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Further Reading Resources for you - Hebrews
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The Futility of the Law Contrasted with the Ability of Christ.
1. For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. (NKJVTM)
Since the law was only a picture to foretell the reality which was to come in Christ, it was not itself able to remove the sin and cleanse consciences of the worshippers who approached God by animal sacrifice. The sacrifices made prior to the law (such as Abel's offering) could not either, but served the same purpose.
2. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. (NKJVTM)
The fact that these sacrifices were repeated every year demonstrated that they did not remove sin. For once sin was removed, bringing peace with God, there would be no need for another sacrifice, and so the offerings would cease.
3. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. (NKJVTM)
The purpose of the sacrificial system was to remind the people of their sin, and by this instruct them of their need of a Saviour. Through symbol it also instructed them of what the Saviour would do for them.
4. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. (NKJVTM)
Since it was not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins, it would be necessary for Christ to shed his own blood to achieve this (1 John 1:7).
5,6. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU DID NOT DESIRE, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME. IN BURNT OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICES FOR SIN YOU HAD NO PLEASURE. (NKJVTM)
This accords with the words of the prophets as quoted in verses 5 to 7. The animal sacrifices were of no benefit to the worshipper (other than as a symbol for giving instruction) and God took no pleasure in them - since death, whether of animals or men, is the result of sin. So when Christ came into the world, he came to bring a better and more perfect sacrifice, his own body, prepared to be without sin in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).
7. THEN I SAID, 'BEHOLD, I HAVE COME— IN THE VOLUME OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME— TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.' (NKJVTM)
Christ entered the world according to all that had been written about him previously in the scriptures. He came to do the will of God, which was offer himself as a perfect sacrifice for sins.
8,9. Previously saying, "SACRIFICE AND OFFERING, BURNT OFFERINGS, AND OFFERINGS FOR SIN YOU DID NOT DESIRE, NOR HAD PLEASURE IN THEM" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. (NKJVTM)
Christ's death on the cross indicates the complete abolition of the sacrificial system and so the Old covenant itself (the Levitical law). Christ has brought in a New Covenant.
10. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (NKJVTM)
By that one offering of the body of Christ we are made holy, set apart to God and saved from sin.
11. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. (NKJVTM)
The futility of the sacrificial system is here revealed. Day after day every the priests offer the same sacrifices which are utterly useless with regard to removing sin.
12. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. (NKJVTM)
By contrast, Jesus Christ, having finished his work of redemption by the once forever sacrifice of himself, sat down at the right hand of God, the place of exaltation and rule, for He is Lord (Acts 2:36).
13. From that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. (NKJVTM)
Although we do not yet see our Lord ruling over all, the day will soon come when God will exert his power and put all things under subjection to his Son, who alone is worthy of absolute authority.
14. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (NKJVTM)
Christ's sacrifice is not just sufficient to remove our sin and make us holy in God's sight for a time, but since it is an offering of eternal value, it is sufficient to perfect us forever, bringing us to the sinless perfection of heaven.
15,16. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, "THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR HEARTS, AND IN THEIR MINDS I WILL WRITE THEM." (NKJVTM)
In the prophets, the Holy Spirit bore witness to the New Covenant, saying 'I will write my law in their hearts and minds'. The Old Covenant consisted in outward ritual, whereas the New Covenant consists in what is spiritual - a new creation.
17. Then He adds, "THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." (NKJVTM)
It is not a case of God forgetting anything, but of sin being so completely expiated that it is removed even from memory. Our sins will never more be held to our account.
18. Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. (NKJVTM)
Paul's point is clear: since we have received complete forgiveness for sin, why is there any further need to make offerings at the temple?
The New and Living Way.
19. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus. (NKJVTM)
We are fully assured of access into God's presence at all times through the blood of Jesus, which is to be contrasted with the restricted access which was the case under the old covenant.
20. By a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh. (NKJVTM)
This way into God's presence is new and living for it replaces the shadows of the Old Covenant and ushers in the reality in Christ. It is the way Jesus himself set apart for us, a holy way, through the offering of his body, which was broken that we might have unrestricted access and relationship with God.
21. And having a High Priest over the house of God. (NKJVTM)
Having suffered for us, we know that Christ is sympathetic, compassionate and approachable High Priest. That is why there is no fear or hesitation in approaching him for grace and mercy, for we know it will be freely given.
22. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (NKJVTM)
So let us draw near to God with a true heart, our love for him being genuine, and in full assurance of faith, for our inward man has been cleansed from guilt, and our bodies (which were defiled by our using them for sin) made holy by Christ, "washed with pure water."
23. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (NKJVTM)
Since our hope is certain, let us hold fast to our confession of it, since the God who announced it is reliable and trustworthy.
24. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works. (NKJVTM)
Rather than be preoccupied with the former religious system, Christians should think of ways to be preoccupied with God's love and look for ways to express our love for Christ's body practically. As we do so, we will provoke reciprocal love, shown by good works.
25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (NKJVTM)
The most important way of showing our Christian love is to gather together in worship, with exhortation from the word of God being part of that worship. Loving Christ's body, which is a spiritual entity, involves ministering to it in spiritual ways. Through the ministry of God's word Christians are kept ready and waiting for the Lord's coming, which we see very soon approaching. We should want spiritual company more than ever, for we will need it more than ever. The verse implies that things will be much harder for Christians at the end of time, and only those in regular fellowship, receiving spiritual strength from that fellowship, will stand.
A Warning Against Apostasy.
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. (NKJVTM)
Paul warns of the danger of falling away. Christ's sacrifice is the last ever to be made. If we wander away from that or reject it, there is no other way in which that sin might be forgiven. His warning is against willful departing from the truth we have received in Christ. Those who do so are called apostates.
27. But a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. (NKJVTM)
There will be only one thing for apostates to look forward to - judgment. God's fiery anger which will devour His enemies. Notice that God regards those who have turned away from Christ as His particular ENEMIES.
28. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. (NKJVTM)
Whoever rejected the law of Moses was put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses. There was no mercy to be found in that judgment.
29. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (NKJVTM)
How much worse will be the punishment of those who in the sight of God have disdained the Son of God, if after being cleansed by the precious blood then treated that shed blood profanely, as if it were of no real value, and by doing so has spurned the gracious work of God the Spirit in his life, effectively insulting him. The analogy is clear - there will be no mercy reserved for the so-called "backsliders" who refuse to stay faithful to the Lord who bought them.
30,31. For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (NKJVTM)
We know God to be not only our Father and Saviour, but also our judge. In the light of this, it is a fearful thing to be taken by him as rebels, as a policeman takes a thief in his crime, for this is what is meant by "fall into his hands." It means to be face punishment.
32,33. But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated. (NKJVTM)
In order to encourage them to continue in Christ, Paul reminds them of the time when they first received the gospel message and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. They had experienced great difficulty, being publicly maligned and ill - treated, either personally or as they stood side by side with those believers who were suffering in this way.
34. For you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. (NKJVTM)
Paul is referring to a time when he was a prisoner among them in Judea. They had given evidence of their Christian love by helping and ministering to his needs whilst in prison (presumably this was the time when he was arrested for his own protection by Claudius Lysias and held at Caesarea for several years). When their own property had been confiscated as a punishment for being associated with the followers of Jesus Christ, they rejoiced for they knew in their hearts that the treasure which is theirs in Christ far outweighs and outlasts what is earthly.
35. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. (NKJVTM)
Such faith carries with it great reward - so Paul encourages them to continue in it - not to cast it away. After all they had suffered to be discouraged and give up now would be foolish.
36. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. (NKJVTM)
Paul does not accuse them of lacking faith, but of lacking endurance -staying power. It is one thing to be faithful during a season of trouble, but to be faithful to the end is what counts. In the mundane times as well as the exciting, in the disappointments as well as in the blessings. As you continue in Christ and do the will of God to the end, we shall enter in to our eternal inheritance.
37. "FOR YET A LITTLE WHILE, AND HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME AND WILL NOT TARRY. (NKJVTM)
Christ's coming is near, the time when believers will be rewarded for their faithfulness. It will not be delayed for any reason. Christ will arrive on time.
38. NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; BUT IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM." (NKJVTM)
We are in a right relationship with God, leading to eternal life, by virtue of our faith in Jesus Christ. To abandon this faith and to draw back from God is to reject our relationship with him and to constitute ourselves his enemies once again, the result of which has been made plain, and which Paul repeats in verse 39.
39. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (NKJVTM)
Those who draw back go to perdition (ruin, damnation), but those who persist in faith are among the saved of Jesus Christ. Paul's exhortation is that we are not among the number who go back. Let that not be. But let us go on, to the saving of our souls.
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