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.
In the first four verses of chapter ten, we see why the old ritual needed to be replaced. The entire system of the Law in the Old Testament was a “shadow of the good things to come.” The good things have now come in the Person and Work of Christ. The old rituals could not “make perfect” those who were practicing them. The old rituals could not rid a person of the guilt of sin. These sacrifices only reminded a person of their sin. They were designed to point the worshipper to his/her desperate need for a Savior. (See Galatians 3:24)
In verses 5-9, we once again see the need to replace the old ritual. Since it is impossible for the blood of animals to take away sins, God had to provide for Himself a completely satisfactory and effective sacrifice. He did this by sending His Son into the world as a man, to suffer and die on the cross. The first (old ritual) is taken away. The animal sacrifices are no longer useful. The second is established. The sacrifice of Christ has replaced the old sacrifices. His finished work now stands alone. “It is finished!”
In verses 10-14, we see that we have been “sanctified” by the “once for all” sacrifice of Christ. The contrast here between the old ritual and Christ’s final sacrifice is striking. Verse fourteen is a definitive statement on the right standing of the believer before a holy God. This is possible because of the effectiveness of Jesus’ sacrifice.
The writer closes out this section with an exhortation for the Hebrew believers to persevere in their faith. Using Old Testament language, he points once again to the finished work of Christ and to the fact that Jesus is our new High Priest. He encourages them to “draw near to God with a sincere heart.” The believer is able to draw near to God without fearing His wrath. His wrath was satisfied by the completed work of His Son. The writer challenges his readers to stand firm in their commitment to Christ. God is faithful. His promises are true. He is worthy of our confident trust.
Questions to Ponder
What purpose did the blood sacrifices of the Old Testament serve? What does Christ’s sacrifice mean to you personally? Are you trusting in the Person and finished Work of Christ? Are you trying to atone for your own sin through good works? If you know someone who is struggling in their faith, how would you encourage them with the words from Hebrews chapter ten?
- Praise the Lord for being our Advocate, Mediator, Defender, Prince of Peace, Comforter, Helper, sympathetic Great High Priest.
- Confess any sin that comes to mind, tell the Lord you are sorry and receive His amazing forgiveness. He forgives as far as the east is from the west.
- Ask Him to help you in any areas that you are struggling with. Be specific with your requests.
- Ask Him to meet you in those areas, to reveal Himself to you, to help and grow you.
You are forgiving, kind, righteous and true. Thank You Lord that You made a way for me to know You personally and all those that call on You as Lord and Savior. I ask Father, that You would infill me and Your church with Your Holy Spirit and that You would empower us to remember that we have access to You through the blood of Jesus Christ at any time. Remind us that You want us to come to You and fellowship with You, to learn, grow, and walk by faith and not by sight. Thank You that You have given us life and life abundantly in Christ Jesus and we are richly blessed to be Yours. Abba, lead us in love to those around us. Helps us to walk in the footsteps of faith, trusting You will work out everything for good, for You have a plan and a purpose. In Jesus name, Amen.