Hebrews 10
Hebrews 10 Kingcomments Bible Studies

I Have Come to Do Your Will

Heb 10:1. The word “for” indicates that the writer continues his argument. He compares the many imperfect animal sacrifices of former times with the one and only perfect sacrifice of Christ. He speaks about “the Law” because that is the basis of the whole religion appointed by God for His people Israel in the Old Testament. Of that whole service he says that this “has [only] a shadow of the good things to come”. By that he wants to say that the law surely says something about good things that will be enjoyed in future in the kingdom of peace by God’s people and by the whole creation.

However, it is just ‘a shadow’ of it, which means a vague reproduction. This Old Testament worship service is “not the very form of things”. A ‘form’ shows more reality than a shadow. We can say that a form is a faithful reproduction of reality, but still a form is not reality. That becomes clear from what follows.

As proof the writer refers again to the sacrifices that were yearly offered on the day of atonement. It is precisely its repetition that proves that a sacrifice that was offered had made no one perfect who drew near to God. By offering the same sacrifices again and again the thought of the necessity for forgiveness and atonement was surely there. At the same time, however, it made it clear that the whole service was imperfect. It did not make those, who performed the service, perfect before God. The sacrifices did not make someone, who brought the offering, perfect in conscience in the light of the forgiveness of his sins.

Heb 10:2. If there was brought a sacrifice that was sufficient for the one who offered it to get a perfect conscience, then it wouldn’t be necessary anymore to bring another offering. The whole offering service then would have lost its reason of existence. Such an offering would have then made the offeror perfect in conscience: that is a conscience that is cleansed by forgiveness of sins. The result would be that there is no more fear for God concerning any sin.

Heb 10:3. But what do you see with Israel? There you see that by bringing these offerings again and again every year, the sins on the contrary are continually “a reminder”. There is in fact no sufficient offering. That makes the doctrine and the practice of the mass sacrifice of the roman-catholic church condemnable. In the mass sacrifice the roman-catholic church repeats the offering again and again and its followers are left in uncertainty about the forgiveness of sins.

Heb 10:4. The blood of animals or a mass sacrifice could or can never ever do anything about the guilt of man. It is not possible that sins are taken away by that. The words ‘take away’ have a powerful meaning. It is the utter removal of sin so that it is no longer part of the situation. It is utterly reprehensible to attribute that effect to any sacrifice a human being brings.

Heb 10:5. You might ask the question: but why did God prescribe the offerings to His people Israel and what is the purpose and meaning of it? The only meaning of the animal sacrifices is in the reference to the sacrifice of Christ. This is apparent from the beautiful way in which the writer makes the transition from the animal offerings to the offering of Christ.

For this he uses some verses from Psalm 40 (Psa 40:6-8). The writer, guided by the Holy Spirit, is telling something here that you do not read in Psalm 40. He declares that these verses were spoken by the Lord Jesus, right before He became Man and so came into the world. This quotation also makes clear that this psalm is actually about the Lord Jesus, although David is the poet. Through this quotation it is explained to you what Christ said to God when He accepted to do the will of God. Here you also have a proof of His existence before He became Man.

Although the name of Christ is not mentioned, ‘He’ cannot possibly be a reference to anyone else. After all, Christ became Man and came into the world like that. He speaks to God about sacrifices and offerings that were offered under the old covenant, of which He says, God has not desired them. Of course that does not point to God’s commandment to bring those offerings, for God indeed wanted His people to bring them. But God did not desire them or even purposed them to be offerings that could really take away sins.

He surely could forgive each Israelite who came with such an offering (and a sincere heart) because He saw Christ in that offering. He Himself actually made Christ available as the true offering by preparing Him a body. That means that it was God Who wanted Christ to become Man. And what is the task for a man to do toward God? To obey.

By becoming Man the Lord Jesus committed Himself to execute the entire will of God. If you take one more look at the verse in Psalm 40, then it will strike you that it is written there: “My ears You have opened.” In Hebrew it is literally said: “My ears You have dug”. ‘Dug’ here means prepared to obey. The Holy Spirit, however, as He more often does, has used the Greek translation (Septuagint) of Psalm 40:6-8. In the Septuagint ‘My ears You have dug’ is translated as “a body You have prepared for Me”. Because this translation renders the true meaning it is quoted here by the Holy Spirit. You may say that by doing so the ear is identified with the body.

You probably know the saying: to be all ears. That was the case with the Lord Jesus. His body was prepared to do anything with it that God wanted Him to do. The opened ear was the means through which He listened to the will of His God and the body was the means through which that will was performed. The Lord Jesus has taken a body that He will never give up anymore.

There are two more verses that deal with the ‘ear’ of the Lord Jesus. The one verse speaks about the ‘piercing’ of the ear (Exo 21:6) and the other one speaks about the ‘opening’ of the ear (Isa 50:4). In these three verses about the ear you can see the sequence regarding His life on earth. They deal with
1. His coming into the world: His birth as Man (Psa 40:6-7),
2. His going through the world: He opened His ear morning by morning (Isa 50:4) and
3. His leaving the world: He gave His life for His own to serve them forever (Exo 21:6).

Heb 10:6. The body of the Lord Jesus is therefore the true sacrifice (or peace offering) and grain offering. After His agreement to do God’s will the Lord Jesus speaks to God about two more Old Testament offerings. Now He mentions “whole burnt offerings and [sacrifices] for sin”. He also indicates as to them, that God could not be satisfied with those offerings regarding the removing of sins. He determines that the whole offering service of the Old Testament could create absolutely no situation at all in which God could bless man.

Heb 10:7. When that became evident by the complete failure of man, the Lord Jesus offered Himself to fulfill the will of God. He did that with the perfect knowledge of what is written about Him in the Old Testament. After all, the Old Testament speaks everywhere about Him and about His coming on earth (cf. Mt 5:17; Lk 24:27).

He knew that the right moment finally had come now and that it was fully according to the time that God had appointed (Gal 4:4). It was the right time according to the will of God to perform His counsel that was written in the scroll of the book. The will of God here is: to provide for His people forgiveness, perfection and access to the sanctuary and finally the entrance into the kingdom of peace.

Although His coming was established in the counsel, Christ still perfectly offers Himself freely to fulfill all things. He declares that He will do the will of God. Such a statement from anyone’s mouth would be boasting. With Him it is perfection. There is no doubt whether He would be able to do it or not. What He declares in heaven He does on earth.

Heb 10:8. In this verse the writer explains the quotation. He repeats what the Lord Jesus said “above”, which means when He came into the world (Heb 10:5). Then He said that God’s will couldn’t possibly be fulfilled by animal or vegetable offerings, although they were appointed by God Himself as offerings. They couldn’t form a basis for God’s plan with man and creation.

Heb 10:9. Therefore it is that great that a “then” follows with the commitment of the Lord Jesus: “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” God’s plan will be performed by Him Who is coming and Who will bring the perfect offering. And He did that!

By what He did, He took away “the first” and put something else instead. The ‘first’ is everything that was appointed by God in the Old Testament for His people. The insufficiency of any of that was evident. When the Lord Jesus came He took the place of the whole service. Everything God had asked of man in that service is perfectly accomplished and fulfilled by Him. He takes the place of all types that God had prescribed; He is the replacement of all of them. The ‘shadow service’ made room for reality and therefore there is no room for the shadow service anymore. Every basis of its existence has been taken away.

However, He not only took away ‘the first’, He actually has also established “the second”. He also changed the principle, through which man is now able to draw near to God. To be able to draw near to God the law demanded perfect obedience. On that basis it was impossible to draw near to God. Now that the Lord Jesus has perfectly fulfilled God’s will, He is the basis of our connections to God. Through Him as the new and perfect offering there is a new covenant with a new priesthood that enables us to draw near to God in a new, heavenly sanctuary.

Now read Hebrews 10:1-9 again.

Reflection: Which differences do you see between the former offerings and the true offering?

Sanctified by the Will of God

Heb 10:10. So the Lord Jesus has fully accomplished God’s will. He thereby created a completely new situation. The old imperfect system has been replaced by what He Himself did. He is the center of God’s blessing. The will of God can be executed, because of what He has done and because of Who He is. And what is that will here? God wanted a new generation of priests that would be able to draw near to Him in His holy presence. The Lord Jesus has taken care of that by accomplishing God’s will. He has met all of the holy conditions of God.

In that way He has given to God a righteous foundation to sanctify us. God has “sanctified” or separated us for Himself on the basis of the offering of His Son. The power of the offering is eternal. Therefore our sanctification is “once for all”, which means continuous, everlasting, forever. We belong to God forever, in accordance to the powerful effect of this sacrifice.

God’s will was the sacrifice of Christ. God’s will was also that we would be sanctified by the sacrifice of Christ. ‘Sanctified’ means ‘set apart’ and means here that we are made fit to be in God’s presence, to be in His sanctuary. Isn’t it impressive that considering that, God had prepared a body for the Lord Jesus? Only by preparing Him a body the Lord Jesus was able to offer Himself as ‘a sacrifice’. With that in mind He said, when He instituted the Supper, of the bread after He had broken it: “This is My body which is given for you” (Lk 22:19). Every time when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we may remember that.

Heb 10:11. How totally different did the Old Testament services happen and how disappointing were the results. In the tabernacle and in the temple the priests stood continuously before the altar. Thus they exerted their ministry standing, which indicates that their work was never finished. They were not allowed to rest from their work. Time after time new sacrifices had to be offered: daily, weekly, monthly and annually. It was a cycle of offerings which was repeated over and again. And added to that the offerings the Israelite had to bring personally whenever he had sinned again.

The conclusion of the writer is simply shocking: they can never possibly take away sins. With this conclusion he erased the whole Jewish service. If someone from the readers would ascribe any value to it, he would enormously dishonor God and damage himself as well. That goes also for you and me. You shouldn’t want to have anything to do with it either. And you surely will not want to if you carefully take a look at what’s the opposite of that whole insufficient service.

Heb 10:12. To demonstrate that to you the writer places opposite to all those priests who daily brought the same sacrifices the Priest Who offered only one sacrifice for the sins. And because this was a perfectly adequate sacrifice, He “for all time”, which means permanently, uninterruptedly, continuously, “sat down”. That shows the perfect rest which is the result of His work. Christ does not have to stand up anymore to bring such a sacrifice again.

And where does He sit? “At the right hand of God.” Therein God’s perfect recognition and the acceptance of His work are expressed. That He Himself went to sit there indicates the glory of His Person. He does not arrogate this place Himself, but He knows that He has fully responded to God’s will and can therefore be there. God gave that place to Him (Psa 110:1).

Heb 10:13. But Christ does not remain seated forever. From the moment He went to sit and after that (“from that time”), He is waiting until the moment He will rise again. When He rises it will not be to offer Himself again, but to realize in judgment the final and definite results of His sacrificial work (Isa 33:10-12).

You also saw this in the concluding verses of the previous chapter (Heb 9:26-28). The reason there to appear for the second time is also not to die again for the sins. There His second appearance is related to the salvation of the believers. Here it is in relation to the subjection of His enemies. The Lord Jesus is waiting for that.

The writer again refers to the impressive verse from Psalm 110 (Psa 110:1). There you hear how God promises Christ to make His enemies His footstool. The Lord Jesus is waiting for the fulfillment of that promise patiently and persistently (2Thes 3:5; Rev 3:10). Only at God’s time He will rise and not earlier.

Heb 10:14. The word “for” indicates the reason why Christ was able to take the place at the right hand of God. He “has perfected for all time those who are sanctified”. Here you have the content of the will of God. Through the offering of Christ everyone who is sanctified is made perfect in conscience, a conscience that is free from any burden of sin and fear for the judgment. Those who are sanctified are those who are separated for the service to God, the priestly service in the sanctuary. On that place you are put and that “for all time”. That means that there never is any moment, in which you, as one who is sanctified, will not stand in the complete value of the work of Christ before God.

Perhaps you feel at times that some doubt rises whether you are really a child of God. You still disappoint yourself so often. Then read this verse and believe what it says. Doubt is only taken away by faith that God has perfectly accepted the work of the Lord Jesus and that its testimony is given in writing by the Holy Spirit in the Scripture.

The value that Christ and His work have to God, determines how God sees every person who has confessed his sins and has accepted Christ as the propitiation for his sins. Therefore it doesn’t depend on your feeling or view, but on your faith in God and what He has said about His Son. If you do not believe what God says here in His Word, you make Him a liar (1Jn 5:10). Therefore do not allow anyone to rob the assurance of your salvation by erroneous teachings, in particular Christians who take the law as rule of life. Throw your anchor in God’s Word.

Heb 10:15. Added to this testimony of God in His Word the testimony of “the Holy Spirit” is given, Who also “testifies” to the perfectly accomplished offering and its effect. You will experience this testimony inwardly in your heart if you believe God’s Word. There is always a perfect match of the Word and the Spirit. Both the Word and the Spirit always point at the Lord Jesus and His work. You can read the Word, while the Holy Spirit gives you the inner conviction that what you read is the truth.

Heb 10:16. The testimony that the Holy Spirit gives here is based on the Word and it is from the book of the prophet Jeremiah. It is the testimony to “us”, who are first of all the Hebrew readers from that time and then the remnant in future. The quotation from Jeremiah relates to that. In chapter 8 (Heb 8:10; 12) this quotation was already given attention to. It is a good thing to read the explanation about that again. It mainly deals with the effect of the new covenant in the millennial kingdom of peace. Here the quotation is rather meant to indicate that under the new covenant an inward work of the Holy Spirit is happening in the heart and in the mind of the believers.

It is wonderful to see that each of the three Persons of the Godhead has His own place and His own share in order to present you as believer perfect before God.
1. God is the source of your salvation. It was His will to sanctify you.
2. He was able to sanctify you because His Son has accomplished the necessary work for that purpose.
3. Of God’s will and of the work of the Lord Jesus you obtained knowledge and you took part of it through the testimony of the Holy Spirit in your heart.

You can also put it like this: The assurance that God will remember your sins and lawless deeds no more, is
1. because of the irreversible will of God and
2. because of the perfect sacrifice of Christ and
3. because of the absolute testimony of the Holy Spirit.

Heb 10:17. Before Christ accomplished the work sins were remembered or reminded (Heb 10:3). After all, there was formerly no offering that could blot out sins radically. But through the offering of Christ they don’t exist anymore to God. If God doesn’t remember the sins anymore, then every necessity for a new offering is missing.

Heb 10:18. This verse is the conclusion from the quoted prophecy from Jeremiah 31 and from the whole previous argument. Because the one offering has worked forgiveness no other offerings can be offered anymore to work forgiveness. What has been forgiven does not need an offering for sins anymore. No sin has been left that still needs forgiveness and therefore an offering for the penalty of all sins is already paid in full. Therefore each right of existence of the Old Testament offering service has been nullified. It has no value and meaning anymore.

Now read Hebrews 10:10-18 again.

Reflection: Are you entirely sure that God has sanctified you once for all through Christ and His offering?

Confidence to Enter the Holy Place

In the previous verses and chapters the writer taught about the personal glories of the Lord Jesus and the perfection of His work. He made clear that through Christ and His work the foundation was laid for a new covenant. The old didn’t bring anything to perfection, but through Christ and what He has done, God will fulfill all of His promises.

Heb 10:19. After these extensive and profound teachings the writer starts the practical part. This order you always find in the letters. The teachings in this letter make clear that on the ground of the perfection of the work of Christ you are without sin in God’s eye. It has also become clear that Christ entered the true sanctuary to sit there at God’s right hand because His work is finished. That means that because of that, you also are allowed to enter “the holy place” or the sanctuary with full “confidence”.

The questions about your sins are answered and they exist no more. The sins were imputed to Christ. The fact that He is now in heaven, is the proof that your sins have been blotted out forever. Therefore you are able to appear with confidence in the presence of God because your conscience is entirely free from sins forever. You honor the Lord Jesus by confidently entering the sanctuary. That is a pleasure to God.

The only hindrance to enter now is unbelief and to continue looking at yourself. You will surely still observe many imperfections on yourself. The question, however, is not how you see yourself, but how God sees you. He sees you, from the moment you confessed your sins, perfect in Christ. And what happens if you still do sin at times? Then it is not a matter between you and God, but between you and the Father.

The Lord Jesus knew that you, also as a believer, would be committing that sin. For what sins did He bear God’s judgment? Only for the sins from before your conversion or also for all those sins you would, unfortunately, still commit? When He died, He saw your whole life. For everything in it that was not according to God, He bore the judgment.

In this letter it is about the holy God and the sinful man and what the Lord Jesus has done to enable that man to be in God’s presence. You should therefore look upon Christ and also upon God and how He values His work. The knowledge that all your sins were born by the Lord Jesus will not make you a superficial Christian. Exactly the awareness that He had to suffer for all your sins, will make you desire not to sin. In case it happens, it concerns, as said, your relationship with the Father. If you sin you will not be able to enjoy fellowship with the Father. Therefore it is necessary to confess each sin as soon as you become aware of it. Then fellowship with the Father will be restored.

This distinction between your relation to God and your relation to the Father is important. Regarding the relation to the Father we will go into details when we get to the letters of John. For this moment it is enough that you know of this distinction. Now the point is that you fully consent to God’s appreciation of the perfect work of His Son, which also made you perfect before God.

For that reason the power of the word “therefore” (Heb 10:19) is, that what follows is the conclusion of what is previously said. It is also the transition to the practical walk of life of the Christian that then follows and takes place from the fellowship with God in the sanctuary.

In the Old Testament a free entrance into the sanctuary was impossible. Such an entrance was not even presumed. But to the believers, who are connected to the new covenant, that free entrance in God’s presence is reality. You are allowed to enter freely the open heavenly sanctuary to worship.

Isn’t a peak of this letter reached by this? The sanctuary is open for “brethren” (and of course the sisters are included), those are all who are connected to the Lord Jesus and whom He calls ‘My brethren’. You are in the sanctuary if you know to be in God’s presence in the Spirit and enjoy in Christ the full love and confidence of His fellowship. Then you tell God what wonderful things you’ve discovered in the Lord Jesus. It is not about the words you then use, but whether your heart is really full of Him. The way to God has been opened and paved for you by the blood of Jesus. By that blood you are washed and also the way to God’s heart is cleansed.

I wholeheartedly hope that you extensively make use of that confidence by drawing near to God in the sanctuary and to speak with Him about the Lord Jesus. It is your personal privilege to do that. In great parts of professing Christianity individual believers are kept at a distance because others are drawing near to God on their behalf. That is the case when a reverend or bishop speaks to God on behalf of the believers.

Such believers think that they can only draw near to God through the means of a representative. In such a situation the Christian goes back to the Old Testament system and he behaves like a Jewish worshiper. But even where believers do know this privilege, people still can ascribe too much value to certain persons who (according to them) ‘are able to say everything much better’ or who (according to them) know the Bible better.

If you would ask a group of believers the question: ‘Who among you wants to go to heaven?’ then, I believe, everyone would raise his hand. But if you ask the same group: ‘Who among you wants to go to heaven now?’ then there is high chance that a silence descends and that the hands of just a few would go up, possibly of those who have enough of life on earth. God is inviting you and each of His own to come NOW into the sanctuary and to come as often as you want.

Heb 10:20. You are allowed to enter “by a new and living way”. The word ‘new’ has the meaning of ‘just opened’ and implies that the character of that way always keeps its meaning. It is a way that remains fresh and new because the work through which that way has been opened never gets out of date. It is also a ‘living way’ because it is connected to the Lord Jesus Who is the Life. It is a living way, not in the sense that that way leads to life, for the way is walked by those who have life already. The characteristic of this way is life. As a believer you are allowed to walk this way in the footsteps of Him Who lives.

This illustration of that ‘way’ to the sanctuary makes your entering the sanctuary a continuous fresh and new experience. It makes you forget the time that has passed between the fulfillment of the work, already so many ages ago, and now. It will be like that forever as if it just happened that He bore your sins in His body on the cross; as if He just said: “It is finished” (Jn 19:30). God’s eye is forever focused on His Son as a Lamb that was just slain. That is the exceptional way John describes the Lamb that he sees “standing as if slain” (Rev 5:6).

This way has been “inaugurated” by the Lord Jesus. ‘To inaugurate’ is to take into use something new. Christ has entered the sanctuary as the First One, as Forerunner on the basis of His blood. On the basis of His blood you are now able to enter also and that is “through the veil, that is, His flesh”. In the Old Testament God dwelled behind the veil. It was impossible that an Israelite could ever enter there. Only Aaron was allowed to do that and then still only once a year. But God Himself has shown that the way to Him is free by tearing the veil in two from top (thus from Him) to bottom (Mt 27:51). Through the flesh of Christ, that is His body, your sins have been paid for in full and therefore the way to the sanctuary has been opened for you.

Heb 10:21. And when you enter the sanctuary by that opened way, you encounter there “a great priest”. That is no one else than the Lord Jesus. He is available to you. He commits Himself to you. He is the High Priest, but here He is not presented like that. As High Priest He is the foremost among many priests. However, by presenting Him as ‘great Priest’ it is emphasized that to God there is only one Priest. He is ‘great’ in the glory of His Person and in the glory of His service in the sanctuary. If you are also allowed to draw near to God, it is only in Him.

He is the great Priest over “the house of God” (Heb 3:6). By that both the sanctuary and the family of priests is meant. His service in the sanctuary is perfectly to the honor of God and because of His Person pleasant to God. The service of the priestly family is also pleasing to God only because of His Person. How great He is!

Now read again Hebrews 10:19-21.

Reflection: Are you often to be found in the sanctuary?

Draw Near to God

Heb 10:22. The way to the sanctuary is open. The confidence to enter it has been given. Now the writer is stimulating you to actually draw near to God. On the basis of your Christian position you have access to the sanctuary. So really make use of that privilege. To give you the full joy of that privilege the writer points out some conditions that are connected to drawing near to God in the sanctuary. Those are not meant to yet take away the confidence. It’s not only that you should draw near, but also how you draw near.

You will surely agree that drawing near to God in the Holy of Holies cannot happen indifferently, without considering the Person Whom you’re drawing near to. First of all there should be a “sincere heart” or an upright mind toward both God and men. To draw near to God in a way that pleases Him you ought to know your Christian position and value and enjoy that in your heart. In other words: You will rejoice in what you have become in Christ and thank Him and God for it. You will come “in full assurance of faith”. Should you still have any doubt whether your relation to God is alright, then you will not be able to draw near to Him.

To really draw near to God in full assurance, full confidence or faith is necessary. Full assurance of faith completely rests in the love of God. With “having our hearts sprinkled [clean] from an evil conscience” the writer refers to the consecration of the priest (Exo 29:20; Lev 8:23). In the consecration of the priest a part of the blood of the consecration offering is put on the lobe of the right ear of the priest, and on the thumb of the right hand and on the big toe of the right foot. This picture shows that the hearing (ear), the action (hand) and the walk (foot) are to be cleansed in order to be able to do a priestly service for God.

The writer here summarizes, as it were, ear, hand and foot in the heart because the center of all this is the heart. What you hear, what you do and where you go are out of the heart (Pro 4:23). Therefore, your heart may not be plagued by “an evil conscience”, for that draws you away from God. Through the sprinkling of the blood (Heb 12:24; 1Pet 1:2) your heart is clean and your conscience is perfect. But you should continually examine whether that is also the case in practice.

Not only the hearts are clean, but also the “bodies”. Not only should your inner being be in accordance with God, but also your outward attitude should be alright toward God. That asks from you to live up to that continuously. By your stay in and walk through the world you continuously get defiled. Therefore it is necessary to undergo the daily washing of the water by the Word (Eph 5:26). By reading the Bible you are cleansed.

Heb 10:23. The previous conditions have to do with your drawing near to God. Though you’re also dealing with the world in which you live. Toward the world it is important that you hold fast “the confession of our hope without wavering”. In the sanctuary you receive the strength for it. There you see that all promises of God will be fulfilled by Him, while you still don’t see anything of it at this moment in the world. In the sanctuary however you see Christ in Whom everything that God has promised is ‘yes and amen’. Therefore entering into the sanctuary is an enormous encouragement for your testimony in the world.

There is no better way to prevent yourself from wavering than the remembrance of God’s faithfulness. “He Who promised is faithful.” Your hope is not built on something within yourself, but on the faithfulness of God. That indeed gives firmness!

Heb 10:24. There is another aspect. It’s not only about your own trust in God, but you are also called to look after others and others are also called to look after you. It’s an important thing to stimulate each other. To appreciate and stimulate your brothers and sisters it is necessary to see them in the sanctuary, in the true light of Christ. That will determine your dealings with them.

Being gentle to each other is a good thing, though that is not enough. It says “to stimulate”. In it, drive and effort resounds. True Christian fellowship in the sanctuary has the effect that we stimulate one another to have feelings of love for each other and to do “good deeds” what makes the other indeed experience that love (1Jn 3:18). We are to intensify the love to each other, for love is the right Christian mind and good works are the fruits of it.

Heb 10:25. Beside your personal contacts, whereby you consider one another, there is also the own assembling together. There Christ is in the center to start the song of praise. The writer appeals not to forsake the own assembling together. There the confession of faith is made in a public and communal way. By forsaking the meeting you might pretend you are personally holding fast the confession, while you are avoiding to publicly unite with God’s people in the hardships that are connected to the confession of this faith to the world.

The writer additionally mentions another motive not to forsake “our own assembling together”: “the day”, that is the day of judgment, is approaching. Forsaking our own assembling together is a clear sign of the decrease of affection toward one another. Forsaking the own assembling together often ends up in a return to the world or to a worldly religion. The thought of the day of judgment ought to affect the conscience. That thought is to prevent Christians from returning to the world and that they are protected against the influence of people or fear for man.

The own assembling together is a particularly relevant place for us to experience support from each other. The emphasis here is not what we receive in the meeting, but what we can contribute. The readers are reminded of the meetings of the church in the beginning where they were persistent (Acts 2:42), but in which they now are in danger of slacking. Some of them were already used to forsake the assembling. They stayed away without any valid reason.

Heb 10:26. If a person out of fear for reproach and mockery consciously forsakes the gathering, he sins willfully! The word “for” at the beginning of this verse indicates the connection with the preceding in Hebrews 9-10, while it is also in immediate connection to the previous verse. That underlines the significance of the assembling together. If a Christian forsakes the gatherings it is not only an undignified behavior, but it is also dangerous. It means denying, if not despising, one of the most significant means for edification and comfort. It is also indifference regarding the fellowship of the saints.

Decay and finally falling away often start with abandoning the Christian gathering. He who forsakes the gathering of the church is not really impressed by the Lord Jesus Who is there in the center (Mt 18:20). He who loves the Lord, will love to be where He is. Considering that He also loves to be in the midst of His redeemed people, you will not forsake any gathering without a reasonable cause. Where He is He is always present with fresh blessing and growth.

If someone ever confessed to know the value of that one sacrifice and later abandons that confession, there is no sacrifice in which he could ever take refuge. ‘Willfully’ means freely, by your own free will and consciously. It is the opposite of ignorance. It is about professing Christians, who consciously and willfully are in open rebellion sinning against God. It is about people who have received ‘the knowledge of the truth’ and therefore have not had only a shallow impression of Christendom.

Such people were profoundly aware of the differences between the old and new covenant. They embraced the new, but they returned to the old, to the sacrifices that couldn’t take away sins, as it is already demonstrated at the beginning of this chapter. Such people always show a more bitter resistance than ignorant people. They are falling away from the only adequate work of Christ in order to willfully give in to sin again, to accept sinning as a habit again.

Heb 10:27. The only thing they can expect for sure is a ‘fearful’ or terrifying judgment that will be revealed in the fury of a fire. Instead of being people who have held firmly to the confession of the truth under pressure, they became adversaries. He who abandons the knowledge of the truth he once received, adopts the character of an enemy. Such a person is not one who is erring, for a person who is erring can possibly be restored again. For a stubborn enemy there is no hope for restoration.

Now read Hebrews 10:22-27 again.

Reflection: In this section there are some exhortations. Which are they? Are there some that you are to take to heart in particular?

He Who Is Coming Will Come

Heb 10:28. We are in a section in which we are again warned against falling away. The consequences of falling away are presented in the most horrific way. After all it is not about a detail! It is about rejecting the only offering that God has given in His Son and to which offering the apostate at first consented. That is nothing else than deliberate rebellion against God. Rebelling against God, while knowing His will, was and still is a serious matter to God. Just take a look at the law of Moses. Whosoever rejected that law, in other words: trampled and despised it – so not accidentally transgressed it – died without mercy (cf. Num 15:30-36). Death penalty followed “on [the testimony of] two or three witnesses”.

Heb 10:29. If God already punished rebellion under the old covenant that severely, how much severer will the punishment be if a person rebels against the new covenant. The severer punishment is the eternal judgment, while in the Old Testament it concerned a corporal punishment. But the severer punishment is fitting for gravity of that sin. It is ultimately about nothing less than trampling the Son of God, the eternal Son, and despising His work.

You may say that transgressing the law was purely disobedience. How serious that might have already been, yet it is more serious to despise the grace of God and what He has done in His Son. It is rejecting the whole counsel of God’s plan of salvation with a contempt that gives no hope for conversion. To trample something under foot indicates a contemptible treatment. This is how one who is only a Christian in name treats the Son of God when he, after having first acknowledged Him as the Son of God, later on exchanges Him for a tangible religion. It is the grossest form of denial that anyone can do to Him. By such a treatment the Lord Jesus is held for liar and His work as meaningless.

The latter appears from the denial of the blood of the covenant. Through this blood the confessor was sanctified, which means: set apart outwardly. It is the same sanctification that also applies to the unbelieving husband whose wife came to faith (1Cor 7:14). He confessed to be hiding behind the blood, like all members of the company he joined, though he didn’t believe in the power of the blood. At a certain moment he accounted it unholy. It is not surprising that such a person also insults “the Spirit of grace”. The Holy Spirit showed him grace when he entered professing Christianity by making him a partaker of His work in the church. But now he ignored the grace with a gesture of contempt.

Heb 10:30. By speaking about “we” the writer places himself among those to whom he writes. He sees all of them, including himself, as confessors. They all had the same confession. But there was a chance that there were some among them for whom the confession was only a matter of the lips and not of the heart. With regard to them he speaks these serious words. He wants to appeal to their conscience, so that they still may open up their hearts to receive the truth and that they will not turn to a religion that is rejected by God and which will surely cause them to die in their sins.

They all knew God as the One Who judges. None of them was ignorant about that. God’s vengeance implies that He will righteously measure what a person is worthy of. He will repay and judge in a righteous way.

Heb 10:31. He who falls away from the living God (Heb 3:12), will surely fall into the hands of the living God. How totally differently does the believer look at the hands of God. He loves to entrust himself to them (2Sam 24:14) because he trusts that God is perfectly righteous and full of love.

Heb 10:32. After his severe exhortations the writer appeals encouragingly to the readers again from Heb 10:32. He has expressed his fear for the falling away of a very few, but for the many of the company he doesn’t have that fear. He saw the fruits of the new life with them. He reminds them of that by taking them back in spirit to the former days. He speaks about them being “enlightened”. By that he meant that they had discovered what Christendom meant more than Judaism. When they discovered that, they accepted the new.

They were prepared to endure “a great conflict of sufferings” that it caused. Suffering goes hand in hand with accepting the Lord Jesus. There is not a single ground for the thought that the church will take possession of everything by a worldwide advancement of the gospel. It is a good thing to think of that always.

Heb 10:33. The writer speaks about two forms of suffering. There is a suffering that they individually experienced and a suffering they experienced by sympathizing with the sufferings of others. The suffering they endured by themselves consisted of “reproaches and tribulations” which were caused to them by their unbelieving fellow countrymen. Besides, these fellow countrymen were watching them like “a public spectacle” (cf. 1Cor 4:9). This suffering was visible for their surroundings. The other form of suffering is sharing in the sufferings of others. This is not personally, but it is spiritually sharing with others who endure it personally (Heb 13:3; Mt 25:36; 39). They had encouraged, probably visited, those who were kept in captivity because of their faith.

Heb 10:34. They were robbed from their possessions. Resentful Jews did that by plundering or confiscation. But they did not grieve about it. On the contrary, they “accepted joyfully” their loss. Did they still recall how that happened? Because they were convinced that they had a possession, which they could never lose, namely “a better possession and a lasting one”. It is a treasure in heaven where thieves cannot ever come (Mt 6:20; 1Pet 1:4). When the eye is focused on that then there is power, courage and perseverance to continue the path of faith till the end. The suffering they endured was simply because they had chosen the right path.

Heb 10:35. Because of that, “therefore”, they were not to throw away their confidence with which they were proceeding the path of faith. At the end the reward was surely awaiting them: the eternal inheritance in the promised land.

Heb 10:36. It was, and it is for you, a matter of endurance. A lack of endurance results in falling away from faith. Endurance means remaining in the circumstances one finds oneself without escaping them. By endurance you partake of “the promise”: the inheritance.

Therefore “the will of God” has to be done. Always when ‘the will of God’ is spoken about in a letter it is said in relation to the content of the letter. The will of God here has to do with the faith in the testimony concerning Jesus as the Messiah, Who was crucified, Who has died and raised, which caused that the sins are taken away. It is also His will that you look at a High Priest in heaven at the right hand of God, while on earth you possibly have to endure tribulation and persecution. It is God’s will that you endure in that until you will be with Him.

Heb 10:37. And that will only last “a very little while”, for Christ is coming soon and will fulfill everything that has been promised. His offering fitted you to partake of the fulfillment of the promises. The reason why you still have to wait and why you were not immediately transferred to heaven right after your conversion is that the faith you are confessing is tested as to its trueness. He is coming and will not delay. If ‘delaying’ becomes a central matter in your life you will become unfaithful to the Lord (Mt 24:48-50) and from the good servant you are now you will turn into an evil servant.

Heb 10:38. To prevent that, it is necessary to live according to the principle of faith. The writer quotes here for the third time in the New Testament a verse from Habakkuk (Hab 2:3-4). In each of the three quotations the emphasis is different.
1. In the first quotation, the emphasis is on ‘righteous’ (Rom 1:17);
2. in the second, it is on ‘faith’ (opposite the law) (Gal 3:11) and
3. in the third, it is on ‘life’ (opposite to perishing in the wilderness, falling away) (Heb 10:38).

As long as the coming of the Lord is delayed, the righteous should live from the power of his faith. He who lives as a righteous one has nothing to fear for and will surely endure. God speaks here of “My just”. This resonates the affection God has for everyone who lives from the faith in Him in a world that is against Him.

Heb 10:39. He who is a Christian by name will turn off and be rejected by God. Shrinking back is withdrawing from the path of faith, leaving that path. That can happen for example because of fear for men, which causes the necessary endurance to disappear. It can also happen by ignoring the Word of God and not looking upon the High Priest alone anymore. Such people do not please God. They return to the dead works from which they had turned off under the confession of the power of the blood of Christ. In the next chapter God will present people who do please Him.

The writer does not assume that his readers are such apostates, just as he himself is not, for because of the word “we” he is using, you see that he again includes himself. I suppose that you too are not of the kind that shrinks back and who from fear abandons Christendom and has to meet such a terrible judgment.

I suppose that you belong to those who “have faith to the preserving of the soul”, which means that you live by faith and in that way you preserve your soul until the end of the journey.

Now read Hebrews 10:28-39 again.

Reflection: Do you sometimes fear for falling away from faith or do you know of another person who does? What is your reply to that fear?

© 2023 Author G. de Koning

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