What is Obsolete and Outdated Will Soon Disappear

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EZEKIEL 16:42-17:24 | HEBREWS 8:1-13 | PSALM 106:13-31 | PROVERBS 27:7-9

The wrath of the Lord remains unabated, and Ezekiel continues to receive instruction in his vision for what he is to tell the erring people of Israel on what is to befall them.  Using an allegory of two eagles and a vine, Ezekiel is told of what he must tell his people.  He says:  11 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 12 “Say to this rebellious people, ‘Do you not know what these things mean?’ Say to them: ‘The king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and carried off her king and her nobles, bringing them back with him to Babylon. 13 Then he took a member of the royal family and made a treaty with him, putting him under oath. He also carried away the leading men of the land, 14 so that the kingdom would be brought low, unable to rise again, surviving only by keeping his treaty. 15 But the king rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Will he break the treaty and yet escape?  The answer,  of course, is a deafening no!

We turn now to our reading of the book of Hebrews, and see the writer continuing in the same line of thought:  Jesus Christ is the perfect high priest, and replaces every human priest in the Jewish tradition.  This is all for the benefit of the new believers to the Christian faith who have a Jewish heritage and are accustomed to following the Jewish practices of worship.  The writer of this letter, most likely a Jew himself, is now challenging every Jewish tradition– asking that the reader either look at the practice diferently, or get rid of it altogether.

Keep your practices, only view it in a different light, the writer seems to say.  You know of the priest and his functions in the temple; well, here is a more superior priest, nay a high priest, who supercedes every human priest, and offers you direct access to God, the father– put away your old notions, and boldly approach this high priest who will intercede on your behalf, who is himself, God, and who appeared to you as Christ Jesus incarnate.  Are you able to comprehend and accept these truths, the writer seems to say.  To further elaborate on this point, the writer says:  1 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

The writer wishes to take his time to explain this slowly and clearly– so there is no room for doubt.  He says:  3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

New covenant, better promises– these are the new concepts that the Jewish person of the first century had to reconcile himself/herself to.  You mean to say that I don’t need to offer up animal sacrifices anymore?  In fact, I don’t even need to go to the temple anymore?  Yes, that’s right, you don’t need to do anything but believe– believe in this new covenant of faith that God has offered to you by way of the plan of sending his own son in the person of Jesus Christ, who was made to be the sacrifice for all mankind, once and for all.

Furthermore, under this new covenant, both Jew and non-Jew are entitled to the free gift of salvation, i.e., a saving of your soul for eternity, by simple faith in the grace of God extended to you, and if you should accept this gift, you need do nothing more– nothing more to earn it, that is.  But you would WANT to do everything you possibly can in order to reflect the same love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness that you have received from God to your fellowmen.  Would it not then give you a personal satisfaction to do unto others what has been freely done unto you?  THAT is the way this new covenant works!

And to wrap us this train of thought, the writer says one last thing:  13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

We turn now to our reading of the psalms, and find ourselves still making our way through Psalm 106.  This, as you may recall, is a chronological account of the history of the children of Israel.  David is recounting the many times that his ancestors had turned away from God, despite the fact that the presence of God was a palpable force around them all the time.  And yet, the people were quick to turn away and take up images and idols to worship.  Such is the checkered history of the people of Israel.  She may be the chosen one, but she never knew it!

Finally, we turn to the book of Proverbs for an interesting mix of proverbs, each speaking to a deeper truth.  Solomon, the wise king, offers these proverbs as food for thought:

7 One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
   but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

8 Like a bird that flees its nest
   is anyone who flees from home.

9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
   and the pleasantness of a friend
   springs from their heartfelt advice.

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