One thing that’s really becoming clear to me as I read through Hebrews is that this book is intense. The theological concepts presented and the constant reference to Old Testament knowledge often make it difficult to understand. I’m probably only gleaning the most elementary of insights; that said there is still so much application! I love that about God’s Word — so much at the surface and yet inexhaustible depth too. Amazing!
Anyhoo, chapter 9 is about the foreshadowing of the earthly tabernacle. We are reminded that the tabernacle built by Moses was a mere copy of the true tabernacle in heaven and that the sacrifices offered in it were temporary. Chapter 9 also discusses why forgiveness requires the shedding of blood. From the “garments of skin” Adam and Eve wore in Genesis 3, to the blood shed by the high priests in Exodus, to Jesus himself — forgiveness from Genesis to Revelation is blood-dependent. For those who do not know Jesus, this probably sounds gruesome, unsophisticated, even primitive. But if God has given you eyes to see your own heart, or an inkling of His holiness then you understand.
You understand how desperately you need forgiveness, and you understand what it is to long for a clear conscience. Hebrews 9: 9 tells us that the Old Testament sacrifices were an illustration “indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.” The annual Day of Atonement provided fleeting comfort; true and ongoing forgiveness and the peace therein weren’t available. I think I often take for granted what a gift forgiveness truly is, that nothing I’ve ever done is counted against me. Nothing. Not even that time I… Or when I was … Or that awful thing I said to… Jesus blood is a complete covering for every transgression. As Psalm 103 says my sin is as far removed from me as the east is from the west.
But where does that leave me? Skipping along a forgiven and carefree path? Not exactly, because a forgiven person is called to forgive and that’s not always easy. As C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” (The Weight of Glory)
So do you know someone who has done something inexcusable to you or someone you love? I do. This is an incredibly timely message for me, and it is indeed sobering to know that I am called to forgive this person. The idea of doing it in my own strength is laughable. Yet God’s grace is sufficient today, and it will be sufficient tomorrow when I’ll need to forgive again.
So this week may we pray the Lord’s Prayer with conviction, “forgive us, as we forgive others!”