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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: The Letter to the Hebrews

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Frameworks: Hebrews 9 & 10

 

(The objective of these ‘Frameworks' is to provide an easy-to-read layout of the text in order then to use these individual verses for verse-by-verse study or meditation. To focus each verse we have also added in italic a simple comment of what is happening)

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FRAMEWORKS: Hebrews 9: Earthly Worship & the use of Blood

 

v.1-10 Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle
v.11-28 The Role & Use of Blood

   

   

v.1-10 Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle

 

v.1-5 The Tabernacle

v.1 (Tabernacle worship was at the heart of the first Sinai covenant – see Ex 25-27) Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary.

v.2 (the main room was called the Holy Place) A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place.

v.3,4 (behind a curtain was an inner sanctum called the Most Holy Place) Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. (in there was kept the ark, a gold covered chest signifying the dwelling place of God) This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.

v.5 (over it was angelic figures) Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.

 

v.6-7 The priestly Ministry

v.6 (the priests served regularly in the main room) When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry.

v.7 (but only the high priest went into the inner sanctum and that just once a year, always taking in blood [signifying the value of life before God]) But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.

 

v.8-10 The Lessons

v.8 (this inner sanctum [the presence of God] was not available to all) The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning.

v.9 (offerings we to a distant God) This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.

v.10 (all to do with outward behaviour) They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

 

 

v.11-28 The Role & Use of Blood

     

v.11-15 Christ's use of his own blood

v.11 (but Christ has entered the reality, heaven) But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation.

v.12 (as a human he did it bringing his own blood, shed on the Cross) He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

v.13 (blood in the old system indicated a life given [an animal] to pay for the sins of the offerors) The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.

v.14 (how much more the blood of the Son of God) How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

v.15 (thus Christ's death, his body offered as a ransom for sinners, ushered in the new covenant that brought cleansing and forgiveness and much more) For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

 

v.16-23 The Use of Blood in Old Testament times

v.16,17 (consider how a will works: it doesn't come into force until the person has died) In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.

v.18 (death – a sacrifice – signified the operation of the first covenant) This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.

v.19 (this Moses did initiating that first covenant) When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people.

v.20 (in accordance with God's command) He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” [Exo 24:8]

v.21,22 (everything to do with worship of God had to have been touched by blood, the sign of reliance on another for our sinfulness) In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

v.23 (remember these were but copies of the heavenly reality) It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

 

v.24-28 The Function of Christ's Sacrifice

v.24 (Christ didn't enter a man-made tent but heaven) For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence.

v.25 (nor did he do it repeatedly…) Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.

v.26 (… but just that once) Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

v.27,28 (we all die once and face judgement, as did Christ but as the Son of God the effect was salvation for us) Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

 

[Explanation: Because these issues are so alien to most people today, they need further explanation. The ceremonial law to do with the Tabernacle (and later the Temples), instigated by the Sinai covenant, helped mankind face two issues: the perfection of God and the sinfulness of mankind. Perhaps nowhere else in the Bible is it spelled out so clearly as here.

 

The Problem: Our consciences tell us when we have offended right living. Justice is all about putting situations right after wrong doing. Even the small child, complaining about not being given the same as their brother or sister, appeals to ‘fairness', a demand for the wrong to be righted. We know wrong when it confronts us, but how to deal with it, how to be at ease before a holy God who demands right living (to conform to the way he has designed the world), how to live without fear?

 

The Solution: Thus God ordained these laws (see Leviticus 1 onwards) that simply required a person aware of their sin, a person with a guilty conscience (especially alert when that Holy God was making His presence known in their midst), to be able to perform a religious act of sacrifice. They did it by taking an animal and killing it by their own hands in the Tabernacle. As they would see the life ebbing out of the creature they would realise that they were the cause of this loss of life, the creature was dying in their place, so they didn't have to receive further punishment. The twofold effect of this would be a) to provide a means of conscience being eased and b) to so impact the person that it would help them not to sin in this way again.

Comment: The writer basically divides this chapter between two subjects. First (v.1-10) to remind his readers of the practices of the Law in establishing and using the Tabernacle as the heart of their worship and acknowledgement of God in their midst. Second, because the High Priest took blood into the Most Holy Place to atone for the sins of himself and the nation, the writer parallels Jesus entering heaven, having died on the Cross as a way of presenting his own blood, his own life given up atoning for the sins of others. In the second part the use of blood is covered (v.11-28), first Christ's blood being shed (v.11-15) which paralleled how blood was used in old covenant (v.16-23), and the effect it had (v.24-28) to bring us salvation. We have sought to spell out the reasoning for it in the explanation above. In the first half of the following chapter the ideas of sacrificed are continued and are then followed by an appeal not to take these things for granted perhaps, but to do all we can to persevere in the faith.]

 

 

 

FRAMEWORKS: Hebrews 10: Sacrifices, Encouragements & Warnings to Persevere

   

v.1-4 Old Testament Sacrifice

v.5-10 Christ's Sacrifice of Himself

v.11-18 Christ's Sacrifice deals with sins and brings forgiveness

v.19-25 Three Calls to action

v.26-31 Warnings against disobedience

v.32-34 Encouragement to remember their testimony

v.35-39 Encouragement to Persevere

   

     

v.1-4 Old Testament Sacrifice

 

v.1 (seeking to put all this into a ‘big-picture context, we are reminded of the imperfect law) 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.

v.2 (if it had been perfect the rituals wouldn't have had to continue) 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.

v.3 (entering the Most Holy Place once a year reminds of failure) But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.

v.4 (blood can't remove sins) It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

  

   

v.5-10 Christ's Sacrifice of Himself

 

v.5,6 (Christ's body was key to our salvation, not offerings) 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.

v.7 (prophetically he had declared his availability) Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.'” [Psa 40:6-8

v.8 (he pointed out that meaningless offerings [from empty hearts] weren't what God wanted) 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.

v.9 (he put aside legalistic but heartless offerings to do God's will) Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.

v.10 (His will was that Christ would atone for us) And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 

 

v.11-18 Christ's Sacrifice deals with sins and brings forgiveness

 

v.11 (constant sacrifices didn't stop sinners sinning) 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.

v.12,13 (but Christ's offering of himself completed the work) 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.

v.14 (for his sacrifice cleansed and made us perfect in God's sight) For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

v.15,16 (but prophetically he had spoken of new heart people) 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.”   [Jer 31:33]

v.17 (and then their sins would have been dealt with) Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” [Jer 31:34]

v.18 (… and once forgiven they need no further sacrifice) And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

 

 

v.19-25 Three Calls to action

 

v.19-22 (so now we can come in close to God by Christ's work) 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, [1. let's do it in full assurance of faith] 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.

v.23 (even more… ) [2. let's be secure in our hope] Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

v.24,25 (… and even..) And [3. let's keep encouraging one another, apurring one another on] 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.

 

 

v.26-31 Warnings against disobedience

 

v.26,27 (but watch out, deliberate sin after all this, means we open ourselves up to judgment) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

v.28 (disobeying the law brought death) Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

v.29 (so how much worse for someone who knows all this and purposely disregards it) How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

v.30 (God will deal with such people) For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” [Deut 32:35] and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” [Deut 32:36; Psa 135:14]

v.31 (and that is a fate to be avoided!) It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

 

v.32-34 Encouragement to remember their testimony

 

v.32 (but to resist that, remember from where you've been, your testimony of overcoming suffering) Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.

v.33 (…and the persecution and opposition you've experienced) Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.

v.34 (you really went through it!) You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

 

 

v.35-39 Encouragement to Persevere

 

v.35 (so hold on and you'll be rewarded) So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

v.36 (when you persevere you'll receive your promised rewards) do not throw away your confidence so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

v.37 (Jesus is coming soon ) For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come   and will not delay.” [Isa 26:20; Hab 2:3]

v.38 (don't forget we're called to live by faith) And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” [Hab. 2:4]

v.39 (let's not be those who draw back but those who press on) But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

 

[Comment: The Flow of Writing: The writer continues on this theme of Christ being our high priest sacrificing himself by first reminding us that the old covenant just didn't do the job, sacrifices needing to be continually offered (v.1-4), but Christ's sacrifice was performing God's will to bring redemption (v.5-10). The old sacrifices needed doing again and again but Christ's sacrifice was a one-off (v.11-18) that brought forgiveness and cleansing. With all this in mind the writer calls us to draw near to God, be assured of our hope and to encourage one another to keep going (v.19-25). The other side of the coin is to ensure we are not disobedient because apostasy will bring judgment (v.26-31). To help counter such a possibility he exhorts them to remember their testimony what they have already been through and not squander it (v.32-34) but instead hold on and persevere and await Christ's coming (v.35-39). A chapter of further explanation and subsequent encouragements and warnings. It concludes that faith is the key ingredient to enter into and fully experience our salvation and so the next chapter will remind us of the people who did just that.]
 

  

(CONTINUE to CHAPTER 11)