Okay, I read ahead.
I'm teaching tonight out of Hebrews 9, but I kept going all the way through the rest of the book. It's that good. And when I got to Hebrews 11, I slowed down and let it sink in.
People have been living out their faith in God and dying for it for over 2,000 years. They lived so purposefully and so passionately that the Bible sums it all up by saying this:
39 Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. 40 God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.Heb 11:39-40 (MSG)
That's why we look back at the Old Testament, it informs the believer today. But we don't live there. Some people want to go back and relive the feasts, festivals and laws like the Jews did back then.
They remind me of people still fighting the civil war. One of my favorite Christians of all time, Clarence Jordan, confronted someone like that.
The story is told that after one sermon before a southern congregation, an elderly woman approached Clarence and said, “I want you to know that my granddaddy fought in the Civil War, and I’ll never believe a word you say.” Returning her steely glare with a gracious smile, Jordan replied, “Ma’am, your choice seems quite clear. It is whether you will follow your granddaddy or Jesus Christ.”
I love Clarence Jordan. He cuts to the chase. Well, let me try too.
We are NOT under law, but under grace. The stories of the Old Testament saints can inspire us because of their devotion, but they lived without understanding everything that God had coming in Jesus.
Any system that substitutes a new set of rules (or requires submission to the old rules) isn't biblical Christianity. God put the old covenant on the shelf when Christ came, and the tablets He wrote on then weren't stone. He wrote them on the hearts of everyone who believes in Jesus and His finished work on the cross.
Every time I read Hebrews it feels as if those saints are looking over my shoulder and urging me to preach the fullness of God's grace in Jesus. They couldn't get there then, but they want you to get there now. Here's my favorite verse about how to do it.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. 29 Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 30 Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Matt 11:28-30 (MSG)
Close the distance between you and Jesus. Then just follow Him with everything you've got - heart, mind, body, and soul. You're going to find peace where guilt was, and freedom exchanged for shame. For maybe the first time ever, you're going to feel like you are who you were meant to be.
Grace and peace,