Well, we finished up in Hebrews last week the section on the Great High Priesthood of Jesus and this week we move into the last section on the Kingship of Jesus. We have established that we have this Great High Priest in Jesus who made the ultimate sacrifice for our sins on the cross. He paid the price once and for all and there is no need for any other sacrifices to be made. He tore the veil between the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies that had separated man from God. We have direct access to the Throne Room of God the Father with His Son Jesus Christ seated right next to Him to intercede for us! Through the next two chapters, the focus will be on faith. Our faith and our need to hold onto that faith until the end. Now, start in 10:19.
I. , Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 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. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and 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. NKJV
1. Come with boldness to the throne of God!
Because we are covered by the blood of Jesus, we can "enter" the throne room of God boldly. Why does he put it this way? In the Old Testament days, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies with fear and trembling. If he did the slightest preparation wrong it could bring him death. There is a myth that has not been proven true by fact that they would tie a rope around the foot of the high priest and put bells on him in the event that he died behind the veil. The bells would alert the others and they could drag his body out since no one else was allowed in there. While the story is just that, a story, it does reinforce the seriousness of that place behind the veil where the glory of God would come and rest.
But we are called to come with boldness. We carry the atonement with us that allows us to be there. Whereas the high priest was bringing an inferior sacrifice that was temporary at best and would only cover sin for a while, we can come to the throne asking forgiveness and having our sins removed and cast away where they will be remembered no more. While we are still unholy in this body, when we come before the throne of God, we are covered by the righteousness of Christ. What God sees and what God hears is through that righteousness, not our unrighteousness.
2. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.
We don't have to wonder whether we will be accepted by God. He has assured us that we will. Not because of us or anything that we have done but because of who Christ is and what He has done. It says our hearts were sprinkled. Before, the High Priest would sprinkle blood on the people, on their bodies and it was temporary. But Jesus works on the heart. The heart is the truth of the man. You can put on a great show with your outward appearance but have a heart that is as cold as stone. The blood of Christ covers the heart of man, the spirit of man. We step up with our true and sincere heart of repentance, believing for what we have been promised by God.
3. Hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.
We are told time and again through the letters and by Jesus Himself to hold fast to the end. Hold without wavering. This is the proof of our faith. Faith that has an end was no faith at all. We are to hold to the confession of our hope. Other translations say, hold fast to the profession of our faith. That profession of our faith is what we talk about every week here.
Paul declares this in his letter to , the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” NKJV We may fail and falter on many things but don't fall away from the truth of the Gospel. God is faithful to fulfill His promises for those who stand firm in the faith.
4. Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.
Let us think about more than ourselves. Let us do good to one another and not be selfish. In doing that we stir up each other to love and do good for others. The early church met the needs of the people. , Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. NKJV
5. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.
This is the call for those who would say that they don't need to be involved in church. We are called to join together so that we CAN love one another and do good works together for others. This is an act of gathering together in the sense of an assembly. Some had evidently fallen out of that habit. Some may have been deterred because of fear of persecution. Maybe some just had no interest in it. Maybe some had ceased because of something that had happened within that group. But in the next verse, we are called to "exhort one another." We are to strengthen and build up one another.
Remember the context of what we are reading. The author is talking about continuing in the faith. We are to hold out until the end. No one wants to fight a battle by themselves. No one wants to hold on without support to help them. We are to do this and then it says, "So much more as we see the Day approaching." The term "Day" here refers to an even that is being anticipated. Evidently it was so well known and understood what day the author was talking about that no further explanation was felt needed.
We know what day it is. It is the Day of the Lord. The day in which the Lord returns to make things right. Jesus spoke of it before His crucifixion. He spoke of the Day of Judgment. He spoke of the day and the hour in which the Son of Man was coming. And He even spoke of the day in which the Son of Man is revealed. Let us build one another up, let us love and stir up love and do good works and finally let us encourage one another to assemble and worship and hold firm until the end.
II. This next section vexes me greatly. , For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 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? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The Lord will judge His people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. NKJV
1. If we willfully sin after we have received the knowledge of truth.
Willfully, also translated voluntarily. So what does that mean? I know what we want it to mean. This is the second time this author has given us this warning. Remember , For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. NKJV
The commentaries seem to be in agreement that this willful sin is an apostatizing from the faith. Apostatize is to renounce or abandon one's beliefs or religion. Again, we must take what we read in the context in which it is written and here we are being warned before to hold to our faith. Hold firm until the end. We cannot go back and forth on our faith. Many believe that this was a warning during the time of persecution not to deny the faith merely to escape the persecution only to reaffirm the faith later. There is one sacrifice for sin, to be truly accepted only one time.
Denial of the Law of Moses that was confirmed by two or three witnesses was punishable by death. How much more serious than denying the Law would be trampling the Son of God and His sacrifice underfoot and insult the Spirit of grace it says? It is better to go out under persecution than to face God having denied what you once believed and swore to be true. Clarke explains it like this: From this it is evident that God will pardon no man without a sacrifice for sin; for otherwise, as Dr. Macknight argues, it would not follow, from there remaining to apostates no more sacrifice for sin, that there must remain to them a dreadful expectation of judgment. - Clarke
This is perhaps the worst of all sins and many believe to be the unpardonable sin, to deny what the Holy Spirit has made known to you. When conviction, which can only come from the Holy Spirit of God, comes upon us and we turn and confess Jesus as Lord, we can count on one thing, God takes that seriously. Look at , Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. NKJV (The story of Francis)
If someone falls from the faith and rejects God we shouldn't worry ourselves to judgment on them as would have been done within the confines of the Law. They have brought judgment upon themselves and it will be carried out by a just and vengeful God. Yes, vengeful God. Vengeance is inflicting punishment in return for a wrong committed against them. Our sin is an affront to God. It is insulting and demands retribution. Punishment that is received will be justly and rightly deserved.
2. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
A fearful thing. That Greek word is phoberos, where we get the word phobia. It is frightful to stand before God for His judgment. This is no game. Those who have rejected God and His grace and plan for salvation will stand before God to be judged and it will be a bad, bad day for them. There is no mercy then. There is no second chance then. There is no excuses then and there is no escape then.
Here is the warning and the description of the Day of the Lord. , Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness, and not light. 19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion, And a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, Leaned his hand on the wall, And a serpent bit him! 20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it? NKJV
For those who remain in Christ Jesus until the end, the Day of the Lord will be light! There will be no judgment for our judgment has taken place already. We were judged, sentenced, died on the cross with Jesus, buried and we have been raised again with Him, new creations!
III. , But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 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. 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. NKJV
1. Recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated.
While we don't know who wrote this letter, we can see here that the audience was evidently Jews who had been severely persecuted. They are called to remember when they "saw the light." It appears from the context here that there is a new persecution coming against them and the call is to remember what they have already endured. The call is to continue and to not apostatize. This was during a time when they were going through trials and sufferings or while they were joining with others in the faith who were being persecuted or both.
2. You had compassion on me in my chains.
Our writer apparently was imprisoned and some of those who are reading had helped with his relief while in chains. This statement is one of the reasons many think that Paul wrote this. But many others were imprisoned along with Paul.
3. Joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods.
Many of those who had accepted Christ from the Jewish religion were denied their inheritances and many were plundered during the persecution. Many would endure this without resistance considering it an honor to suffer for the sake of their Savior. It was also, because they knew that the possessions that they had here on this earth were of no consequence compared to what was awaiting them in heaven. We have enduring possessions their. We have a 2008 vehicle that we take very good care of. We have it serviced regularly and maintain it as best we can. But it still is deteriorating. Nothing we have here will hold up. And the things that we do hold value in such as gold and silver will be building materials in heaven and the new earth.
4. Therefore do not cast away your confidence.
Again we have an encouragement to keep the faith. This is all we have of value to us because it is rewarded in the end. The amount of stuff that we have will not be rewarded but our faith will. We must hold on until the end. We must have faith and keep it. Without keeping it, it wasn't there to begin with.
5. For you have need of endurance.
We will need that enduring faith. It will come in handy when we have finished all that God has for us to do. The writer tells us that after we have done the will of God in our lives here, we WILL receive the promise from Him. He is coming back. It seems like a long time since we have been waiting 2000 tears but it is a short time to God. And He warns us through the writer here as he quotes from Habakkuk. "The just shall live by faith. But, if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him."
Barnes says: The apostle has retained the general sense of the passage, and the idea which he expresses is, that the unbeliever, or he who renounces his religion, will incur the divine displeasure. He will be a man exposed to the divine wrath; a man on whom God cannot look but with disapprobation. By this solemn consideration, therefore, the apostle urges on them the importance of perseverance, and the guilt and danger of apostasy from the Christian faith. If such a case should occur, no matter what might have been the former condition, and no matter what love or zeal might have been evinced, yet such an apostasy would expose the individual to the certain wrath of God. - Barnes' Notes
6. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
We finish with this. A word of encouragement from the writer. There are those who depart from the faith. There are some whop will reject, but we are not of them! We will not turn back to our wicked ways. Do not turn back to a life of sin. We are not them who fall away but instead, we belong to the group that believe (have faith) "to the saving of the soul." That is, we believe unto the end, unto the return, unto the time when we shall step into God's presence for eternity.