NT Connect: Hebrews 9:1-10:39
Weekly Reading: Exodus 36-40
A Greater Priest
Pop Quiz: How many loops were there along the edge of the end curtain made for the tent of the Tabernacle? What material were the crossbars and upright frames made of in the Tabernacle?
In school, it was easier for me to simply absorb that kind of knowledge for a quiz than to use critical thinking to discover how that knowledge relates to life. Understandably, at times it is easier to focus on the structure of religion instead of on a God who dwells like a cloud among his people. So, to use some critical thinking, how can knowing how they built the tabernacle in Exodus assist in the growth of my relationship with God today?
The connection became clearer when I read the end of chapter 40. The tabernacle was finished and God’s presence finally dwelt among his people. That is what he has desired from the beginning, all the way back to the Garden. Man in his desire to know more and to go his own way broke that perfect relationship, but God’s desire to be with his people, his creation, has never wavered. The laws, the priests, the Tabernacle, the sacrifices were all ways for the people of God to remember him, to repent, and to turn back to a right relationship with him, but it was never enough. The law became a burden, a heavy yoke for them to bear. The sacrifices could never quite wash away the sins they committed day after day, year after year.
Then Jesus came; the Word became flesh and dwelt among them. With his life and his sacrifice, he showed us a new kingdom, a kingdom of heaven in which all are welcome. An upside down kingdom in which the last are first, the outcast is welcomed into the family, and forgiveness, grace and love reign. A new way to live. New habits and disciplines to develop that help us be the hands and feet of Jesus to this hurting and broken world.
The law was “only a shadow of the good things that [were] coming” (Hebrews 10:1 NIV), but it could never completely take away the burden and shame of people’s sins. Jesus, God in the flesh, came to earth to do that for us. What love this God has for his people!
Certainly, a list of laws to check off is easier than learning a whole new way to think, behave and react to those around us. However, as Hebrews 10:21 says, we are called to persevere in our faith, to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (NIV). To trust in the loving nature of a God who wants to dwell within my heart. To pray every day to become more aware of His presence in my life. To recognize His still, small voice in the cacophony of this world. To desire His calming and peaceful and loving presence in my life over anything else. To “draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings” (Hebrews 10:22 NIV).