Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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Hebrews 10

April 15th, 2012 by Vic

Hebrews 10

“The meaning of Easter – part 2”

April 8, 2012

 

10:1-18 summarizes and brings to a climax the discussion that began in 7:1.  The way we are to worship God has changed because of the resurrection.  Jesus is our Great High Priest now seated at God’s right hand.  He can purify our conscience.  The old repeated sacrifices were ineffective  (1-4).  Christ’s one sacrifice was superior (5-10).  Christ’s death inaugurated the new covenant (11-18).  Christ offers unhindered access to God.  It’s now a love relationship with God.

 

Easter and the ascension inaugurated the transition to a new covenant.  How does that affect our lives?  How should we then live?  1) continue to draw near in faith (10:22).  2) continue to hold fast the hope you profess (23).  3) continue to stimulate one another to love (24).

 

We are warned to be faithful (10:26-31).  We are encouraged to remember and renew our commitments (32-35).  Continue to endure (36-39).  Most anyone can be good in spasms, but Christians are to endure and not to drift in the good times nor lose boldness in the bad times.

 

10:1-4 The Law and the things prescribed by the Law were only a shadow and not the actual form that casts the shadow.  The word shadow does no signify unreal or deceptive as Plato uses it, but rather imperfect or incomplete.  The Greek word ‘skian’ was used of the first sketch of a picture.  The word ‘eikon’ was the finished picture after the colors were added.  The Law was a shadow that pointed to the future reality complete with color.  OT worship was an accurate sketch of the completed story produced and directed by God in HD, 3-D and living color.

If the sacrifices would have purified the conscience of the worshipper he would not have felt the need to offer sacrifices daily for his sins.  The sacrifices reminded him of his sins.  They did not give him a clear conscience.

 

10:5-10  The insufficiency of the blood of animals has been replaced and superseded.  In Ps 40, God promised to prepare a human body to accomplish what the animals could not do.  This conversation took place in heaven.  Jesus chose to obey God.  He came to do the will of His Father.  He willingly became a sacrifice for our sins.

 

Verse 9 is a summary of the whole NT.  Jesus says, “See, I have come to do Your will.”  His body is a gift that God has prepared for Him.  His mission is to live in obedience.  (Peter says (1 Peter 1:22) Christians are purified by obedience.)  Just as Jesus demonstrated, the only sacrifice now necessary to offer God is a life of obedience.  Our culture has trouble understanding obedience.  We associate it with slavery.  However obedience to God sets us free from the Law of sin and death.  We find real freedom in obedience.  We will find unhindered access to God.

 

Christ’s death on the cross marked the completion of His perfect obedience to the will of God which provided a way we can be intimately transformed and consecrated to God.  The writer literally explains it as, “He takes away the first in order the second to establish.”  The way to worship God is now different than it used to be.  Easter has established a radically new and superior situation for worshippers.  The first covenant is done away.  The new Covenant is established.

 

10:11-18 Priests stand (11), but Jesus sat down (12) because His work was completed.  There were no pews in the Tabernacle.  Jesus’ place in the presence of God enables Him to minister the new covenant on our behalf.  No other high priest sat down in the presence of God.  Jesus is now our mediator, our advocate, our intercessor, our sanctifier seated at the right hand of the Father.

 

The Holy Spirit also confirms what Jesus has done and is doing for us (15).  What Jeremiah prophesied (Jer 31) has become the present reality.  The old has been replaced by the new.  We will know God’s will (16) and He will forgive and forget our sins.  If He forgets our sin then there is no longer need for animal sacrifices.  The sacrifice that is now required is obedience and praise (13:15) that purifies the heart.

 

10:19-25  Therefore brothers since (19) we have an invitation and authorization to enter the presence of God by means of the blood of Jesus…and since (23) we have a great priest in charge of God’s household let us have faith to enter (22), let us hold onto hope (23), and let us keep on caring and encouraging one another to love and good deeds (24).  There it is!  That is the meaning of Easter!  We can live lives filled with faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.

 

The word ‘boldness’ or ‘authorization’ begins (19) and ends (35) this exhortation.  The final verses transition into the next chapter on ‘faithing’.  In these verses there are at least 10 unusual expressions used to get the attention of the reader.  This is the high point of the writer’s message.  He appeals to the readers to apply the blessings of Christ’s high priestly ministry to their daily lives.  But if you do not do these things there is a stern warning (26-31) that should terrify you.

 

The meaning of Easter is twofold (19-21).  Our hearts can be purified by faith so we have authorization for access into God’s presence.  Secondly, we have a great high priest who has all power and authority in heaven and on earth. (Matt 28:18).  At Easter Christ inaugurated for us a new and living way, a way that leads to life.  He pioneered a way that was not there before.  Our response must be to keep drawing near with a sincere heart (22).

 

“Having been sprinkled” and “having been washed” (22) refer to completed actions at a point in time in the past which remains effective in the present.  When priests were installed and consecrated into office they were sprinkled and washed for a lifetime of service.

 

We are to hold fast our hope because God is faithful (23).  Sometimes life seems to fill up with so much chaos that we lose control and begin to feel that God has also lost control.  Then we remember that He is not pacing the floor and wringing His hands.  He is seated on the throne.  There is no uncertainty on God’s part.

 

We belong to God and He cares for us so we can care for one another (24).  We must be encouragers.  The world has too many discouragers already.  Apparently some worshippers had stopped taking part in the house meetings.  It could have been fear, but an early writing from the first part of the second century in Rome said that many Christians were preoccupied with business affairs and were neglecting the meetings of their house church.  The writer regards non-attendance as serious.  It threatened mutual encouragement and admonition.

 

The writer uses the language of the peace offering or thanksgiving offering in this command to stimulate one another.  A peace offering was used to confirm an agreement between 2 parties.  Following the burnt offerings, the peace offering was a covenant of fellowship with God and one another.  After securing the cleansing of the burnt offering, OT worshippers would gather for mutual exhortation and offer a peace offering and recite scriptures of God’s faithfulness and love.  It is characteristic of a peace offering that it can never be made alone.  Community worship is presumed.  The atonement sacrifice was complete in Christ so now the Church makes no animal sacrifices, but meets for giving thanks and celebrating their peace with God and one another.

 

10:26-31  This is the 6th stern warning in this letter.  Don’t continue doing something that you know is not pleasing to God.  When you know what displeases God and you chose to do it anyway you lose your access to God and you no longer hear His Spirit convicting you of sin.  This is the inappropriate response to the events of Easter.  The penalty for this kind of intentional sin is death.  If you reject the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for our sins, you have no other Savior.  You will suffer judgment as a fire.

 

If those who spurned the Law of Moses died without mercy, how much more catastrophic will be the punishment for those who spurn the story of Easter (28-29)?  If sin against the Law was serious, how much more serious is sin against love?  With biting irony, the writer envisions this person regarding the cleansing blood of Christ as defiled.  If you consider water to be poison how can you live?  If you turn your backside toward God you will suffer severe consequences.  If you insult the gracious Spirit and call evil good and good evil, you are in serious trouble and the Spirit can no longer convict you of sin.

 

This stern warning is supported by 2 scriptural texts.  The 1st from Deut 32:35 where God declares that He assumes personal responsibility for taking vengeance on those who turn against Him.  The 2nd is from Deut 32:36 which reinforces the judgment mentioned in 10:27.  Judgment is terrifying and certain.  Don’t turn your backside toward God.

 

There are some obvious parallels of thought between the warnings in 6:4-8 and 10:26-31 and the words of comfort in 6:9-12 and here in 10:32-36.

 

The writer urges his friends to remember the former days when they were persecuted and at the same time growing in grace.  They had endured a hard ‘contest’ with sufferings (32).  The word for contest was used of the intense efforts of athletes in the sports arena.  This is the only place it is used in the NT.

 

Apparently part of the congregation had been exposed to ridicule because they had been defenseless against the seizure of their property.  Their suffering was public.  They were exposed to ridicule.  However, at that time a strong sense of community had characterized the congregation.  Those who had not been affected personally by the hostility had shown solidarity with their brothers.  They had displayed genuine empathy by visiting and feeding those in prison.

 

There is a play on two words that mean property or possessions in the Greek (34).  There are possessions that can be lost through seizure and there are ‘better’ possessions that remain intact and secure because they are laid up in heaven.

 

“Therefore” (35) do not throw away your boldness (confidence).  Like a precious gift it has great rewards.

 

Verse 36 suggests that obedience to the will of God and endurance go together.  Sacrifices are no longer required, but obedience and endurance are.  Jesus is coming soon (37).  We can count on God being faithful (38).  We must be ‘faithing’.  Our goal is eternal life.  We receive strength to reach that goal through ‘faithing’.  Obedience to the new covenant purifies your heart for worship.  Trust and obey, for there’s no other way…

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