Starts off with the word “for.” He is building on his previous point. In verses 14-17, the point is If I truly want to see the Lord and display His life to others, I will endure His discipline to be sanctified. SONS OF GOD ARE NOT COMPLACENT. (Esau was fleshly, Jacob—>Israel was spiritual.)
In these verses, Hebrews describes what made our access to God possible, contrasting two mountains, which represent two different covenants.
verses 18-21 speak of Mount Sinai, where Moses received God’s commandments for the people and God manifested Himself, which people could not bear. Mount Sinai could be touched—it was a physical place—but anything or anyone unclean (everyone) would be killed if they did so!
verses 22-24 speak of Mount Zion, the heavenly place of God’s dwelling where the church and all God’s angels will be gathered together. He makes a point to describe those who are there, “the righteous made perfect.” Jesus, the mediator of a NEW COVENANT (by which He those righteous were made perfect). The sprinkled blood which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
So there is a contrast between two mountains—also two covenants, two types of blood. The new covenant makes God accessible, whereas the old covenant shrouded God in mystery. The old covenant could not perfect a man, as there was a never-ending cycle of sacrifices, but the new covenant could. Jesus died once for all. (Hebrews 10:11-14)
The key is understanding verse 24—the difference between the “blood of Christ” and “the blood of Abel.” I have read commentaries which in some way speak to how the blood of Abel refers to when Cain killed Abel, but I don’t think that is the full analogy being drawn here.
Look at Genesis 4: 1-15. Cain is a farmer, Abel is a shepherd. Cain brings some crops to offer God, and Abel brings his best animals. God regards Abel’s offering but not Cain’s offering. What was different about Abel’s offering? The attitude of the bringer. Abel brought an offering of blood—a sacrifice, where Cain brought the best work of his hands. Abel was remembering God’s mercy on his parents Adam and Eve. When God warned them about eating the forbidden fruit, He said they would surely die. They did experience separation from God in being cast out from the Garden of Eden—this was spiritual death. God would have been justified to kill them completely then and there. However, what happens is this: “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” God clothes them in animal skin—an animal had to be killed first! God at the very beginning institutes the first animal sacrifice. Mankind, separated from God, became like animals. Yet God shows mercy. This is what Abel was remembering. He wanted to reconcile with his Creator. You can also see he had a heart to reconcile with his brother Cain. God warned Cain; Cain told Abel his brother; they are out in the field (Abel went out to meet Cain in the field—where Cain works). The first man ever killed also had a heart to reconcile man and God and was killed in innocence. Both Abel’s animal sacrifice and his own death were not enough to reconcile God and mankind, though his heart was in the right place. We should remember Abel’s attitude and desire for God’s mercy—and I do believe he died in faith and that I will get to see him someday—but only God Himself can act to reconcile Himself to humankind.
WE HAVE BOLD, CONFIDENT ACCESS TO GOD THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST (Heb. 4:16)
**FAITH OF YOUNGER BROTHER: Jacob and Abel foreshadow Christ and Spiritual Israel**
Only Jesus’ blood is what makes it possible for me to be reconciled and sanctified.
2 Corinthians 5:14-19…Christ died for all so we would no longer live for ourselves. Being sanctified doesn’t just mean we no longer commit sins. It means we seek to be and to do everything God wants for us. We should be seeing others as: Children of God or Potential Children of God. Now reconciled, all I have to live for and offer is Jesus. Anything else is vain.
Do I truly understand and treasure the confident access to God which we believers have?
Am I truly living only for Jesus, keeping in mind the heavenly hope I have?
PREVIEW Hebrews 12:25-29. We will go through this more in depth next time; however, we can observe that there is a kingdom to come. Our proper response is obedience, gratitude, and service to God.
Where am I distracted from living for Jesus?
Do I always have in mind the kingdom to which He has granted me access?
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!