why did God ask people to kill animals? Hebrews study pt. 10
Updated: May 5
This post is part of a series. Read the previous post here: https://tinyurl.com/wppswb5
READ HEBREWS CHAPTER 9 HERE: https://tinyurl.com/wcjsah8
LISTEN TO HEBREWS CHAPTER 9 HERE: https://tinyurl.com/r8jddb3
Hebrews chapter 9: The Tabernacle and Jesus' Blood
Am I the only one having de ja vu? In my last post I spent some time discussing the Jewish tabernacle (and linked an article about it) and here in Hebrews 9, we see the process explained. Verses 1-10 paint a clear picture of what the system was like:
Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 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. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.
When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 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. 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 functioning. 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. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
Can you imagine what life would be like if we were still bound to this process? What a different perspective of the world and of God we would have! But the chapter doesn't leave us hanging, instead, it goes on to explain how valuable Jesus truly is to us. A shocking point was made: If the blood of goats and calves was good enough to cleanse peoples' sins back then, how much better is the blood of Christ? Jesus is our ransom.
The element of death is a key player in this passage. Death is something we do not like to think about. We don't like to be reminded that death is inevitable. No matter how hard you try, you can never permanently escape it. At one point or another, all of us will die. It is not a matter of if, instead it is a matter of when. What gloomy concept to grasp! Why does it have to be this way? Hebrews 9 tells us why. Death is partnered with another element... justice.
Justice is defined by Google as, "just behavior or treatment." We talk about justice a lot in our modern world. We argue over what is "fair". This is an especially hot topic in the United States which boasts the phrase, "Freedom and justice for all!" This was not an earthly concept and the United States Government was not the first entity to come up with such a notion. God also declares, "Freedom and justice for all!" What an interesting parallel.
In the United States and nearly any other country, if you commit a crime you are expected to face consequences. We see court cases or read about people being locked away in jail and we say things like, "Justice was served!" or "They got what they had coming!" or "They deserved it!" I would argue that we see things in this manner because of the fact that we are created in God's image... and God is the ultimate judge. The problem is, we are all convicts when it comes to God's trial.
While you might not break any laws in the United States such as murder or theft, we've all broken a law of God's at some point. We have all lied at least once. We have all dealt with jealousy. We have all disrespected our parents at least once. These are things God said not to do... and we did them anyway. We are guilty. We deserve death. Death is God's form of justice.
This is why I titled my post today, "why I killed a lamb". If you and I had lived thousands of years ago, we would indeed mean that phrase literally. Today I say it symbolically- because I killed Jesus, the lamb of God. You killed him too.
It was not an accident that any of this happened. It was not something we necessarily asked for either but God knew that at some point in his existence he would need to prove good and evil and claim the very phrase we claim as our own in our country- "justice for all". He had to do it... and it just happens that we are the ones he chose to demonstrate this priceless lesson. You can be mad about this, but I choose to be grateful. Even if life is very hard at times and the suffering can seem unbearable, I know it is temporary. God created a plan that inflicted the least pain possible while still serving Justice to a conflicted Universe.
Because the devil decided that he wanted an explanation for why God does what he does, we are going through this great supernatural controversy today.
It can feel overwhelming when we recognize that in a certain manner we are all just pawns in God's much greater plan, but I found a lot of wisdom and comfort in Hebrews 9: 27-28:
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Earth is temporary, but Heaven is eternal. Hang in there- God has this stuff figured out.
1. Take time to consider God's perspective of the devil questioning his actions (reference Isaiah 14:12-24 as needed). If you were in God's shoes, how might you handle such an issue?
2. Think about the sacrificial process. How do you think such an elaborate display for God would impact your daily lifestyle if it was still required of us today?
3. How does death bring on the justice that we deserve? How does God continue to be fair without being controlling?