We have an altar …

Peter Leithart shares some thoughts on the Eucharist which I find interesting to ponder and which I would like to recommend for your reading:

“We have an altar, from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate” (Hebrews 13:10-12 RSV).

The author of Hebrews refers to the regulations of Leviticus 4. The blood of sin offerings for priests and for the whole congregation was taken into the holy place and smeared on the horns of the golden altar. When that happened, the animal’s flesh was not consumed but burned outside the camp. Blood goes in, flesh goes out. Blood goes in, no meal.

Jesus’ sin offering is different. His blood is taken into the heavenly holy place, and His flesh is destroyed outside the camp. And yet, the writer of Hebrews implies, we have an altar, and apparently a right to eat from that altar.

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Peter Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute for Biblical, Liturgical, & Cultural Studies in Birmingham, Alabama, and Senior Fellow for Theology and Literature at New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. He is married to Noel and has ten children and seven grand children. This article was published at his blog, Leithart.

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