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The Priest Who Stands And Jesus Who Sits

Hebrews 10:11-14
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy. (NIVUK)

The old covenant prescribed a busy routine for the priests. Having slaughtered and sacrificed one animal, the next sinner was waiting in the queue with yet another animal. Those people became regulars: confessing their sins and presenting their sacrifice to the blood-splattered priests. There was no end to the cycle of sin and sacrifice. So the priests could never stop their work, standing before the Lord.

Yet the animal blood only covered sin: the offences were not disconnected from the offender. They offered a temporary reprieve from God's judgement (Hebrews 10:4), until the blood of Jesus could fully pay for the sin and remove it (1 John 3:5). But when He came to die for us, it was a once-for-ever sacrifice. Nothing more needed to be done to secure the guilt-freeing salvation of all who believe the gospel. The work was done, and so God the Son sat down in the place of power at Father God's right hand side. The significance of sitting is that the work of atonement is completed; He now has the authority and power to rule and to wait for two different scenarios to be fulfilled.

Christ firstly waits for His enemies to place their necks under His feet. That was the Eastern demonstration of a ruler gaining final victory over enemies, but the submission was forced (Joshua 10:24). When Jesus calls the rebellious to account, they will voluntarily admit that He has always been right and they were wrong (Hebrews 4:13). That outcome is certain, and so He waits for that day. Secondly, He waits for repentant people, whose sin has been removed from the divine charge sheet, to become what they are – holy (1 Peter 1:15). We have been made perfect; we now need to learn to desire, decide and do what is right (2 Corinthians 13:11). And that takes longer than we might wish.

Do not fear those who rebel against the Lord. Their days are numbered. The Lord waits for them to finally admit that He is Lord. Do not despair about your own walk with the Lord. He has committed Himself to your holiness, and is in the process of making you like Jesus (Philippians 2:13). He does not need to fight with you. He has already fought with Satan and won; but from His throne He powerfully guides us in to righteousness and we learn to accept His leading. And while we work with all the energy God gives us (Colossians 1:29), do not forget that we are already seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20). Let us learn to work with Him at the same time as we rest in Him (Colossians 3:1).

Holy and all-conquering Lord. Thank You that in Christ my sin is taken away and that I have been made holy. Forgive me for my lack of confidence in Christ's finished work, my personal restlessness as I strive to be acceptable to You, and my fear of those who are Your enemies. Help me to rest in Jesus, work with Jesus, and be confident because Jesus is King. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams