International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday September 2, 2012
Purpose: To understand faith as confidence in the forgiving love of Jesus and determination to live out that love in good deeds and mutual support
Scripture Text: Hebrews 10:19-31
Hebrews 10:19-31 (CEB)
(19) Brothers and sisters, we have confidence that we can enter the holy of holies by means of Jesus’ blood,( 20) through a new and living way that he opened up for us through the curtain, which is his body, (21) and we have a great high priest over God’s house.
(22) Therefore, let’s draw near with a genuine heart with the certainty that our faith gives us, since our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies are washed with pure water.
(23) Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable.
(24) Let’s also think about how to motivate each other to show love and to do good works. (25) Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.
(26) If we make the decision to sin after we receive the knowledge of the truth, there isn’t a sacrifice for sins left any longer. (27) There’s only a scary expectation of judgment and of a burning fire that’s going to devour God’s opponents. (28) When someone rejected the Law from Moses, they were put to death without mercy on the basis of the testimony of two or three witnesses. (29) How much worse punishment do you think is deserved by the person who walks all over God’s Son, who acts as if the blood of the covenant that made us holy is just ordinary blood, and who insults the Spirit of grace? (30) We know the one who said,
Judgment is mine; I will pay people back.
And he also said,
The Lord will judge his people.
(31) It’s scary to fall into the hands of the living God!
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
If you noticed a change in the translation used you are correct, we have switched to the “Common English Bible” from the “New Revised Standard Version” we had been using.
This fall quarter we will be spending the first five weeks in the Book of Hebrews, it should provide a great study. Hebrews is one of those mystery books in the New Testament, no one is really sure who wrote it, although through the years it has been attributed to Paul, but some think Apollos, Luke, Barnabas and in his book “Love Wins” Rob Bell names Lydia, as the writer. Good arguments can be made for all, but being more of a traditionalist I will stick with Paul as the writer in the time frame of 60 AD.
The letter is written to Jews that had converted to Christianity, and goes into great detail in comparing the Law of Moses with the New Law that was given to all by Christ while on earth.
The verses selected for today's lesson show how there is no longer the need for a High Priest to enter the Holy of Holies on the “Day of Atonement” now known as “Yom Kippur” in order to offer a “scapegoat” for the sins of the individuals as well as the community.
Before the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies he had to go through a lengthy and detailed purification ceremony. Unless every transgression was not dealt with and every purification had been applied, the High Priest entered the Holy of Hollies knowing if anything was not right between him and the LORD God, he would die upon entering the most sacred place; tradition says a rope was tied around the foot of the High Priest in case he did die upon entering, so he could be pulled out because no one was fit to go into the presence of God unless they were pure. How is that for pressure?
The writer offers great hope, because all of this ritual in no longer necessary. The blood of Jesus now allows all of us to enter into the presence of the LORD God. On the day that Jesus was crucified the curtain was torn from top to bottom that separated the “holy of holies” from the rest of the sanctuary.
Through faith and baptism we can approach God with certainty, knowing we have been given a pure heart. We continue to show our faith by being obedient to God's call and knowing we can trust His promises. Some of the works we are expected to do as followers of Christ is to encourage others, take care of the poor and the widows among us.
Turning our backs on Christ after we have received his pardon is indeed a scary prospect. We can only confess and call upon His grace for forgiveness.