For the law, having a shadow of the good things come and not the very image of the things, could never with those same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. 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. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come – in the volume of the book it is written of Me – to do Your will, O God’.” Previously saying, “Sacrifices 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 come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
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 in their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, 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. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 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. (NKJV)
In our last post, we noted the absolute contrast between the Old and the New Testaments, which are much more that just the respective collections of books that we know by those names. As we saw, the Old Testament, or Covenant, was a two-fold revelation from God: 1) what was required if one were to come to God on his own merit, and 2) what was required since no one has such merit.
In other words, the Old Testament showed in the Law the absolute and inviolable perfection required by the nature and character of God. The sacrificial system showed that no one ever had, or has, such perfection. It also demonstrated the twin principles of substitution and sacrifice, principles shown from every sacrifice from that given for Adam and Eve down to the last one animal slain before the death of Christ. His was the final sacrifice, and the only one that ever effectively dealt with sin. Perhaps too simply put, “substitution” means that an animal died in the sinner’s place, and “sacrifice” means that the sinner lived in the animal’s place. So with Christ: He died in our place, and we live through Him. Paul put it like this, For He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, 2 Corinthians 5:21. You see, the issue isn’t simply about “life” and “death,” but about “sin” and “righteousness”.
Though we’ll only look at part of these verses in this post, there are two things in our text:
1. Preparation of the way to God, vs. 1-18.
2. Participation in the way to God, vs. 19-25.
1. Preparation for the Way to God, 10:1-18
Giving of the Law, 10:1-4. As we noted in earlier lessons, the Law was not given in order to provide a way of salvation, but to show that salvation was needed.
1. The Law was “the shadow of good things to come,” v. 1. The Tabernacle and the sacrifices foreshadowed two things.
a. the sacrifices foreshadowed forgiveness.
b. the Tabernacle foreshadowed fellowship with God.
The purpose of redemption isn’t just so that we can go to Heaven, but that we may enjoy it when we get there. Think about it. If a person has no time for church or Scripture or spiritual things, but spends his time submerged in the things of this world, he would have nothing in common with the inhabitants of Heaven. If he lives only to fulfill the desires and goals of the flesh, what will he do when these things are no longer important, or even possible? If he knows only to curse God, how will he praise Him? It isn’t just “streets of gold,” or “mansions” that will occupy us in heaven, but God Himself and the Lord Jesus.
And that’s not just for the future, but for this life, as well. Death won’t be some magic transformation that changes us from what we are here to what we will be there. The work is begun in this life, else there is nothing good in the next life. Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, there is only a “lake of fire” awaiting the lost, Revelation 20:15. Redemption is the resumption of what was begun – and lost – in the Garden of Eden. The Fall of man no more messed up God’s original purpose for mankind than the rejection of Jesus by the Jews messed up God’s plan for the Kingdom.
2. The Law was powerless to “take away sins,” vs. 2-4. Why then was it given? To drive home the truth about sin. “By the law is the knowledge of sin,” Romans 3:20. “The wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23. “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire,” Revelation 20:15, which v. 14 refers to as “the second death.” Sin isn’t just some momentary foible or weakness; it has enormous, and eternal, repercussions. After all, it was a “minor” sin, as we judge such things, that plunged the race into the misery it suffers now. “Hell” may only a swear-word to many folks, but they will find out when it is too late that Hell is an awful and eternal reality.
Generating of “a body,” vs. 5-8.
1. desirability, vs. 5, 6. “Wherefore” – the sacrifices weren’t just for the sake of sacrifices – God had “no pleasure” in them – but to teach salvation by substitution and sacrifice, the two cardinal truths of the Gospel. There is no other way that God saves sinners.
2. declaration, vs. 7, 8. This is a quote from Psalm 40:6-8. “I come” is the prophecy of the One Who would “do your will, O God.” – Who would keep the Law perfectly and satisfy its penalty completely. This was typified but never accomplished by the sacrifices.
Giving of the Sacrifice, vs. 9, 10.
These verses clearly tell us that we are neither justified nor sanctified by the Law, but by the sacrifice of Christ, also v. 14. Verse 9 tells us what Christ meant in Matthew 5:17-20 about “fulfilling” the Law.
1. He came to clear away the traditions of men and to present the Law as it really was.
2. He came to satisfy all its requirements so that it has no claim on Him as a human being, and, therefore, no claim on those for whom He came as Substitute.
The New Covenant removes the necessity of the First Covenant, v. 9. It accomplishes what the First Covenant required – perfect obedience and righteousness, but could never provide.