Lesson Eleven—Hebrews 10 The Sacrifice… Superior to All Offerings

The ninth chapter of Hebrews closes with our High Priest appearing within the veil of heaven where we behold Him. We are “looking steadfastly toward heaven,” for we expect to see Him soon, coming out from the glories of that heavenly sanctuary. When He comes it will be for our eternal salvation. He will bring us back with Him into all the blessings of that heavenly place.

In chapter ten we learn that we are now set down amidst those glories, entering through the veil into the Holy Place. Our approach to the subject is by way of the crimson highway of the Old Testament types and shadows. We follow them until we reach the goal toward which they all point, the one perfect Sacrifice by which alone we can enter the presence of God.

1. The Avenue of the Shadows (vv. 1-4)

For many centuries, year after year, sacrifices were offered in Israel. These offerings were like fingerposts pointing to Calvary. They all were “shadows,” Chirst is the substance. They were “continuous,” repeated year after year; Christ’s Sacrifice was once for all. They were for a “remembrance”—they could never remove the sins thus brought to remembrance. Now we remember a Sacrifice that has put all our sins away.

Not all the blood of beasts, on Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace, or wash away its stain.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb, took all our guilt away,
A Sacrifice of nobler name, and richer blood than they.

2. The One Perfect Sacrifice (vv. 5-18)

Over against the background of the many Jewish offerings we see Calvary. There we trace a pathway that leads from the brightness of heavenly glory to the foot of the cross. We are reminded of the time when Christ came out from heaven. Coming into this world we hear Him say, “Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not” … setting aside all the shadows by the one perfect offering of Christ Himself, for He came to die.

Three things we needed: We needed someone to think of us, and this is what God did. We needed someone to act for us, and Christ did that. And then we needed someone to tell of the accomplishment of that work, and the Holy Spirit does that. This is simply set forth in this portion.

1. The source of our salvation is the will of God (vv. 7-10). The first man, Adam, did his own will, and man was separated from God, lost in sin. The will of God was our salvation, and this involved the coming and death of the Second Man, our Lord Jesus Christ. By that will we are brought back to God.

2. The means of our salvation is the work of Christ (vv. 10-14). The body He received at Incarnation (v. 5) He offered up as a Sacrifice for sin on the cross (vv. 10-12), and by His one Offering we are perfected forever. Think of the thief on the cross going to Paradise the very day Jesus died! He was only fit for hell. What made him fit for heaven? Only the work of Christ dying at his side.

3. The assurance of our salvation is by the Holy Spirit’s witness (vv. 15-18). The Spirit of God points to the past work of Christ forever finished, assuring us of that fact. Our sins can be remembered no more because they are removed out of God’s sight.

3. Entrance into the Holiest (vv. 19-25)

When we stand beside the altar, we see the end of all our sins, and discover a way open whereby we can draw near to the very innermost shrine of glory. The way is Christ Himself. It is by Him that we draw near to God—Christ in death—for the approach is through the rent veil. Thus having access through Jesus’ blood, and being in association with the priestly house over which Christ is High Priest (v. 21), we are admonished to appropriate these blessings. Three times we have the words, “Let us.”

“Let us draw near” in the full exercise of faith, like John on Jesus’ bosom, perfectly at rest in His Presence (v. 22).

“Let us hold fast” our confession in the assurance of hope (margin), like Stephen in the face of his foes (v. 23).

“Let us consider one another” in the warmth of love, like Epaphras with entire absence of thought of self (v. 24). Thus will the atmosphere of the sanctuary prevail in the company of the saints down here.

How sad to turn from such a lovely scene to the dark picture that follows! The dark clouds of judgment are seen gradually rising on the horizon of the world. The company of the saints is in the midst of the doomed scene, but in touch with heaven, and bearing testimony to an absent and glorified Christ. He sits in highest heaven (v. 12), “expecting” until the day of His power and glory (v. 13). In spirit the assembly is to be seated and expecting as He is. But now and again someone slips away from that circle, forsaking the assembly, as Judas did the gathering in the upper room. The apostle warns us not to follow in their footsteps. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (v. 25).

4. The Doom of the Despiser (vv. 26-39)

Another “red lantern” warning is found in the closing verses of this chapter. As we look outside the holy, happy place where God brings His own near Himself, we see only a “wilderness of woe.” How terrible the very thought that one should willfully forsake the group of glory-bound pilgrims, returning to the dark shadows of Judaism with wrath impending. Its sacrifices could not shelter from the wrath to come. Before him looms the vengeance of the living God, certain and terrible. More dreadful than the fate of the lawbreaker is that of the despiser of grace. The Son of God, the precious blood, and God’s gracious Spirit all interposed, but this despiser disregards them all, pursuing the path of rebellious self-will.

Our chapter closes with a backward and an onward look. The dark picture of apostasy is relieved by a lovely scene out of the past history of the Hebrew Christians. Amidst the dark shadows of fiery persecution their faith had shone brightly. They had been robbed of all their earthly store, but what mattered since they had in heaven “a better and an abiding substance”? They had their eye on heavenly glory, and earth faded out of the picture. The record of their past sufferings and their love and sympathy towards the afflicted apostle was a challenge to them and an encouragement to go on. A reward awaited them at the end of the road. The day of “illumination” marked the beginning of the way, the day of glorification would mark the end. The will of God was the road that lay between, and in that they were to walk with patience. This they would need, for the way was weary and long, but hope brightened the path (v. 37). “Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”

Blessed hope! Glorious prospect! The outlook is dark for this poor world, but the uplook is bright for those who know the Man who has gone within the Holy Place to return again for the joy of His people. Thus, while we hear the warning sounds—and we shudder to think of coming wrath—the Morning Star appears in the eastern sky; we point to it and say, “The day is dawning.”

All who rely by faith upon the One whose promise cheers us, are sure of reaching the goal. “We are not of them that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

Gathered Gleanings

Vv. 1-10. The Lord Jesus undertook of His own free will, the accomplishment of all the will of God in absolute and complete submission. He was pleased to take the body prepared for Him in order to accomplish it.

The love, the devotedness to the glory of God, and the way in which He undertook to obey, are fully set forth in these verses.

And this—the fruit of God’s eternal counsels—displaces by its very nature every provisional sign. Signs point the way; signs cease when the goal is reached. The cross is the terminal of the crimson highway of the Old Testament.

V. 10. Sanctification in the Epistle to the Hebrews is not the practical sanctification wrought by the Holy Ghost. It is a complete setting apart to God, as belonging to Him—bought by the offering of Jesus and consecrated to Him because of that offering.

Once for all. The duration and the constant force of the efficacy of that work. Forever. Uninterruption, continuity. He is ever seated. We are ever perfected by virtue of His work, and according to that perfect righteousness, in which, and conformable to which, He sits at the right hand of God. His acceptance on God’s part is proved by His sitting at His right hand. And He is there for us.

V. 15. The certainty that God will never remember our sins and iniquities is founded upon (1) the steadfast will of God, (2) the perfect offering of Christ, (3) the sure testimony of the Holy Ghost.

V. 19. “Holy places,” both now made one.

V. 20. The one entrance is through the rent veil by the blood of Jesus. “New”: recent, newly. Sincere souls today seek pardon from Christ as High Priest. Faith sees a perfect redemption accomplished. Sins have been imputed to Christ. He is now in heaven—a proof of sins gone forever.

Sins interrupt communion but make no change in our position before God, nor in the testimony rendered by the Presence of Christ at the right hand of God. As Priest He obtains grace to help in time of need, that we may not sin.

V. 22. The only thing that honors the efficacy of Christ’s work and the love which has thus brought us to enjoy God’s favor is to bask in it.

Vv. 26, 27. Verses that have troubled many a pilgrim on the heavenly pathway. And well might we take heed, but never give way to despair, for the warning is against leaving the “way of the cross” for the path of self-will and the doom of despair.

There is no remedy for apostasy. If one abandoned Christ and Christians, there was no other sacrifice to which he could have recourse, nor would that sacrifice be repeated. Nothing but judgment awaited such an one.

V. 19. Inside the veil (v. 32), outside the camp. Satan’s lie made Adam a stranger to God and at home in this polluted world. Christianity restores us to citizenship in the Presence of God and stranger-ship in the world—inside the camp and outside the camp.

V. 36. A life of patience intervenes between the day of illumination and the day of glorification. Not a path of ease, pleasure, prosperity, or wealth, but of companionship with an unworldly Christ. No greater glory is or can be yours than to be the companion of your rejected Master.