Read Hebrews 9:24. According to this passage, what was the purpose of Jesus’ ascension to heaven?
God instructed Israel that their males should go three times every year up to Jerusalem to “appear before the Lord” with an offering. The appointed times were the feast of Passover (Unleavened Bread), the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and the Feast of Booths (Exodus 23:14-17, Deuteronomy 16:16). Passover celebrated Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. Pentecost celebrated the barley harvest and, by the time of the New Testament, it was associated with the giving of the law at Sinai. The Feast of Booths celebrated God’s care for Israel during their sojourn in the desert. According to the New Testament, all the Old testament feasts also have prophetic significance.
Hebrews 9:24 describes Jesus’ ascension into the presence of the Father. He arrived at the heavenly sanctuary, “the true one,” in order to “appear” before God with a better sacrifice (Hebrews 9:23-24, NIV) — His own blood.
Jesus fulfilled the pilgrimage feasts’ prophetic significance with amazing accuracy. He died on the day for the preparation of the Passover at the ninth hour, the moment in which Passover lambs were sacrificed (John 19:14, Matthew 27:45-50). Jesus was resurrected on the third day and ascended to heaven to receive assurance that His sacrifice had been accepted (John 20:17, 1 Corinthians 15:20), when the priest was to wave the sheaf of ripe barley as the first fruits (Leviticus 23:10-12). Then, He ascended 40 days later to sit at the right hand of God and inaugurate the new covenant on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:1-2:47).
The purpose of pilgrimage in ancient Israel was to “behold the face of God” (Psalm 42:2, NRSV). This meant to experience God’s favor (Psalm 17:15). Similarly, the Hebrew expression to “seek the face of God” meant to ask God for help (2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 27:8, Psalm 105:4). This is the sense, in Hebrews, of Jesus’ ascension. Jesus ascended to God with the perfect sacrifice. Jesus ascended to heaven also as our forerunner into the presence of God (Hebrews 6:19-20). He has made real the promise for the believers who journey “seeking a homeland,” desiring “a better country” looking “forward to the city … whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10, Hebrews 13-16, NRSV).
|Again, why should the reality of what Christ has done, not only on the cross but what He is doing now in heaven, give us assurance of salvation?|