Monday, 7 January 2019
Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. Hebrews 9:18
The words here are based on the facts presented in verses 9:16 and 9:17. Because a covenant requires the death of a covenant-victim, and because a covenant only has force after the death of that covenant-victim, there must be blood presented to prove the death of the covenant-victim. That is the basis for the word, “Therefore.” From there, the author then explains the necessity of blood with the words, “not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.”
Here, the first covenant is speaking of the Mosaic Covenant, not the Abrahamic Covenant. Though both were dedicated through the death of covenant-victims, it is the covenant which came through Moses which is being referred to right now. That will be made explicit in the next verse.
This verse actually settles the issue as to which translation is correct in the previous verses where some say “testament,” and some say “covenant.” The issue all along has been referring to the covenant of Christ in comparison to the covenant through Moses. Thus, translations which say, “testament,” are wrong and require a pen and ink note with the correct terminology.
As a point of biblical theology, the term “scarlet thread” is used by some to indicate the symbolism which permeates the Bible concerning the need for substitutionary atonement. Substitutionary atonement is a big term, but one which is easily explained. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. This means that a person must die for sin in their life – both original sin and sin committed in life. However, a substitute may die in place of the offender. From the first pages of the Bible in Genesis, until the last book of Revelation, this concept is held to and never deviated from. Either we die in our own sin, eternally separated from God, or a substitutionary life is given on our behalf. When Adam and Eve fell, God provided the offering on their behalf –
“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21
When humans from all ages face God at the great white throne judgment, the same concept will apply –
“But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Revelation 21:27
In the Genesis account, an innocent animal was killed to “cover” Adam and Eve, thus symbolizing the covering of their sins. It was a foreshadowing of the true Substitution fond in Christ. In the Revelation account, it is the “Lamb’s Book of Life” which records those who have received His substitutionary atonement – either looking forward to Messiah, or looking back on what He has done. Jesus’ death is the only true covering for fallen man. This is the scarlet thread which is poetically referred to concerning the blood of the Substitute. It all points to Christ.
Life application: 1) Don’t get stuck on one translation of the Bible. Your theology will always suffer by following this unscholarly approach to Bible study. 2) Anyone who has not personally accepted Jesus’ work will be eternally condemned. It is a sacrifice of God’s choosing, not ours, which is acceptable. If you are relying on the sacrifices of donations, good deeds, or right living to please God, you’ve missed the mark…condemnation awaits. Trust in Jesus alone today.
O God, open our eyes to the simplicity of Your gospel of peace. May we not stumble over it in our attempts to please You through our own works and lose our souls in the process. May we readily receive the grace revealed in the sacrifice of Jesus which opens the door of restoration and healing for us. And it is in His glorious and beautiful name we pray. Amen.