THE NEW TESTAMENT
Epistle to Hebrews #13
For the first half of chapter 10, Paul gives emphasis to the
Old Testament as NOT the means of forgiveness of sins and
salvation through the ritual sacrifices, but that eternal
salvation was always to be through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ,
and that the Old Testament pointed to this truth.
The Old Testament "law" (the five books of Moses - Genesis,
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) gave a for-shadow in
its rites and images, the true "good things to come" (the perfect
salvation sacrifice by Christ Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior
The yearly animal sacrifices could never make the offerer
perfect or justified or have sins forgiven, as to allow for
salvation. If this had been the way to eternal life, then the
yearly sacrifices would not have had to be repeated, they would
have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers once purged
from sin, would have had no more conscienceness of sin.
The purpose, one of the purposes, of those sacrifices, year
after year, was to REMIND people OF SIN, to remind them they were
STILL sinners, and it would take blood to forgive them their
sins, BUT it was just NOT possible that the blood of bulls and
goats and sheep, should take away sins (verses 1-4).
God had NEVER planned that full and complete spiritual
forgiveness as to attain salvation, was going to be by the blood
of bulls and goats. Animals are nice to have around, are pleasant,
give some joy to have, are useful in many ways for us human kind,
but the animal kind, can never to compared to the human kind. No
amount of animals are worth the life of just one human person. The
purpose and destiny for mankind is so much more greater than for
any animal kind, that it is truly like night and day in
When God first brought Israel out of Egypt He DID NOT speak
to them about a strict animal sacrifice system. It was not His
intention at first to introduce to Israel a complicated and
laborious and rigorous, daily, all year round, animal sacrificial
system. This truth can be seen in reading Jeremiah chapter 7.
The many rites of "the law" were as a custodian to us, a
care-taker to us, to bring us to the "schoolmaster" - to Christ
Jesus. This is all fully explained by Paul in Galatians chapter
3. And we have covered in some detail that epistle of Galatians
earlier in this New Testament Bible Story.
The Most High had planned even before the foundation of the
world, that the saving of mankind from sin and death, would ONLY
be accomplished by the LIFE and the DEATH of one of the GODHEAD
kind. The second member of the Godhead was willing to come to
earth as a human being. To be fully human and yet fully divine at
the same time, to be IMMANUEL - or as that name means - God WITH
US, as Isaiah the prophet said it would be.
The forgiveness of sins was only ever going to be through
the blood sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. Only the
life of God could take away the sins of mankind and allow
perfection in salvation.
Hence to was foretold in Psalm 40:6,7 that when the Messiah
came into the world, He would say, "Sacrifices and offerings you
would not, but a body have you prepared for me. In burnt
offerings and sacrifices for sin you have no pleasure. Then said
I, I come (in the volume of a book it is written of me) to do thy
will, O God."
This is just another way of saying that God the Father had
never planned that animal sacrifices should take away sins for
the salvation of mankind. Salvation for the human kind was going
to be done through the life of the Son of God, He doing the
Father's will by coming to earth as a human person, living a
perfect sinless life, and shedding His blood in death on the
cross, for the sins of the whole world.
God was NOT ever going to use the rites and sacrifices of
the Old Testament law, which were offered under the priesthood
laws of the Old Testament Tabernacle or Temple, to bring about
salvation for the human kind. He had no pleasure in that system
of salvation for mankind. It was in a totally other system per se
that the Most High would accomplish salvation with men and women
on this earth. It was not that God hated the ritual animal
sacrifice system in itself, for He Himself had introduced it to
Israel and had made it the law in the nation of Israel, and that
system did accomplish certain good things. It did remind people
all the time, year after year, that they were sinners, and
through the shedding of the animals blood it did teach them and
point them, to the fact that it would be through the shedding of
the blood of the Messiah that forgiveness of sins would be
accomplished. But in the effect of perfect salvation and
forgiveness of sins for salvation, God had no pleasure in it
being through the blood of animals.
So it was that the first system of daily animal sacrifices
was to be taken away, put to one side, made to appear quite
useless, for eternal salvation, and the second one time, and once
for all, sacrifice of the Son of God, would be established as the
means to salvation. We humans would be forgiven our sins,
justified to God the Father, set apart or sanctified for a holy
purpose, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once
for all time (verses 5-10).
The Old Levitical priesthood stood serving on a daily
calendar the offerings, the same type over and over again, that
could never take away sins for salvation. But Jesus came and
offered ONE SACRIFICE of Himself, dying on the cross, shedding
His blood just once in death, and then sat down on the right hand
of the Most High (until His enemies should be His foot-stool, at
His return to earth and setting up on earth the Kingdom of God).
It was through ONE OFFERING, the offering of Himself in death
that He perfected forever those who are set apart for salvation.
This was THE WAY to eternal life and salvation, not through a
Levitical priesthood of animal sacrifices, but through the life
and blood sacrifice of the very Son of God.
Paul was here making sure that the Hebrews did not
misunderstand the nature of the old animal sacrificial system, as
it pertained to eternal salvation. There was just no way that
salvation could be obtained through the shedding of the blood of
bulls and goats and sheep. It was NEVER intended by God to
accomplish such a thing or to lead anyone to eternal life by
following such a laborious physical animal system. All of that
system and all the law pointed to Jesus the Christ, and His
sacrifice of Himself as the way to eternal life.
The Holy Spirit had also given witness in the Old Testament
(Jeremiah 31) that God would forgive sins and put His laws in the
hearts of people. It would all be done not through animal
sacrifices but through the way God had always planned it to be -
through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the
world. And so now that THE ONE sacrifice had been given, there
was no need to offer animal sacrifices for sin (verses 11-18).
We have seen through the book of Acts that some people of
God did still attend the Temple, some of its functions, and even
partake in some of its rituals, including animal sacrifices. Paul
never taught that the Temple services could not be attended and
partaken of by Christians, including the offering of animal
sacrifices. What Paul clearly taught was that such services and
Temple rituals did NOT function in any way with regards to
salvation. They had no bearing on real spiritual forgiveness of
sins, real justification with God, real sanctification, or the
inheriting of eternal life. It was not sin to do the Temple
services while the Levitical priesthood and the Temple still
functioned (all of that was indeed originally given from God to
Israel), if you desired, but doing so had no bearing on
salvation. Then on the other hand Paul taught that it was not
wrong or sin for a Christian to NOT follow the Temple rituals
including the system of animal sacrifices.
Some Christians, mainly of Hebrew of Jewish background
continued to observe some of the Temple systems of worship. Many
other Christians, of none Jewish background, did not. Paul is
here telling the Hebrew Christians that now the one sacrifice of
Christ has come, there is no need to be concerned with continuing
to offer animal sacrifices. And as the Temple and its priesthood
would soon be destroyed and be no more (as it would be after 70
A.D.) then all Christians needed to clearly know the truth about
the system of animal sacrifices - that it just was never intended
to be the way to salvation.
Now we Christians have a new way of entering the Holy of
Hollies, in the heavenly Temple. The old physical veil was
representive of the flesh of Christ. Jesus has come, He shed His
blood, His flesh was offered, and now we have the way through to
the very presence of God the Father in the holiest place of all
in the heavenly Temple. And further more, as Jesus is also there
on the right hand of the Father as High Priest over the whole
household of God, all the Father's children, then we can draw
near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our
hearts and minds sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our whole
bodies washed with pure water (verses 19-22).
It is all a spiritual truth from the physical types of the
Old Temple. The High priest having to wash himself fully before
entering the holy of hollies, behind the veil, on the Day of
Atonement, where he took blood and sprinkled the mercy seat of
God. All of that was a type of us Christians coming to the Father
in the holy of hollies above, through the flesh and blood of
Christ and obtaining forgiveness of sins, by His blood.
We are to then hold fast the profession of our faith and not
waver, as He that promised this way of salvation is faithful to
that promise. We are to remember each other, to encourage each
other to good works, to Christian love, and to Christian
fellowship. We are to NOT FORGET to assemble with each other, as
apparently in the time this epistle was written, some were
forgetting to assemble with others of like Christian faith. We
are to assemble so we can exhort, encourage, build-up, one
another, and especially as the day approaches towards the end
time (verses 23-25).
The day approaching will be such as was never before or
never will be again (Matthew 24). It will be a time of trouble on
earth that has or will have any equal in earth's history, from
the time of the creation of mankind. As we read the book of
Revelation it is hard to imagine what is yet to take place on
this earth, and the time of trouble for Israel, Judah,
Christians, and all nations. So, indeed it will be important for
Christians to encourage and exhort one another in Christian
Then there is another very important truth behind the
fellowship of Christians exhorting one another, and that is what
we read of in verses 26-31.
Christians exhorting one another will serve to help in the
lives of those Christians NOT to sin wilfully after we receive
the knowledge of the truth. This would be the unpardonable sin. A
wilfully set mind to give up the Christian walk, to go back into
the ways of the old man, to discard the path of righteousness, to
turn away from the light of the Lord, and again to live and walk
as a way of life in darkness of sin. This kind of mindset can
only lead to there being no more sacrifice for sins. It is a mindset
that once more treads under foot the very Son of God and counts
the blood of the covenant, that sanctifies, an unholy thing, and
does despite unto the Spirit of grace.
There was judgment under the Old Testament for those who
despised the laws of Moses. Death came upon those who had
committed serious sins, under the witness of two or three. For
those who despise the blood of Christ and trample Him under foot,
there will be even more severe punishment. God will punish, He
will recompense, He will judge His people. Yes, God is love, yes
He would like to see everyone saved, He is patient and merciful,
slow to anger, and kind. But He has written that He will judge
and reward everyone according to his works, whether good or evil.
For those who sin wilfully after being given the knowledge of the
truth, and deciding to trample on the blood of Christ, to them
God will one day be a punishing judge. For such people, it will
be a terrible and fearful thing to fall into the hands of the
We need Christian fellowship with others of like minds so we
can encourage each other to remain faithful, to continue to walk
in the ways of the Lord, to endure to the end, and in so doing be
saved into eternal life, and not destroyed in the lake of fire
and be sentenced to eternal death (verses 26-31).
To encourage his readers, Paul reminds them of the former
days, of how, after they had been illuminated to God's truths,
they endured a great fight, even through many afflictions. They
had suffered persecutions and reproaches, and afflictions of
various kinds from people who noticed them walking in the
footsteps of Christ. They had suffered reproaches and afflictions
just because they were named companions of Christians. Yet, they
remained faithful to God.
Paul reminds them of the compassion they had for him, in his
times of hardship, and how they wilfully gave of their physical
goods to help him, knowing that it was all noted by heaven, all
written down for their credit in the book of life, and would
receive an enduring reward one day, for all they went through and
did on earth as a faithful Christian.
They were therefore not to cast away their confidence, they
were to have patience, and to know that after they had done the
will of God, they would receive the promise of eternal life. He
who would come, Jesus who would one day return to earth, would
indeed come, He would no longer tarry or wait, but would come,
and His promise of life eternal they would collect.
We have seen in the past, the glorious truth that the saints
of God will receive the promise of eternal life at the
resurrection, which takes place at the coming of the Lord in
glory and power.
Those who are just or justified must live by faith. Paul
here sends out a strong and sharp message. He says that his life
will have no pleasure in them that draw back. Would Paul pray for
such people, I think so, but would Paul continue to have
Christian fellowship with them per se? I think not. How can light
have fellowship with darkness, and how can light have fellowship
with those who once were in light but have now chosen to draw
back into darkness?
Paul finishes his thought by the encouraging words of
confidence to his readers that they were all not of them that
draw back unto perdition, but to them that believe to the saving
of their life (verses 32-39).
It takes FAITH for the Christian to live, to endure to the
end, to remain faithful through trials, tests, hardship,
persecutions, and all the many things that physical life can
throw at us. So it was fitting that Paul should now go into a
full discourse on the subject of FAITH, and the many examples in
the Bible we have been given to encourage us to be faithful, to
endure to the end, to realize God is faithful to His promises.
All this we shall see in chapter 11.
Written March 2007