Reading for today: Leviticus 24-25; Psalms 81; Hebrews 9
The Book of Leviticus and the Book of Hebrews is the “heart” of the differences in beliefs between Christians and Jews.
Today’s readings are particularly filled with some of the most meaningful enunciations between the Old Covenant that God made with Moses and the Jewish people, and the New Covenant that God made with all of mankind with the death of His Son Jesus.
What I think is particularly important to call out is the Old Covenant was with the Jewish people. The New Covenant, after the crucifixion of Jesus for our sins, was extended to not just the Jewish people but for the non-Jewish people, otherwise known as Gentiles, or all of mankind.
The Book of Leviticus walks us through exhaustive details that God provided to Moses about how the Jewish people, who God had recently rescued from Egypt, should show reverence and thanks to Him.
God’s outline to the Jewish people during the Old Covenant was essentially about sacrifice, discipline, and worship to Him that He required the Jewish people to perform to atone for their sins.
The author of Hebrews tells us in chapter 9, the rituals, and practices of the Old Covenant, 9 “It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience – 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.”
Verse 15 tells us, “And for this reason He (Jesus) is the Mediator of the new covenant by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
In other words, Jesus’s death on the cross, the shedding of His blood, was the New Covenant God formed with us. No longer were the detailed rituals of animal sacrifices outlined in Leviticus necessary for the atonement of our sins. Jesus’ death on the cross took care of that for us.
Hebrews 9 indicates, 26 “…He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
What is confirmed in today’s reading is that Jesus is the way to Heaven. It is not about sacrifices, rituals, or acts, that will get us to Heaven. It is about our faith and belief that Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins.
If you are interested to learn more about Hebrews 8 and 9, Pastor Gary Hamrick at Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, VA has a great sermon explaining the Old and New Covenant.