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The Book of Hebrews

Chapter 10

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
    I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

“This is the covenant I will make with them
    after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.”

Then he adds:

“Their sins and lawless acts
    I will remember no more.”

And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For,

“In just a little while,
    he who is coming will come
    and will not delay.”


“But my righteous one will live by faith.
    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”

But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

The first 18 of the 39 verses of Hebrews 10 again addresses the insufficiency of the Law and the Levitical Priesthood, the blood of goats and bulls to atone for the sin of humans made in God’s image. The writer makes some simple yet profound points such as:

  • If the former practice was working to rid humans of sin, why would it need constant repetition?
  • Even the annual sacrifices were an annual reminder of sin and the presence of guilt in their lives.
  • Christ sat down after He had completed His work on our behalf. He was finished.

Verse 11 and 12 contrasts Christ after ministering on our behalf, to that of the Levite Priest who stood “daily ministering” indicating that Christ’s work was complete after his sacrifice for us, while the priests’ work was never finished.

Verse 19 reintroduces the concept of our new found confidence in approaching God. In the old covenant, the people could not enter the “holy of holies.” God’s presence is so powerfully pure that anything impure literally could not survive His presence, and so would meet his wrath. Thus, the veil between the outer and inner sanctuary was a protective sheath. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, He appeared in that form to protect Moses from His presence-otherwise Moses because of the presence of sin, would die instantly. Contrast this with the Garden of Eden when God would freely visit with Adam before he had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But after Adam had eaten the fruit, he suddenly became afraid of God.

In the new covenant, Christ is the veil protecting us from God’s presence. But His sacrifice has allowed us to once again boldly approach God as Adam did! We now can walk with God and be in His presence without fear because our sin has been removed forever. So what are we waiting for? God has made it possible for us to approach Him sinless and guiltless freeing us of that burden so that we can now live as we were designed to—as His children. This is the confidence that Jesus has given to us. We no longer have to allow our sin and guilt to keep us away.

The writer exhorts us to encourage each other through regular fellowship—why? Lest we lose our confidence thereby allowing guilt to creep back in. Without constant reminders, we begin to forget again who we are. Hang in there he says because the One who has given you the promise of eternal life is faithful and He calls us also to be faithful and persevere throughout our journey.

Questions to ponder:

  • Do you find it difficult to believe that you can approach God confidently?
  • What do you think living as God’s child looks like? How would you imagine yourself in that relationship as Adam had with God in the Garden of Eden?
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