A New Form of Worship

 

 

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A New Form of Worship

Dr Alex Tang

 

Text: Hebrews 9: 1-14

Summary

Jesus Christ is the new High Priest who by His blood leads us to a new form of worship: Presence and Power.

Text (Hebrew 9:1-14)

HEB 9:1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. HEB 9:6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7 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. 8 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. 9 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. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings--external regulations applying until the time of the new order. HEB 9:11 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 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!

Introduction

In the last sermon, we studied Jesus Christ as the High Priest of a New Covenant. This covenant replaces the covenant of the Law of Moses. The new covenant can be summarised in Heb. 8:10.

HEB 8:10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

No longer are we ruled by an external law but from an internal law-our conscience. This week, we shall look at how God has made it possible for the new covenant to come into being. As a reminder, the writer of Hebrews was addressing Jewish Christians who came from a background of Temple cultic worship. Hence they are familiar with the tabernacle, which later was built as Solomon’s temple (First Temple) when Israel settled into the Promised Land. They had been worshipping in Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem before they became Christians. Now, because of persecutions and hardships, they were thinking of reverting back to Judaism. The writer of Hebrews was reminding them that Jesus is a superior High Priest that superseded all human high priests in the tabernacle or temple worship.

(1) Sanctuary

In Hebrews 9:1-10, he reminded them of the tabernacle worship and the makeup of the tabernacle.

HEB 9:1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. HEB 9:6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7 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

Then he made a comment that the Holy Spirit used this arrangement as an illustration.

8 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. 9 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. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings--external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

Worship in its true sense is not a matter of food and drinks. It is not a matter of what we do, or what the priests did on our behalf. There are two points he made: (1) The access into the Most Holy Place is still not known as long as the tabernacle was still standing. (2) The sacrifice is not able to clear the conscience of the worshippers.

 Therefore it is an incomplete system of worship.

· It did not bring people into the presence of God.

· It did not clear the conscience of the worshippers.

· It did not bring full forgiveness of their sins.

 

(2) Access

Jesus Christ, however as the great High Priest, brought a complete system of worship. He brought the worshippers into the Most Holy Place itself. Heb. 9:11-12

HEB 9:11 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. 12 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.

In the tabernacle/temple worship, only the priests are allowed into the Holy Place every day. The high priest enters the Most Holy Place once a year for the Day of Atonement. Before the high priest enters, he has first to sacrifice a bull for his sins and the sins of his family, then another bull for the sins of the people of Israel. Then he enters the Most Holy Place to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. The people can only be in the outer courts where the laver and the braze altar were. They will never see the inside of the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. All their lives, they will be limited to worship in the courts of the tabernacle.

This is like the whole church going to watch Spiderman 3 at the Cathay Cineplex at City Square, Johor Bahru. You went there and bought your ticket. However you are only allowed to stand outside the cinema, where they sell the popcorns and tickets. Only your elders were allowed to enter and stand outside cinema where they are able to hear the sounds of the movie but they are not allowed to enter into the cinema itself. They are not allowed even to peep inside. Only the senior pastor is allowed into the cinema to watch the whole movie!

The Jewish people had been taught that the Holy Place represent earth and the Most Holy Place, heaven. They know that it is a representation. They also knew that God Himself come down from heaven to the Most Holy Place. Jesus Christ brought us all to the real tabernacle. This tabernacle was not made by human hands but by God. Jesus Christ brought us into the heavenly tabernacle- the Throne room in heaven as described by John in Rev.4:2-11.

2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. 4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6 Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." REV 4:9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: REV 4:11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

The people are no longer limited to the outer courts. In the new form of worship, everyone enters into the Holy Place and even the Most Holy Place. Jesus is the High Priest forever. We are all priests.

 

(3) Blood sacrifice

We are able to enter the heavenly sanctuary because of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Heb.9:13-14

13 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. 14 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!

In general, the sacrificial animal for sin offerings depended on the status of the sinner offering the sacrifice;

-for a high priest or an entire community, the sacrifice was to be of a young bullock;

 -for a king or a prince the offering had to be a young male goat;

-for other individuals the offering had to be either a young female goat, or a female lamb;

-for poor individuals unable to afford these, a turtle dove sufficed.

Like the other types of sacrifice, the sacrificial animal had to be completely unblemished.

 

The ritual of the sin offering began with the offerer confessing their sins over the head of the victim; in the case of community offerings the elders performed this function; in the case of the Day of Atonement, the high priest performs this task. The animal would then be killed by the offerer, or the priest if the offerer preferred, and the blood carefully collected by Levites in an earthen vessel. In the case of sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem, some of the blood would be sprinkled in front of the veil covering the entrance to the Most Holy Place, except on the Day of Atonement, when the blood would be sprinkled in front of the mercy seat; this was done seven times. The remainder of the blood was poured out at the base of the altar, and the earthen vessel that had contained it would be smashed, while the fat, liver, kidneys, and intestines, were burnt on the altar.

Lev 17: 11

11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.

By offering his blood from the perfect sacrifice, Jesus gave us a new form of worship that completely cleanses our conscience and earned us complete redemption from God.

Lessons for us

(1) The new covenant brings a new form of worship

(2) Jesus Christ the High Priest has given us direct access to the Most Holy Place by the shedding of His blood

(3) There is power in His blood. His blood has brought completely cleansing of our sins and complete redemption from God

(4) Our worship is now in the Presence of God The new form of worship in the new covenant can be summarised by two P; Presence and Power.

· Presence of God in our everyday life, easy access, and relational. Let us never forget what privilege it is to entry the presence of God. Just think of getting an appointment to meet the Menteri Besar. You have to go through his appointment secretary, then political secretary and then many layers of bureaucrats before you can even fix a date. Even then, you can never be sure he will be there for the meeting. How about arranging a meeting with the Sultan of Johor? Or with the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong? Yet, the King of kings, the Lord Creator has allows us instant access to his Most Holy Place, anytime we want. It is sad that we often take such access for granted.

· Power of the blood of Jesus Christ gives us forgiveness of our sins and completes redemption. It is a bondage breaker. It breaks the bondage of sin over our lives and of the power of Satan over our lives.

This account is from Steel in his Soul: The Dick Hillis Story. “One day as a missionary Dick Hillis preached in a Chinese village, his sermon was interrupted by a piercing cry. Everyone rushed toward the scream, and Dick’s co-worker, Mr. Kong, whispered that an evil spirit had seized a man. Just then, a woman rushed toward them. “I beg you help me!” she cried. “An evil spirit has again possessed the father of my children and is trying to kill him.” The two evangelists entered the house, stepping over a filthy dog lying in the doorway. “An evil spirit has possessed Farmer Ho,” Kong told the onlookers, “Our God, the ‘Nothing-He-cannot-do One’ is more powerful than any spirit, and he can deliver this man. First, you must promise to burn your idols and believe in Jesus, son of the Supreme Emperor.” The people nodded. Kong asked Dick to begin singing the hymn, “There is power in the blood.” “Now,” continued Kong, “in the name of Jesus we will command the evil spirit to leave this man.” Kong continued praying fervently. Suddenly, the old dog in the doorway vaulted into the air, screeching, yelping, whirling in circles snapping wildly at his tail. Kong continued praying and the dog abruptly dropped over dead. Instantly Dick remembered Luke 8, the demons of the Gadarenes who invisibly flew into the herd of swine. As Kong finished praying, Farmer Ho seemed quiet and relaxed, and soon he was strong enough to burn his idols. At his baptism shortly afterward, he testifies, “I was possessed by an evil spirit who boasted that he had already killed five people and was going to kill me. But God sent Mr. Kong at just the right moment and in Jesus, I am free.” (Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories, Volume 1, p. 249)

Conclusion

Jesus Christ is the new High Priest who by His blood leads us to a new form of worship. The hymn, There is Power in the Blood was written by Lewis E. Jones during a camp meeting at Mountain Lake Park, Maryland.

Would you be free from the burden of sin? Would you over evil a victory win?

Would you be free from your passion and pride? Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow? Sin stains are removed in its life giving flow

Would you do service for Jesus your king? Would you live daily, His praises to sing?

 

Soli Deo Gloria

 

|posted 13 May 2007|

 

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