Shelf Life


The Law was designed by God to have a shelf life. It was designed to become obsolete, so that under the new covenant you can come boldly before the throne of God.

Remember the very first cell phones? I'm talking about the ones that were the size of a small child -- the kind you had to carry around in a wagon. They were pretty cool, weren't they? But over the years, cell phones have become smaller and more powerful, and now they can take pictures, access the Internet almost anywhere, and download music and apps. They can call people, too.

But your phone was designed to become obsolete. It's cool today, but the company that made it has already anticipated what the next several models are going to be. Your gadget was planned to become outdated so that you'll hunger for the next one. It's all part of their scheme, and it works incredibly well. In the same way, the Law was designed by God to have a shelf life. It was designed to be temporary. It was designed to become obsolete.

In ancient times, the Jewish people began their study of the Bible in Leviticus, a book of the Law, because they wanted to teach their children early on that the way to God is through sacrifice. Every Israelite was required to bring a sacrifice of some kind during their life, including the mandatory sin and trespass offerings. It was the business of the priest -- the representative of the people before God -- to offer these sacrifices to God.

But, Hebrews says, "The law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered?" (Hebrews 10:1-2).

That's why there was a need for a new covenant. That's why Jesus Christ came. Under the new covenant, the sacrifices and the role of the high priest were fulfilled in Him. He made the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, and He is the High Priest who presented His blood before the throne of His Father and is now seated at the right hand of God. Under the new covenant, you can come boldly before the throne of God; you don't need a human priest on the earth anymore, because Jesus Christ is the great High Priest.

In other words, the book of Leviticus has lost its punch because Jesus came and fulfilled it all. That's the point the writer of Hebrews was making: "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.... And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:4, 11-12).

Do you know how significant this is? Priests didn't sit down. They were constantly on their feet, standing to minister. They would only sit down when they were off duty and their work was finished. Then they would get back up and do the same thing day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year.

But Jesus made an offering once for all, and He sat down because there were no more sacrifices to offer. When He said "It is finished" (John 19:30), He meant all of Leviticus, all of the Law. It's over. We don't offer animal sacrifices anymore. Our High Priest's offering was so complete that He could sit down at the right hand of His Father.

As believers, we have a joy that's very different from the kind that goes on in the world: we celebrate our hero's bloody sacrifice, because that was enough to end the need for any further sacrifices. By accepting Jesus Christ's finished work on the cross, we can say, "It was good enough for Him; it's good enough for me." And we can sit down and rest in that once-for-all finished work of our great High Priest.

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