In this post, we’ll quote only from Hebrews 10:11, since we covered the first 10 verses in the last post.
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 that 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.
In the previous post, we saw that Hebrews is a book of contrasts between the First, or Old, or Mosaic, Covenant, and the New Covenant. We saw that the First Covenant was the preparation for the New Covenant. We noted that verses 1-25 divide into two sections:
1. Preparation for the way to God, vs. 1-18.
2. Participation in the way to God, vs. 19-25.
With reference to this preparation, three things were seen. By way of review, they are:
Giving of the Law, vs. 1-4.
1. as the “foreshadowing of good things to come,” v. 1. This was seen in
a. the sacrifices foreshadowing forgiveness by God, and
b. the tabernacle foreshadowing fellowship with God.
Both deal with the ultimate accomplishment of what God began in the Garden of Eden.
2. as the “failure” of human merit or effort to earn or deserve salvation.
The Law cannot take away sin. It was given to show the sinfulness of sin and the sentence for sin, in order that we might more appreciate salvation from sin.
Generating of “a body,” vs. 5-8. Since no OT sacrifice of an animal could take away sin, and no human sacrifice would have worked either, since no human could meet the requirements of perfection in a sacrifice, God “prepared” a human body that could meet the qualifications, the body in which the Lord Jesus was conceived in the womb of a virgin.
Giving of the Sacrifice, vs. 9, 10. He came “to do” God’s will, perfectly satisfying once and for all both the precepts of the Law, and the penalty of the Law, in both instances serving as the Substitute for His people. This He did by receiving as His by imputation their sin and guilt and suffering for it, and working for them a righteousness to be imputed to them, by which they could come before God without condemnation.
So much by way of review. Now to the rest of our Scripture, which continues the discussion about sacrifices.
Finality of the Sacrifice, vs. 11-18.
This is seen in:
1. the contrast between Old and New Covenant sacrifices, vs. 11.
a. multiplicity of the OT sacrifices, v. 11a, “daily…oftentimes.” The altar was never dry; it was always wet with blood.
b. futility of the OT sacrifices, v. 11b, “can never take away sins,” though they did in a manner of speaking “cover” them.
2. the completeness of the New Covenant sacrifice, vs. 12-14.
a. its extent, v. 12, “one sacrifice for sins, “sat down….” In contrast to the innumerable sacrifices of the OT. Further, the OT priest could never “sit down” in the course of his duties; his work was never done. Our Lord “sat down” because, as He cried out on the Cross, “It is finished!” This wasn’t the exhausted whimper of defeat, but the triumphant shout of victory!
b. its expectation, v. 13, “waiting till His enemies be made His footstool,” or as the KJV has it, “expecting.” So, what is He waiting for, or expecting? It is a complete victory over His enemies. Further, we believe it deals with the realization of His rightful place as “King of kings and Lord of lords,” a phrase connected only with His Second Coming. According to His own words in the Gospels (Matt. 8:11; 19:27-29; 20:20-23; Mark 14:24, 25; Luke 22:15-18, 29, 30, among others), He is looking for more than many are willing to grant Him. These would rob Him of His glory by reducing His “kingdom” to a nominal Headship over a church which, because of its acceptance of infant baptism (in which the great majority of professing Christians believe), has a fair percentage of lost people, who are not, thus, under His headship at all. We do recognize that many who are indeed the Lord’s own accept the label “Reformed” and disagree with this viewpoint. Nevertheless, we believe that the Reformed doctrines of the church and the future have, over the centuries, done grave damage to the cause of Christ and the Gospel.
Scripture is clear that the Lord Jesus will “rule [with a rod of iron] in the midst of His enemies,” Psalm 110:2, also Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:26, 27; 19:15. If this is just “the church,” why is such severity necessary? No, no, there is coming a time when Washington and London and Moscow and Tehran and every other capitol of this world will acknowledge, perhaps unwillingly, the Lordship and rule of the Lord Jesus. That One Who hung naked on a Roman cross, and whom the world rejects and ridicules, will one day, and soon, we hope, be revealed as the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 1 Timothy 6:15.
c. its endurance, v. 14, “perfected forever”. As we’ve said before, God’s purpose doesn’t just include the few minutes of our lives. It includes everything that will ever happen. This includes what will happen to us. In fact, so certain is God’s purpose that Scripture tells us that, in the mind and purpose of God, we’ve already been “glorified,” Romans 8:30. We only need to look in the mirror to know that that hasn’t yet happened! But it will happen – as surely as that the Sun will rise tomorrow morning. The one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus made it certain.
3. Content of the New Covenant, vs. 15-17.
a. its authority, v. 15, “the Holy Spirit” – not the teaching of men, not the “consensus of scholarship.” but the very declaration of God. There is no other way to God! The previous reference in Hebrews to this Scripture (8:8-12) refers to the temporary nature of the First Covenant; this reference is to the finality of the New Covenant. It has nothing to do with the church “supplanting” Israel in the promises of God, as some teach.
b. its activity, vs. 16-17.
1). renewal (regeneration), v. 16, “I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” says the Lord. The First (Mosaic) Covenant has no such promise. In fact, after rehearsing all that the Lord had done for Israel in bringing her out of Egyptian bondage, Moses said, “Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day,” Deuteronomy 29:4. This is why Israel so quickly fell into sin and rebellion and why they complained so often. They had no capacity really to understand what they were seeing and hearing. One day, they will.
2). remission (forgiveness of sins), v. 17, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In our reading, my wife and I have just read Numbers 23 and 24. We both commented on 23:21, He [God] has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. Israel had nothing but “iniquity” and “wickedness.” And God certainly knew that. And He judged them severely for it. At the same time, as the Psalmist put it, “God is my defense,” Psalm 7:10; 59:9, 17; 94:22. As Paul put it later, Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies [who has declared them righteous], Romans 8:33. God wouldn’t allow a wicked prophet like Balaam or a wicked king like Balak to talk against His people.
While it isn’t yet true of Israel – it will be – God looks at believers through His Son. When our firstborn son was just an infant, I was someplace where there was a crying baby – not ours! Now, I had never particularly cared for crying infants – except ours! – but as I looked at this red-faced little fellow, somehow I saw my own son, and it was alright. So it is, when God looks at us, He sees His Son, cf. Ephesians 1:5-7. Again, as the Psalmist put it, He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities, Psalm 103:10. The reason for that is that He dealt with and punished Christ according to them. He was our Substitute and our Sacrifice, to the point that, as the Psalmist continued, As far as the east is from the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us, v. 12. We can rejoice in that truth now. Israel will rejoice in it one day.
3. Consequences of the New Covenant, v. 18. Once sin is forgiven and the debt paid, there is no need for another sacrifice or payment. Christ died once. That is all that’s necessary! To say anything otherwise is blasphemy.
The question remains, how do we participate in the blessings of the New Covenant? While a complete answer must wait for the next post, let me say here that we participate by faith. The just shall live by faith, Hebrews 10:38. This, by the way, is a quote from Habakkuk 2:3, 4. Though it’s more clearly delineated in the NT, salvation by grace through faith was known in the OT.