Hebrews Chapter 10: Antitypical Sacrifices, Strong Admonitions

Nov 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Hebrews, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Hebrews Chapter 10: Antitypical Sacrifices, Strong Admonitions

Heb. 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

The Mosaic Law, more particularly the ceremonial aspect of that Law, was “a shadow of good things to come.” In what way was the Law a “shadow” portending good news of the future?

1. When the high priest came out on the Day of Atonement, he blessed the congregation of the people of Israel at large, indicating a blessing of the future, after the Gospel Age sin offering is complete. Other important feasts also portended a blessing, and even if the feast was somber, the lesson was one of forgiveness of sin.

2. Even though the rest will not be fully accomplished until the end of the seventh 1,000-year day, the sabbath was instituted as a day of promised rest, picturing the Millennium.

3. Sin was atoned for; that is, a means of cancellation for sin was shown in the type.

Although a “shadow,” the Law was “not the very image of the [good] things [to come].” For verse 1, Weymouth has, “Now, since the Law exhibits only an outline of the blessings to come and not a perfect representation of the realities, the priests can never, by repeating the same sacrifices which they continually offer year after year, give complete freedom from sin to those who draw near.” The Law is not a perfect representation of the realities because it has certain limitations and can only provide clues or hints of the reality, which will far transcend the importance and value of the type.

“Those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually [can never] make the comers thereunto perfect.” The sacrifices “offered year by year” are usually thought of as the Day of Atonement sacrifices, which purified the nation and constituted a basis whereby the sacrifices of individuals were acceptable in subsequent days. In other words, at the end of every year, the Israelites had to have a fresh start, which was the cancellation of their national sin (Adamic sin, or the curse, in the antitype). The people were not dealt with and could not offer individual sacrifices until that sin offering was complete. That typical atonement was done once a year every year, continuously, down through the centuries.

In a sense too, the daily morning and evening sacrifices can be thought of as continual. On every calendar day of the year, the services commenced and ended with the offering of a lamb.

Regardless of what happened during the rest of the day—whether it was the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, Pentecost, or something else—a lamb was offered at both the beginning and the end of each day. These daily burnt offerings pictured the continual sacrifice of Christ. Thus on every single day of the year, the nation of Israel was reminded of this lamb sacrifice, which foreshadowed the one offering of Christ.

In one sense, then, the expression “which they offered year by year continually” reminds us more particularly of the Day of Atonement sacrifices, which were done annually and repeated year after year. However, other prophecies (such as Daniel 8:11-13; 11:31; and 12:11) have to do with the continual morning and evening (daily) sacrifices. Thus when the account says that the “daily sacrifice” was taken away, we think of the morning and evening sacrifices, and when the Book of Hebrews speaks of the “year by year” (annual) sacrifice, we think of the Day of Atonement.

Heb. 10:2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

The Christian is not thoroughly purged from sin in every respect, yet Paul reasoned that the typical Levitical sacrifices were much inferior to the atonement that Christ brought because if they really canceled sin, the worshippers back there would have had no further consciousness of sin. How do we explain this reasoning from the Christian perspective? The sacrifices were repeated in the type, whereas in the antitype, Jesus’ personal sacrifice was “once for all” (Heb. 10:10). The continuity of service back there was not efficacious, but Jesus’ sacrifice is ever efficacious, for those who use the robe of Christ’s righteousness to apply daily for forgiveness  of sin are cleansed. Christians are assured from the Lord’s own Word that they get a purging, a cleansing, of their conscience. Thus the antitypical Day of Atonement sacrifice occurs only once; the bullock (Christ) died only once, finishing his course at Calvary, and the goat (the Church class) dies collectively only once over the period of the Gospel Age. When the Lord’s goat sacrifice is finished, it, too, will be “once for all.” Stated another way, the goat is a composite class, whereas the bullock represented just Jesus, the Head, personally. If we think of both offerings (the bull and the Lord’s goat) from a detached and finished standpoint, the Head will have been offered only once, and the body will have been offered only once. Because the one sacrifice of the Church has been stretched out over almost 2,000 years, the Christ class members have not been discerned and are described as a mystery: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

Heb. 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

Heb. 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

With the mention of “the blood of bulls and goats,” verses 3 and 4 refer primarily to the Day of Atonement sacrifices and secondarily to the institution of the Law Covenant arrangement at Mount Sinai (Heb. 9:19).

Heb. 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

Jesus said to himself at his baptism at the Jordan River, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” Probably this sentiment was not said aloud but was part of his meditation—it was the language of his heart—at the time of his consecration. This meditation continues through verse 9.

What “coming” is referred to in the clause “Wherefore when he [Jesus] cometh into the world”? At age 30 at Jordan, Jesus came officially as the Messiah to fulfill the requirements of the Law. Of course he initially came as a babe at his First Advent, but the process of his birth and growth to manhood, when he “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man,” was merely preparatory for this event at Jordan (Luke 2:52).

The statement “Sacrifice and offering thou [God] wouldest not” is often misunderstood. Since God instituted the sacrifices and offerings of the Law, He would not criticize or disapprove His own method. Therefore, the thought is that He would not accept them as the ultimate offering for sin. Those Jews who tried to faithfully obey the requirements of the Law were blessed accordingly, but the sacrifices and offerings were only pictures, not the reality.

The Jews had a hard time letting go of the type and accepting the reality. And that was Paul’s purpose in writing the Book of Hebrews, namely, to urge Jews to let go of the form and ceremony of the Law and to accept the reality. Some Christians use verse 5 to discredit any study of the Old Testament sacrifices and Tabernacle shadows and say we should study only the New Testament, but the sacrifices were of God for a purpose. Paul was trying to dissuade the Jews from an improper emphasis in observing and clinging to the type, for their Messiah had come, fulfilling the antitype.

“A [human] body hast thou [God] prepared [for] me [Jesus].” God assisted Jesus in being made flesh by transferring him from the Logos to human nature. Jesus was shrunk down, as it were, from his great and glorious being in his preexistence to a lowly birth down here. We are reminded of the type in which Aaron brought his own bullock for the sin offering. The bullock represented that when Christ came into this world, he was his own bullock; his perfect human nature was separate from Adamic stock, for he was without a human father. In contrast, the goat was taken out from among the people. Verse 1 said that the Law was “not the very image” of the good things to come; it was not a perfect representation of the reality. Aaron’s bringing the bull for himself is a good example, for the bull was not a perfect representation of Jesus, but it was the best that Aaron could do, whereas in the reality, God brought the antitypical bullock.

In Leviticus 16, the Lord’s goat came from among the people for the people. This procedure pictured that out of all peoples, nationalities, and tongues would come forth a Christ class. Thus Aaron brought his own bullock, which was for himself and his house, and the goat was for the people, the world, showing that the Church is part of the sin offering for mankind.

Heb. 10:6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

Verse 6, which can be misunderstood in two ways, should not be taken out of context to discredit the whole arrangement. The question is, Why did God have “no pleasure” in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin?

1. The type did not accomplish the desired reconciliation. For forgiveness of sin, God’s justice would have to be fully satisfied. He could not have full pleasure in the typical arrangement because justification under old the Law Covenant was only partial.

2. The Jews only halfheartedly entered into the offerings and sacrifices because they offered sick and lame animals. Even though they did not understand the antitypical meaning of the sacrifices, they should have had confidence in God and been motivated by the proper spirit of obedience.

Verse 6 can also be read in the present tense. For example, Moffatt says, “In holocausts and sinofferings thou takest no delight.” Previously God had some pleasure in the offerings that He had ordained, especially if those sacrifices were performed with the right spirit. Using the present tense would signify that now, the reality having come, God has no pleasure in the continuance of the type. Now that Jesus has come, the other arrangement is fading away. He came as the reality to fulfill the type, so the literal Tabernacle, Levitical priesthood, blood sacrifices, and Law Covenant are passing away. The reality has begun. The royal majesty of the Kingdom has approached; i.e., the opportunity of being identified with the rulership aspect of the Kingdom has begun. The “good news” of the Kingdom is primarily that if fallen man repents from his sin and accepts Jesus, he has the opportunity to become a joint-heir with Jesus in the Kingdom.

Only in a secondary sense is the “good news” restitution. While the secondary application is more magnanimous in that more people are involved—the whole world—it was not the initial thought of the term “good news.”

Heb. 10:7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

When Jesus was baptized at Jordan, the “heavens” (the knowledge of his preexistence) were opened to him (Matt. 3:16). Prior to this event—that is, from the time he was born as a human until he was baptized at age 30—he did not know of his preexistence, although he had surmised he was the Messiah, for a sequence of unusual events had occurred to so indicate.

1. At his birth, shepherds in a field saw a vision in which the heavens were filled with angels. The message was, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord…. Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:8-15). Not only did the shepherds disclose this event to Joseph and Mary, but also they noised it abroad to others.

2. When Jesus was about 1 1/2 years old, three wise men came from the East to see the King of the Jews (Matt. 2:2). With ulterior motives, King Herod called them in for an audience, but God overruled the situation to preserve Jesus’ life.

3. At the time of Jesus’ circumcision in the Temple, Simeon and Anna recognized him as the Messiah. Simeon had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. The Holy Spirit seemed to overpower him, and he recognized that somehow or other this infant was the promised Deliverer of Israel. At that point, he was satisfied to die, to go in peace. Anna the prophetess, a very religious widow, also recognized Jesus as the Messiah and prophesied.

4. No doubt Mary had at some time told Jesus that the circumstances surrounding his birth were unusual and that Joseph was not his real father. In addition, Joseph would have related the dream in which he was warned to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus (Matt. 2:13).

Therefore, it was no wonder that at age 12 in the Temple, Jesus said he must be about his Father’s business! However, he did not remember his preexistent glory until his mind was flooded at Jordan. Meanwhile, he grew in wisdom and stature. With a perfect mind and reasoning ability, the “wisdom” Jesus had as a boy was that he was the Messiah promised in “the book” of the Law and the prophets. After all, how could he have grown in wisdom if, from the time he was a little baby, he had had all the wisdom of his position as the great Logos?

At Jordan, the knowledge of his preexistence burst on his mind. At that point, he recalled the personal instructions from God in regard to his mission down here on earth. Prior to that, up to age 30, he had gotten all of his instruction from the Scriptures. He asked deep and searching questions of the scribes and Pharisees because he desired information, and no doubt they gave him partial answers. Thus Jesus was learning and growing. Upon learning that under the Law, the priest officially presented himself for consecration and Temple service at age 30, Jesus realized that he should be baptized at the same age. Thus he learned by observation and the Word of God, not by remembering something God had told him in his preexistence.

When the dove lighted on Jesus at Jordan, John the Baptist identified him as the Messiah. In other words, prior to this incident, John did not know Jesus was the Messiah. However, the reason John hesitated to baptize his cousin was that he knew Jesus was too righteous to need a baptism for repentance for the remission of sins. In fact, even though John was a prophet of the Lord, he had the humility to see that Jesus was better than he, but he did not previously know him as the Messiah. Probably only John and Jesus heard God’s voice say, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The dove and the supernatural voice were the two external signs, or “witnesses,” that convinced John of Jesus’ Messiahship. As a result of his preexistence flooding his mind, Jesus fled into the wilderness to assimilate all these facts in an orderly fashion. He prayed and fasted and then returned 40 days later to begin his ministry. Incidentally, John’s baptism was for the sinner, the one who had broken covenant relationship.

It was a way for the repentant one to wash away his sins and come back into covenant relationship with God.

The clue that Jesus did not know of his preexistence as the Logos from the time of his birth is the expression “being found in fashion as a man” (Phil. 2:8). At Jordan at age 30, Jesus discovered himself; that is, he realized he was previously the Logos. (Of course the angels, both holy and fallen, were aware of this fact all along, for angels had announced his birth and could see what was happening down here on earth.) Jesus found himself in fashion as a man and humbled himself, becoming obedient even to the ignominious death of the Cross.

For only 3 1/2 years of Jesus’ First Advent of 33 1/2 years as a human being did he know about his preexistence. Although he knew all the prophecies of the Word prior to his consecration because he had a perfect mind, it was only afterward, when he continued to progress in knowledge, that he understood more of their meaning. It is one thing to have a thorough knowledge of all the utterances and all the laws, but to see them with full detail required study. The Holy Spirit enlightened Jesus so that even after his consecration, he progressed in knowledge, for he began to learn things he had not known even as the Logos.

Thus he grew as a new creature, for he was being perfected for office; he was made perfect by the things that he suffered (Heb. 5:8,9).

Heb. 10:8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

“Above when he said,” signifying “what was stated above,” indicates that Paul was writing a letter. Paul was referring to what he had just written (above) on the same “page.”

“Sacrifice,” “offering,” “burnt offerings,” and “offering for sin” remind us of the offerings subsequent to the Day of Atonement. Leviticus chapters 1-7 mention burnt, meal, peace, sin, trespass, etc., subsequent offerings of the people according to the Law.

Heb. 10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

Verse 9 ends Jesus’ meditation, which began in verse 5. What is the difference between verse 7 and verse 9? Verse 7 begins, “Then said I….” Verse 9 starts, “Then said he….” The apostles wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As Paul was trying to write his message to the Jew, verse 7 was a spurt of inspiration by the Holy Spirit, and Paul wrote down the words as if Jesus were actually talking. It was as though the Holy Spirit enthusiastically took Paul’s pen for a brief moment and wrote in the first person for Jesus himself. Then Paul returned to the narration: “Then said he….”

What is the lesson to us? We should not prepare messages that are “too pat.” As Christians, we sometimes prepare talks, and that is what they are—talks. Discourses that are read do not allow for anything inspirational to come on the spur of the moment, whereas the Lord can give reason and speak by the Holy Spirit. The speaker himself is blessed when a truth comes into his heart and life because he has let the Holy Spirit talk through him. There are two extremes. One extreme uses only cold, rational reasoning and does not want to recognize anything to do with emotionalism. The other extreme is too much emotionalism, as in the case of Pentecostals.  A happy medium recognizes emotionalism that is in harmony with reason and truth. However, in the final decision on a matter—for example, in judgment and doctrine—emotionalism should be removed. Accordingly, we find right here in the Book of Hebrews that Paul did not just artificially write out the message, for in some places, it is as though the Lord took the pen. Jesus “taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” He set aside the typical sacrifices that he might fulfill the antitype, the real sacrifice for sins.

Heb. 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

“By the which will [that is, by God’s will or by the mind of Christ] we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,” but the mind that was in Christ was the mind of God, or His will (Phil. 2:5).

Paul was emphasizing the ransom price, the basis of our justification: “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The intrinsic merit of the offering is in Jesus’ personal sacrifice.

Heb. 10:11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

Heb. 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

Heb. 10:13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

Verses 11 and 12 emphasize the continuity of centuries of time and generations of priests in the Tabernacle and Temple services. Paul was contrasting the many individuals in the office of the priesthood who died over the years with the one man, Christ Jesus, who came and died. The contrast was the plurality of the priesthood versus Jesus alone, a singular individual.

The Apostle Paul wrote this message to the Hebrews with terrific power. Imagine if we tried to introduce this subject with such strength! Sometimes we introduce a subject with great trepidation, apologizing, backtracking, cautiously putting out feelers, and laying such a broad and general base that when we finally come to the point we have in mind, the allotted time has expired. But Paul, starting with the first chapter in this epistle, almost exploded into the subject matter. He came right to the point: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1,2).

With no flowery introduction, he went immediately to the heart of the matter. Because the subject was so big, he did not want to waste time, paper, or energy on the frills.

Comment: Paul’s arguments powerfully invalidate the continuing priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church.

Reply: Yes, that is true because the Catholic Church tries to copy the Jewish priesthood and then adds certain embellishments.

“But this [one] man [Jesus], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” In contrast, the sacrifices under the Law Covenant were repeated and repeated either daily or annually.

Jesus “sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.” Very early in this book, Paul emphasized the prophecies that God would have a Son, that this Son would come here in the flesh, and that he would do an important work.

Therefore, if Jesus said he is the Son of God, what is so startling or blasphemous about that statement when the Old Testament speaks of that very thing? The Jewish religious leaders were not prepared to recognize Jesus—his youth; his lack of background training in the priesthood; his coming from Nazareth; the fact that he walked on the roads, had no home, and slept with his head on a rock; mixed with sinners, etc. The Jewish people had difficulty too and were cautious because the priests did not recognize or endorse Jesus. Many people are followers and have no drive of their own in grasping certain truths; they go with the crowd.

Therefore, Paul was trying to take the people’s hand and put it into the hand of God. He used natural logic and Scripture again and again in an effort to open their eyes. “Didn’t God say such and such? Doesn’t the very fact the offerings were repeated prove that they were not ever efficacious for cleansing from sin?”

Heb. 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Heb. 10:15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

“For after that he [Jesus] had said before.” The apostles began to sorrow when Jesus revealed he was going away and would not return until sometime later. He said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2,3). Their sorrow intensified when he told them he would die. However, he said that he would not leave them as orphans but would send them a Comforter (the Holy Spirit) after he had gone. The Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth and cause all things to come into remembrance (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirit develops our power of remembrance. This power is not the mechanical remembrance of Scripture but the ability to call to mind certain key thoughts and principles.

We may try to use our mind in our own strength, but unless the Lord answers our prayers, petitions, and desires, we will not understand or recall these superhuman truths.

Jesus “had said before” that the Holy Spirit would come. In other words, as Jesus had promised, not only do we have the Lord’s Word and testimony, but also we can feel the Holy Spirit help our understanding. By this manifestation, we know—we have the assurance—that we have been begotten of the Holy Spirit. No man has to teach us that we have the Holy Spirit, that we are sons of God, and that our sins are forgiven (1 John 2:20). The Holy Spirit brings conviction; it is the spirit of power and of a sound mind. Not an empty “clanging  cymbal,” the Holy Spirit is like a trumpet with a true sound (1 Cor. 13:1; 14:8 RSV).

Heb. 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

Heb. 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Heb. 10:18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

In verses 16-18, Paul went over the same subject again, wanting to treat it from every conceivable angle. He was saying, “Remember that Scripture in Jeremiah 31:31-34.” In drawing a certain principle from the portion of that text pertaining to the remission of sins, he reasoned, “If your sins are remitted, why do you want to continue with these offerings and sacrifices?”

The situation is a little different with the Christian. When a Christian prays to the Lord, he knows he has taken the required steps of obedience and made a consecration, and thus he is in the family. As he asks for the forgiveness of sins each day, it is for daily individual transgressions and derelictions of duty, not for Adamic sin. Adamic sin is canceled on the candidate’s behalf at the time of consecration. Henceforth the person is on trial for life, and he is given a certain time period of grace in his life to make his calling and election sure.

However, in verses 16-18, Paul was not speaking of this situation with the Christian. He was saying that in the type, the atonement for national sin (picturing Adamic sin) had to be repeated

over and over, whereas in the antitype, Jesus offered himself only once to cancel Adamic sin for all. (He was not talking about the individual errors of the people.) This lesson of national atonement is the chief theme in much of the Book of Hebrews. It was very much on Paul’s mind, even though he introduced general offerings and other topics.

“This is the covenant that I will make with them [the house of Israel] after those days, saith the Lord.” The New Covenant will be made with Israel at the beginning of the Kingdom, but since it will be a gradual process, it will not be fully secured until the end of the thousand years. The Mediator will negotiate the terms of the New Covenant between God and man during the entire Kingdom Age. Thus man will have to fulfill the conditions of the New Covenant before it can be fully binding on him—a work that will continue to the end of the  Millennium. God will make the New Covenant with the house of Israel, but that covenant will effectually embrace the world of mankind indirectly through Israel.

“I [God] will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” Putting God’s laws into the hearts and minds of mankind will be a gradual work, for laws are not written in people’s hearts overnight. God will permanently engrave His laws in the hearts and minds of the willing and obedient.

“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Both Israel and the world of mankind have sins and iniquities. Some Jews think that the New Testament is anti-Semitic because of expressions like this one. And they especially feel that way about the Apostle John’s writings because he used the term “the Jews,” which they consider disparaging, but he was just recording the facts. They should not be so sensitive, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

“Now where remission [cancellation] of these [sins] is, there is no more offering for sin.”

Heb. 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

Heb. 10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

How does one enter boldly into the Most Holy “by the blood of Jesus”? Jesus’ entrance into the Most Holy in a literal sense as a spirit being was effected at his death. Thus “the veil” represents his flesh. In other words, when Jesus died, he entered the Most Holy, and being in the Most Holy and having secured the blood of redemption—having that price in his hand—he is in a position to listen through the Veil to the petitions of his Church. Thus the consecrated, who are in the Holy in the present life, gain an entrance into the Most Holy through their audible petitions. It is as though the consecrated are talking through a veil in making known their requests. Hence our boldness to enter the Most Holy in the present life is not a physical entering but an audible entering. The destruction of the flesh is necessary to enter the Most Holy, but our pleas can be heard now. By faith, we are represented in the High Priest, who is in heaven, and are intimately associated with him.

With his death and resurrection, Jesus opened up “a new and living way”; he “brought life and immortality to light” (2 Tim. 1:10). Although life and immortality were previously portrayed in types and shadows, their forcefulness was not seen until Jesus came and was faithful unto death.

The “new and living way” is contrasted with the “old way” under the Law Covenant arrangement. The old way ostensibly offered life—and Jesus did inherit life rights by keeping the Law perfectly—but in reality, it brought death for imperfect mankind. The Law magnified man’s unfit condition and thus his need for another way of obtaining life. “And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death”; that is, what Paul thought would bring life was actually a form of bondage to sin and death (Rom. 7:10).

“The veil,” sometimes called the “second veil,” was the curtain between the Holy and the Most Holy (Heb. 9:3). Both veils represent death, a barrier, for in order to get under either veil, a death is involved. The First Veil represents the death of the human will, or consecration. The Second Veil represents the death of the flesh. The term “through the veil” suggests that the Second Veil was rent, or torn, and this happened when Jesus died on the Cross. At that time, an earthquake rent the Temple veil from top to bottom.

Q: How does the breath of life return to God at death?

A: In regard to Adam’s creation, he was formed as a man, but he was not a living soul until the breath of life entered. At that point also, Adam received an identity. The life of every human being who has ever lived and died is “recorded” from the inception of the breath of life until it ceases, however long or short that period may be. Everyone who has ever breathed the breath of life is guaranteed a resuscitation from the grave. In other words, one must exit the womb and have the breath of life enter his lungs in order to qualify for a resurrection. As each one lives on, his life is recorded continuously so that when he comes forth from the tomb in the resurrection, he will remember all of his past experiences. Of course while a person is in the grave, there is no consciousness or knowledge, but the recording is preserved in heaven.

Hence the statement about the breath of life returning to God at death is figurative, not literal.

When a person dies, the oxygen in his lungs goes out into the air and disperses, and the body decays. In the resurrection, God will put the recording (the “soul”) in a new body, physical or spiritual depending on how the individual responded in the present life. “God giveth it [the soul] a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body” (1 Cor. 15:38).

At death, the recording of a person’s life stops, but the recording is not destroyed. Rather, it goes into God’s archives, and He has agencies to take care of this process. God is not burdened with trying to remember every human being who has ever lived, for a record of his life is being perfectly “computerized,” as it were, so there is no danger of an oversight or a malfunction. At death, the record of a person’s existence goes into God’s archives, where it is stored until the resurrection, when it will be given a new body.

Incidentally, there is a lot of truth to the basic belief of many heathen religions. For example, in Egypt, it was claimed that each person has a “ka,” or a double; one went into the grave, and the other went to heaven. Actually, God is recording our ka, or double—our life—so that we need not fear what happens to our bodily organism. Jesus said, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul [the record in heaven]: but rather fear him [God] which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). Only God can destroy the soul, and this happens when one goes into Second Death. Those who stumble others and cause them to go into Second Death are said to “destroy the soul,” but no one can be written out of the “Lamb’s book of life” unless God personally makes that decision (Rev. 21:27). The “soul,” God’s record in heaven of a deceased human being, is inanimate and unconscious.

Q: Is Revelation 20:12 related? “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

A: There is a relationship. One book will be opened at the beginning of the Kingdom Age when mankind starts to come forth from the tomb. Part of that book will be a person’s own life, and then he will be given instruction which, in principle, will be in harmony with the Word of God.

Mankind will be given the teachings of the Bible age but in a way that will be far more comprehensive and easier for them to understand because they will have not only the written Word but also living examples in the Ancient Worthies of how that Word should be kept, as well as advice and help from the invisible spirit world, namely, from The Christ.

There is probably more reality to the instruction to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” than we ever realized (Matt. 6:20). We generally think only of laying up little favors that the Lord will do for us and little honors that He will give us.

Heb. 10:21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

Paul was speaking about Jesus to the Hebrews, who knew he was not a High Priest according to the flesh. But Jesus was a High Priest according to the spirit, that is, “after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 5:6,10; 6:20; 7:11,17,21). Since Paul had already established this reasoning, he now just called Jesus “an high priest.”

Heb. 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

What is the thought of “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience”? Blood was sprinkled on the Tabernacle, its furniture, the people, etc., to picture sanctification and purification. The application of the blood made all of these acceptable to God and also whatever was offered on the Brazen Altar, for example. In connection with the Passover, the doorposts and lintels were sprinkled with the blood of the lamb. The doorposts represent the hearts of individual Christians. Blood is applied to each Christian as long as he stays in the household of faith.

Paul added, “Having … our bodies washed with pure water.” The “washing” of the Christian’s body with “pure water” is a reference to the installation of the priesthood in the type. Before the priests began their services on behalf of the people, they were washed, blood was sprinkled, they were clothed with proper garments, and anointing oil was put on the head of the high priest. In the antitype, the Church class undergo corresponding experiences in the present life before they can officiate as priests in the Kingdom Age.

In addition to the typical priesthood being washed and representing the Church, animals that represented the fallen human nature were also washed. The killing of such animals was a convenient way of picturing the sacrificial death of consecrated Christians.

Still another representation occurred when the high priest washed each day before going to the Brazen Altar, and he also had to wash at the Laver before entering the Holy. He was “washed with pure water” in preparation for entering the Holy—that is, before drawing “near [the Prayer Altar] with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”

Paul was giving in a nutshell the principles underlying the teachings of the type. For the Christian, the thought is that with faith in the Ransom and a sincere heart, he knows he can seek and receive forgiveness through Jesus.

Heb. 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Although verse 23 has a deeper meaning for Christians in the Gospel Age as a whole, there was a particular application at the time Paul wrote this epistle. When Christ appeared in the beginning, disciples followed him and obeyed his message. Then he died and was out of sight, leaving them behind. No longer was he physically with them, so, as promised, he sent the Holy Spirit as a Comforter, or Helper, to guide them into all truth and to bring to remembrance things he had spoken so that they would be encouraged, comforted, and assisted in his absence. These early Christians witnessed to other Jews about the new and living way of Messiah, saying there was a better way than the Mosaic Law. To do this witnessing required great courage, for the Jews had such respect for Moses that they thought the Christians were undermining the Law; i.e., they thought the Law was the only way to God. Therefore, the early Church needed to have an unwavering faith that Jesus really was the Messiah, even if he was not of the Aaronic priesthood. Paul wanted them to lay hold on this truth without wavering. They were not to be browbeaten or discouraged into silence, which could lead to Second Death.

Regarding the Gospel Age as a whole, the thought might be given for verse 23: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).

Heb. 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

We can provoke one another “unto love and to good works” by prayer, by giving words of encouragement, by meeting together (with questions and communal thinking), by example, etc. We should “consider one another,” that is, think about and meditate on how to provoke others to love and good works.

Comment: To “consider one another” does not mean to just passively think about the brethren. We are to actually help them to learn and study.

Reply: Yes. Another example would be to pray for someone who injures us, especially if he is a brother in the truth. We should try to do everything possible not to embitter him or to make him pursue his wrong course whereby he gets so hardened that his character will be damaged.

In other words, we should try not to increase the antagonism, and if the brother realizes he has done wrong, we should help him lest he become discouraged and faint by the way.

Paul was suggesting that we help our brethren in a constructive way. “Consider one another” implies personalized thinking of each other and giving thought as to how a person will react. We can ask ourselves, “What should be my attitude, and what will I do if such and such happens?”

How do we provoke to love and good works? (1) Consider, think about, one another. (2) Act. For example, we should manifest by our attitude and conduct that we have no ill will or feeling toward a brother based on what was or was not done previously; i.e., showing that we have nothing but good motives toward him is apt to result in a good response. In other words, it is wrong for anger to beget anger, for hatred to be rendered for hatred, or for evil to be given for evil, for then one dig will bring another sarcastic dig, etc., in a war of words. Conversely,

kindness is apt to result in a good deed. (Incidentally, debates are another matter; they should be impartial and impersonal, and the motive of another should not be impugned.)

Comment: Love and good works should be found in us first, before we can expect to provoke these qualities in others.

Reply: Yes, we need to do advance work and exhibit control in ourselves first. We pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” and the Lord will no doubt hold us to these very words.

Heb. 10:25 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.

Verse 25 implies that there is more need for association and fellowship today and that assembling will become increasingly important in the future. The purpose of gathering together is to exhort one another. The assembling and exhorting is “so much the more [important], as ye see the day approaching.” The “day” can be viewed in several ways, such as the Church’s time of trouble and deliverance or the abounding of iniquity more and more as the trouble approaches. Whether we view the day from the nearness of the feet members’ change or from the coming closer of the evil dangers, we need to keep assembling for self-preservation, protection, and the buttressing of one another. As the testings become more severe, we will need more encouragement. Therefore, we believe that more understanding will be provided along certain lines to help us stand. The additional understanding will be essential to counteract or counterbalance the increasing trials, persecutions, experiences, and discouragements of the future. According to the Book of Hebrews, fellowship is of utmost importance.

Q: Does 1 Corinthians 9:27 apply? “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

A: That text applies from the personal standpoint of the individual himself, whereas Paul was speaking collectively, but both standpoints are important. The Christian Jews back there knew that trouble was ahead. The value of assembling together was that some were more knowledgeable than others, so if the ones through whom the Lord gave admonitions stayed by themselves, the others would not know what they should or should not be doing. Thus maintaining fellowship and an interest in the brethren kept the group aware and alert.

Q: Were some neglecting to assemble together because of persecutions in the area?

A: Yes. We will come to that point shortly. If meetings were held in a particular house and the enemies of truth were watching to see who was assembling there, the decision of whether to attend would be hard to make from the standpoint of the flesh. Those who were fearful would justify staying away with a Scripture such as, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself” (Prov. 27:12). Paul was commending the faithful brethren for meeting together boldly no matter what the cost.

Heb. 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

Heb. 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Here Paul was discussing the danger of Second Death, but there is a tie-in with verse 25. He was saying that those who do not fellowship and meet together are more liable to go into Second Death. There is a greater danger to those who avoid fellowship, for the more time one spends on the truth, the less time he will have for other themes and activities of the world.

Comment: We cannot develop love by sitting home alone regardless of how many books and volumes we have, for we need to learn to bear with one another’s weaknesses and infirmities.

Love has to be outgoing; it is an outward expression of what the heart has been developing.

Reply: Of course there will be chafing and grating of personalities and thoughts when we get together in fellowship and study, but if we are rightly exercised, we learn to develop patience, character, and forbearance. Not only do we ourselves develop a better character, but our presence (our words and actions) can help others to see their shortcomings. If the one who is causing the chafing is there, that is to his credit. The very fact that people associate together in the name of the Lord, in spite of their temperament and character, is better than the ones of a sweeter disposition who do not meet. If a brother does things we do not like but gives evidence of sincerity and loving the truth, we must give him credit. These factors are all part of “considering” one another.

The thought is not that we have to meet with a particular group or that we necessarily have to experience certain trials, but our objective should be to meet with someone if possible. It is usually good to meet where we are not always in the limelight, that is, where we have to sit back and do the listening too. Opportunities of service are nice to have, but it is also proper to sit back.

Q: Was Paul saying that willful sin results from not assembling together for a long period of time?

A: He was speaking of habits. When we are in a meeting, our conduct and attention are riveted on spiritual things. If we stop attending meetings, we are more apt to waste time, and then there is more danger of going back into the world. The world, the flesh, and the devil are more apt to deceive those who forsake assembling together. Coals are kept burning and warm— they are more active and alive—by associating with one another.

Q: Was Paul saying that deliberately forsaking the assembling of ourselves together is willfully sinning?

A: We would be willful in that regard, but we do not think that was Paul’s particular point. The point is that we need one another’s fellowship. Therefore, it is foolish to think that the Lord wants us to stay apart or that He has called us to go it alone. Such attitudes lead to the monastic way of life and burying oneself in books. If we forsake fellowship, then other tendencies and temptations that are besetting us will have more say in our life, and the more say they have, the more we yield. If we continue to yield again and again, we will become hardened in sin.

Earlier Paul warned of the deceitfulness of sin and how it can sneak up on us. Fellowship is essential in order to cut wrong associations.

Comment: How can we develop love if we do not meet with anybody? How can we develop patience except by trial? When there is friction, we learn to develop the grace of patience.

Reply: Yes, that is sound thinking. How can we be patient with one another unless we are rubbed to make us exercise a grace that is not normal to us under other circumstances?

Diamonds rub diamonds. The natural mind or heart is exceedingly deceitful and will justify a wrong course of action.

Q: Does verse 26 apply to a serious willful sin?

A: Yes. The verse is not talking about a transgression due to hereditary weaknesses, for no one is perfect by any means. In fact, if we were judged according to Moses’ Law—and thus did not have the robe of Christ’s righteousness—we would not get life. The serious sin of verse 26 pertains to a habit of thought that comes to a point of no return. For example, if a person does not fellowship with the brethren for one month, two months, three, four, five, etc., he gets hardened. Eventually, unless the Lord’s providence stirs him up, he will cease to fellowship altogether. The longer one stays away, the less need he will feel for fellowship. Sometimes one is overtaken in a fault and disassociates, feeling unworthy, but then his aloneness makes him realize his need for fellowship even more. However, others do not get that sensation; they do not miss not fellowshipping. Those who do not meet over a period of time but still have a tender heart and conscience begin to miss the fellowship after a period of time and desire to return. This good responsive quality in their heart indicates hope. Otherwise, there is the possibility that they will become hardened in time, so that the truths which used to inspire and thrill them no longer have an enthusiastic effect.

As Bro. Magnuson used to say of this condition, “How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed!” (Lam. 4:1). In other words, we are in a dangerous condition if we ever get to the point where the truth will no longer revive, encourage, thrill, or move us. Then the gold, which is not supposed to tarnish, has dimmed, and the salt has lost its savor and cannot be revived. The point of no return comes after a period of time. Tendencies of going in the wrong direction must be checked; they cannot be trifled with.

Q: Is a certain type of personality more susceptible to this condition, for example, an introvert as opposed to an extrovert?

A: Some people have trials along certain lines more than others. What is a trial to one person may not be a trial to another person at all, so there are various types of trials and various types of individuals. The leader of a meeting should be aware of the differences in personalities. For instance, if he has no consideration and continually calls on someone who does not like to be called on, disregarding the person’s feelings completely, this can be damaging to the one doing the misdeed as well as to the recipient. If the recipient gets too upset, he can disassociate with that ecclesia and fellowship elsewhere, but he should fellowship somewhere and not stay alone in a separated state. Fellowship is essential, even if it is with only two or three others.

The caution is against habitual avoidance of fellowship, not against missing a meeting now and then. Some feel an absolute obligation to listen to every talk at a convention and even to make their children hear them all. But we should be reasonable and take into account such factors as age and health. The important thing is to get there and have fellowship, but with the exercise of reason to balance things out. In addition, we should analyze our heart and our thinking because otherwise, we might make invalid excuses for not assembling in fellowship.

Heb. 10:28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

It is significant that this verse does not say an infraction of the least commandment of Moses’ Law resulted in death. Rather, the thought is, “He that disregarded Moses’ law died.” A time element is involved, for either the searing of the conscience or the hardening of the heart through the deceitfulness of sin happens gradually. It takes time to eventually get to the point where the Law is disregarded or despised through an emotional hatred or dislike.

Nadab and Abihu are examples in the type of two who “died without mercy under two or three witnesses” under the Law of Moses (Lev. 10:1,2). Also, a child who cursed his parents was put to death.

Heb. 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

These individuals tread underfoot the Son of God and count the blood of the covenant as “an unholy thing,” doing “despite unto the Spirit of grace.” This condition develops over a period of time, and the individuals do not see their responsibility. As they gradually become hardened in sin, they do not realize their own condition.

One emphasis here is that if one does not fellowship and get other views and let others help him and also rub him the wrong way where he needs it, he is putting himself in a situation that could eventually lead to Second Death. However, the real thrust is as follows: Any wrong habits of thinking or doing are dangerous and must be checked, for the end thereof is death if not checked.

Fellowship with the brethren is a deterrent. The “blood of the covenant” refers to the New Covenant. We participate in the blood of the New Covenant now, but the covenant itself will be sealed later. Jesus’ blood has been put aside for the future application on behalf of the world, but presently the merit of that blood is applied to the Church. The Church will become identified with Jesus as sharers in the sin offering. The blood of the Lord’s goat will cancel the sin of the world, but the blood of the bullock preceded and justified the goat. Christ’s merit is temporarily loaned to the Church. When the Church is complete, the merit of Jesus’ blood will be applied to the world to remove the curse and bring restitution. Hence the “blood” seals, or secures, the New Covenant.

The “blood” here has to do with participation in the cup; it is the participation of the Church’s blood commingled with Christ’s blood. Both are used to seal the New Covenant. If one who has understood and consecrated with the hope of the high calling subsequently renounces or gives up this hope, he is counting “the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy [common] thing” and is thus worthy of Second Death.

Heb. 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

Heb. 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

If the robe of Christ’s righteousness no longer covers a person’s sins because he has trodden the Son of God underfoot, that person faces Jehovah direct and hence goes into Second Death.

No one can stand before God without being in Christ.

Heb. 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

Now Paul started to write from a more positive standpoint and to give encouragement. Why did he say to “call to remembrance the former days”? If we are discouraged with our lack of progress or our experiences—and especially if we should question whether the Lord ever dealt with us—we should recall how we first got the truth, how we responded, and how the Lord was pleased with the stand we took. To take that stand required courage at the time; it cost us something. Therefore, we can again and again take a courageous stand for the Lord as other trials arise. If we “endured a great fight of afflictions” once, we can do it again. We can stay firm for the Lord and continue in the narrow way until death. Of course the Christians in Paul’s day suffered a lot of persecution when they first heard the gospel and responded.

Heb. 10:33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

Verse 33 tells of two ways in which we can endure “a great fight of afflictions”: (1) We can be a “gazingstock” ourselves through reproaches and afflictions, and (2) we can associate with others who are being persecuted. When we take a stand with our life and consecrate, we pay a price that pleases the Lord. That stand can include being a “gazingstock” to our families and bearing their reproaches.

Heb. 10:34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

When Paul was in prison, the brethren who continued to associate with him suffered persecution. And when he was traveling through Asia Minor, the brethren who extended lodging and hospitality to him were shunned by neighbors and even persecuted. Sometimes the hatred ran so deep that the houses of Christians were burned down (their goods were “spoiled”). This was suffering with Jesus, and what they lost will be compensated for by treasure in heaven. Paul commended those who had that experience, for the trials were very severe. How many today would meet with brethren in a place where they knew there would be identification problems?

Hence partly by direct reproach to ourself because of faithfulness and partly by associating with others and the stigma that attaches to them, we can endure a great fight. Sometimes we receive persecution for standing up for others, for example, consecrated wives who stand by their consecrated husbands when persecution arises.

Having compassion for Paul cost something. For example, knowing that the Lord was using Paul and that he needed encouragement, Onesiphorus diligently searched for him and found him in the dungeon (2 Tim. 1:16). Even when Paul was under house arrest, those who came to him had to fight the thought that they were being followed, for often this type of thing is imagination. Many times we build up something in our mind when people are not even interested in what we are doing. Then we suffer persecution needlessly.

Sharing in the persecuting experiences of others is part of laying down our lives for the brethren. We should take joyfully the spoiling of our goods, as did these brethren of old, who had compassion on Paul. If we think about Jesus’ words and what Paul said, we will appreciate the privilege of that kind of suffering. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:12). Paul had such faith that when he and Silas were in prison and were beaten with many stripes, they prayed and rejoiced aloud. Why? Jesus had said, “If God ever gives you the opportunity to suffer for His name’s sake, you will have cause to rejoice.” If we suffer because we are faithful to the Lord’s command, He is obligated to reward us. The conditions of our call are, “If you do such and such, I will do so-and-so.” The reward for right-doing may come beyond the veil, but it must come in either this life or the next life.

Heb. 10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

Heb. 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

Heb. 10:37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

Heb. 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

This wording of verses 37 and 38 reminds us of Habakkuk 2:3,4, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” Either consciously or unconsciously, Paul quoted what he had learned in the Old Testament, properly applying it in a pertinent fashion to this experience. We must daily walk by faith. It is a daily walk of faith as well as a fight of faith and a living by faith. This pattern of life is continuous, based on belief and confidence in God’s Word.

Heb. 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Drawing “back unto perdition [Second Death]” can come from fear or enticements along many lines. “Fear” would include fear of suffering, fear of man, and fear of not being well received.

We are not to let “the things which we have heard” gradually slip, or glide away, lest we draw back unto perdition (Heb. 2:1). The fact Paul now reiterated that theme shows it is an integral part of the Book of Hebrews.

There are different degrees of drawing back, for a Christian can fall back to either the Great Company or Second Death. Here Paul was cautioning against a fall to Second Death.


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