Covenant with animals or the New Covenant with Christ, covenants have always been ratified by blood. And if you doubt the necessity of the death of Jesus, even the first was not dedicated without blood.
 
So, first of all, Christ had to die, first of all, to release His will. He had to die secondly because covenants are ratified by blood.
 
And here's a beautiful thought. Grab this. It just kind of struck me as I was reading this. If you've got the death of somebody releasing something in verses 16 and 17, and you've got the death of something ratifying...death of someone ratifying the covenant in verse 18, and then you take it a step further than that, and you've still got somebody who is a living mediator of a covenant, then you've got to have a resurrection.
 
So when you put these things all together, they have to allow for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He had to die to release His will. He had to live to make it operate. He had to die to ratify the covenant. He had to live to keep the terms of it. And so the resurrection is implied in all of it.
 
So the first covenant, He says in verse 18, was ratified by blood. What's so shocking about the second one being ratified the same way?
 
I want to stop there for this evening, because the next several verses need to be seen together and there is too much there in verses 19-26 for us to cover in the time we have left.
 
Next week, we’ll look at some of the particulars of the Old Covenant and what they teach us about Jesus.
 
Let’s pray

 

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