Today’s reading: Hebrews 1-13; Psalm 143
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)
Remember those days earlier this summer when you thought you’d never be done reading about blood and sacrifices? Today, the book of Hebrews takes us back there again for a review, establishing the contrast between the Old Covenant and the New. It is in this book of the Bible that the theology of Christ’s sacrifice as an atonement for sin is most fully articulated.
Remember that, under the law of Moses, certain sacrifices were to be offered in the temple to atone for sins. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us today, each new sin demanded a new sacrifice. In Christ, however, this old order has become obsolete. His offering of his own life becomes the one-time sacrifice that serves as atonement for all sin.
The original recipients of this message in Hebrews had responded to the message of the gospel but were having difficulty holding true to it. They acted as if it was not enough on its own to take care of their situations. They needed Jesus and “fill-in-the-blank” in order to make things right. It was so hard to completely let go of the old order. We can understand this–we often wonder ourselves what else we need to do to fix things with God besides just believing.
So, after reviewing the theological foundation for their beliefs, the writer of Hebrews turns to the art of repetition in chapter 11 to drill home the core message. Calling on a who’s who cast of Biblical personalities for support, he exhorts his listeners to take up the baton of living “by faith.” With such a grand cloud of witnesses cheering us on, how could we not?