Sermons

Altar

May 24, 2020

Altar

Passage: Hebrews 13:10-16

Preacher: Jeff Crotts

Series: The Race Set Before Us

Category: Sunday Morning

Detail

Hebrews 13:10-16 Applications

Intro: “We have an altar” (v. 10). 

  • The most amazing gift we share is Christ.
    • Interpretations vary on what this “altar” is.
    • Treasure given by the Cross, immediate access to God.

 

  • The practical problem is how often I “go” to this “altar” (v. 10).

 

“How often is enough?” 

  • Verse 15 exhorts to “continually offer sacrifices” on this “altar” (v. 15).
    • Like “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).
    • The mystery of sustaining worship.

 

  • If commanded, “Through him [Christ] then let us continually offer [worship]” (v. 15). It must be possible. 

 

Immediate context helps bring resolution here. 

  • These are final applications.
  • Last two Sundays, covering the role of leaders.

 

The role of godly leadership

 

Godly leaders base their authority on God’s Word (v. 7a)

 

Godly leaders live a life commensurate with God’s truth (v. 7b)

 

Godly leaders yield themselves to Jesus (v. 8)

 

Godly leaders protect their flock from false Gospels (vv. 9-16)

 

Verse 9 is a literal warning from Author/LEADER, guarding the church from false doctrine. 

  • Do not be “devoted” to “foods” (v. 9).
    • “Not to stray” followed with the exhortation “to stay” (v. 9).
    • Not “devoted” to “foods” but “grace” (v. 9).

 

  • Practically, “Go[ing] to the altar, offering sacrifices continually” (v. 15).

Leader/author argues by comparison and contrast the Ultimate Old Testament Sacrifice with the Ultimate New Testament Sacrifice. 

  • Protecting a church tempted to equivocate back to an old altar.
  • Verses staying with the new altar.

 1. Why the New Altar is better than the Old

     a. The Old Altar (vv. 10-11)

  

  • The Day of Atonement was once a year.

ESV  Hebrews 9:7 but into the second only athe high priest goes, and he but aonce a year, and not without taking blood, bwhich he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.

ESV  Hebrews 9:25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as athe high priest enters bthe holy places every year with blood not his own,

  • Described in Leviticus 16.

ESV  Leviticus 16:14-15 And ahe shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

15 a"Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood binside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.

 

ESV  Leviticus 16:27 aAnd the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire.

Conducted by a high priest. 

  • Bull sacrificed for himself and lamb sacrificed for the people.
  • Blood brought into the holy place and carcasses brought outside the gate to be burned.

“We have an altar” and “they have no right” (v. 10). 

  • What was righteous for the Old Covenant priest and people is no longer acceptable.
    • People “devoted themselves to food” (v. 9).
    • Dietary laws no longer in effect, aligning with what was now obsolete.

Verse 11 introduces spatial language. 

  • Moving “into”/ “inside” versus “outside.”
    • “…the blood is brought into the holy places…sacrifices for sin are burned outside the camp” (v. 11).
    • For “Sin offerings” the priest who offers it then eats it.
    • “In a holy place, it shall be eaten…” (Lev. 6:26).

 

  • Priests not allowed to eat this meat; this meat representing sin’s defilement.
    • Differentiation between clean and unclean.
    • Holy and unholy.
    • What was inside – What was outside.     

 

      b. The New Altar (v. 12)

 

  • What is eye-catching is the parallel made between Jesus’ “suffering” with “carcasses” burned “outside the camp” (v. 11).

 

  • The comparison: “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate” (v. 12).

ESV  Mark 15:20-22 And when they had amocked him, they stripped him of wthe purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they fled him out to crucify him. 21 aAnd they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

22 aAnd they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull).

 

  • [Note] “Gate” refers to the walls of Jerusalem.
  • Jesus died outside the city limits of Jerusalem (Jn. 19:17-20).

“Jesus also suffered” meaning these New Testament Christians were likewise suffering for proclaiming Christ. 

  • They were also on the “outside” (v. 12).
    • Outside of safety.

Ideas in these verses: Not chronological but spatial. 

  • If you need chronology to make sense.
    • Read this like a flashback.
    • New Christians having been put out of Jerusalem’s house were supposed to remember Jesus died here too!

He suffered being despised and rejected (cff. 12:2; Ps. 22:6; Is. 53:3-4).   Why? 

  • One reason. “…in order to sanctify the people through his own blood” (v. 12). 
    • Not ritual blood, his blood!
    • “Sanctified” [hagiazw] being placed in the realm of the holy.

 

  • “…through his own blood” - the once for all sacrifice (cff. Heb. 10:10; 10:29).
  • True cleansing not secured through animal sacrifices.

 

Comparisons and contrasts made simultaneously. 

  • Christ the High-Priest and Sacrifice.
    • He shed blood but outside of the Holy Place.
    • Perfect but burned with the carcasses!

 

 2. Why you go to Jesus (vv. 13-14)

 

  • This is exactly why we go to Jesus.
    • He is out there - where we are!
    • He is not on the inside - He is on the outside.

ESV  John 1:45-46 Philip found aNathanael and said to him, "We have found him of whom bMoses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus cof Nazareth, dthe son of Joseph." 46 Nathanael said to him, a"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

Jesus’ suffering and death showed himself as the “unclean one.” 

  • Crucifixions were always outside of the city!
    • “He became sin on our behalf!”
    • Christ was not pretentious.
    • No self-worth found in religious adherence.

 

  • He came outside to us.
    • To relate with and rescue us.
    • Right where we were!

 

  • This is why we run to him!

He made you holy, “sanctified” (cf. v. 12). 

  • “What no amount of sacrificing could ever do.”
    • We willingly “bear the reproach he endured” (v. 13).
    • Identifying with Christ, bearing insults incurred by this willing association.
    • Following Jesus completely brings “reproach” (v. 13).  

Verse 14 really opens up why “Go” to Jesus.  He gives the gift of eternal life. 

ESV  Hebrews 13:14 For ahere we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

Believers know you have been made holy. 

  • Been given a second chance. Clean slate. 
  • Who also knows that he or she has eternal life.
  • Meaning life here and life to come.

They “Go” to Jesus. 

  • They take their heart and place it within his hands.

 

  • Joys in this world are real but they are temporal.

 

  • Society is always desperate to find eternal life whether they call it that or not.

The Fountain of Youth is a mythical spring that restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted around the world for thousands of years, appearing in the writings of Herodotus (5th century BC), the Alexander romance (3rd century AD), and the stories of Prester John (early Crusades, 11th/12th centuries AD). Stories of similar waters were also prominent among the people of the Caribbean during the Age of Exploration (early 16th century), who spoke of the restorative powers of the water in the mythical land of Bimini. Based on these many legends, explorers and adventurers looked for the elusive Fountain of Youth or some other remedy to aging, generally associated with magic waters. These waters might have been a river, a spring, or any other water source that was said to reverse the aging process and cure sickness when drunk or bathed in.

The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century when it was attached to Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, first Governor of Puerto Rico. Ponce de León was supposedly searching for the Fountain of Youth when he traveled to Florida in 1513. Legend has it that Ponce de León was told by Native Americans that the Fountain of Youth was in Bimini.

Modern versions with little thought about this trend, are easily found in our culture

  • Marketing health is always around!   Exercise.  Drugs.  Elective surgeries. 
  • Plastic surgeries.
  • Extending life and extending a comfortable life has serious drive.

We have seen a world unified over the passion for self-preservation! 

  • Good, bad, or indifferent.
  • Survival instinct is a powerful one.

 

What Jesus opens to us is the promised conviction that there is more! 

  • Now and Future.
    • This mindset of being forgiven and promised to be what makes great leaders.
    • What drove Moses’ great leadership (cf. 11:24-26).

ESV  Hebrews 11:26 aHe considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to bthe reward.

ESV  John 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have athe words of eternal life

  • You cannot inspire troops to follow when you have nowhere to take them.
    • Jesus promises eternal life.
    • This translates practically in to hope.

Verse 14 is meant to drive the practical applications of verse 15. 

 

This has to really mean something to me - to my core for me to respond at all! 

  • Otherwise, I will retreat to my flesh to survive this fallen world.
  • Fountain of youth mentality.
  •  

 

“How do we act on this promised reality now?” 

  • The idea that believers “…seek the city that is to come” (v. 14) affirms a very practical doctrine.
    • God’s transcendence.
    • We live for, pray to, and praise God who is above and outside of time and space.

ESV  Psalm 90:2 aBefore the bmountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, cfrom everlasting to everlasting you are God.

ESV  Psalm 90:4 For aa thousand years in your sight are but as byesterday when it is past, or as ca watch in the night.

ESV  Psalm 103:19 The LORD has aestablished his throne in the heavens, and his bkingdom rules over all.

ESV  2 Peter 3:8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and aa thousand years as one day.

  • Not the call to be a monk or hermit.
  • Not doomsday, naysaying, someone who sees nothing of God’s blessing here and now.

Where the language of verses 10-12 were spatial – “inside/outside” the language now is temporal/eternal (vv. 14-16). 

  • Jesus’ words help fill this out.

ESV  John 17:3 aAnd this is eternal life, bthat they know you cthe only dtrue God, and eJesus Christ whom you have sent.

The foundation of God’s transcendence builds the applications of verses 15 and 16. 

 3. Why you do you what is otherwise impossible (vv. 15-16)

      a. Worship continually

 

  • The “We have an altar” - dilemma I raised in verse 10.

“We have an altar” (v. 10). 

  • Sustaining “continual sacrificial offerings?”
    • What kind of “offerings” these are.
    • The LXX phrase for “thank offering” (same word here) used repeatedly in the Old Testament (Lev. 7:12-13; 2 Chr. 29:31; Ps. 50:14, 23; 107:22; 116:17).
      • The parallel is not a sin offering.
      • This parallel is free-will offerings.

The free will (or freewill) offering was a sacrifice regulated by God’s standards in the Mosaic Law, but it was completely voluntary (Leviticus 23:38).

  • In the Law, the free will offering was to be of a male bull, sheep, or goat with no physical deformities or blemishes, and it was not to have been purchased from a foreigner (Leviticus 22:17–25).
  • The offering was to include flour mixed with oil and wine; the amounts varied on whether the sacrifice was a lamb, bull, or ram (Numbers 15:1–10).
  • As with all sacrifices, the free will offering was to be made in a place of God’s choosing, not in an area formerly used by other religions or at home (Deuteronomy 12).
  • Although it was appropriate to give the sacrifice during formal feast-days, it could be given any time (Deuteronomy 16:10).
  • Unlike other offerings governed by stricter rules, the priests could eat the free will offering on the day it was sacrificed or the day after (Leviticus 7:16–18).
  • Free will offerings did not always have to be animals or grain or drink offerings.

 

Worship God loves overflows from gratitude.

  • God not wanting animal sacrifices but our hearts is Old and New Testament.

Asaph:

ESV  Psalm 50:9-14 I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. 10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.11 aI know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.12 "If I were hungry, I would not tell you, afor the world and its fullness are mine.

13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?14 aOffer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,1 and bperform your vows to the Most High

 

David:

ESV  Psalm 51:16-19 aFor you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are aa broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.18 aDo good to Zion in your good pleasure; bbuild up the walls of Jerusalem;19 then will you delight in aright sacrifices, in burnt offerings and bwhole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

 

Gratitude, knowing are saved “Through him [Christ]” alone prompts worship (v. 15)! 

  • Knowing your standing is not clinical.
  • Your standing is tied to “promised eternal life” (cf. v. 14 “we have no lasting city”).

 

Transcendent Jesus is above and outside of everything that is hard in life!

 

He is bigger than we think and nearer than we know!

 

For this, we praise him with our “lips” (v. 15). 

  • “…the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (v. 15).
    • Offering pictured as overflow – as “fruit” (v. 15).
    • We “acknowledge his name” meaning we commit our hearts through words – acknowledging all of who Jesus truly is!

 

  • This is his “name” (v. 15).
  • He is “Lord” (cf. Phil. 2:10).

ESV  Philippians 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus aevery knee should bow, bin heaven and on earth and under the earth

 

Jesus is bigger than you think and nearer than you know!

     b. Share generously

 

  • Vertical worship is always authenticated by horizontal actions.

 

ESV  James 2:17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

 

Both “to do good” and “to share what you have” are equally counted as “sacrifices” (v. 16). 

  • Same word “sacrifices” in verse 15.

 

  • “Do not neglect” means that “sharing” [koivwvias] is easily forgotten or dismissed as unnecessary or of lesser value.

 

  • “Do not neglect” is the same word used in Hebrews 10:25.

ESV  Hebrews 10:25 anot neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and ball the more as you see cthe Day drawing near.

  • Doing and sharing should not be forgotten.

 

  • We share in the here and now because we sacrifice to our Lord who owns it all.

 

  • He transcends everything and is worthy of your worship.

 

Conclusion: “Where is the motivation for these sacrifices?”

“…to continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God” (v. 15).

“…to do good…to share what you have” (v. 16).

 

Go to Jesus – outside the camp – He was/is there – to Save you to Clean you!

 

Jesus transcends what is hard about our would.

 

Jesus is Bigger than you think and Closer than you know!

   

 

 

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