Another Year is Dawning

 

God’s Three Resolutions for Your Life This Year

A Study of Hebrews 10:19-25

Introduction: Several years ago a friend in the Tennessee Air National Guard called me and said, “The Vice President is in town and he’s away from Air Force Two for a few hours. Would you like to come down and get a tour?” I raced to the airport where a Secret Service agent took me through the plane. I saw the VP’s office and his little bedroom and the VIP seating and the communications gear. It was very interesting. Anytime we can go behind closed doors and have access to a place most people never go, it’s a special experience. We’re all curious about those things.

 Biblical Background: Throughout the history of the world, one room is so exclusive that no one could ever enter it except one person once a year–the Holy of Holies in the Jewish Tabernacle (and later in the Jewish Temple). This room was, in essence, the throne room of Almighty God on earth, the place where He dwelt in a manifest and glorious way.

When Moses led the Israelites through the Red Sea and into the wilderness, they came to Mount Sinai, where God gave him the design of the Tabernacle—an elaborate tent divided into two rooms. The innermost room was a cube-shaped space. It had a heavy curtain as a doorway, and it contained one piece of furniture—the Ark of the Covenant. This room became the earthly headquarters for the manifest presence of God among His people. He was there among them, though a curtain separated the holy God from His unholy people. When Moses dedicated the Tabernacle, the clouds of God’s glory descended from heaven and filled the place. No one could enter this room except the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, and, according to tradition, the other priests would tie a rope around him so if he died in the Holy of Holies they could pull him out without risking their lives.

Then one Friday, a High Priest did die. He died on a cross, and at that moment something extraordinary happened a half-mile away. The massive curtain or veil of the Temple was ripped in two as if invisible hands had torn it like a piece of tissue.

This is the background for Hebrews 10, where we find two great revelations and three great resolutions. The two great revelations both begin with the word, Since. The three great resolutions both begin with the phrase, Let us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Two Great Revelations (Verses 19-21)

 First, there’s a revelation about the curtain of the temple. Verses 19-20 say, Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body….

 This tells us something important about Old Testament typology. The weaving of the fabric and the colors and images of the veil of the temple was a symbol of the body of Christ, who would be ripped apart, as it were, so that through Him we could have access into the Most Holy Place and enter into God’s presence and have a relationship Him.

Second, there’s a revelation about our great priest. Verse 21 continues, And since we have a great priest over the house of God.

 This tells us something else about Old Testament typology. When God designed the office of High Priest, He had Christ in mind. Just as the High Priest represents us before God, and just as He entered the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat to atone for sins, so we have a great High Priest who had done that for us.

 Since these two things are true, there are three resolutions we must make.

Three Great Resolutions (Verses 22-25)

 First, there’s the resolution to draw near to God—verse 22Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Because of Jesus Christ and His riven body, we have total and constant access into the presence of God, and when we learn to draw near to Him it makes all the difference. We come by faith in the power of His blood to cleanse us from a guilty conscience. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, and the righteousness of Christ clothes us like a garment, allowing us to enter the Most Holy Place and to draw near to God and to enjoy His fellowship. We need to come to Him in faith and then develop a dedicated habitual time every day for prayer and Bible reading, not for the sake of ritual or routine, but for the sake of fellowship and friendship with God.

Second, there’s the resolution to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess. If we are living in the presence of God with constant access to His fellowship, with constant access to the Throne of Grace, we should have a positive and optimistic attitude. Verse 23 says, Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess… This makes us tough-minded optimists. Of all the people on earth, we should maintain a positive attitude, doggedly hopeful.

 Third, there’s the resolution to consider how to spur one another toward love. Verse 24-25 say: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.

 In other words, let’s find ways of encouraging each other and, whatever you do, do not stop gathering on Sundays for worship and fellowship. I’ve been reading the biography of John Wannamaker of Philadelphia who virtually invented the modern Department Store. In the days after the Civil War he developed the largest store in the world. No one had ever seen anything like it, and people came from all over the world to see it. He kept the store open all week except for Sundays. He ran a very large Sunday School and he didn’t want to miss it and he didn’t want any of his employees or customers to miss church. When he was appointed Postmaster General of the US, one of the first things he did was to stop Sunday mail delivery. Wannamaker wanted his postal employees to be able to go to church, and so he ended Sunday mail delivery, which is why the postal carriers don’t stop at your mailbox on Sundays. Wannamaker’s example helped many people to see how important it was to put first the Lord first in everything we do.

Conclusion: There’s one other interesting phrase here. Notice how the paragraph ends: And all the more as you see the Day approaching (verse 25b). This is the day of Christ’s return, the Day of Judgment, the Day when Jesus will come like a thief in the night. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our planet is about to go into nosedive. The global economy has never been more insolvent. The weapons of destruction have never been more dangerous. The threats of biological pandemics have never been greater. The technological grid has never been more vulnerable. The world leaders have never been more intransigent. The times have never been more insane. Wouldn’t it be something if Jesus came again in in the New Year? Well, another year is dawning, Dear Father let it be on earth or else in heaven another year for then.

Since we have access into the very presence of the holy God through a new and living way, which is the blood and body of Jesus Christ, and since we have a great High Priest over the house of God, let us drawn Him to Him with the full assurance that faith brings, and let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, and let us spur one another on to love and good works, not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together as some are in the habit of doing, but all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

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