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Hebrews 9:15-22 - Homilies By J.s. Bright

"The Mediator of the new testament."

The ideas contained in this section are—

I. THE TWOFOLD EFFECT OF THE DEATH OF OUR LORD . The free surrender of his life was the means of removing, in the case of believers, the burden of those sins which the Mosaic Law could not take away. The sins committed under the first covenant were not forgiven by acts of sacrifice and the aid of priestly service, which, though ordained by Jehovah, were unequal to produce peace and purity of conscience. It may be that there is a retrospective effect of the death of Christ which furnished the ground of the dispensation of mercy before the mystery of his atonement was revealed. Considering the stress which is laid upon the value of forgiveness in the Scripture, the glory of Jesus Christ shines in the fact that he is the cause, by his death and mediatorial office, of its safe and secure enjoyment. The next effect is to be traced in the vocation of believers to an eternal inheritance, which is to stand in sublime contrast to Canaan, respecting which the Jews say ( Isaiah 63:18 ), "The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while." That inheritance was defiled by idolatry, desolated by heathen invaders, and ruled over by the pagan power of Rome; but that to which our Lord calls his followers is an "inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth net away." There is a sublime harmony here between the death and mediation of our Lord, and the everlasting effects which they produce and secure.

II. THE VITAL FORCE OF THE COVENANT ARISES FROM THE DEATH OF CHRIST . Here the writer passes over to the idea of a testament or will which is of force when the testator dies. The covenant is a Divine arrangement which includes two parties, for a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is One, and his people are those who, through his condescending mercy, stand on the other side as those who accept and rejoice in the arrangement. The mention of the inheritance suggests the thought of a testament, by which, as soon as the testator dies, the heir enters upon the enjoyment of the inheritance. This is an auxiliary illustration which aids us to understand the mighty love of the Son of God, who was ready to endure the woe and agony of the cross, to bequeath to us the blessing of forgiveness now, and the enjoyment of the imperishable inheritance of heaven in the future life.

III. THE CONFIRMATION OF THE NEW COVENANT ILLUSTRATED BY HISTORICAL FACTS .

The allusion in Hebrews 9:18-22 is to the original establishment of the covenant with Israel at Sinai. There are several deviations from the Mosaic narrative in this section. In the account in Exodus there is no mention of goats, hyssop, scarlet wool, the book, the tabernacle and its vessels, and therefore there may be here a traditional account; or the writer combined several subsequent acts of Levitical services which had the same signification and object. The essential truth contained in this solemn transaction was the application of blood to ratify the covenant which was made between God and his people at Sinai. It was the Divine will that such should be the method, according to which the old tabernacle, the chosen nation, and the first covenant should be consecrated, and should foretell and typify future events of the highest importance for the world. "Without shedding of blood there was no remission." This voice was heard century after century in the services of the Jewish Law; and now that Christ has become "the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world," the truth has received a more solemn confirmation. If he is rejected, "there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins." If he is received and trusted in, there is peace with God, and hope of eternal life. The phrase which Moses used, "This is the blood of the covenant," recalls the sacred words of Jesus, who said when he took the cup at the Passover feast, and looked forward to the covenant of grace, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many unto the remission of sins."—B.

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