Lent Devotion for March 9
"Once for All"
Reader: “The old regulations were in effect”
Response: “only until a better system could be established.”
SCRIPTURE: Leviticus 16:15-17
15 “Then Aaron must slaughter the first goat as a sin offering for the people and carry its blood behind the inner curtain. There he will sprinkle the goat’s blood over the atonement cover and in front of it, just as he did with the bull’s blood.16 Through this process, he will purify the Most Holy Place, and he will do the same for the entire Tabernacle, because of the defiling sin and rebellion of the Israelites. 17 No one else is allowed inside the Tabernacle when Aaron enters it for the purification ceremony in the Most Holy Place. No one may enter until he comes out again after purifying himself, his family, and all the congregation of Israel, making them right with the Lord.
SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 9:7-14
7 But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8 By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.
9 This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. 10 For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established
11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Think of one phrase that summarizes the entire Old Testament. What did you come up with? “Once for all time” comes pretty close to summing up the redemption story. Leviticus gives us the instructions for Aaron, the High Priest. Combined with the Hebrews passage, we can see why it was necessary for Aaron to do so every year. His practice of sprinkling blood in the Most Holy Place was sufficient ceremonially on a temporary basis. But in terms of actually cleansing sin, it was clearly ineffective because it had to be repeated. If you could wash your hands with “eternal soap,” you’d never have to wash them again. Such is not the case! In the worship of God, humans on earth are connecting with God in heaven. Since our endeavor is heavenly in its nature, our place of worship cannot be tainted with sinful humanity. The Tabernacle was a “shadow” of the real thing. Because of our ultimate High Priest, Jesus entered the heavenly Tabernacle with His own sinless, perfect blood as the sacrificial Lamb of God, His offering is perfectly accepted by the Father. It means that our sin and guilt have actually been cleansed. We have moved from shadow to reality, heavenly reality. Since the sacrifice was perfect and accepted by God as payment in full for all sin, it never needs to be repeated. It is truly a “once for all” offering. “Once” is very clear as is “for all.” There is no time it is not in effect. In other words, it is eternal, timeless. Our God’s love for His people is overwhelming. He has done everything in drawing us to himself from the very beginning. What a glorious Father we have!
MUSIC: “God So Loved the World” by John Stainer, at Claire College, Oxford
AN EVENING PRAYER:
Almighty God, in this hour of quiet I seek communion with thee. From the fret and fever of the day’s business, from the world’s discordant noises, from the praise and blame of men, from the confused thoughts and vain imaginations of my own heart, I would now turn aside and seek the quietness of Thy presence. All day long have I toiled and striven; but now, in the stillness of heart and in the clear light of thine eternity I would ponder the pattern my life has been weaving. May there fall upon me now, O God, a great sense of Thy power and glory, so that I may see all earthly things in their true measure. To Thee, O God, be glory forever. Amen.
–John Baillie from A Diary of Private Prayer, p.27.