Daily Readings – August 2017

In August we turn back to the New Testament and look at the letter to the Hebrews.

Tuesday 1st August
Hebrews 1
We don’t know who wrote this letter, it doesn’t say. One tradition says that it was written by the Apostle Paul. In some editions of the Authorised Version of the Bible, the letter to the Hebrews is attributed to Paul but this is not convincing for at least four reasons. First, Paul always signed his letters, sometimes both at the beginning and the end and there is no name against this letter. Second, the vocabulary and style are different. If you read Paul’s letters and then this letter, you can see the difference. Third, Paul was called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles, whereas this letter is primarily addressed to Jewish Christians. The key point for us is that the Early Church recognised this letter to be Scripture and included it in our New Testament. In one sense, it doesn’t matter who wrote it, so long as we believe that it was breathed out by God.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister as he leads worship for the staff at Blythswood this morning.

Wednesday 2nd August
Hebrews 1:1-4
These first few words: ‘In the past God spoke…’ followed in the next verse by the words ‘but in these last days he has spoken’ are important for two reasons. First, because it is the beginning of a contrast between the old and the new which we will find repeatedly throughout the letter. Second, because these words testify to the reality of revelation. God has spoken! He has revealed himself. The Dutch theologian G.C. Berkouwer, wrote this: ‘There is no more significant question in the whole of theology and in the whole of human life than that of the nature and reality of revelation’. Christians believe that God has chosen to make himself known. The word ‘revelation’ means disclosure or unveiling. God has revealed himself in a number of ways but these different ways can be brought together under two headings, namely, general revelation: we can see God in creation; and special revelation: God reveals himself in Christ and in Scripture.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Shack and for the work at Raigmore. Pray that contacts will be made which will lead to more people hearing about Christ.

Thursday 3rd August
Hebrews 1:1-4
These first four verses of the letter are a magnificent statement about Christ. This is the great theme of the Epistle, laid down right at the beginning. God ‘has spoken to us by his Son’. The writer to the Hebrews is telling us that God has spoken his final word in Jesus. It is really Jesus who dominates this Epistle. In these first four verses, we are given a truly wonderful picture of Christ and a description of his work. We are told that God made the universe through Jesus (verse 2) and that Jesus upholds the universe (verse 3). He also provided purification for our sins on the Cross and then sat down at the right hand of the Father. We can only understand God, the universe, human life and everything else when we understand that Christ is at the very centre of everything.

Prayer Point
Pray for the work of Scripture Union Scotland and for the camps which are still going on. Pray that many will come to know Christ through this important work.

Friday 4th August
Hebrews 1:5-14
In verses 5-14, the writer to the Hebrews demonstrates Christ’s superiority over the angels. An angel is a messenger of God and to the Jews the angels held an important position as mediators of God’s message. The writer shows that Jesus is greater than any of them. The Son is superior to the angels because of who he is. God the Father calls him ‘my Son’, giving Jesus a status way beyond that of the angels. This affirmation that Jesus is God lies at the heart of the argument throughout the letter. That is why, in the course of the first few chapters of this letter, the writer shows that Christ is greater than the prophets, greater than the angels, greater than Moses and greater than the High Priest.

Prayer Point
Pray for persecuted Christians in various parts of the world and pray for those who seek to support and help them. Ask that God will give them strength to endure.

Saturday 5th August
Hebrews 2:1-4
The writer pauses from his comparison between angels and Christ to remind his readers that, because of the greatness of the Person of Christ and the importance of the position he occupies, we must pay careful attention to what we have heard. The danger of not paying attention is emphasised by the words, ‘so that we do not drift away’. The thought behind the illustration is that of a boat at sea. The Jewish Christians to whom this letter was addressed, were in danger of drifting away from the truth of the gospel. As Christians, it is important that we have a grasp of Christian truth. Faulty thinking leads to faulty living. Do we pay careful attention to what we are taught in the Scriptures, for the sake of our salvation and our growth as Christians?

Prayer Point
Pray for all those who are going on short-term missions this autumn. Remember too those in our congregation who are active in their support of EMMS.

Sunday 6th August
Hebrews 2:5-13
In these verses, we see the humiliation and exaltation of Christ. The writer makes the point that his superiority over the angels is not cancelled by the lowly position he chose, when he took human flesh and was born as Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed, as we read in verses 8-9, everything is subject to Christ but this is not yet visible. He has won the victory but the full extent of that victory will only be revealed at the end, in his triumphant return. Sometimes people have a problem with verse 10 where we read that Christ was ‘made perfect through suffering.’ It is important to stress that suffering did not cure Jesus of any moral faults, because he had none! He was perfect already. The Greek word used here for ‘make perfect’ has the sense of ‘made adequate’ or ‘made completely effective.’ In other words, God chose to use the suffering and death of Christ to achieve our salvation.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister as he takes morning and evening services today and pray that Ian Challinor will be well enough to take the service at Raigmore.

Monday 7th August
Hebrews 2:14-18
The passage before us today speaks of what Christ did for us. Notice these great truths: Jesus took human flesh in order to defeat the devil (verse 14). He took human flesh in order to set us free (verse 15). He came not for angels but for Abraham’s descendants (verse 16). He could not make atonement for us without becoming one of us (verse 17). He suffered through temptation and helps us when we are tempted (verse 18). This is a most encouraging chapter of Scripture but the core message is this: Jesus came to do all that was necessary for our salvation and did so at great cost to himself. That having been done he has been exalted to the highest place and is now able to help us as we seek to follow him.

Prayer Point
Pray for Neil and Rachel Rae and their children, serving with the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in Manila, in the Philippines.

Tuesday 8th August
Hebrews 2:10-18
We look at these verses again today to speak about Christ’s suffering in more detail. First, the purpose of the suffering was to bring ‘many sons to glory’. That is to say, the suffering of Christ had an objective, namely, that men and women should be brought to glory. Second, the purpose of Christ’s suffering was to make us holy. We see that in verse 11: ‘Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers’. Third, the purpose of Christ’s suffering was to bring men and women into an intimate relationship with Christ. They are his brothers and sisters. Jesus says, in verse 13, ‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’

Prayer Point
Pray for the work of the Scottish Bible Society and for its Chief Executive, Elaine Duncan. Pray that many Bibles, Testaments and Scripture portions will be distributed and read and that they will make a difference to people’s lives.

Wednesday 9th August
Hebrews 3:1-6
This letter to the Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians, in order to confirm them in the truth about Jesus Christ. The writer of the letter had to prove to these Jewish believers that Jesus was both the fulfilment and the end of the Old Testament way of life and salvation. To do this he began by comparing Jesus to the angels, showing that Jesus was much greater than any angel. In these verses, he compares Jesus to Moses – the great hero and leader of the Jewish nation. We see here that both Moses and Jesus were faithful to God but in different ways, as fitting their different situations. Moses was a great servant of God but Jesus is worthy of greater honour because he is the Son of God. In order to understand this comparison, we must remember the high position in which Moses was held in the eyes of the Jews. To suggest that anyone was greater than Moses was a significant claim.

Prayer Point
Pray again for the Church of Scotland and all its parishes. Pray for a return to solid biblical teaching throughout the Church and remember those congregations which are struggling in the midst of the present difficulties.

Thursday 10th August
Hebrews 3:1-6
We might sum up the passage in this way. The people of God form the house of God. It is a house in which Moses was a servant but in which Jesus is a Son. This being the case, we are to fix our eyes upon Jesus and look to him for help and strength. Sometimes we are tempted to give up. Sometimes we take our eyes off Jesus and do not fix our minds upon him. Sometimes we have sinful and unbelieving hearts and turn away from the living God. Sometimes we have failed to encourage one another and instead have brought one another down. The message for us is the same as it was for them: We are to persevere, and we are to do so by fixing our minds upon Jesus, by believing in Jesus, and by encouraging one another. If we do that, God will do the rest.

Prayer Point
Pray for the office bearers of the congregation, for Donald MacVicar, George Campbell, Marlene MacRae, Duncan Fraser and Calum Campbell.

Friday 11th August
Hebrews 3:7-19
This passage begins with a long quotation from Psalm 95 in order to warn the Hebrews against turning away from God, as some of their forefathers had done. We are told that some people have ‘sinful, unbelieving hearts’ which lead them to turn away from God and they end up being ‘hardened by sin’s deceitfulness’. In this context the writer gives a warning in verse 14: ‘We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first’. Do you see the point he is making? The evidence that we have truly believed in Christ and been united to Christ, is that we persevere in our faith until the end. In other words, we know those who have truly believed because they will not turn back.

Prayer Point
Pray for the church in Indonesia, asking that God would continue to bless the ministry of Dr Stephen Tong and his associates in Jakarta.

Saturday 12th August
Hebrews 4:1-11
Our passage begins with the words ‘Therefore since the promise of entering his rest still stands…’ The word ‘Therefore’ picks up the fact that the writer had already begun to use that word in the previous chapter. There are three types of rest involved in this passage. First there is ‘Creation rest’, as we see in verses 3-4. Then there is ‘Canaan rest’ in verse 8. Finally, there is ‘Sabbath rest’ in verse 9. This way of using a word in several different ways and teasing out the meaning was common in the days when the letter to the Hebrews was written. The writer quotes Psalm 95:7-8, which speaks of ‘God’s rest.’ He then quotes Genesis 2: 2, which speaks of God’s rest and then compares it again with Psalm 95:7, thus showing that two different things are being spoken of. He concludes that ‘there remains a ‘Sabbath-rest’ for the people of God. What is this rest? It is peace with God now concluded and fulfilled in heaven afterwards.

Prayer Point
Pray for Kathleen Mackinnon and Agnes Chisholm as they develop the Pastoral Care team.

Sunday 13th August
Hebrews 4:12-13
These are two very important verses and they teach two very important lessons. In verse 12 we see something about the power of God’s Word: ‘For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’. Then in verse 13, we learn about God’s all-seeing eye: ‘Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account’. The message of these verses can be summed up like this: God’s Word is the standard by which we will be judged and there is no escape because God sees everything we do, say and think.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister as he takes morning and evening services, for Alex Stephen as he takes the Raigmore service and for Mr John Alick MacQuarrie as he takes the Gaelic service.

Monday 14th August
Hebrews 4:14-16
The central theme of these verses is that ‘we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin’. Notice that! Jesus Christ became a human being and was tempted in every way just as we are. We see this in his temptations in the desert, described in Matthew 4, as he confronted the devil and refused to give in to temptation. Having gone through temptation himself, he is able to understand our problems, to sympathise with us. Jesus has gone ‘through the heavens’, meaning that he has gone directly into the nearer presence of God and is there interceding for us. We should be encouraged to hold on to the faith by the knowledge that there is one who sits at the right hand of God and speaks as our advocate. We might struggle to hold on to the faith at times, when we go through various trials but it is the knowledge that Christ speaks to the Father on our behalf that enables us to stay strong.

Prayer Point
Pray for Raigmore School and for the school assemblies which the Minister will take during this new session.

Tuesday 15th August
Hebrews 5:1-10
In this passage and right up until the end of Chapter 10, the author shows the superiority of Christ over the High Priest of the old covenant. He insists that, as Christians, we have a High Priest and it is Jesus Christ. This idea of Christ as the High Priest of the Christian church has been mentioned and alluded to, in previous chapters (1:3, 2:17 and 3:1) but now the writer of the letter begins to spell out the implications of this teaching. Just by using the words ‘High Priest’, however, these Jewish Christians would have understood that Jesus Christ intercedes with God on our behalf and offers a sacrifice for sins on our behalf. Christ was chosen by God to serve and he ‘became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him’.

Prayer Point
Pray for congregations which are looking for a new minister, in our own Presbytery and further afield. Pray particularly for congregations which have been vacant for a long time and are beginning to lose heart.

Wednesday 16th August
Hebrews 5:7-10
We read these verses again to recognise a difficulty. In verses 8-9, we read this, ‘Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him’. The problem lies in the phrases, ‘learned obedience’ and ‘once made perfect’. Does this mean that Jesus was not always perfect or not always obedient? Well we know from Scripture that Christ was always obedient and never disobeyed his Father. These verses are reminding us that Christ grew up in the normal human way and so ‘learned obedience’. It also emphasises that he voluntarily submitted to the Father. Do you remember the prayer he spoke in the Garden of Gethsemane? ‘Yet not my will but yours be done’. In the same way, the expression ‘once made perfect’ does not imply any earlier imperfection. Rather it means ‘made mature’, ‘made complete’ or even ‘made ready’.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Gideons, as they prepare to distribute Testaments to schools and colleges this autumn. Pray that there may be open doors for God’s Word.

Thursday 17th August
Hebrews 5:11 – 6:3
These Hebrew Christians were slow to learn and their ignorance of the Scriptures was a judgement against them. They should by this time have been ready to teach others but were themselves still in need of teaching. These Christians had failed to grasp ‘the elementary truths of God’s Word’. They hadn’t even grasped the first principles, the rudiments of Scripture truth. There are many today in precisely this condition. How many, even of those who are in church regularly could recite the Ten Commandments, give the names of the 12 disciples and give an outline of the story of the Old Testament from Abraham to Nehemiah? How many could explain the meaning of justification by faith? The writer says that they were like babies still on milk, not yet ready for solid food. The sense here is that to grow you need food appropriate to your stage of growth.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Trustees of Rutherford House, meeting today in Edinburgh. Pray for the Administrator of the House, Healey Blair. Pray on for a new Director.

Friday 18th August
Hebrews 6:4-6
These verses raise very difficult issues if we believe that the Bible is the Word of God and therefore cannot contradict itself. It is very clear in the Bible that if someone is born again of the Holy Spirit, then such a person will certainly go to heaven. How then are we to understand these verses? First of all, we must recognise that this is talking about people who at one time appeared to be Christians and have now become apostate. That is to say, they have denied Christ and gone back to their old religion be it Judaism or one of the pagan religions or whatever. This is not referring to people who have backslidden, who have committed some sin. It refers to people who have abandoned Christianity altogether. That, I think, is the force of verse 7. It seems to me that these verses are referring to those who are on the fringes of the Christian Church, those who have been privileged to hear and understand something of the truth of the faith, those who may even have experienced something of the work of the Holy Spirit but who were never truly converted.

Prayer Point
Pray for all the candidates for the ministry of the Church of Scotland from the Highlands and Islands and pray that more will join them.

Saturday 19th August
Hebrews 6:7-12
The people of whom he has just been speaking will never produce a spiritual harvest but those who are truly believers will (verses 7-8). Notice, the writer is confident that the Hebrews will produce a good crop, they will produce ‘things that accompany salvation’. That expression is itself a helpful point in the argument. Those who do not produce spiritual fruit and who ultimately fall away are not producing ‘the things that accompany salvation’ because they are not saved! Paul uses the same illustration of bearing fruit in Galatians 5:19-25. Are we producing spiritual fruit? Over the past few days, we have seen warnings which each of us must take to heart. It is very easy to be content with spiritual milk and to refuse to go on to solid food; it is very easy to remain immature; it is easy to backslide and it is easy to be unfruitful.

Prayer Point
Pray for the church in South Korea, especially in this time of tension with North Korea. Give thanks for the many Korean missionaries who are serving all over the world.

Sunday 20th August
Hebrews 6:13-20
The chapter ends on a positive note, by speaking about God’s promise and the absolute trustworthiness of God in relation to his promises. Since the promises of God are sure and certain, we have a hope that is sure and certain. In fact, we are told in verse 19 that, ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure’. While others may break their promises, God does not. If God has made a promise, we can be absolutely sure that he will do what he has promised. In a world which is constantly changing, where nothing remains the same for long; and in a society where the very foundations appear to be crumbling, how wonderful it is to know that our God is unchanging and unchangeable and that his promises are a solid rock on which we can build our lives.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister as he takes morning and evening services today and for Donald MacVicar as he takes the Raigmore service.

Monday 21st August
Hebrews 7
The subject of this chapter is a comparison between Jesus and Melchizedek. It must be said that this is quite a complicated chapter, although it is not the first reference to Melchizedek. In Hebrews 5:6, Jesus is described as ‘a priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek’. Then, in verses 8-10 of the same chapter, we read this: ‘Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek’. Finally, Hebrews 6 finishes with these words: Jesus ‘has become a high priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek’. These references in chapters 5 and 6 prepare us for chapter 7, where the whole chapter is given over to the theme of Jesus and Melchizedek. We read the whole chapter today to get the big picture and over the next few days we shall look at the detail.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Church of Scotland Council of Assembly Strategy Group, meeting today in Edinburgh and pray for the Minister as he attends the meeting.

Tuesday 22nd August
Hebrews 7:1-10
Who was Melchizedek? We must go back to the life of Abraham in order to refresh our memories. Let’s read Genesis 14:17-20: ‘After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the King of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). Then Melchizedek King of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything’. Now notice four things in these verses from Hebrews: First, Melchizedek was a King of Salem, that is, Jerusalem. Second, ‘He was a priest of God Most High’, yet this was before the Old Testament Levitical Priesthood was established. Third, he blessed Abraham. Fourth, Abraham gave him a tithe of everything. All of these points are significant, as we shall see.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Girls’ Brigade and for our faithful team of officers and helpers, led by Susan Mackenzie. Pray that the girls may hear and understand what they are being taught and may learn to seek, serve and follow the Lord.

Wednesday 23rd August
Hebrews 7:11-28
In Hebrews 7, the writer is concerned to answer a particular question which must have troubled his Jewish readers. He has said that Jesus Christ is our High Priest. There is an obvious objection to this statement: Jesus cannot be a High Priest because he is not descended from Aaron, and the law is very clear that all priests must be of the tribe of Levi. In answering this objection, the writer to the Hebrews says, Jesus is indeed our High Priest but his is not a Levitical priesthood, rather he is a priest ‘after the order of Melchizedek’. What does that mean? The first thing to be said, as we see in verse 3, is that Melchizedek has no genealogy. To be a Levitical priest you had to prove your ancestry but the genealogy of Melchizedek is not known and not given.

Prayer Point
Pray for all the churches in the Presbytery of Inverness, asking that we might together make a significant impact for Christ in our Presbytery area.

Thursday 24th August
Hebrews 7
We read the whole chapter again, to try and put all we have seen together. Melchizedek’s priesthood, then, depended on what he was in himself, not in his line of descent. It was because of his personal qualifications that he was a priest. In answer to the Jews, the writer to the Hebrews says that Jesus was a priest like that. In other words, he was a priest because of personal qualifications and not because he was a Levite. The second thing to be said about Melchizedek is that his greatness was demonstrated by the way Abraham treated him. In order to prove that Melchizedek’s priesthood was superior to that of Aaron, the writer goes back to the Genesis story and notes that Melchizedek receives tithes from Abraham. Having made these points, the writer then quotes the messianic Psalm, Psalm 110:4, where the Messiah is specifically prophesied to be a priest ‘after the order of Melchizedek’. This was to be a departure from Old Testament priesthood and to represent something new.

Prayer Point
Pray for the planning group, preparing for an outreach to the city on Saturday 23rd September.

Friday 25th August
Hebrews 8:1-6
In the Old Testament, Jeremiah said that one day there would be a new and better covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). God said through Jeremiah that this new covenant would not be like the covenant God made with Moses and the people after he brought them out of Egypt. God even described the ways in which this covenant would be different. Notice three things here: I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people; I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. That prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled by Jesus, who instigated a new covenant, which was superior to the old one (verse 6). This new covenant is a great blessing to every believer and it defines our relationship to God.

Prayer Point
Pray for Alan Stewart and Tracy Sinclair as they are married in church today. Ask that God would be with them and that they would know his presence with them.

Saturday 26th August
Hebrews 8:7-13
In this passage, the writer to the Hebrews is comparing the ministry of the priests in the temple (and especially the High Priest) with the ministry of Jesus. In this comparison, he quotes from the Jeremiah passage we noted yesterday. Not only is Jesus our great High Priest, having made one final sacrifice on the cross which renders the old temple priesthood redundant but he is also the one who instigates a new covenant. We see this also in Hebrews 9:15: ‘For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant’. All of the priests and sacrifices of the old covenant looked forward to the day when, with one sacrifice, Jesus would pay the penalty for sins. Everything comes to its climax in the coming of Jesus. Everything that went before was looking forward, awaiting fulfilment.

Prayer Point
Pray for the church in Brazil today, especially for the Presbyterian Church of Brazil and its Mackenzie University. Give thanks for their faithful service to Christ.

Sunday 27th August
Hebrews 9:1-10
This passage speaks about the High Priest and the Most Holy Place. To understand this, we must go back to Leviticus 16, where we read about the institution of the Day of Atonement. Aaron, the brother of Moses, was the High Priest of Israel and it was his function, along with all the other priests, to offer sacrifices to God. Aaron had one duty, however, which could not be performed by any of the other priests. On the Day of Atonement, once each year, on the tenth day of the seventh month, Aaron was to enter into the Most Holy Place (sometimes called the Holy of Holies). This was the inner sanctuary of the Tent (and later of the Temple). No-one else was ever allowed into this inner sanctum and even the High Priest only went in on this one important day in the year. While he was in the Most Holy Place the High Priest offered sacrifices, to make atonement for the whole people of God. He first of all made atonement for the Tent of Meeting itself, including the Most Holy Place. Then he offered a sacrifice for his own sins and for the sins of the people of Israel. This ritual was to be repeated every year without fail.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister as he takes the morning and evening services today and for Derek Morrison as he takes the Raigmore service.

Monday 28th August
Hebrews 9:11-15
Yesterday we read about the High Priest in the Old Testament. Today we see that Jesus is now our great High Priest. He is both the lamb of God who was sacrificed for sinners and also the great High Priest who offers the sacrifice. The High Priest of the Jews offered the same sacrifices year after year, but Jesus, with one sacrifice, put an end to all that. The High Priest in the Old Testament entered into the Most Holy Place to offer the sacrifice of atonement, but Jesus entered into heaven itself. The blood of goats and calves did not really cleanse men and women from sin but only made them ‘ceremonially’ clean; but the blood of Christ actually cleanses us from sin once and for all. The High Priest in the Old Testament had to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as those of the people, but Jesus was without sin. Everything which we read in the Old Testament about sacrifices and priests and so on was summed up in the Cross. The plan of God for the salvation of his elect people did not begin when Jesus was born. Rather the whole Bible stands together and we can see the fulfilment in Christ of all the temporary measures taken in the Old Testament.

Prayer Point
Pray for the World Reformed Fellowship, which seeks to help Reformed churches, institutions and individuals to work together across national boundaries and to support one another.

Tuesday 29th August
Hebrews 9:11-15
We read these verses yesterday, now we consider their meaning for us. In Matthew 27:50-51, we are told that, at the very moment Jesus died, the curtain in the temple was torn in two. Now that curtain was the curtain between the sanctuary and the Most Holy Place. That is to say, it was the curtain which the High Priest passed through going into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement each year. Suddenly everyone could see into the Most Holy Place. Suddenly the barrier between the Most Holy Place and the remainder of the temple had been taken away. This was a sign from God that the Jewish High Priest was not needed any more. Jesus had fulfilled with one sacrifice everything which was previously done by the High Priest and this had been accepted on behalf of the elect by God. Anyone can now come into the nearer presence of God not just one man on one day in the year. More important still, when we do come into the nearer presence of God we don’t come bearing a sacrifice. The debt for sin has already been fully paid.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister as he chairs a conference, which beginns in Edinburgh today, to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Wednesday 30th August
Hebrews 9:16-28
In this passage, the writer speaks about the blood of Christ. In verses 19-22, he refers to Moses who spoke about ‘the blood of the covenant’. Jesus himself took up those words of Moses and applied them to his own ministry and sacrifice. We know the familiar words of Jesus from 1 Corinthians 11:25: ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ When Jesus said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’ the disciples would immediately have seen the connection. The Old Testament is full of blood sacrifices. A blood sacrifice is necessary for the forgiveness of sins, the shedding of blood brings forgiveness. That is why the blood of Jesus is so important.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Women’s Bible Study, the Gathering and the Fellowship Groups as they begin again after the summer break.

Thursday 31st August
Hebrews 10:1-18
Over the past few days, we have seen how the Old Testament sacrifices had to be offered time and time again whereas Christ only offered himself once. We have compared Christ to the High Priest and shown that he was a priest ‘after the order of Melchizedek.’ In today’s passage, the writer is summing up all these things and making the final comparisons between the Old Testament and the New Covenant. The most significant element of these verses is the writer’s concern with the sanctification of the Christian believer. In other words, although it may appear on the surface that the writer’s intention is to compare two types of priesthood, if we look closer we can see that his real intention is to show the effect of the priesthood on the believer. If we look at verses 1-4 and 10-14, we can see that the removal of sins and making men and women holy, are the matters of real importance. Are we seeing the sanctification of our lives by the Holy Spirit? That, after all, is the end product of the work of Christ on the Cross, as we see here.

Prayer Point
Pray for all of us in the East Church, that we would have a deepening hunger for the Scriptures and a real desire to know God better.