Once in a lifetime

by Scott Vance on August 02, 2022

Hebrews 9:23–28
23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Have you ever heard the phrase “once in a lifetime?”  It is often appropriated into such statements as, “The event of a lifetime,” “The performance of a lifetime,” “The game of a lifetime,” and other such things including, unfortunately, “The sale of a lifetime.”
The point of the phrase is that this will only happen once, and we will never see the like again.
That’s one of the grand points that Hebrews is making in this passage, and Hebrews makes this point in verses 25-26, and in verse 28.  Jesus died once for all.  This same point has been made in 9.12 and will be made again in 10.10.  Jesus’ death happened once for all, and it does not and will not be repeated.
That’s why Jesus is superior to the old sacrificial system of the Temple.  The sacrificial system of the Temple had to be repeated over and over again under the old covenant, but now that Jesus is here and the new covenant is established through His perfect atoning sacrifice, the way is open for all of us to draw near to the throne of grace where we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4.16).
There is another grand point in this passage that I just love that can easily slip by us if we’re not paying attention.  It’s in verse 28.  Jesus will appear a second time; in other words, Jesus is coming back.  Hebrews will make this point again in 10.37.
Jesus is coming again only this time it won’t be to atone for our sin as that work has already been accomplished through His death on the cross.  No, when Jesus comes again it will be to save those who have placed their trust in Him and as Paul notes in Philippians 3.20-4.1, to transform them to be who God has created them to be in His kingdom which is why we have Paul’s encouragement to stand firm in the Lord while we wait for His return.
So what about you?  As I reflect on this passage, I pray that you know it’s God’s greatest desire that you be found in Him, and as we wait for His return, that we all stand firm.  So where is the Lord asking you to stand firm as you follow Him today?
God bless you and know that I am praying for you constantly.


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