Hebrews 10:1-18 – The most extensive object lesson God ever gave man was the Law of Moses given at Sinai, especially the animal sacrifices. Time after time, animal after animal, year after year all these sacrifices were a shadow of the good things to come. None of it ever took away sins! It did provide atonement when coupled with faith in the coming Messiah, who would ratify the offerings. Animal sacrifices were an object lesson, a picture without words.
Not until the Lamb of God, that Isaiah the prophet foretold would be coming, would this picture be made perfect or complete. The first half of Hebrews 10 deals with some significant issues:
1) The limitations of the Law
2) How the Law Relates to the Messiah
3) the Benefits of the New Law that the Messiah has brought to those who Believe & Receive Him. The limitations of the Law: The Laws regarding worship were given in great detail in Torah, there was no room for creativity or variance. For us today we look at such things and say that such worship couldn’t help but lead to stagnation.
It was monotonous and boring, day in and day out the same things over and over again. If that weren’t enough, the understanding of why such detail and monotony was necessary was veiled to the vast majority of Israel. Without the indwelling of the Spirit of God, as well as the insights that we have in the New Covenant, so much would still remain a mystery.
In spite of the obscurity and foreshadowing of what was to come, the Law was of life and death importance. Yet it had limitations:
1. It could not make anyone perfect. (Hebrews 10:1) For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifice year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. It is obvious that if the Law did perfect people, they never would have had to repeat their sacrifices for the cleansing of their sin. The repetition revealed quite plainly that the sacrifices and the instruction surrounding them was never permanently effective. They lacked the security or permanence that we enjoy today though the Messiah.
2. It could not make anyone clean. (Hebrews 10:2) Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? Again, if the law had thoroughly cleansed its subjects, they would not have needed to keep going back to the priest for sacrificial cleansing.
3. It could not permanently take away sins. (Hebrews 10:4) The writer stresses the impossibility of the removal of sins by shedding the blood of goats and bulls. What the Law continually can and does do is stated in Hebrews 10:3. The law cannot make us perfect or cleanse and it cannot permanently remove sin; it does, however, remind us of sin.
The Law in relation to the Messiah. (Hebrews 10:5-14) – Because the Law could not do what was needed, God gave us His son the Messiah, who is introduced in v. 5 by the word therefore. Therefore, when He comes into the world, Man needed help from One who could actually keep the whole Law. This help was to come as Jeremiah foretold by the changing of our heart and a power placed within us. Jeremiah 31:31-32. This New Covenant was made possible by the work of the Messiah. Malachi foretold that it would be the Messiah who would bring this New Covenant to Israel – Malachi 3:1.
When the Messiah came into the world He didn’t come for the same reasons we did. We came to live, to find fulfillment, and to die. He came to do His Father’s work. He came to offer Himself, rather than an animal (Hebrews 10:5-10) He didn’t come with a lamb in His arms to offer to God. He was the Lamb. He voluntarily gave Himself to be the sacrifice. His sacrifice satisfied the Father as no animal sacrifice ever could because His represented a submissive will. Any animal, if it had the ability to know its future, would not have willingly died on the altar of sacrifice.
It’s important to note that God was not pleased by the killing of the animals; His pleasure came from the obedience demonstrated by the sinners who came to the altar for the cleansing of sin. Hebrews 10:9 gives us some insight into the will of God. Through his obedience Jesus brought an end to the Law and its requirements as they were known since they were given at Sinai.
He didn’t dilute or diminish the importance of the law. He took it away. If any of us think that we can reach God by the keeping of the law, this Scripture clearly states we can’t. That pathway no longer exists. Now the only way is through faith in the promised Messiah.
Hebrews 10:19-25– The letter of Hebrews repeats over and over the superiority of the Messiah, that He is greater than Moses, Elijah, or any of the prophets or the Fathers. Of all the Fathers of Israel none were able to open heaven for anyone, even themselves. Only the Messiah was qualified to be the bridge between God and Man. This is the overriding theme of Hebrews.
But now in these verses the emphasis shifts from the Messiah to our responsibility. Instead of heeding the enticing call of legalists that by obedience to certain definitive commands we will secure for ourselves righteousness and a place in heaven. Instead we are called to cultivate within ourselves an intimate relationship with Jesus that flows from an attitude of gratitude and a mindset that we are bond-slaves of Jesus. Flowing from that comes an attitude of obedience. It is the kind of behavior our Messiah demonstrated.
These verses impress us that God is not playing games: He means business. The New Covenant is a call to a life of commitment. A commitment that encompasses a way of life that cuts across the grain of our human nature. It isn’t just the best kind of life to live, it is the only one.
Hebrews 10:19 talks about the tabernacle and its inner room, the Holy of Holies. It was the holiest place that ever existed on the earth. It was a place of awe, entered into only once a year. Yet in this passage the writer, a Jewish man, speaks of it with warmth not fear. He was well familiar with the time when man, who was considered unclean by God, was not allowed access to the Holy of Holies., or if he entered in an unclean or non-prescribed manner would be struck dead (2 Samuel 6:7ff). But now the Blood of the Messiah has washed all believers, and with His blood comes His presence.
With this accomplished, we are now welcome into the Holy of Holies. This idea of simply coming into the presence of God was revolutionary. When Adam sinned God put him out of the Garden and placed a flaming sword to guard the entrance. It meant death to enter the Holy of Holies unless you were a High Priest and then only on Yom Kippur. But now we are told that the Blood of the Lamb of God has removed the fiery sword and rent in two the veil. We are now invited by God to enter into the Holy of Holies. To do this we must be aware of some key facts.
1) The Blood of the Messiah has opened the way for us. (Hebrews 10:19-20) – Notice that we are able to enter the Holy of Holies with confidence. This means that our walk with God can be confident, especially as we grow in our knowledge of Him and His ways. Contrast this with the reality that for centuries God’s people had no confidence to enter into His presence. If a person accidentally stumbled into the Holy of Holies, death would be instantaneous. But now we have confidence.
2) The Presence of the Messiah Has Filled the House. (Hebrews 10:21) – Where and what is the House of God that has been filled with the Presence of the Messiah? Prior to 70 A.D. the House of God was the Temple. But as Jeremiah prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31, we have become the House of God. And the presence of God dwells in us. Our physical bodies are like the outer court of the Temple. Inside is the unseen part we call the soul, which gives the body its impulses and feelings. Within this soul is an inner sanctum: which is our house or spirit.
When we come to the Messiah and enter the New Covenant by Faith the Presence of the Messiah fills our Spirit. This then becomes a Holy place where God does His work in our lives. 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” So then these two facts are most important The Blood of the Messiah has opened the way for us and The Presence of the Messiah Has Filled the House.
Hebrews 10:22-25 – In light of these facts we have commandments that need to be obeyed.
1) Let us draw near – Like the Children of Israel when they left Egypt God calls us to a journey of faith. We need to rely on God to do what He says He will. We need to come to Him with our inadequacy, relying on God who is more than adequate. But how do we do this? Hebrews 10:22 has the answer.
We are now to come to God with a guilt free conscience, and a body washed in pure water. The water spoken of here does not refer to literal water just as the expression for heart does not mean a literal heart. This then is not a reference to the baptism. The washing of water here speaks of the work of God’s Spirit on our lives as we take in the Word. As we expose our lives to the Word of God The Spirit of God operates in us. The Spirit of God takes the Word and washes us clean, making us pure in thought, speech, actions and habits.
2) Let us speak out (Hebrews 10:23) The Believer whose in touch with God and under His control has a hope that the world does not. The world needs and desires to know of the hope within us. As believers we are called to share this hope. We are to tell others how they can smile in this day and age of despair.
3.) Let us stir up (Hebrews 10:24-25) – This involves getting together with others, being committed to others. “Let us consider” This suggests the thought of putting your mind to action. We are commanded to show continuous care in stimulating (encouraging) one another to excel in: (1) love, and (2) good deeds.
This raises the question, how do we implement these commands?
1) By not being absent when the assembly meets. It’s difficult to encourage each other when we are not together.
2) By encouraging one another. The act of encouragement is the work of taking in others to us. It is the same ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Does this happen only on Sundays, just once a week? No everyday. Hebrews 3:13. Do we need to wait for hints that encouragement is needed? No. Romans 14:19. It doesn’t need to be anything extensive as Proverbs 15:23 says.
In closing let’s remember that God invites all of us to enter the Holy Place. When was the last time you drew near to Him? Guilt free, and able to enjoy Him and talk with Him? Our study this morning tells us plainly it’s possible to have the holy of holies within us. By Faith we enter and enjoy Him, peacefully and calmly and to abide in Him. And from there we are called to draw near to God speak out, and stir up (John 15:1-6).