Hebrews 9: Inheritance Follows Death

What will you do about sin?

In one way or another, every human being answers this question.  Some are intentionally religious about their answers.  Others would prefer to call sin something like “mistakes” or “regrets” or “negative energy.”  Regardless, the topic is the same.  That is precisely the topic taken up in today’s reading, maybe the clearest and most sustained discussion of “atonement” we have come to this year.

By far, the most common answer to the sin question is that we will work it off through good works.  It is not always verbalized that way, but that is the point.  The solution is up to us.  Do more good than bad.  Straighten up your own mess.  Make better choices.  Try harder.  Religious people of all sorts answer the question this way, yes, even some that swear an allegiance to Jesus.

The Hebrew author is quite clear what he thinks of that answer:

Gifts and sacrifices are offered which have no power to perfect the conscience of those who come to worship. (9:9)

Good works won’t do it.  Offer whatever you wish.  Kill a hundred animals.  Rely upon yourself and the results will always be the same: failure.  We can’t solve the problem ourselves.

Then the writer offers his best answer later:

There’s no pardon without bloodshed! (9:22b)

This is not always a well-liked answer.  Some don’t see why God needs to have blood; he can simply forgive.  Some see this as barbaric and archaic.  Some paint this as the bloodlust of a neurotic, angry god.  Well liked or not, the Bible’s answer is always the same: forgiveness takes blood, or more to the point of the symbol of blood, it takes death.

The reason for the death and blood will be answered several different ways as we go through the New testament this year, so we will add to the answer as we go.  The point here is a legal or contractual one: we stand waiting for an inheritance (9:15).  We look forward to the fullness of the Spirit and the world where “everything will be put into proper order” (9:10).  Inheritances come from wills, and a will can only be executed when the death of the person promising an inheritance has been substantiated (9:15-17).  Thus, blood as a symbol of death is necessary.

What did you notice anew in this familiar chapter? 

Advertisements
Categories: Hebrews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Post navigation

3 thoughts on “Hebrews 9: Inheritance Follows Death

  1. Melanie Semore

    “Try harder.” Reminds me of taking a class the first year I taught. The instructor asked for a volunteer to read a passage aloud. The volunteer was given a card from which to read, but the writing was a garble of letters and symbols. He grinned and looked helplessly at the instructor, who commanded, “Try!” the reader studied the card. “Try harder! Sound it out!” the instructor said. She was illustrating the helplessness felt by students with dyslexia.

    I often put myself in the role of both student and instructor. I can’t read the card, but I tell myself, “Try harder!” “You have to do better!” Why it’s easier to try to do it myself than to rest in the one who has already done the work and has done it perfectly, once and for all, I’m not sure.

  2. This is another one of those five-star chapters of the New Testament. Pure gospel. All about salvation. The whole chapter just makes me thank God for his goodness, mercy, and power. Thank you for Jesus!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: