Hebrews 9:16 “Where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.”
The purpose of your last will and testament is to communicate your instructions for what to do with your estate after you have died. What are your wishes for what belonged to you while you were alive?
For your instructions to be honored, you must write out this legally binding document while you are alive. But the instructions do not go into effect until you die. Ever wonder where this idea originated? The Bible.
In this week’s verse, the writer of Hebrews uses logic to give a deductive argument for your ‘last will and testament’: “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore, not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.” (Hebrews 9:16-18). Here is the argument.
Premise 1 (verse 16) = The power in anyone’s “Will and Testament” is in their death.
Premise 2 (verse 17) = Anyone’s “Will and Testament” has no power while that person is alive.
Conclusion (verse 18) = God’s “Will and Testament” can only be realized through death.
Verses 16-17 tell us exactly how today’s will and testament works in America’s legal system. For the testator (the one who writes their will) to have his or her wishes fulfilled, he or she must be dead. The amazing thing in these verses is the writer relates this to God’s will and testament – His “first covenant.”
What does the writer mean by the “first covenant”? The Old Testament book of Nehemiah reminds us of this first covenant with Abraham: “God, You found Abraham’s heart faithful before You, and made a covenant (will and testament) with him” (Nehemiah 9:8). What was that “first covenant”?
Paul, in Galatians 3:6-9, explains the “first covenant” – the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “Just as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness, therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’ So those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” God’s covenant with Abraham is a covenant of faith.
Paul is referring to the events recorded in Genesis 15:5-18. And how did God seal this first covenant, the Gospel, with Abraham? Verses 9-10 say through a blood sacrifice. This is what Hebrews 9:18 means.
Now, back to the Passover celebration. What was the reason God implemented the Passover? It all starts in Exodus 2:23-24: “Now it happened that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.”
The Passover is celebrated every year to thank God for delivering Israel from Egyptian slavery. God did this by remembering His first covenant of faith with Abraham, which He sealed in death – the Gospel.
Now, the writer of Hebrews continues in verses 19-22: “For when Moses had spoken every command to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.’ Then he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” We again see that death (blood sacrifice) is required for a will to go into effect.
After Abraham, God continued his ‘will and testament’ with the Mosaic Covenant. Exodus chapter 3 says God sent Moses as His deliverer to lead Israel out of Egypt. And it was here that God instituted the Passover, where faith in the shed blood of an innocent, spotless lamb is the only way to escape death.
The writer of Hebrews explains how the original Passover lamb is now replaced in the final, new covenant by Jesus Christ: “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason, Christ is the Mediator of the NEW COVENANT, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the FIRST COVENANT, that those who are called may receive the promise of the inheritance of eternal life.” (Hebrews 9:14-15). God’s Will and Testament is now in full force by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance” _ Article #545