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Take hold of what Jesus has done on our behalf.

vaccines. They have been found to be highly effective in reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death from COVID. But they are still only a partial solution. They make living with the virus in our midst less dangerous, but they do not eradicate it. The Australian Government has already ordered a large number of additional vaccine doses to use as booster shots. Each booster received will serve as a reminder that the virus is still at large and that the previous doses have not eliminated it from our lives. So it was with the Old Testament sacrifices. They made it less dangerous for a sinful people to live with God in their midst but they did not ultimately solve the problem. CHRIST’S DEATH WAS THE SACRIFICE GOD ALWAYS WANTED Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book’.” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will”. He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:5-10 In verses 5-10 the writer takes us to Psalm 40, a psalm of David, which he interprets as speaking of Christ. His point is that the Old Testament itself shows that God’s ultimate desire was for Christ’s sacrifice, not for the sacrifices and offerings of the Old Testament law. To be sure, God commanded sacrifices and offerings, but only as a provisional measure. Did Moore College desire an architect’s model of the Learning and Teaching Centre? Well, yes and no. What we really wanted was the centre itself. The model was useful in the interim, but it wasn’t ultimate. Once the building was complete the model became redundant, superseded by the real thing. In the same way, Christ’s offering of himself made the sacrifices and offerings of the Old Testament obsolete. Their purpose had been served. By Christ’s offering of himself we have been sanctified once for all, meaning that we have been made fit to approach God and to serve him. No wonder the writer calls this “such a great salvation” (2:3)!

for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God”. Job done. No repeat needed. If by faith we share in Christ’s death, we have been “perfected for all time”. We need no further qualification to approach God. Hundreds of years before Christ, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah announcing that one day he would make a new covenant that would enable his people to be fully and finally forgiven. That day has now come. If you belong to Christ, your sins will not be held against you. They will not keep you from drawing near to God in prayer or from sharing in the blessings of the world to come. You’re clean. Forgiven. Imagine if there was a COVID-19 vaccine that eradicated the virus fully and finally. Imagine not needing to be concerned about catching the virus or passing it on to others. Imagine not having to practice social distancing. Imagine knowing that you would never need another booster. Wouldn’t you want that vaccine? And if you’d received it, wouldn’t you want to enjoy the freedom it offered, rather than distancing yourself as though the virus were still an issue? In the same way, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to take hold of the sacrifice Christ offered on our behalf – not to distance ourselves from God but to draw near to him with confidence. Like the first recipients of Hebrews, we need to persevere in our faith if we are to benefit from all God has promised (10:36). May this vision of the greatness of Christ’s death encourage us to do so. SC

Dr Chris Thomson lectures in Old Testament and Ministry at Moore College.

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CHRIST’S SACRIFICE DEALT WITH SIN ONCE AND FOR ALL And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds”, then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more”. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Hebrews 10:11-18 We’ve seen that the repetition of the Old Testament sacrifices demonstrated that they couldn’t take away sin. They didn’t perfect those who approached God. They couldn’t cleanse consciences. By contrast, “when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice SouthernCross

November 2021