Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Verse - Hebrews 12:24

The Bible is so full of inexhaustible riches and treasures. I strongly believe that even if you lived forever, you would never be able to unravel all its mysteries or get to the bottom of its wisdom.

I would like to share a small nugget that was shared with me at church as we celebrated Easter Sunday.

Our verse today comes from the book of Hebrews. The author of Hebrews is unknown; the book is believed to be intended for a mixed audience of Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome. Hebrews discusses the symbolism of the Levitical priesthood and the Old Testament sacrifices as a foreshadow to Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
(Hebrews 12:22-24)

In the above verses, the author is writing of the Kingdom to come, God's eternal kingdom. Here He will welcome believers as His sons and daughters, because those who believe have been made righteous through Jesus' blood. This is in direct contrast with the previous passage, which talks about Mt Sinai, where Moses was given the 10 commandments. When the law was given,“If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned” (verse 20). At that time even Moses, who was indeed a mighty and righteous man, said“I tremble with fear”(verse 21).

Even now you can see the direct contrast between law and grace. This is a major theme in Hebrews: the fact that the imperfect and incomplete provisions of the Old Covenant given under Moses point to the perfect and complete provisions given under the New Covenant by Christ.

I would, however, like to draw your attention to the last part of verse 24, which speaks of Jesus'
"...sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." Here the author refers to the story of the brothers Cain and Abel, the first murder in human history. Because Abel obeyed God's laws and therefore offered an acceptable sacrifice, Cain became jealous and killed Abel. According to Genesis, this is what happened after Cain killed Abel:

And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground." (Genesis 4:10)

So the question is, what did Abel's blood cry out for? The answer, of course, is justice! He was murdered in cold blood. He had given the best of his flock to God in sacrifice, yet was murdered for his righteous actions. He was calling on God to judge and execute justice upon his brother for this selfish and hateful crime.

Now we read again Hebrews 12:2:
 ...and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

So what is this better word that Jesus' blood speaks? Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 26:28:
"For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

His blood speaks of forgiveness. What a sweet word. Of all people anywhere who have suffered injustice at the hands of wrongdoers, it is Jesus that can most righteously proclaim "Justice! Vengeance!", because He knew no sin. He was spotless and without blame. Yet it is because of Jesus' sinlessness that His blood has the ability to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

Peter says: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

Thank you, Lord, that your blood speaks forgiveness and not vengeance. What an incredible Saviour.

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