For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Hebrews 9:24
Hebrews can be a difficult book to understand. We don't know the name of the author, but clearly, he was a well-educated person who knew the Old Testament. Throughout the book he shows us how Jesus is the One who fulfills the entire Old Testament -- it's all about Jesus.
In the verses we're looking at today, the writer is referring back to a special custom that started in Moses' day. There was a single man in Israel who was the high priest. Once a year it was his job to ask God to forgive the sins of the Israelite people. He did this by washing and dressing up in special clothes. Then he would take a bowlful of blood from a sacrificed bull and carry it into the Holy Place, where the Ark of the Covenant was. With his finger he would sprinkle the blood in front of the Ark, and God would forgive the sins of the people.
The problem, of course, is that this had to be done year after year after year. The cleansing was never permanent; the people kept on sinning, and the sacrifice had to be repeated. The blood of an animal was nowhere near enough to deal with sin, once and for all. Instead, it was a kind of place-holder, a divine reminder; it looked to the day when Jesus Himself would come. God's own Son was the only sacrifice that could take away our sin and guilt forever, and change human hearts.
When Moses first set up this ritual, he distinctly warned the high priest not to go into the Holy Place any time he wanted to, any way he wanted to go. That was the special place in the temple where God's own presence was. Anyone who disobeyed or treated God's presence with disrespect would die. This was true even though the Holy Place was a man-made room in a man-made temple.
How much more important it is to come prepared into God's own presence in heaven!
That is something we could never do, if it weren't for Jesus, our Savior. He is our great High Priest who lives forever. It is because of His own blood which He shed on the cross that now we, too, can come into God's presence without being destroyed. God is holy, and we are not. But God has made us holy by the blood of Jesus. And Jesus, after He rose from the dead, returned to heaven and went into God's own presence -- for our sake.
What is He doing there? Hebrews 9:24 tells us He went there on our behalf -- to make us holy and acceptable to God, God's own forgiven people. The author tells us that Jesus makes intercession for us, that is, He prays for us, speaks up on our behalf. This is how much He loves us. Not only has He died and risen for us, but He still speaks for us. How blessed we are!
THE PRAYER: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for everything You have done for us, and keep doing for us. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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