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Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2017' started by Aaron, Sep 17, 2002.
Hebrews 10:1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
And so I ask the question again. Why do so many Christians look forward to a re-establishment of the Mosaic Law, with it's temple, priesthood and offerings?
What good was it? It was only a reminder of sins year after year, vs 3.
Is it not so easy to see since the Apostle has opened our eyes that the New Testament is so much more superior than the Old Testament?
Judaism is a reminder of sins, but Christianity says "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more," vs 17.
I sure do appreciate you help in this forum. It got late on me and I will post in the morning.
[ September 17, 2003, 07:59 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
Good morning -
One of the most interesting features in our reading of Isaiah yesterday is his use of satire in verses 44:9-20. He delves into two types of idols, the first metal, the second wooden. In verse 13 Isaiah points out that idols are made in the image of man. This starkly contrasts how man was made in the image of God. He also shows how wood can serve a useful practical function, but to fasion it into an idol is useless. You're better off burning it for the heat!
In 45:1 it should be noted that "Cyrus" is the name given to a foreign emporer. This verse goes closely with the teachings of Romans 13:1-7 and 1Peter 2:13-25.
In Luke 23:38 I read aninteresting footnote that perhaps Pilate had this sign hung above Christ to mock the Jewish leaders who called for the crucifixion. As I stated before, I've always felt a bit of pity for Pilate. There are legends that after the death of Christ, Pilate began wringing his hands incessantly, still trying to wash the blood from them (Matthew 27:24). Unresolvable guilt accompanied by the wringing of hands is even still known today by modern psychologists as a "Pontius Pilate complex".
May God bless you
Sunday School lesson 2/20/05 - continued
Luke 23:32-38 The Execution of Jesus
We are told that two evildoers destined for the same fate as He accompanied Jesus to the place of execution. Mark tells us that their crime was robbery. The place of the crucifixion is not certain but we know it was outside of the city (Hebrews 13:12). The Aramaic for the place is Golgotha and the Latin is Calvariae from which we get the English “Calvary.” Luke gives us just the translation. The place may have derived its name from its physical features making it resemble a human skull or perhaps it was a morose reminder of the atrocity of execution being performed there.
During the crucifixion, Jesus prays for His enemies. The prayer acknowledges that even at this low point Jesus still acknowledges God as His Father. We also must recognize that the “they” he asks God to forgive can represent the Jews who brought about the conviction, or the Romans that carried it out but can also refer to every member of the human race since Adam who has sinned. The plea for forgiveness as He goes through His slow and barbaric execution represents another chance for repentance. As He prays, the soldiers determine who will claim His clothing by casting lots. Unbeknownst to them, they are fulfilling one of the many Old Testament prophecies about this day (Psalm 22:18).
Characteristically of Luke, the witnesses are placed in two groups in verse 35. The people watch and the rulers scoff. Jesus’ redemptive life was not enough for them to convince them that He was the Christ. He must now perform a miracle of saving Himself for them to believe. They were unable to conceive of power not used for self-gain. Nor were they able to understand that saving oneself was incompatible with saving others. Further, they would not believe that God would allow His Chosen One to suffer this kind of torment and humiliation. The Jewish leaders had made a god in their image and expected him to act in the same manner they would in these circumstances.
The soldiers who were carrying out the execution also join in the jeering. Vinegar was the cheap sour wine drunk by common people of the time. Though Matthew and Mark report that wine mixed with gall was offered to Him as an anaesthetic, an act of mercy which He refused, the offering here of vinegar is a derogatory gesture. They accompany the gesture with a mockery in their challenge. They would have understood the inscription “King of the Jews” in political terms. They saw before them a king who could not save Himself. They saw Him as a defeated and frustrated pretender to Jewish rule.
The placard above Christ was a customary device used to show the charge for which the condemned was accused. According to this inscription, the charge was treason against Rome. The Gospel of John tells us that it was used by Pilate as a derision of the Jewish leaders (John 19:19-22).
Sunday School 4/30/06
Isaiah 44:9-23; 46:1-13
At the very heart of Biblical faith and practice is the edict “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” At a glance, the modern Christian may view this command as second nature. We do not live in a world (or at least a nation) where other gods are recognized outside of mythology. However, we must stop and examine the definition of idolatry before we consider ourselves completely immune to this sin.
Idolatry encompasses more than mere worship of graven images. It can also entail putting anything before your relationship with God. Money is the classic example of modern idolatry. We have all seen the bumper sticker, “whoever has the most toys when he dies – wins.” The absurdity of the statement underlines the futility of setting capital gain first in one’s life. Tillich, a well known Polish theologian of the last century, defined idolatry as “trying to make an absolute out of that which is relative.”
In the same way, the prophet in Isaiah 44 & 46 uses a satirical writing to condemn the idolatry of the Babylonians. It should be noted that his audience was not the Babylonians but the Jews who may have been attracted to the thought of following Babylonian religious practices after generations of exile in Babylon. The time was soon coming to an end as Cyrus the Persian was gaining momentum in the fluxuating political scene. The prophets knew the time of deliverance was at hand. To abandon the true God for the false idols now would be the worst of mistakes. The attacks upon idolatry are numerous in this part of the Book of Isaiah.
Isaiah 44:9-20 The Stupidity of Idolatry
Of special note about this Passage is that it is the only instance of prose in chapters 40-55. It is, however, quite similar to the pother attacks in the Books of Consolation, chapters 40-55. One of the prophet’s favorite terms in this section is “tohu” meaning nothing, empty or chaos. He uses it in verse 9 to describe foolishness of anyone who would make an idol. The “witnesses” are those who worship idols and destined to be put to shame.
Babylonian idols were constructed of a wooden core that was overlaid with metal. In verses 12-17 the prophet describes the manufacturing process but he does so in reverse order. In verse 12 the ironsmith forges a covering, in verse 13 the carpenter shapes the wood, in verse 14a the tree is cut down, in 14b the tree is chosen and in 14c the tree is planted. Commentators have noted that this reverse order of process reflects the opposite of Genesis 1:26-27. In those verses, God forms man in His own image. Here in Isaiah, man is attempting to form a god in his. These manmade things are made to dwell in houses, the prophet says in verse 13 as opposed to the God of Israel for whom no house would be sufficient. His throne is in Heaven and His footstool is the earth.
The prophet’s scorn for idolatry climaxes in verses 15-20 where the two uses for wood in a workshop are contrasted. With part of the wood, he kindles a fire and warms himself. He then uses that heat to bake some bread to nourish himself. Then with the remainder he makes a god and falls down before it asking deliverance, knowing full well that it is just a block of wood. His deluded mind will not allow him to see the absurdity of his actions.
Isaiah 44:21-23 The Redeemer of Israel
In this section God speaks to the remnant of Israel. These are words of exhortation and assurance. Verse 23 is a hymn of praise to God for His mighty act of redemption. Yahweh’s assurance is given in five affirmations: (1) you are my servant, (2) I have formed you, (3) you will not be forgotten by me, (4) I have swept away your transgressions, and (5) I have redeemed you.
Everything in creation is then called upon to give praise to God for what He has done for Israel. There is a bright future for her on the not too distant horizon. It should be noted, however, that the call for praise is not for a time when Israel will be glorified, but when God will be glorified in her.
Hebrews 10:1-18 The sermon of Hebrews is now reaching its final conclusions and the preacher begins to explore the Ultimate will of God in the plan of salvation fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The chapter can be neatly divided into six parts. Today we approach the first three of these:
Verses 1-4 deal with the failure of the Law to make perfect God’s elect;
Verses 5-10 describe the will of God in terms of the One who took bodily form and through obedience performed the will of God;
Verses 11-18 speak of the final forgiveness which makes the sin offering no longer necessary.
It is essential as always in interpreting Scripture that we keep in mind the author’s purpose. From what we can surmise, the recipients of the Hebrew sermon were considering casting away the philosophy of Christianity to fall back once again on perhaps Judaism. The New Testament authors all seemed to feel that the return of Christ was imminent and for the preacher the Hebrew audience need only hold on a short while longer.
Christianity was not the annulment of the Levitical system. To the contrary, it was the continuation, the next step of it. For the truly devout Jew, the Law held more promise than social acceptance. Its goal was to draw one closer to God. That goal was never met in the Law. It was met in the fulfillment of the Law in Jesus Christ. Jesus had taken human form not to be a good man but to be a great High Priest.
Hebrews 10:1-4 The Failure of the Law
A shadow resembles the form which casts it but it is never as revealing and full as the form itself. For the preacher, the shadow which was the Law was cast by the coming Christ. We saw the shadow first but the true substance of what the Law represented was in the form of Christ. He was “the good things to come” in verse 1.
The purpose of the Law was to make God’s people perfect but it was inadequate to do so. The failure was, of course, not in the Law but in those who attempted to follow it. The depravity of men stained by sin kept them from ever reaching the perfection that would allow them access to God. The Law commanded sacrifices, but the preacher gives the final evaluation of the practice in the statement, “it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.”
It seems an obvious statement for the modern Christian but was likely shocking for the first century Jew. The preacher does not leave the statement to hang by itself but gives three supports of the inadequacy of the old system:
the constant repetition of the sacrifices showed that their effectiveness was at best temporary;
the lingering consciousness of sin displayed that the cleansing was imperfect;
the continuation of sacrifices were constant reminders of sin when it was God’s will that they be forgotten.
Hebrews 10:5-10 The Final Sacrifice
Because of the inadequacy of the Levitical sacrifices, the self-sacrifice of Jesus was necessary. Verses 5-7 quote Psalm 40:7-9 and place the words as coming from the mouth of Christ. God had given him an open ear to hear that what God delights in is not sin offerings but in doing His will.
In order to do God’s will, however, Christ needed a body. The many animals who were sacrificed gave their bodies but not willingly and knowingly. Jesus’ willful self-sacrifice practiced through complete obedience filled the bill for our atonement.
The will of God that required the sacrifice of Jesus’ Christ’s body was the establishment of a New Covenant that would make the old obsolete. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah in chapter 31 of his Book. The New Covenant was accomplished by the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.
Christ entered the world knowing that the sacrifice of animals was insufficient for the putting away of sin. The insufficiency of the Levitical sacrifices could never give us full pardon and as such the religion could never accomplish its ultimate goal, bringing man to God.
Hebrews 10:11-18 The Final Forgiveness
For the original Hebrew audience they were still witnessing proof of the inadequacy of the old system. The priest still stood daily making sacrifices of animals that could not take away sins. In contrast to the lower priest of the old Jewish order, however, the New Covenant personified in Jesus Christ is shown superior in three ways:
Christ offered for all time. His act of atonement had eternal consequences;
It was a single sacrifice that never needed to be repeated;
He sat down at the right hand of God. The act of sitting shows that His work has been accomplished. There is no more He can do or need do to open the pathway between man and God.
Though the work is complete, the eternal plan is not. Therefore He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool. This phase of the will of God has not yet played out but the act of Christ on the cross has made it an eventuality.
Verse 14 reiterates what has been discussed. It is through the Holy Spirit that we witness the truth and the logic of the New Covenant. Verse 18 sums up the entire argument for this Passage: Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Through the act of Christ, we need not cling to the sin that has separated us from God.
The shadow that was the Law could never have removed the immeasurable guilt of man in his sin. Nothing short of the direct intervention of the living God could put away our sins. Even for as great as our sins were, Christ is greater.
Our Scriptures for 9/18 are: