Superior Sacrifice, part 2
Today’s Text: Hebrews 10
Chapter 10 is a continuation of the discussion of the Superior Sacrifice brought by Jesus Christ that was the subject of chapter 9. This continuation is made clear in verse 1 with the connective “For this reason…” The author will expand on the greatness of Christ’s sacrifice by highlighting the once for all nature of Jesus’ sacrifice as opposed to the incompleteness of the sacrifices under the Law. The chapter will move on to an exhortation to persevere beginning with verse 19, thus introducing the last great theme of Hebrews; perseverance through persecution and trial.
Points of Interest
1-10: In this piece of text, we see an introduction in 1-4 that sets out the outline of the argument that the Law was imperfect, namely that it was not possible for the sacrifices of the Law to remove the guilt of sins. By removing the guilt of sins, we see a duality of meaning. First, there is the guilt one feels for having sinned, i.e. having a guilty conscience. Second and more importantly there is guilt in the legal sense; the person has committed a crime against God and will be punished. Neither of these is dealt with by the Old Covenant Law. As a result, the sacrifices were performed over and over, for if they had taken away guilt, they would have been discontinued: therefore the Law was inadequate.
Moving on into 5-10, the author quotes from Psalm 40:6-8 to demonstrate that Jesus Christ had to come to earth to solve the problem that the Law could not solve; the logic here is that since the Law could not remove guilt, and since the Christ had to come to accomplish this, therefore the Law was not pleasing to God and a mere shadow of the reality to come (Christ Himself). The end result was a new and superior sacrifice made by Jesus Christ Himself; one sacrifice for all time.
11-14: This is an interesting bit of text because it sets up an image seldom seen in Scripture; one that if grasped, explains the current operation of the Universe. Jesus (our great High Priest and King) came to earth and sacrificed Himself once for all time for the forgiveness of sins. Consequently, there is no more sacrificing for Him to do. Since this priestly work resulted in His having entered the very holiest of all holy places, heaven itself, He sat down on God’s throne, and has taken up His kingly role. He will remain there until the final victory over His foes (Satan and the forces of rebellion). To top it off, His sacrificial work has made the final outcome a certainty.
15-18: Finally, this selection of text adds the Holy Spirit as a witness to testify, that is to “back up” the evidence our author has already provided. Quoting once again from Jeremiah 31 (see Hebrews 8) we see that this time the Hebrews author quotes rather selectively. He will quote fragments of Jer. 31:33-34 in verses 16 and 17 so as to use those fragments as the Spirit’s testimony regarding the sufficiency and superiority of Christ’s sacrifice. Verse 18 contains the final summation of chapters 9 and 10: There is now no more sacrifice for sins: period.
19-39: This section is an exhortation to perseverance which is a major theme of Hebrews, and will be discussed throughout the remainder of the book. We will discuss this text in class, and leave further written observations for the next three lessons.