Sunday, 30 December 2018
…concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. Hebrews 9:10
In the previous verse, it was explained that the things of the past which were recorded concerning the makeup of the sanctuary, the articles contained within in it, and the rites and rituals associated with it, were “symbolic for the present time.” As noted, the word “symbolic” means “a parable.” They were ineffectual in perfecting the conscience. The author now continues that thought by saying that they were “concerned only with foods and drinks.”
The “foods and drinks” are those things presented to God as sacrifices, gifts, and offerings. They included animal, grain, and wine offerings of various sorts and for various reasons, such as peace offerings, thank offerings, and so forth. Some of these were partially eaten by the priests, some were shared between the Lord and the offerer, and so on.
The “various washings” included washings by the people, by the priests, and even of the sacrifices – all accomplished according to laws prescribed within the law itself. An example for the people would be the washing of oneself after touching the carcass of anything. That is seen in Leviticus 11. An example of a priestly washing would, according to the ordination rites for priests, be found in Exodus 40:12. An example of washing the sacrifices is that of washing the entrails of a burnt offering in Leviticus 1:13. There is seemingly an innumerable number of such washings recorded for various reasons.
These are the “fleshly ordinances” (note that the word “and” is not in the original Greek. It is superfluous and should be omitted. This simply describes the previous thoughts and is not a separate thought). They did nothing to change the people internally, and they were merely symbolic parables looking forward to their fulfillment in Christ. To understand that, literally, every single detail of these things points to the Person and work of Jesus Christ, take the next year or so and watch all of the Superior Word sermons in order from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. You will see how these fleshly ordinances look to spiritual truths revealed in Christ.
From there, the author says that they were “imposed until the time of reformation.” The word “time” here is kairos. It signifies a particular point in time marked as “the right moment.” God instituted the law in order to effect certain understandings into the minds of the people. However, the law was never meant as a means to an end, except concerning its fulfillment in Christ. Once that was accomplished, then the “time of reformation” could come about. The word translated as “reformation” is one which indicates “to straighten thoroughly.” It is a straightening of something to its natural condition. In this case, it is speaking of the messianic restoration of all things. For those who trust in Christ, that restoration is realized in the sense that all of these shadows practiced under the law are actually accomplished for us in His work. However, such has not yet occurred for Israel. That time lies yet ahead.
These rituals went on, with periods of interruption during the exile and at other times, for about 1500 years. Eventually, though, Christ came and fulfilled His ministry – a ministry which replaced all of these temporary regulations forever. After His fulfillment of the law, there was an overlap of time where the temple still stood in Jerusalem. That finally ended in AD 70 at the destruction of the temple. However, according to Daniel 9:24-27, there are still seven more years offered to the nation of Israel for them to “finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy” (Daniel 9:24, NIV). Even now, the people have prepared the implements for temple worship and each year they attempt to conduct sacrifices on the Temple Mount. In time, it will occur as prophesied. Sadly, they’ve missed the fact that these rituals point to the Person of Jesus.
Life application: Though the time of the reformation spoken of here is realized for the believer in Christ, we have to trust that this is so. Do we accept the premise that we are not required to do the things of the law, or do we fall back on the law (in part or in whole) in an attempt to please God? The Bible says that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for all who believe. Is that something we truly accept? If so, then you must not go back to the law in an attempt to please God. Stand fast on Christ’s complete and final fulfillment of everything necessary to reconcile us to God.
Lord, may You open the eyes of the world to the truth of who Jesus is and why He came. We pray especially for the people of Israel who have, for so long, failed to see that their Messiah has already come and that He is even now holding out His hands to them in love. May Christ Jesus be seen for who He truly is, and may many come to a saving knowledge of Him! Amen.