Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Born [again] Supremacy

The second stop in The Born [again] trilogy is the Supremacy. Here we will look at how the Born [again] experience is the best way to live. Interestingly, this installment falls on the week of Yom Kippur, ending the Jewish days of awe...

Blow the trumpet in Zion!

"Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing—grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God. Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, "Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?' " -- Joel 2.12-17

Rosh Hashanah begins 10 days of repentance with the blowing of the shofar, a trumpet made of a ram's horn. Yom Kippur is the one day out of the year the High Priest could enter the Sanctum Sanctorum and make atonement for the people. The Hebrew people trace the roots of Yom Kippur to the Exodus. There in the desert, on the way from slavery to freedom, they stopped at Mt. Sinai. God gave Moses the 10 Commandment. When Moses returned from Sinai, he found the people worshiping a golden calf. God stated that He would wipe them out and start a new nation with Moses. Moses plead for their restoration and God granted forgiveness.

Later, in Leviticus 16, God detailed the ritual and events for a national, annual Day of Atonement. This day included the ritual of the Two Goats. One was selected by lot for sacrificial death to bear the consequence (death) for sins and the second, Scapegoat, was driven from the community bearing the guilt of the sins.

The Born [again] Supremacy

...When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here,
he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
...The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 9 & 10

The Born [again] Supremacy has a better minister -- through Jesus.

Moses served as a go-between for God and His people. So Moses was a servant of God. But Jesus was the Mediator between God and man, being both. He represented God to humanity far better than Moses could, because he was not representing someone else. He represented Himself.

Before a High Priest could make atonement for the people he represented, he first had to make atonement for his personal sinfulness. He was no more moral or righteous than those for whom he stood. But Jesus was morally pure having NEVER violated the Father's will or law. He is a better minister through whom real atonement is made for us.

The Born [again] Supremacy has a better administration -- of Jesus.

The temple ritual worked on a proxy punishment system. From the Garden of Eden, God has made clear that "in the day you [sin], you will die." This theme is repeated throughout the entire Bible. But in His mercy, God allowed a carefully regulated use of a substitute to bear this incredible price for our rebellion. Folks could bring an animal, lay a hand on its head, confess their sins and "confer" them to the animal, and then kill the animal to pay the penalty.

Jesus did not offer more or even better animal sacrifice. He offered himself as our Perfect, not proxy, Substitute. His perfectly moral life, surrendered for the lives of His rebellious brothers and sisters, satisfied the demands of God's justice (death to sin) and the desires of God's love (life to humanity.) He bought us back from the slavery to sin. His was the BEST offering.

The Born [again] Supremacy has a better ministry -- by Jesus.

Because He is a better minister who administered a better solution for the sinfulness of humanity, Jesus now makes available a better way of living. The writer of Hebrews now shows how the effects of this better way work out in the lives of the Born [again]. First, Jesus gives us a clear conscience. The old way did nothing to remove our guilty feelings. Jesus served as both the scapegoat and the sin sacrifice goat. He removes our guilt.

Second, Jesus breaks the power of cancelled sin. The old system did not empower the worshipper for victorious living, it only served as a yearly reminder of their moral failures. The cycle repeated year after year after year after year... Jesus, a Perfect minister, administered a Perfect sacrifice and the Born [again] have been ransomed. Paul states it very clearly in Romans 8.12-14, "Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." We do NOT have to knowingly sin in word, thought and/or deed every day. There is more for the Born [again] than a cycle of failure and forgiveness without growth in grace.

Lastly, Jesus can perfect the Born [again]. This perfection is not absolute flawlessness. It is growth toward a goal or teleos. We are being perfected, though absolure perfection will not come until the third stage of Grace-glorification. Jesus can make us better and so the Born [again] Supremacy is not a statement just about our Savior or our faith system, it is a comparison of our pre-Christian selves to the whole and holy person Jesus is re-creating.

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