Scripture: Hebrews 7:11-17, 26-28; 10:1-8
This Sunday we will have come to the last sermon in the second part of our sermon series, Church and State. The bulk of the second part of this series has focused on the various efforts used by Jewish-Christians to convince their Jewish brothers and sisters why they should believe Jesus is the Messiah. This sermon will discuss one of the last attempts by a Jewish author to convince his fellow Jews that Jesus is worth following.
We are focusing on the letter to the Hebrews. We don’t know who wrote this letter, but it is clear that, whoever he was, he was very smart and possessed an extensive knowledge of the Old Testament. In particular, the author of Hebrews focuses on the book of Leviticus, which literally means the book of the Levites.
The Levites in the Torah are the priests who are supposed to perform all of the religious functions for the Israelites. These functions range from reciting ceremonial liturgies to assessing a person’s health to determining whether a person should burn their clothes because they are moldy. But the most important function of the priest is the sacrificing of animals on the altar.
According to Leviticus, if you want God to forgive your sins, then you need a priest to sacrifice animals on your behalf. This is why the Jews, and the Israelites before them, built the Temple in Jerusalem. It was a central location where people could come to worship God and offer animal sacrifices to be forgiven of their sins. Therefore, when the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., the Jewish people found themselves in a bit of a conundrum: if there is no Temple and you cannot perform sacrifices, how can God forgive your sins?
This Sunday we are going to explore how the author of Hebrews deal with this problem and what his answer has to say to us as Christians living in the 21st century. May you have a wonderful and restful weekend with friends and family. I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!