Jeff interviews Dr. Andrew Swafford on his latest study, Hebrews: The New and Eternal Covenant. Dr. Swafford shows us that by understanding the roots of liturgical worship in the old testament, we can have a deeper appreciation for the eternal sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. In this episode, Jeff and Dr.Swafford dive into the letter to the Hebrews and offer us a renewed love for the Mass.
Snippet from the Show
“We no longer imitate the heavenly liturgy, we actually share in it because Christ has reconciled heaven and earth.”
Jesus Christ is the culmination of the story of salvation and the fulfillment of the old covenant. The letter to the Hebrews wonderfully shows us how Jesus fulfills the old covenant and reconciles heaven and earth through his sacrifice on the cross. Jesus is both priest and victim, and his self-offering to the Father is the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The Eucharist is the unleashing of God’s presence in the world. As Catholics, we now all have access to our heavenly Father’s throne of grace and seat of mercy because of what Jesus has done.
Priesthood and Sacrifice in the Old Testament
At Mount Sinai in the book of Exodus, we see the introduction of the priesthood, the law, and the Tabernacle. The Lord instructed Moses to make the Tabernacle after the heavenly pattern of God’s presence on top of Mount Sinai. The sacrifice that we see in Exodus 24 seals the old covenant and is a foreshadowing of the Last Supper and institution of the Eucharist.
“Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, ‘See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’”- Exodus 24:8
“While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” – Matthew 26: 26-28
There are multiple layers of priesthood in the old testament. In Abraham, Isaac, and Noah we see the patriarchal priesthood-they built altars, made sacrifices, gave blessings. The patriarchal priesthood very much represented spiritual fatherhood. The letter to the Hebrews shows that Jesus restored and elevated this patriarchal priesthood when he calls the twelve apostles which represent the twelve tribes of Israel. A Catholic priest is rightly called “father” because he is our supernatural father in Christ.
The high priest in ancient Israel offered sacrifice for the sins of the people and was allowed into the holy of holies on the day of atonement, which we see in the book of Leviticus in chapter 16. The sacrifice which took place on the day of atonement was a reminder of sin, it symbolically took away sin but not in fully redemptive manner. Jesus is the new high priest who bears the sin of humanity, fully redeems us, and takes away our sin to reconcile us with God. When we receive the Lord in the Eucharist at Mass, we enter into the Messianic banquet, the wedding supper of the lamb. The holy sacrifice of the Mass makes present the heavenly banquet meal in the presence of God.
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Meet Your Host: Jeff Cavins
Jeff Cavins is passionate about helping people understand Scripture and become disciples of Jesus Christ. Though he was born Catholic, Jeff went to Bible school and served as a protestant minister for twelve years before reverting to the Catholic Faith. Jeff then received his MA in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Since then, he has become a leading Catholic evangelist and author.
Jeff created The Bible Timeline learning system, which revolutionized Catholic Bible Study for millions of Catholics. Since its introduction, Jeff has developed The Great Adventure series of Bible studies to help people better understand Sacred Scripture and its meaning for their lives.