Compare and Contrast

I’ve had to do one or two exams over the years.  Exams tend to imprint certain phrases in your subconscious – “You may begin,” or “stop writing, please.”  And then there are the questions.  Perhaps it was just a fad in the mid-nineties, but I seemed to always read “compare and contrast…” somewhere on the exam paper.  Well, it’s back!  Compare and contrast … Leviticus and Hebrews!

Offerings and sacrifices, altars and sanctuaries, priests and high priests.  They have so much in common.  But they were written at different times, and something so significant had occurred in the interim.  So as we see what God expected of the Israelites in the wilderness, we can also rejoice in what we see of Christ in Hebrews.  A better priestly order, a better covenant, a better sacrifice in a better sanctuary!

For many people Leviticus is not a highlight in the Bible (although the more you get into it the more fascinating and helpful it is).  But Hebrews…what can I say?  Perhaps it is no coincidence that Hebrews and highlight begin with the same letter!  Ok, actually that is a complete coincidence.  But if you engage your imagination as you read Leviticus and imagine living in those times, then compare and contrast with the joy, confidence, hope and privilege of living the life Hebrews offers.  Compare and contrast…and enjoy!

As a preacher, part of your privilege is to engage not only your imagination, but also everybody else’s.  Engage their imaginations and help them to see the wonder of all that we have in Christ.  I can almost guarantee that there are some in your church for whom the Bible feels flat.  Not only emotionally as they respond (or don’t) to it, but from cover to cover, they are unmoved by the massive move that happened when Christ came.  As a preacher you may be preaching a single passage, but help people to compare and contrast so they know what a wonderful blessing this new covenant is!

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One thought on “Compare and Contrast

  1. Actually, I think Hebrews reads more like an answer to a compare-and-contrast question. A good one, too!

    And I do love this kind of contrast. I have problems with most Christian music, because it can sound sort of vacuously cheerful and without context. One exception to this, and maybe the album that moves me most, is Neal Morse’s awkwardly named “?”. It begins in the Old Testament, sketches the tabernacle, the sacrifices, the exclusion of the imperfect from the priesthood, and generally shows us a holiness that is implacable and alien; then when, in the second half of the album, it starts to talk about grace (“Let the unclean ones come into the gate”), it’s doing that from a position where what’s now portrayed is a stark contrast to what’s gone before. Artistically, it’s earned an emotional response (and it gets one from me), and I think there’s a lot to be said for sermons that take that same path.

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