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Last time, the author was telling us
That the New Covenant is better
Because its High Priest
Serves in a better tabernacle,
And has made a better sacrifice.
The tabernacle Moses built –
The one God commanded –
Was only a picture/shadow of the real thing.
But Jesus serves in the reality –
He has entered into heaven itself
To intercede for you,
To plead His merits and to pray for you;
And that’s why you’ll eventually be
Where He is in heaven
If you’re trusting Him.
The New Covenant – which is administered from heaven –
Was also inaugurated with better blood.
The Old Covenant was established
With the blood of bulls and goats –
But the New Covenant
With the blood of God’s Son.
This was one of the main reasons
Jesus came into the world:
To give Himself as a sacrifice,
That He might provide a just basis
Upon which the Father could forgive
And receive any who would trust His Son
Into His family as His sons and daughters.
The author continues to show us
Just how much better Jesus’ sacrifice is
And encourages us
That since God has opened this door,
Through the death of His Son
That we should use it to draw near to Him.
Let’s consider four things:
1. That the Old Covenant sacrifices couldn’t open the door to heaven, but Jesus’
2. What you should do since God has opened this door.
3. What will happen to you if you turn away from this open door.
4. And finally, an encouragement to press forward.
A. First, let’s consider that the Old Covenant sacrifices couldn’t open the door to
heaven, but Jesus’ sacrifice did.
1. The author showed us in the previous chapter
That the New Covenant was established with better blood.
Now he spells this out more clearly:
The Old Covenant sacrifices
Could not cleanse the worshippers
From their sins –
In other words,
They couldn’t save you!
Because the Ceremonial Law
Was only a shadow of the good things to come –
It wasn’t the real thing (v. 1).
They couldn’t take away your sins
Or make you perfect.
Because they believe God has two peoples,
Also believe there are two ways to God –
One through Jesus Christ –
For Jews and Gentiles –
And the other through the Old Covenant system –
For natural Jews only.
But note the author says
The Old Covenant sacrifices
Can’t take away sin –
If they can’t remove sin
They can’t save you.
Salvation has always been through Jesus.
The author goes on to argue
That if these sacrifices could remove sin,
There wouldn’t have been any further need for them –
Once the sacrifice had been made,
The worshipers would have been forgiven.
But the fact these sacrifices continued
Only served to remind them that they were still guilty (v. 3).
If that isn’t clear enough,
The author goes on to say,
That it’s impossible for the blood of bulls and goats
To take away sins (v. 4).
An animal sacrifice isn’t nearly valuable enough
To pay for anyone’s crimes against God –
Our guilt is infinite
Because we’ve sinned against an infinitely holy God.
But remember his point: They were never meant to.
They were only meant to teach the worshipper two things:
1) That the wages of sin is death,
2) And that God would one day provide
The sacrifice that would be precious enough
To take away our sins:
The blood of His Son.
In the meantime,
When God saw the sacrifices
Pointing forward to His Son,
He would mercifully pass over those sins (Rom. 3:25).
2. The author goes on to tell us:
The blood of bulls and goats couldn’t remove sin,
But Jesus’ blood can.
Knowing these sacrifices weren’t enough
To satisfy His Father’s justice,
Jesus was willing to come into this world in our nature –
To become a man
That He might obey and die:
“Sacrifice and offering for sin you have not desired,
A body You have prepared for Me” (v. 5).
You might have noticed
That the psalm from which these words are taken
Reads, “My ears You have opened.”
That’s because the author is quoting the Septuagint –
The Greek translation of the Old Testament,
Which is the Bible our Lord and His disciples frequently used.
Both of these expressions
Really mean the same thing.
They point to Jesus’ obedience.
The opening of the ear
Refers either to a heart
That is quick to listen and obey,
Or to the boring of the ear
Against the doorpost of a house
That establishes lifetime service to that house –
Jesus delighted in doing His Father’s will;
He was devoted to His Father’s purpose.
This is something He desires in us as well.
The preparing of a body –
Or Jesus’ human nature –
Refers to the instrument
Through which He would serve His Father.
Both expressions are pointing to His obedience,
Particularly, the laying down of His life (vv. 6-7).
Notice the author also points to the fact
That God didn’t accept the Old Covenant sacrifices,
But instead sent His Son into the world to die
As another indication
That the Old Covenant has been done away with
And the New Covenant established in its place:
He takes away the first to establish the second (v. 9).
His main point is this:
What the Levitical priest couldn’t do
Through their daily sacrifices (v. 11),
Jesus has done:
He made one offering for all time (v. 10, 12, 14),
And sat down at the right hand of the Father
Waiting from that time for His reward –
For His enemies to be subdued under His feet (vv. 12-13).
Through His one sacrifice
He has perfected forever
All who trust Him (vv. 10, 14).
He has done so for you,
If you’re trusting Him this morning.
3. This is exactly what God,
Through the Holy Spirit,
Said He would do in the Old Covenant (v. 15) –
That He would make a covenant
In which He would put His laws
On the hearts of His people,
And write them in their minds (v. 16);
And that He would no longer remember
Their sins against them (v. 17).
Since our sins would be forgiven
There would no longer be any need for an offering for sin (v. 18) –
The Old Covenant system would come to an end.
The Old Covenant couldn’t open the door to heaven
Because it couldn’t take away sin.
But the New Covenant can –
Because in it, the Lord has provided
A better, once for all, sacrifice
That can cleanse from all sin.
B. Since God has opened this door to heaven
Through the work of His Son –
Since we have a priest
Who can take away our sins –
What should you do?
If you’re at all concerned about reaching heaven,
There’re three things:
Draw near to God through Jesus!
Hold fast to Him!
And help your brothers and sisters in Christ
To do the same.
I hope we can appreciate what God has done for us:
He has opened heaven
Through the offering of His Son.
The author says the veil to the holy of holies –
That which separate us from heaven –
Was Jesus’ flesh (vv. 19-20) –
Heaven couldn’t be opened to us
Until His body was broken.
Jesus is the true temple of God.
He said to the Jews in John’s Gospel,
“Destroy this Temple, and I will raise it up again in three days.”
They thought He was talking about Herod’s Temple,
One that had been being built for forty-six years,
But He was talking about the temple of His body (John 2:19-21).
Jesus had to die,
Before the way into heaven could be opened,
And having died –
Having fulfilled the picture
The Temple was meant to provide –
It was only a matter of time
Before God destroyed that picture –
As long as it stood, the author says,
It hid the real way to heaven (9:8)
Through Jesus Christ.
Jesus died, rose from the dead,
And ascended to heaven as our great high Priest.
We no longer need to approach God
Through the deaths of animals –
Now we can come through a risen and living Savior.
And so, first, the author says, Come!
Since the door to heaven is open
Draw near with a sincere heart,
With the full assurance God will receive you,
Because there is full cleansing
Through the blood of His Son (v. 22).
If you haven’t come into this relationship with God –
If you haven’t had your sins forgiven
And washed away in the blood of Jesus –
Then come now.
Trust in Jesus now.
Turn from your sins and draw near.
The door is open for you –
You need to go through it by faith.
Second, having come, you need to hold fast to Jesus.
He is still the only way.
Don’t turn away from Him
And go back into the world.
God will do what He promised.
He will bring you to heaven,
But you must persevere –
You must press forward (v. 23).
And third, holding on to Jesus
And pressing forward in His ways,
Encourage your brothers and sisters to do the same:
“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (v. 24).
Of course, you can’t do that
If you’re not with your brothers and sisters,
And so the author exhorts us not to forsake “our own assembling together, as is the
habit of some, but [to encourage] one another; and all the more as you see the
day drawing near” (v. 25).
The day that was drawing near for them
Was the coming of our Lord in judgment
Against the Jews in 70 AD,
When He finally – once for all –
Destroyed the Temple
So that the way into the holy of holies
Might be more obvious.
The day that draws near for each of us
Is the finish line at the end of our lives.
And so draw near to God through Jesus;
Hold onto Him and His ways with all your heart,
And do all you can to encourage
Your brothers and sisters in Christ
To do the same.
Especially when you consider the alternative.
C. What will happen to you if you don’t? –
If you don’t go through the open door,
If you don’t hold fast,
If you turn away from Christ
And go back into the world?
If you reject His sacrifice,
If you decide to continue in your sins,
You will have to face God’s fiery wrath (vv. 26-27) –
Not only in this life,
But in the life to come.
If those who wouldn’t listen
To God’s Law through Moses
Died without mercy on the testimony
Of two or three witnesses (v. 28),
What will God do to you
If you side with the Jews
Who hated and rejected Him,
Who considered Him a criminal and worthy of death.
What will He do with you
If you insult the Spirit of grace
And reject Jesus’ sacrifice,
By which you may even have claimed
To have been washed from your sins (v. 29)?
The author says,
The Lord will bring vengeance on you –
For all your sins,
Not the least of which, rejecting His Son.
“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (v. 31).
Don’t turn away from the only sacrifice that can save you –
Trust in the Lord,
Follow Him, hold onto Him,
And encourage your brethren to do the same.
D. Finally, be encouraged
From what you’ve already done for Him to press forward.
After the author gave a very sobering warning in chapter six –
A warning against the unpardonable sin –
He followed it with an encouragement,
“But beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you,
And things that accompany salvation,
Though we are speaking in this way” (6:9).
He appears to be doing the same here.
After giving them this warning –
Against the rejection that will lead to their destruction –
He follows it with an encouragement.
Remember what you’ve already endured:
Remember your sufferings (v. 32).
That you were publicly criticized;
Your many difficulties;
Your having helped others going through the same (v. 33),
In some instances, by visiting them in prison.
Remember that you didn’t care if they took your possessions,
You even accepted it joyfully,
Because you knew you had a better inheritance (v. 34).
Don’t throw it all away
By turning away from Christ:
God will reward you (v. 35).
Hold on, endure, continue to move forward (v. 36, 39).
It’s only a very short time little before Jesus comes for you (v. 37).
Let this be a reminder,
Not to forget the work the Lord has already done in you,
And what He has done through you.
It’s always easier at the beginning of the race.
It gets more difficult after you’ve been running for a while.
In this race, a good start
Doesn’t matter as much as a good finish.
You must hold on,
You must persevere,
You must endure, if you are to see heaven.
The next chapter is full of examples
Of those who did just that;
And they all still testify that it’s worth it!
It’s worth whatever you must pay
To hold onto Christ
That you might enter heaven.
May the Lord grant each of us
His grace to do so. Amen.