Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hebrews 6: Greater blessings, greater tears

I feel the rhythm of the Psalms in the Moreh's magnificent sermon:

Christ is greater than angels,
so don't fall away
Christ is greater than Moses
so don't fall away
Christ is greater than the high priest
so don't fall away
Maturity is greater than childhood
so don't fall away

How ingrained in us and our teachers are the awful consequences of Israel's centuries of disobedience to the angels, to Moses, to the godly priests, to even the elemental teachings of the Commandments from Sinai. Of such holy grief and horror were the Pharisees and their synagogues born, including this one. Have you seen the Tzaddiks, the great rabbis? I am told they cry. On behalf of their people they cry graeter and graeter tears of grief and mourning and repentance for the just punishment and suffering visited on Israel.

How much greater these terrible consequences if we disobey the One who is greater than and above them! We who have shared the heavenly gifts, the Holy Spirit, the goodness of the word of God - if we then revile the cross, a bride spitting on and spitefully whoring away from her gracious bridegroom, subjecting him again to the public disgrace and humiliation he bore for us for love's sake - can we return? The Moreh thinks not. The Moreh thinks that we would be like a useless field bearing only thorns, fit to be burned and replanted with another's seed.

But the Moreh hastens to add, take heart, God is just and loving. He is not a capricious husband who gets up one morning in a bad mood and casts his wife's shoes out the door. Only let us be diligent in serving God in grace. As the Moreh says:

"We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."

And what a GREAT promise!! I swear by the temple, but the Master of the Universe swears by his name - because he wanted to make the unchanging nature of his promise very clear to its heirs. Therefore our hope is like an anchor for the soul, secure not in the silt of some harbor but in the very Holy of Holies of the Temple, where the High Priest provides sacrifices for sin and intercedes for us. And the High Priest is Jesus, and the sacrifice is universal and effective, and the Father hears his prayers, and as long as we live the Holy Spirit will be the deposit on the full inheritance of what is promised.

How much greater now is my understanding of the Shemah: Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is One God!

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