Thursday, April 16, 2009

Until a time… (Hebrews 9:1-10) 160409

My daughter likes to go into the kitchen and opens up the doors of my kitchen cabinets and pulls out drawers. We keep telling her not to do so, but she keeps doing it. She will happily walk into the kitchen and put her little hand on the handle of the door of my kitchen cabinet or a drawer and she will look around to see if anyone is watching her. Then she will open the door or pull the drawer and peep inside until we discover her doing that, we will tell her: No, No! She will turn around and shakes her hand and head and says: No, No! Then she will go out, and come back later to do it all over again!

I don’t know what so attractive about my kitchen cabinet and drawers, but I think it is because we keep telling her: No, No; she might be wonder what is inside the cabinets and drawers. The furniture and layout of the Tabernacle and the Temple was also a mystery to many. Though now we almost can reconstruct the entire Tabernacle or the Temple, but the readers of Hebrews might only have some faint idea of these structures. All they know for sure is that these were holy places whereby only the priests and the high priest can enter. I can imagine when the author of Hebrews delivers his sermon up to this point, his audiences must be suddenly sit up straight and become very attentive. He has successfully drawn the attention of his audience by using the Tabernacle and the Temple as illustration. And he brings up a mystery, and keeps the audience in suspense and curious and then says: but of these things we cannot now speak in detail (v5). George H. Guthrie comments that:

The author ends his description of the tabernacle tersely with the statement, “But we cannot discuss these things in detail now,” indicating a reticence to get sidetracked on matters outside his current focus. Rather, he wishes to move to the more significant issue of how this structure provided a context for the priests’ ministry.

Then the author carries on commenting on the priestly ministry of the Tabernacle and the Temple. At this point, he bridges into his current context, which he concludes that whatever that the Tabernacle and the Temple provides together with the priestly ministry, cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience (v9).

We can easily tell where is the author of Hebrews is leading his reader on by now, we can more or less guess that he is going to bring out the completeness of Christ’s priestly ministry as the perfect High Priest and the perfect Sacrifice. But the audience needs to know that it is until a time of reformation (v10). In other words, there is an appointed time for the perfect High Priest and Sacrifice to come, and it has come in the person of Jesus Christ.

The readers are living in a time where they only understand the priestly ministry of the Temple, they need a radical paradigm shift to accept that Jesus Christ has come to replace. Jesus is the ‘until a time’ fulfillment.

There are many things we cannot understand, but until a time will come we will understand. The problem is that, I don’t know when that time is, maybe when we see our Lord face to face. But the Lord will know the best time for us to understand the suffering we have gone through, the sickness we have suffered, the relationship that has turned bad, the examination which we have failed, the job which we have lost and the people whom have hurt us.

I will still not allow my daughter to open my kitchen cabinet’s doors and drawers, until a time.


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