The Book of Hebrews – Rituals will not Save us

Posted on Posted in The Book of Hebrews

“This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.” Hebrews 9:9-10

The old covenant was a list of rituals that had to be performed before you could be forgiven of your sins. A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed in a sequestered place and according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Ritual has its roots in religion, and life’s fundamental passages are often traditionally accompanied by religious ritual. There is nothing wrong with rituals. We all have rituals that we do every day; most of them out of habit. We have rituals in the church that we perform. Communion is a great example of this. As we symbolically partake in the body and blood of Christ Jesus, we remind ourselves of the sacrifice God the Father and his son Jesus made on our behalf. We remind ourselves that His body was broken so that we may be whole. We remind ourselves that His blood was shed so that we can be forgiven.

In the same way, the Israelites experienced and celebrated certain rituals that were aimed at looking forward to the time of Christ Jesus. They were by no means an end unto themselves; they served as an illustration of the new order, the institution of Jesus’ eternal High Priesthood.

These rituals were carried out day after day, month after month, year after year. If this system of rituals could have worked, then the repetition would not have been needed, in other words, they would not have offered the same gifts and sacrifices over and over. Understanding this, we see why the entire system served as an illustration. The sacrifices made never cleared the conscience of the worshipper. What was offered was never able to renew the inner man because it only dealt with external rules and regulations for the body. This is why a new order was needed, one that dealt with the heart of mankind. Rituals will not save us. The only thing that will save us is the blood of Jesus Christ.

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