+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening: (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reading from the Book of Hebrews: Hebrews 9:1-10 (NLT)
Old Rules about Worship
That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.
When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.
This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.
By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed
that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open
as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.– Hebrews 9:8
Today’s reading continues the explanation of why the new covenant is superior to the old – specifically that, under the old covenant access was limited to God’s Presence (the Most Holy Place), and the sacrificial offerings were inadequate (required repetition). The Tabernacle is used as an illustration because of its association with the giving of the Old Covenant to Moses at Mount Sinai.
The point being made is that the old system of worship did not meet the deepest need of God’s people, i.e. an intimate personal relationship with God. Its rites and ceremonies extended mainly to external matters until God would provide a better system at “a time of reformation.”
Questions for consideration:
- What’s the difference between approaching God, through ritual or relationship? Please explain.
- What role does ritual have in your relationship with God? Please explain.
- Do you consider yourself as having free access to God? Yes / No. Please explain.
- Do you have a clear conscience, i.e. a conscience that is right with God? Please explain.
- If you are not sure, please click here.
Life Support Prayer:
Heavenly Father: Make us one, across all denominational lines, in our mission to care for of widows and orphans, young and old, weak and ill, disabled and distressed. Pour out your Spirit and usher in a season of refreshment that provides new energy and clarity for all who labor to protect human life – from fertilization until natural death. I ask this in Jesus’ name, the Lord of Life. Amen.
Prayer for a Clear Conscience:
“Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.”
“Take Me In” – Petra
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen