The author of Hebrews is writing his letter to Jewish believers, so the issues he discusses dont always apply directly to those of us who are not Jews (Gentiles). Todays passage is an example of this. Hes telling Jews that the curse their fathers and mothers invoked upon Israel and passed down to every generation has been atoned for by the death of their Messiah. What Levitical priests offering animal blood could not do for them, He has done by taking their curse upon Himself and presenting His death in exchange for theirs before the Father. This, of course, is wonderful news for Israel, but since we Gentiles never bound ourselves to the Law with a curse, what does it mean for us? We arent under a curse, at least not that one, but we have a serious spiritual problem of our own. Without ever knowing the Law or making a covenant with God, we sold ourselves into slavery to a devil who is intent on dragging us into the lake of fire with him. We need help just as badly as Israel. So what has Israels Messiah done for us? How are we included in the wonderful salvation we read about here?
1. Read: Hebrews 9:15-28
First lets understand what the author of Hebrews is saying in this passage.
A death has taken place to pay for the sins committed under the first covenant.
When covenants are made people invite God to kill them if they break their promise. Without invoking a curse of death, a covenant isnt in force.
When the first covenant was made Moses sprinkled Israel with animal blood symbolizing the violent spilling of their blood if the people failed to obey as they had promised (Ex 24:1-8).
Death is the only way violation of the Law can be atoned for so Moses even sprinkled blood on the tabernacle and its equipment to cleanse away any trace of ceremonial contamination.
The earthly tabernacle needed to be cleansed in this way but animal blood has no cleansing power in heaven.
The real tabernacle where peoples eternal destiny is determined is the Fathers throneroom in heaven.
Because there is no sin in heaven, the only things that can need cleansing there is us, and the only blood with sufficient power to do that is the Messiahs because He is not only Davids Son, but He is also the Son of God.
As our high priest He needs only to offer the blood of His death once. Because of who He is there is no need to repeat His sacrifice like the Levitical priests.
Animal blood has to be offered every time someone sins but His blood has put away sin once for all.
His death and resurrection marked the beginning of the end of this old age of sin, sorrow and death.
Also, since God appointed that humans are only to die once, Jesus who fully became a man at His incarnation must not die more than once either.
The Messiahs sacrifice is now done and will never be repeated. When He returns from heaven He will not be coming to die again but to announce to all whove been waiting for Him that the old age has ended and the new age of salvation has begun.
2. The Curse of the Law
Next, lets try to understand what it means when someone is under the curse of the Law.
a) What is a covenant: a promise reinforced by a curse (Ge 15:7-21)
b) What is a curse: a prayer that invites God to kill me if I break my promise.
c) What is the curse of the Law: at a covenant ceremony at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the nation of Israel formally invited God to curse them and their children if they failed to obey His Law.
Deuteronomy 28:1-29 (blessings and curses)
Deuteronomy 30:1-6, 11-20
Though God has a right to kill a covenant breaker at the first act of disobedience (Nu 15:32-36), He normally will lift His hand of blessing gradually with the hope that hardship will help that person or that people repent. He leaves room for repentance and sends prophets to call people back to their covenant.
d) How does God free those who are cursed: Israels Messiah took upon Himself the curse of the Law.
He set aside the curse of the first covenant by offering His own death to satisfy it. Because of who He is, He is able to do this once for all.
The curse which afflicts every one in the household of Israel because no one is able to perfectly keep the law, has been lifted and replaced by the blessings of the Messiah.
3. What about Gentiles?
a) As weve seen the Jew is cursed from having violated the covenant, but those of us who are not Jews are also perishing because we have violated our conscience and have become slaves of the devil. We Gentiles need a Savior just as badly as Israel.
Romans 2:9-12 There is no partiality with God.
Ephesians 2:1-3 You were dead in your trespasses and sins..
b) Jesus also suffered death for the Gentiles so that all who receive His righteousness whether Jew or Gentile might be joined together into one spiritual family.
Ephesians 2:4-22 one new man
Galatians 3:7, 14 sons of Abraham
Romans 11:17-24 the olive tree
c) So we who had no claim or covenant with God have been included in the blessings of Israels Messiah. Jesus made room for us just as Isaiah the prophet said He would.
Isaiah 52:13-15; 56:6, 7
a) Think of a promise in the Old Testament that God made to Israel that you would like to have at work in your life as well. What gives you the right to claim such a promise?
b) Read Matthew 8:5-11 and explain who Jesus was talking about in verse 11.