March 11, 2007
WE HAVE AN ALTAR
"We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come" (Heb 13:10-14).
In our quest to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, we have been exhorted regarding brotherly love, hospitality toward strangers, remembrance of those bonds, and sympathy with the persecuted. We are to hold marriage in highest esteem and avoid all sexual sins and covetousness and find full contentment with godliness which is great gain.
Our worship is at an altar at which those who cling to the fading things of the Old Covenant "have no right to eat." This illustration is drawn from the Day of Atonement where the bodies of the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the sanctuary, were burned "outside the camp." This type was fulfilled in the death of Christ. His blood cleansed the "heavenly things themselves" in the sanctuary above yet, He "suffered outside the gate" of Jerusalem here on earth.
The exhortation is to "go forth unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach," which reminds us of Moses who esteemed "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt." "The Jerusalem that now is," is not our abiding city, but will soon be shaken. We seek an "abiding city," the Jerusalem which is above," which is the center of the kingdom received, which "cannot be shaken."
Sanctified believers are invited to "draw near with a true heart" and have "boldness to enter...by the blood of Jesus." Yet with those privileges we are to "go forth unto" a rejected Christ, and suffer the shame put upon Him, "bearing His reproach." And as they have no right to eat at our altar, no longer can we have fellowship with theirs. Their altar is occupied with "divers and strange doctrines and...with meats, which have not profited them..." (Heb. 13:9). We who are "seated in the heavenlies in Him," are like those "within the veil." Yet we, too, are "outside the camp," as we count "all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ."
Ivan L. Burgener