Hebrews 10:1-25 – The Way is open into the Holy of Holies
Jesus Christ said, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) We now are invited into the Holy of Holies, into the secret place of the Most God, where we may rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1) The author of Hebrews has concluded his argument. He has made it clear to us that Jesus, by offering His body to God through the shedding of His blood, has opened the way into the Holy of Holies. He completed His work on earth and now sits beside His Father in heaven; and He offers salvation to all who will come to the Father through Him. We have come to the climax in our study of this letter.
Hebrews 10:1-18 – Jesus Christ’s Complete Sacrifice
- The old covenant (10:1-4)
- The law was only a shadow of things to come.
- Sacrifices had to be continually made year by year.
- The sacrifices were external, using the blood of animals.
- The sacrifices were a continual reminder of our sins.
- It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
- The new covenant in Jesus Christ (10:5-18)
- Christ offered His body as a sacrifice for sin.
- He came to the world in order to do God’s will.
- By Jesus’ offering of His body we have been sanctified.
- Christ’s sacrifice was once for all people. There is no longer any need for an offering for sin.
- He has made us perfect in the sight of God.
- Both the Holy Spirit and the Father witness to Christ’s sacrifice. God says, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
The author quotes from Psalm 40 in Hebrews 10:5-9.
- The need for a better sacrifice was already recognized in the Old Testament. So when Christ came, He came to fulfill what was already promised in the Old Testament.
- Both the writer of Hebrews and the psalmist say that the sacrificial system of the Old Testament law is insufficient for salvation.
- Psalm 40:6 – “You have given me an open ear.” The Hebrew text shows that God is interested in the inward response of the believer. (The Septuagint (LXX), or Greek translation of the Hebrew text, says that God has given man a body whose function is to do God’s will.
- Psalm 40 clearly refers to Jesus. Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34)
God is satisfied. Jesus Christ sat down at His right hand, a position of authority over all nations. Jesus is assured of complete victory; He now is waiting for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet. The power of sin has been completely destroyed.
Hebrews 10:19 – 13:25
Hebrews 10:19 is the beginning of the second half of The Epistle to the Hebrews. The first half speaks of our salvation; the second half speaks of how we are to live, based on our great salvation.
Hebrews 10:19-25 – Life in the Holy of Holies (the presence of God)
The South African writer Andrew Murray sees this passage as the key to understanding the whole book of Hebrews. Now that we have come to a good understanding of the first half of this epistle, we are ready to see what life in the Holy Place really is. No one has described it better than Andrew Murray.
Oh, the blessedness of a life in the Holiest!
Here the Father’s face is seen and His love tasted.
Here His holiness is revealed and the soul made partaker of it.
Here the sacrifice of love and worship and adoration,
the incense of prayer and supplication,
is offered in power.
Here the outpouring of the Spirit is known as an ever streaming,
overflowing river, from under the throne of God and the Lamb.
Here the soul, in God’s presence, grows into more complete oneness
with Christ, and more entire conformity to His likeness.
Here, in union with Christ, in His unceasing intercession,
we are emboldened to take our place as intercessors,
who can have power with God and prevail.
Here the soul mounts up as on eagle’s wings,
the strength is renewed,
and the blessing and the power and the love
are imparted with which God’s priests can go out to bless a dying world.
Here each day we may experience the fresh anointing,
in virtue of which we can go out to be the bearers,
and witnesses, and channels of God’s salvation to men,
the living instruments
through whom our blessed King works out His full and final triumph!
O Jesus, our great High Priest, let this be our life!
(Translated by Hyun Yohan)
Life in the presence of God! Lived daily, moment by moment. Accessible to all who will enter in. A life that continually bears fruit for God.
John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Hebrews 10:19-21 – What qualifies us to enter into the Holy of Holies?
- A new and living way has been opened to us. The word “opened” is in the aorist tense in Greek; this means a one-time event, at a specific time. It is an official opening, an inauguration ceremony of something that has never been opened before, never existed before.
- We have confidence and boldness to enter the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus. The “new and living way” is actually the body of Jesus that was broken for us. The “veil” of the temple was torn apart when Jesus died on the cross. The veil that separated man from God has been removed, because Jesus took that separation upon Himself.
- We have a Great High Priest who is with us, who actually lives inside us! Jesus’ priesthood is permanent and continual.
Hebrews 10:22-25 – Three duties to which we are called as Christians
- Let us draw near. The way is open! We must enter in, but we must do so with a true and sincere heart. The heart is the seat of the whole person, the moral center of our personality. When our heart acts, our whole person acts. A “true heart” is a heart sprinkled clean from an evil conscience by the blood of Jesus, washed by the pure water of the Holy Spirit. Another way to say this would be, to enter wholeheartedly. 2 Chronicles 16:9 – “For the eyes of the Lord (i.e., the Holy Spirit) roam to and fro throughout the earth, that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
KEEP OUT! Law. Consider that for 1500 years, Israel had a Holy Place which no one could enter, under penalty of death! The law prevented anyone from dwelling in the presence of the Lord, or abiding in His fellowship.
WELCOME! Grace. But now, through Christ, the veil is torn apart, and God waits to welcome you into His presence. Your Father longs for you to dwell with Him, to enjoy the riches of His fellowship.
Solitude – Living in the presence of the Lord, with the goal of making our home in His presence! Solitude is the source, and the beginning, of all ministry.
- Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. God is dependable; He is faithful. The Hebrew Christians were on the verge of turning away from Jesus Christ, in order to avoid persecution. They were tempted to deny their confession of faith in Christ. This would destroy their hope, because our hope is based on the faithfulness of God. Hope is the confident expectation that God is who He said He is, and that God will do what He has promised to do. We cannot live without hope. Imagine the millions of people today who are suffering, and paralyzed by fear because they have no hope.
The writer of Hebrews knows that the recipients of this letter are in great fear because of the persecution they were experiencing. But he also knows that Jeremiah, when he experienced the tragic fall of Jerusalem, confessed his hope even while enduring the worst tragedy of his life. Take a moment to read his short poem of lamentation. It’s almost as if he were speaking to us today: “How lonely sits the city that was full of people!” (Lamentations 1:1) No one walked the streets of Jerusalem, because it had been totally destroyed. In the midst of tears, Jeremiah tells us the foundation of our hope. Our hope is based on the divine truth that the Lord Himself is my portion in life! God is with us; He is in us. His steadfast love never ceases, even in the worst of times! He mercies never end; they are new every morning! (Lamentations 2:22-24)
- Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Let us consider how we can help one another. We cannot live the Christian life alone. You may have had a wonderful quiet time with the Lord, but you will be even more blessed when you share with others how the Lord has blessed you. Our faith must be shared in community, in the company of those who believe.
Stir up one another to love. Love is the willful choice of an action that will result in the highest good for another person. This is what the Bible means by the “priesthood of all believers.” “But you are . . . a royal priesthood.” (1 Peter 2:9) We can pray for one another, encourage one another to persevere and to show love for another and for the world. The writer of Hebrews urges us to not neglect meeting together (even by the gift of technology if we cannot meet one another physically). Now is the time for Christians to practice sacrificial love for one another and for the whole world, and to encourage one another to work in any way that will bring life to the world. There are many ways we can do “good deeds.” When you ask the Lord to lead you to serve others, and when you obey Him, no work that you do in faith will ever be useless, or done in vain. St. Patrick was undoubtedly sustained and encouraged by the prayers of many Christians. His good deeds resulted in the winning of a nation (Ireland) for Christ, and were helpful in the evangelization of the continent of Europe.
Remember the promise of Revelation 14:13: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on . . . for their deeds will follow them!’”
You may have noticed that these three duties show us the pattern of Christian ministry. Luke 6:12-19 tells us the “flow” of Jesus’ ministry. (Jesus’ prayer in John 17 also reveals the patter of His ministry):
Solitude. Luke 6:12
Jesus spent time alone with His Father, in prayer and fellowship.
Community. Luke 6:13-16
After His time with His Father, He chose 12 disciples who would become His community for the whole duration of His ministry.
Power in ministry. Luke 6:17-19
Jesus’ community was with Him as He ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Consider making this pattern your own. Priority is on time alone with God.
The first reason Jesus chose His disciples was that they might be with Him.
The second reason was that He might send them out to proclaim the Gospel.
The third reason was that He might give them His authority over Satan, to cast out demons. (Mark 3:13-15) Our ministry will be more powerful when we begin to minister as Jesus did.
Some questions to consider:
- Can you say with confidence that you are living in the new covenant and not in the old covenant? What change has this brought to your life?
- Take some time to meditate on life in the Holy of Holies, in the presence of God. Andrew Murray’s description can be very helpful to you to understand all the riches available to you. Read it over several times and talk with God about your life in His Holy Place.
- How can you begin today to minister in the way Jesus ministered? We are restricted from physical closeness but not from social interchange. Is there someone you could contact? Is there a corporate online prayer community of which you can be a part? Consider some ways you can minister to others in these crucial times.