What, you may wonder does this funny little scene in an old tv episode have to do with the New Covenant in Christ’s blood? The point is that we must be keen about what people are selling us in our religious world. There are many “horse traders” in the realm of religion, and we must be careful that we not trade the truth for something far inferior. This is the very purpose of the book of Hebrews. The brethren this writer addressed were considering trading the New Covenant in Christ for the Old Covenant given by Moses. Make no mistake, Moses’ Law served a valid purpose in its day, but as the Hebrews writer points out in Hebrews 8:1-13, the validity of that covenant has passed.
To return to Moses’ Law would be a significant downgrade in spiritual value. Those sacrifices and ordinances under the Old Covenant were “…the copy and shadow of the heavenly things…” (Heb. 8:5). The substance is always greater than the shadow it castes. We may certainly begin to understand the substance by examining the shadow, but when we finally see the substance casting the shadow, we are obliged to leave the shadow and look to the substance. A great many modern practices are supported by their existence in the Mosaic Law such as the clergy systems in various denominations, burning incense, interpretive dance in worship (after all David danced before God; 2 Sam. 6:14-15), tithing rather than giving according to one’s prosperity, mechanical instrumental praise, etc.
Without a doubt, the ceremonial aspects of the Old Covenant are appealing to people. The grand processions, ornamental clothing, stirring musical performances, among other things most certainly stir our spirits. This cannot be denied, but there is a more important question to ask of these Old Testament holdovers. Does the interjection of these Old Covenant practices stir God’s Spirit to the joy it does ours? Of a certainty,
worship ought to stir us, but it is the reality of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ with its accompanying access to God which is the source of our emotional fervor in worship (Heb. 10:19-25). No doubt, we are emotional creatures, and our emotions play a key role in our continuance in anything we set out to do.
However, it is concerning to me that we have need of outward, ritualistic, ornamental things pulled from an obsolete covenant in order to maintain our fervor for the Christ. How is it these things carry more weight in our spirits than the realization that Jesus suffered the most gruesome death of the ancient world to redeem us from our sins? I can’t help but think many of us have traded our salvation for a bag of “licorice seeds.” As exciting as it all may look or sound, those seeds will not produce. Do not fall victim to the religious horse traders out there. Jesus and His word are all we need.