During these days we have been travelling toward the Holy City. In our time of study, we have examined Scriptural evidence concerning the, “…exodus which (Jesus) was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). We have traveled a great distance during these days and seen many wonders. God’s Providence is a marvel to behold. Augustine said, “The New Testament is in the Old concealed and the Old Testament is in the New revealed.” As we have explored the account of Moses and the Exodus, we have found that Jesus is there, prefigured in Moses. We have also noticed that the first Exodus is replete with types and foreshadowings that help us understand Jesus’ saving acts on our behalf. And, our inquiries have uncovered foundational truths about worship, Christian spirituality and our relationship with God, through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In these days of Scriptural focus, we have discovered that Jesus is the New Moses who leads a New Exodus, complete with a New Passover, New Manna, a New and greater Promised Land, and as we will see on this Good Friday, a New and better Covenant, founded on superior promises (Hebrews 8:6), and with more powerful blood (Hebrews 12:24).
Read Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 12:18-24, Matthew 26:27-28 – What’s New?
When Moses led the Children of Israel to Mount Sinai, God offered them a covenant relationship (Exodus 24). It was in a sacred assembly of the people that Moses read the Book of the Covenant to them. In one voice they agreed to the terms God had prescribed. “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.” Then, Moses sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the people saying, “This is the blood of the covenant…” Afterward, a feast was held in which God’s Presence was experienced. This could not be a more vivid picture of worship. The people gathered together. They heard the Word of God. Then, the ratifying sign of the covenant (a sacrifice and a meal) was shared. Afterward, the people went forth. Moses ascended the mountain to receive the stone tablets of the Law. Ostensibly, the people went forth to live the covenant to which they had consented.
While Moses was on the mountain, God had much to share with him. God instructed Moses on the offerings of the people, the furnishings of the tabernacle, the tabernacle design, priestly attire and consecration, incense, anointing with oil, and more. All of this took time. The Israelites began to wonder if Moses would ever come back. After many days, they made a grave mistake. Much like Adam and Eve turned their back on God’s prescription for them, so the Children of Israel turned their back on the Covenant to which they had just agreed. Rather than wait for Moses, they fashioned a golden calf and began to worship it. When Moses emerged with the Ten Commandments etched in stone, the infidelity of the people became obvious. He dashed God’s handwritten Law to pieces in response to the reprehensible behavior of the people.
Despite their damnable action, we must admit their unfaithfulness is not unique. We have all, “…sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This pattern is followed throughout the Exodus. It is followed through the centuries after Israel is established in the Promised Land. Frankly, it is the pattern followed by all of humanity throughout history. Painfully clear is the fact that mankind will never be found faithful on our own. What solution could God possibly devise to redeem His crowning creation from their sinful ways?
Jeremiah prophesied concerning a New Covenant. This would be a greater covenant than the one instituted with Moses and the Children of Israel. That covenant was broken by the people, despite God’s faithfulness to them – like a husband who is faithful to His unfaithful wife. Jeremiah declared that the days were coming when God’s covenant law would not be written on stone tablets, but rather, on the minds and hearts of the people. This New Covenant would not be external but internal. Rather than a list of rules to follow, this New Covenant would be based on reason and love – a matter of the mind and heart.
All of the previous covenants had failed. Humans simply could not remain loyal. Covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David were all characterized by unfaithfulness. What did they have in common? They were all mediated by men. The New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah would require a different mediator. But all humans are sinful. There were no human candidates to be a perfect mediator.
Enter Jesus. Galatians 4:4-7 tells us, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” God’s solution was to send Himself to be the mediator of the New Covenant. He sent His Son, who was born of a woman. By entering into humanity and taking on flesh, a perfect human was available to represent all of us before God. And what did this God Man offer us? In Christ, we are redeemed from the condemnation we earned by breaking the law, we are adopted as sons of God (that which was lost in the Garden of Eden), and rather than follow an external law, we have been given the Holy Spirit. Indeed the law is written on our minds and hearts through the operation of the Spirit in our lives. Because of Jesus, we can call God our father. We become sons in the Son!
Jesus comes to us as the “Word” of God (John 1:14). Remember, covenants have two components – Word and Sign. If Jesus is the Word of the New Covenant, what is the sign? Moses sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant.” In similar but greater fashion, Jesus holds out a cup to His disciples and says, “This is My blood of the covenant…” After Moses sprinkled the blood, then a meal was shared in which God’s Presence was experienced. This reminds us of Cleopas, who truly knew Jesus’ Presence in the breaking of the Bread.” So, it was in the meal that Jesus instituted that we have the ratifying sign of the covenant – the Lord’s Supper. And His admonition to those twelve disciples was to “Do this…”
Jeremiah’s prophecy declared that the New Covenant would be with “Israel.” In the upper room, Jesus told His disciples, “I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:29-30). This reconstituted extension of Israel would be the Church, lead by the disciples as they were anointed and appointed by Jesus (John 20:21-22).
In the past, animal sacrifices were made that had to be repeated every year. They were imperfect and penultimate. After the Word shared the Sign in the upper room, He went out to shed His blood. On the cross, Jesus “cut the New Covenant” in His blood. After Jesus’ “once and for all” sacrifice, there was no need for any other. His perfect blood was all sufficient. “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered Himself” (Hebrews 7:27).
In Jesus, we have a greater mediator than Moses. We have a greater covenant built on greater promises. And, we go to a greater mountain than Sinai. Hebrews 12:18 and following tells us that we have come to the heavenly Mount Zion. We are with the angels and archangels and the saints of all the ages – the church of the “firstborn.” You may have noticed that verse 18 is in the present tense. “You have come…” This is not just a far off experience, but a present reality. How can we experience heavenly worship in the here and now? The answer is, once again, through the blood of Christ. Hebrews 10:19-22 states, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
To conclude, when Jesus died on the cross, the temple veil or curtain was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). This epic physical occurrence revealed a spiritual reality. Through Jesus, the way was being opened for mankind to approach God. As we have read, this is not a distant fulfillment waiting to be realized. We have come to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem (present tense). We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place. But, how is this possible? The answer: Jesus is the only Way! The writer of Hebrews says that our access is through the blood of Jesus and through His body which is the curtain. The Apostle Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” Is it possible that through the cup and the bread, which are a participation in the body and blood of Jesus, that we are given a glimpse of Heaven – as through a veil? For centuries this has been embraced by Believers. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see through a glass darkly; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” One day, we will experience the fullness of God’s glorious heaven. In the meantime, we know that Jesus is with us, through His Spirit, in the Word and at His Table. Through Jesus, we have a “foretaste of glory divine.” This is possible because He is the perfect mediator and the New Covenant is in His blood.
Today, the Pathway to the Passion has led us to the cross. Here, the New Exodus begins. It is here that Jesus is offered up as the, “once and for all sacrifice.” And, just as in the first Exodus, tomorrow we will see that the blood of the Lamb must be applied.