Chapter 10

This chapter opens by asserting, that the law had only a “shadow of good things to come.” Not only were its sacrifices insufficient, they were not even an exact similitude of the perfect sacrifice. They had to be offered again and again, yet they never took away sin, or gave a perfect conscience to the offerer. And this is what the worshipper drawing near to God must have. Apart from a conscience perfectly at rest, there can be no true worship; yet thousands go on week after week, in what they call the worship of God, who have no certainty that their sins have been purged. “No more conscience of sins”—is the result of gazing on the perfect sacrifice of Christ. It does not mean that the believer has no consciousness of sin in him—this he will have on to the end (see 1 John 1:9)—but that there is no sin on his conscience, being “clean every whit,” as the blood of Christ can make him before God. O how gladsome is such a statement by the Holy Ghost. “The worshipper once for all purged, should have more conscience of sins.”

Verses 5-9, “Wherefore, when He cometh into the world.” In Christ all the sacrifices have their antitype. His “Lo I come,” tells of a work He had given Him to do before He came; before He appeared that body was prepared for Him. It was the will of God that He should come, that sin should be put away, that we should be saved. O how grand to hear these words uttered in the eternal past, by the Son of the eternal God, before He came here in the flesh! And to know that it was the will of God, written in “the volume of the book,” that He came with delight to do. Then link with this, the words of verse 10—“By the which will we are sanctified”—set apart by God, to God, and for God. As Christ found His delight in doing the will of God, so should we, for it was to this end He set us apart, not to please ourselves, as in the days of our unregeneracy, but to please God. O what joy it should give us to know we can please God, and know His presence with us in the daily walks of life, doing His will there, as Christ did when here. In verse 8, the four words, “sacrifice, offering, burnt-offering, and offering for sin,” refer to the four offerings in the first five chapters of Leviticus, all of which had their full answer in Him who said, “Lo, I come,” and set them all aside. Thus, the first was removed because of its weakness, its inability to remove sin, or give the worshipper a perfect conscience; while the second has been established, bearing witness to the complete removal of sin, and the sanctification of the believer.

Verse 10.—“By the which will we have been sanctified.” This is done once for all; while in verse 14, the word is “them that are being sanctified.” Done it was once for all in God’s account at the Cross, but since He laid hold of us, He has been taking a tighter grip of us by His Word and Spirit, so that our very bodies are being set apart for God day by day.

Verses 11-14.—“Every priest standeth daily.” For Aaron no seat was found: his work was never done. “But this Man,” or rather this One, “after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down.” The red-letter day in Israel was “once a year,” when the high priest entered the holiest with the blood of atonement, but its value was not abiding. Christ’s sacrifice is “for ever.” This is not the word commonly rendered “for ever,” but a word which means, “in perpetuity.” “After He had offered one sacrifice for sins in perpetuity”—“He hath perfected in perpetuity, them that are being sanctified.” As one grain of incense will fill a room with its fragrance, yet remain undiminished, so that perfect sacrifice of Christ, will ever ascend in its fragrance before God, and there remain perpetually, ever the same since the moment it was offered. He is seated yonder, expecting, till His foes be made the footstool of His feet. So perfectly, so gloriously has He done all for His friends, that He can now think of His foes at leisure. If they trample under foot the Son of God (verse 29) now, in this the day of His grace, He will tread them down in judgment when He comes again (Rev. 19:15). His session there at God’s right hand is His witness to us (chap. 1:3), of His perfect work. God has given His witness to it by seating Him there, and the Holy Ghost gives His testimony also (verses 15-18). Thus by the threefold witness of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are we assured that our sins are gone, and that we are “perfected for ever,” in the holy eye of God, in whose presence we are to be at home.

Verses 19-22.—“Having, therefore, brethren, boldness.” Here exhortation follows teaching, as indeed it does throughout this entire epistle. First, when our eye is directed to the enthroned Sin-purger in chap 1, and to His glory in ages to come, the inspired penman pauses to enquire, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation” (2:1-3). Next, having set forth the Rest of God in redemption, he warns, lest any through unbelief come short of it (chap 4:11-16). Then the appointment of Christ to be our Great High Priest, is certified, followed by an earnest admonition and warning (chap. 6:11-20). And now having spoken of the value of Christ’s sacrifice before God, the inspired apostle turns to us, to bid us make application to ourselves of the wondrous truth He has just unfolded. Here, we are beckoned within the vail. Twice in these verses, we are told of “having “what will enable us to enter there. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus” (verse 19). “Having an High Priest over the House of God” (verse 21). The blood gives a title to enter, the Great High Priest gives a capacity to enjoy the presence of God. He is over “the house,” head of the priestly family, as Aaron was of his house, and we are descended from Him who is the Head. Only Aaron’s sons were priests of old; only those who are in living union with Christ are “a holy priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:5) now. “Boldness to enter.” There is no thought of fear; no idea of what people constantly speak of as “holy boldness,” which added word, much spoils and cramps the sentiment, for our title there is no attainment of ours at all, but “the blood of Jesus;” in other words, the very ground on which He has entered there Himself, as chap. 9:12, tells us. That blood is our title to come there (Eph. 2:13), and there to remain (1 John 1:7). “By a newly-slain and living way, through the vail.” The sin offering without the camp, the brazen altar with its accepted sacrifice, are behind us, the rent vail is before, and yonder is our Priest in the presence of God, to lift us up. The word “brethren” here, reminds us, how all are equally near to God, and that there is no room here for the popular notion of a distinct clergy, who may come nearer than the rest. Such a wicked invention disparages the costliness of Christ’s sacrifice.

Verse 23.—“Let us hold fast the confession of the hope:” so it ought to read. We are to grasp it firmly without wincing. “The hope,” is His coming again, and His promise cannot fail. But we may relax our grasp of it, and lose its power in our lives. The Thessalonians when first converted, had “work of faith, labour of love and patience of hope” (1 Thess. 1:3), but in 2 Thess. 1:3, while the faith and love are increased, the hope had gone. They had relaxed their grasp of it, and lost its power.

Verse 24.—“Let us consider one another to provoke unto love.” Faith, hope, love. Not to watch for the failings of our brethren, but to “consider them” to provoke to love. What a play on the word “provoke”! Provoke we may, but only to good works and holiness. Our aim should ever be, to help each other in the struggle with self and the world, to draw forth the good, and suppress the evil, never to stir up what will impede or hurt a fellow-saint.

Verse 25.—“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” The chief opportunity for giving such help, is in the Assembly, which on no account under ordinary circumstances, are we to absent ourselves from. If any neglect it, seek to draw them back, for it is surely a good work. The assembling of “ourselves together “occurs only here and in 2 Thess. 2:1, where the great gathering of saints around the Lord in the air, is spoken of. Thus our gathering now, and then, is linked together. Both are “unto Him”: He the Magnet and the Centre, gathering and grouping His own around Himself. “The day” here, is not His coming to the air for His saints, but the time when He will interpose in judgment. We see everything preparing for this. As “the day “evidently draws near when the Lord Himself will interpose, let us seek to help and minister to each other, as some were doing when He came before (Luke 2:38).

Verse 26.—“If we sin wilfully.” The connection between this and the previous verse is very solemn. To forsake the assembly, to continue absenting ourselves from the gathering where the Lord, according to His own word is “in the midst” (Matt. 18:20), is regarded as the leaving of Christ Himself, and a step towards that final apostasy which shall yet been seen on earth Isolation, independency, or separation from God’s true people, is opposed to His holy will. That will is, that His people should be found together. “Gather my saints together unto Me.” God’s call is to union and communion with Christ, and with each other. And whilst separation from sin and evil is holiness, so separation from holiness is sin. The allusion is to the stragglers found in the uttermost part of the camp (Numb. 11:1), who were consumed by the fire. Judgment must begin at the house of God, and He knows those who have no real love for His Name.

The verses that follow must not be passed over lightly; they form with those already looked at in chapter 6, the most solemn warnings of the epistle. In both “the Son of God”—the Divine Person of the Lord Jesus is pre-eminent. There is no other sacrifice, no other Saviour. He alone was competent to deal with the question of sin. He has taken it up, dealt with it according to God, once and for ever, and is now yonder on the throne. O to think that the wonderful Being amid that glory and that light, is the One who purged my sins. He has made a clean sweep of them all. He must, else He could not be there. What then? Shall I turn from Him to a religion of forms, of dead ordinances, or of works of mine? This in the reckoning of God, is to despise Christ. “To have trodden under foot the Son of God.” Awful words! Yet thousands are doing it, religiously too, every day, preferring self, and human religion, to God’s beloved Son; counting “the blood of the covenant, wherewith He is set apart an unholy—or common—thing.” By the Cross, Jesus was set apart (John 17:19), taking a new place up there, from which he calls a people into association with Himself. That blood sets them apart, cutting them clear from the religion of the world. But if all this, under any pretence whatever, is rejected, then the blood of the covenant, the Person of the Son of God, and the Spirit of grace, are all despised. Need we wonder therefore, if the punishment for all such is “certain,” and “sore” (verse 39). “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy.” Who was this man? The reference is clearly to Numbers 15:30-36. When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He instructed His people, even before the giving of the law on Mount Sinai (Exod. 16:23-26), to keep His sabbaths. Until redemption in type had been accomplished (Exod. 12), we hear nothing of sabbath-keeping after the fall. But when God had by His own arm, brought salvation by the blood of the Paschal Lamb, and the passage of the Red Sea, He taught the chosen people to rest where, and when, He rested. That sabbath rest was “a shadow” of things to come (Col. 2:16, 17). The typical people, typically redeemed, were to keep a typical rest. But one man refused to do so. While others rested, he went out and gathered sticks on the sabbath-day. He “despised the word of the Lord,” sinning “presumptuously”—as the word declares in Numbers; here in Hebrews, “wilfully.” For him there was no mercy; he was stoned to death without the camp. The application of the passage here is plain. In chapters 3 and 4, we have seen God’s true and final rest in Christ, and in His finished work. There is no other. It is for each of us to ask—Do I rest where God rests? Or do I seek by efforts of my own to gather sticks, to heap up works, to walk in the light of a fire of my own kindling: to heap on the sticks and stubble of religious performances, seeking thereby to please God? God here designates all who refuse to share His rest in Christ, and to accept His salvation, as “adversaries,” and as such they will die without mercy at God’s hands. And as the Antitype exceeds the type, so shall the punishment be sorer than his who was stoned to death for the breach of Moses’ law, for the rejection of the Son of God is the greatest of all sins. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not”—is disobedient to—the “Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on Him “(John 3:36).

Verses 32-39.—The closing verses of this chapter shew our place is with Christ “outside the camp,” in identification with Him there, in shame and rejection. The path of the believer, if he is true to God, must be a path of suffering down here. And faith joyfully accepts, and cordially approves, thankful to be on His side in a world that is against Him, and casts Him out. Flesh may recoil; but faith, with its eye on the crown, embraces joyfully the Cross, knowing that the path has ever been a rough one to the man of faith. “A great fight of afflictions” a conflict of sufferings—is his appointed lot, if he follow in the steps of his rejected Lord. Nor will he eschew the fellowship of those who are thus maltreated, for they are his “companions.” Yea, he will even have compassion for those in bonds, although it should cost him his worldly all—the despoiling of his goods, knowing that up yonder in heaven, he has a substance, a real inheritance, which can never be taken from him. Confidence in God and patience, are needed to sustain the saints in the midst of such trials, and these will have their reward. They are, in the estimate of heaven, of great price, and will have the Master’s “well done,” at the judgment-seat. “After ye have done the will of God ye might receive the promise.” His promise is our hope, and although we may have to suffer here, it is only “a little while, as little as may be, and the Coming One will come.” Till then the righteous man is to live by faith, treading the marked-out path, with his eye upon God, who is pleased to have His child’s confidence and love. But a faith that costs nothing, is worth nothing. Do any shrink from such a path? Then they had better ascertain whither they are tending. It may be easier, but what if the end is “perdition”?