The old man was known by many names. Since he became a follower of the Lord he had been known as Teacher, Shepherd, Preacher, and Reader. His children, though they were grown and had children of their own, still called him Abba, as did all of the youngest children in his flock. His wife of over three decades called him Old Man. She had done so since before they were married, however, and at that time he was barely thirty. She wasn’t much younger than him, but from
Yet, since meeting the Lord, he was living his last life before eternal life; the one and only life he’d ever live again. That’s why he began to be known as Exad. Exad is not really a Hebrew name, it’s one of the first words Hebrew children learn after saying “Abba” or “Imah”. They learn their “aleph, bet, gimmel” as patient fathers teach them the sounds of Hebrew letters. the time they fell in love she could see ancient ghosts in his eyes. No one else might notice, but to her, his eyes said that he’d lived a thousand lives before he met Jesus.
And they learn to count, beginning with the number one, which is “exad”.
At first the brothers called him Exad as a teasing pet name. He was always the first to serve no matter how unpleasant the task. He was always the first to speak when an opportunity arose to ask or to answer a question. But for those who had known anything about his days before becoming a disciple, the name stuck more because it was in such contrast to who he had been in that other life; the life before he met Jesus. He was no longer a divided man, but was whole and singly complete as “one”…”exad”…one man following the Lord with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength.
Exad’s flock gathers again inside his home. Years had passed since the custom of meeting every day had been practiced and with heightened level of terror in the city, they had all been surprised at the message they received calling them to meet again only two days after the assembly to hear the reading of the letter.
“I have something very important to tell you tonight.” Exad begins speaking as soon as he’s sure that everyone who will be present for this meeting has found their place in his house. He’s worried when he realizes that you are not there. He’s already waited longer than usual to begin, hoping that you will bounce in at the last moment as you usually do. He’s already asked everyone, “Have you seen Ishmael? ” but no one has seen you nor heard any rumors about where you might be. Exad worries about you, but forces himself to go on.
“Before I tell you something extraordinary, I want to ask if you have any questions about the letter we read the other evening?” and for the next hour the letter is discussed in detail. Exad was thorough with the answers he gave, but uncharacteristically succinct. He had something else on his mind. Everyone could see that he was eager to move on and tell them something “extraordinary”.
Many of the questions that did get asked centered on the Temple and worship under the covenant with Moses in relationship to their faith in Jesus Christ. Exad took the most time with these questions, reading a lengthy passage from the letter again and making brief comments as he went along:
Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lamp stand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.
“And I agree that we cannot discuss these things in detail now. But notice that the writer is accurately describing the way the stage was set in the tabernacle, and then later in the Temple. These objects were precisely designed by the Lord God Almighty and built to exact specifications. What the ancients never understood, and neither do those who still today worship in the old way, is that these articles all represented something that would come in the future and replace the articles with something better.” Exad reads on:
When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! “With this the letter is explaining to us that the perfect blood of our Lord was poured out so that once and for all our sins could be forgiven, our consciences cleansed and our lives changed for a greater purpose.”
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
“Notice and remember that while Jesus was alive he, too, lived under the covenant established with Moses. Only after his death was his will established. And though similarities between the old way and Christ’s way exist, so do differences. The priest sacrificed over and over, year after year, but Jesus needed only to give his sinless life once and for all. Listen to this, ‘It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
“We must not stop waiting for Him. Many of our brethren have stopped. They have deserted the faith. Some have abandoned the Lord out of confusion over the old ways. Some out of fear of the Romans, others out of fear of the Sicarii. But we must not be afraid. We must stay true to the One who has appeared once and for all to destroy sin and death.” Exad takes a breath and one of the younger men asks, “Don’t make us wait any longer. What is the other important thing you have to tell us?”
Exad clears his throat, straightens his shoulders and looks at all of their pensive faces, “What I have to say now will change the rest of all of our lives.”
The crowd looks at one another, bracing themselves for whatever it is that Exad has to tell them.
“Yes, the rest of our lives,” and looking more serious than they’ve ever seen this serious old man look, he adds, “If we are to live, that is.”