FRIDAY, JUNE 8
SCRIPTURE: HEBREWS 10
The chapter opens with a statement that would have staggered first century Jews. Although it doesn’t necessarily have the same impact on us… The statement is that all the sacrifices demanded by the Levitical Law were insufficient. They had no capacity to truly deal with the sin issue. They could only cover the sin until a perfect sacrifice could be made. Indeed, as verse 6, teaches, God had no pleasure in the sacrifice of countless animals over the centuries. But those offerings made relationship between the Jewish people and God possible.
The reason we know those Old Testament sacrifices were insufficient is they had to be continuously offered. Day after day the Levitical Priests served in the Temple. Year after year the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement.
When we get to verse 12, we find the familiar refrain of this book. Jesus is better. His sacrifice was once for all. There is no repetition of Jesus’ crucifixion. There is no more covering of sin. But through His precious blood, there is the removal of sin. As verse 17 proclaims, once we come under the blood of Jesus, there is not even any more memory of our sin in the mind of God. And, in verse 18, where there is forever forgiveness there is no need for additional offerings.
Verse 20 makes an incredible comparison. It compares the heavy veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies to Jesus’ body. In other words, the only way any of us have any access to the presence of God is to literally and figuratively go through Jesus.
Because Jesus is our Great High Priest, we can draw near to God (verse 22) in full assurance of the faith that He gave us. He can come near to God and not be destroyed but be received as a child living in the house of God. We can also live in hope – in confident expectation – because what Jesus has promised, He will do. Because of this great faith and hope, we can confidently encourage each other to love well and do good (verse 24). In other words, we don’t come to church to be entertained or just to sing songs and listen to sermons. We should come to sing and listen to sermons but we should also come with the purpose of encouraging those around us.
Verse 26 can present a bit of a dilemma for us. We read where if we go on sinning deliberately there is no sacrifice for those sins. There are a couple of ways to deal with this section.
One way is to consider this being said to unbelievers who have actually heard but refused the Gospel. It is possible, after all, to receive the Gospel (to hear it) but not to believe the Gospel. Hearing the Gospel is critical but insufficient. We have to believe it. For those who don’t believe there is no other sacrifice – no other way to have their sins dealt with. And because there is not, those folks face a fearsome judgment.
The other way to consider this is that is being said to believers. If we look at in through this lens, it is important for you to remember that this not teaching the loss of salvation. Once you are saved, you are always saved. But once you are saved, if you choose a lifestyle of sin, there is necessarily going to be discipline coming your way. You can’t be saved and live like you aren’t saved without significant repercussions. Those repercussions are not eternal but they certainly do impact life on this earth. We can’t trample the Son of God without being disciplined/punished for that behavior. That discipline could come at the cost of our life but not our eternity.
This chapter ends with an encouragement and exhortation to believers that we hang in there. Living the Christian life is hard sometimes. It comes with great cost sometimes. But we must hang in there. As verse 37 reminds us our temporary pain has an eternal gain. We will not suffer forever because Jesus is returning.