Where to begin? Hebrews 9 contains several verses of interest, but let’s start by contextualizing them with a summary. This chapter starts with some summarizing of its own, a quick rundown of the tabernacle’s inner and outer layout, making the point that Jesus Christ in a spiritual sense entered the Holy of Holies through his death, in order to atone for his people’s sins once and for all. Thus, the writer reasons, Christ mediates a new covenant on the basis of his own shed blood. Throughout the whole chapter, there’s a theme of the earthly vs. the heavenly, visible vs. invisible, man-made vs. divine, flesh vs. spirit, which the writer brings to the forefront to conclude the chapter. Bam, summary complete, let’s get down to the details.
Good news, everyone! Hebrews 8 begins by summing up the point of the previous chapter in a single sentence! If you haven’t read Hebrews 7 yet, you can skip it. All you folks who read Hebrews 7 all the way through and tried to figure it out, sorry you wasted your time enriching your view of scripture through study.
In order to go forward today, we’ve got to go back. In yesterday’s chapter, there were not one but two hard left turns, and we only covered the first. The chapter ends with a shift out of Christology into criticism, so let’s take a rewind.
Remember Hebrews 4 from our Sabbath study? We looked at Heaven as the supreme Sabbath, or to put it in the author of Hebrews’ terms, God’s goal of rest for his people. I suggested that the rest that the author discusses has not fully arrived, but as I read the passage today, I’m prepared to reverse that conclusion, or at least to amend it: there’s a sense in which we can, and should, enter God’s Sabbath rest for all creation right here and now. See, there is more to this passage than we originally surmised. On Chocolate Book, we are not content to remain in our former ignorance; we learn as we go.
The Bible has got some great names. I’ve always been partial to Arpachshad. But in today’s chapter from Isaiah, we get Isaiah’s son Maher-shalal-hash-baz. That’s an entire sentence in Hebrew. Can you imagine naming your kid an entire sentence, like “Raise high the roof beam, carpenters” or “All my best friends are metalheads?” Well, at God’s instruction, that’s exactly what Isaiah does.
What’s the opposite of an evil person? It’s a good person, right? When he’s faced with threats of violence from evil men, we’ve even seen David contrast himself as a righteous man with his wicked, brutal pursuers. His prayers reiterate the theme: “It would be unjust for God to let liars and murderers triumph over a man who has abstained from these things.” But today, David sets up a different contrast. The opposite of an evil person isn’t a good person. The opposite of an evil person is God.
“Does justice never find you? Do the wicked never lose? Is there any honest song to sing besides these blues?” -Switchfoot, “The Blues.” This is a recurring question in David’s psalms, one which he sometimes answers, but never without tension between how things are and how they should be. Throughout his life, David saw wicked men prosper. He saw a Philistine giant mock God and his people. He fled from a king driven to madness by rage, hiding in caves to save his own life from this abuse of power. He saw war and bloodshed. And how does he describe those who commit the evils he sees?