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Bible Commentaries

William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

Hebrews 10

 

 

Verses 1-39

Chapter 10

THE ONLY TRUE SACRIFICE (Hebrews 10:1-10)

10:1-10 Because the law is only a pale shadow of the blessings which are to come and not a real image of these things, it can never really fit for the fellowship of God those who seek to draw near to his presence with the sacrifices which have to be brought year by year and which go on for ever. For if these sacrifices could achieve that, would they not have stopped being brought because the worshipper had been once and for all brought into a state of purity and no longer had any consciousness of sin? So far from that, in them there is a year by year reminder of sin. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin. That is why he says as he enters the world: "You did not desire sacrifice and offering; it is a body you have prepared for me. You took no pleasure in whole burnt-offerings and in sin-offerings. So then I said: 'So then I come--in the roll of the book it is written of me--to do, O God, your will."' At the beginning of this passage he says: "You did not desire sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt-offerings and sin-offerings and you took no pleasure in them," and it is such offerings as these that the law prescribes. Then he went on to say: "Behold, I come to do your will." He abolishes the kind of offerings referred to in the first quotation in order to establish the kind of offering referred to in the second. It is by this way of "the will" that we have been purified through the once and for all offering of the body of Christ.

To the writer to the Hebrews the whole business of sacrifice was only a pale copy of what real worship ought to be. The business of religion was to bring a man into a close relationship with God and that is what these sacrifices could never do. The best that they could do was to give him a distant and spasmodic contact with God. He uses two words to indicate what he means. He says that these things are a pale shadow. The word he uses is skia (Greek #4639), the Greek for a shadow, and it means a nebulous reflection, a mere silhouette, a form without reality. He says that they do not give a real image. The word he uses is eikon (Greek #1504), which means a complete representation, a detailed reproduction. It actually does mean a portrait, and would mean a photograph, if there had been such a thing in those days. In effect he is saying: "Without Christ you cannot get beyond the shadows of God."

He brings proof. Year by year the sacrifices of the Tabernacle and especially of the Day of Atonement go on. An effective thing does not need to be done again; the very fact of the repetition of these sacrifices is the final proof that they are not purifying men's souls and not giving full and uninterrupted access to God. Our writer goes further--he says that all they are is a reminder of sin. So far from purifying a man, they remind him that he is not purified and that his sins still stand between him and God.

Let us take an analogy. A man is ill. A bottle of medicine is prescribed for him. If that medicine effects a cure, every time he looks at the bottle thereafter, he will say: "That is what gave me back my health." On the other hand, if the medicine is ineffective, every time he looks at the bottle he will be reminded that he is ill and that the recommended cure was useless.

So the writer to the Hebrews says with prophetic vehemence: "The sacrifice of animals is powerless to purify a man and give him access to God. All that such sacrifices can do is to remind a man that he is an uncured sinner and that the barrier of his sin is between himself and God." So far from erasing his sin, they underline it.

The only effective sacrifice is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. To make his point and to explain what is in his mind, Hebrews takes a quotation from Psalms 40:6-9. In the Revised Standard Version, which is close to the original Hebrew, the passage runs:

"Sacrifice and offering thou dost not desire;

but thou hast given me an open ear.

Burnt-offering and sin-offering thou hast not required.

Then I said: Lo I come;

In the roll of the book it is written of me.

I delight to do thy will, O my God."

The writer to the Hebrews quotes it differently and in the second line he has:

"A body you have prepared for me."

The explanation is that he was not quoting from the original Hebrew but from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. About 270 B.C. the task of translating the Old Testament into Greek was begun in Alexandria in Egypt. Obviously far more people in the ancient world read Greek than Hebrew. It is very likely that the writer to the Hebrews did not know any Hebrew at all and therefore it is the Septuagint that he uses. In any event the meaning of the two phrases is the same. "Thou hast given me an open ear," means, "You have so touched me that everything I hear I obey." It is the obedient car of which the psalmist is thinking. "A body you have prepared for me," really means, "You created me that in my body and with my body I should do your will." In essence the meaning is the same.

The writer to the Hebrews has taken the words of the psalm and put them into the mouth of Jesus. What they say is that God wants not animal sacrifices but obedience to his will. In its essence sacrifice was a noble thing. It meant that a man was taking something dear to him and giving it to God to show his love. But human nature being what it is it was easy for the idea to degenerate and for sacrifice to be thought of as a way of buying God's forgiveness.

The writer to the Hebrews was not saying anything new when he said that obedience was the only true sacrifice. Long before him the prophets had seen how sacrifice had degenerated and had told the people that what God wanted was not the blood and the flesh of animals but the obedience of a man's life. That is precisely one of the noblest thoughts of the Old Testament men of God.

"And Samuel said, has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings

and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to

obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of

rams" (1 Samuel 15:22).

"Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving; and pay your vows to

the Most High" (Psalms 50:14).

"For thou bast no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt

offering, thou wouldst not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to

God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou

wilt not despise." (Psalms 51:16-17).

"For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge

of God, rather than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6).

"What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord;

I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed

beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of

he-goats.... Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an

abomination to me.... When you spread forth your hands. I

will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers,

I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.... Cease to do

evil, learn to do good" (Isaiah 1:11-20).

"With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself

before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands

of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my

first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin

of my soul?" He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what

does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love

kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:6-8).

Always there had been voices crying out for God that the only sacrifice was that of obedience. Nothing but obedience could open the way to God; disobedience set up a barrier that no animal sacrifice could ever take away. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice because he perfectly did God's will. He took himself and said to God: "Do with me as you will." He brought to God for men what no man had been able to bring--the perfect obedience, that was the perfect sacrifice.

If we are ever to have fellowship with God, obedience is the only way. What man could not offer, Jesus offered. In his perfect manhood he offered the perfect sacrifice of the perfect obedience. Through that the way was once and for all opened up for us.

THE FINALITY OF CHRIST (Hebrews 10:11-18)

10:11-18 Again, every priest stands every day engaged upon his service; he stands offering the same sacrifices over and over again, and they are sacrifices of such a kind that they can never take away sins. But he offered one single sacrifice for sin and then took his seat for ever at the right hand of God, and for the future he waits until his enemies are made the footstool of his feet. For by one offering and for all time he perfectly gave us that cleansing we need to enter into the presence of God. And to this the Holy Spirit is our witness, for after he has said: "This is the covenant I will make with them after these days, says the Lord. I will put my laws upon their hearts; and I will write them upon their minds," he goes on to say: "And I will not remember any more their sins and their breaches of the law." Now, where there is forgiveness of these things, a sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

Once again the writer to the Hebrews is drawing a series of implicit contrasts between the sacrifice that Jesus offered and the animal sacrifices that the priests offer.

(i) He stresses the achievement of Jesus. The sacrifice of Jesus was made once and is effective for ever; the animal sacrifices of the priests must be made over and over again, and even then they are not effective in any real way. Every day, so long as the Temple stood, the following sacrifices had to be carried out (Numbers 28:3-8). Every morning and every evening a male lamb of one year old, without spot and blemish, was offered as a burnt-offering. Along with it there was offered a meat-offering, which consisted of one tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of pure oil. There was also a drink-offering, which consisted of a quarter of a hin of wine. Added to that there was the daily meat-offering of the High Priest; it consisted of one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour, mixed with oil, and baked in a flat pan; half was offered in the morning and half in the evening. In addition there was an offering of incense before these offerings in the morning and after them in the evening. There was a kind of priestly tread-mill of sacrifice. Moffatt speaks of "the levitical drudges" who, day in day out, kept offering these sacrifices. There was no end to this process and it left men still conscious of their sin and alienated from God.

In contrast, Jesus had made a sacrifice that neither could nor need be repeated.

(a) It could not be repeated. There is something unrepeatable about any great work. It is possible to repeat the popular tunes of the day ad infinitum; to a great extent one echoes another. But it is not possible to repeat the Fifth or the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven; no one else will ever write anything like them. It is possible to repeat the kind of poetry that is written in sentimental journals and on Christmas cards; but not to repeat the blank verse of Shakespeare's plays or the hexametres of Homer's Iliad. These things stand alone. Certain things can be repeated; but all works of genius have a certain unrepeatable quality. It is so with the sacrifice of Christ. It is sui generis; it is one of these masterpieces which can never be done again.

(b) It need not be repeated. For one thing, the sacrifice of Jesus perfectly shows the love of God In that life of service and in that death of love, there stands fully displayed the heart of God. Looking at Jesus, we can say: "That is what God is like." For another thing, the life and death of Jesus was an act of perfect obedience and, therefore, the only perfect sacrifice. All scripture, at its deepest, declares that the only sacrifice God desires is obedience; and in the life and death of Jesus that is precisely the sacrifice that God received. Perfection cannot be improved upon. In Jesus there is at one and the same time the perfect revelation of God and the perfect offering of obedience. Therefore his sacrifice cannot and need not ever be made again. The priests must go on with their weary routine of animal sacrifice; but the sacrifice of Christ was made once and for all.

(ii) He stresses the exaltation of Jesus. It is with care that he picks his words. The priests stand offering sacrifice; Christ sits at the right hand of God. Theirs is the position of a servant; his is the position of a monarch. Jesus is the King come home, his task accomplished and his victory won. There is a wholeness about the life of Jesus that perhaps we ought to give more thought. His life is incomplete without his death; his death is incomplete without his resurrection; his resurrection is incomplete without his return to glory. It is the same Jesus who lived and died and rose again and is at the right hand of God. He is not simply a saint who lived a lovely life; not simply a martyr who died an heroic death; not simply a risen figure who returned to company with his friends. He is the Lord of glory. His life is like a panelled tapestry; to look at one panel is to see only a little bit of the story. The tapestry must be looked on as a whole before the full greatness is disclosed.

(iii) He stresses the final triumph of Jesus. He awaits the final subjugation of his enemies; in the end there must come a universe in which he is supreme. How that will come is not ours to know; but it may be that this final subjugation will consist not in the extinction of his enemies but in their submission to his love. It is not so much the power but the love of God which must conquer in the end.

Finally, as is his habit, the writer to the Hebrews clinches his argument with a quotation from scripture. Jeremiah, speaking of the new covenant which will not be imposed on a man from outside but which will be written on his heart, ends: "I will remember their sin no more" (Jeremiah 31:34). Because of Jesus the barrier of sin is for ever taken away.

THE MEANING OF CHRIST FOR US (Hebrews 10:19-25)

10:19-25 Since then, brothers, in virtue of what the blood of Jesus has done for us, we can confidently enter into the Holy Place by the new and living way which Jesus inaugurated for us through the veil-- that is, through his flesh--and since we have a great High Priest who is over the house of God, let us approach the presence of God with a heart wherein the truth dwells and with the full conviction of faith, with our hearts so sprinkled that they are cleansed from all consciousness of evil and with our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the undeviating hope of our creed, for we can rely absolutely on him who made the promises; and let us put our minds to the task of spurring each other on in love and fine deeds. Let us not abandon our meeting together--as some habitually do--but let us encourage one another, and all the more so as we see the Day approaching.

The writer to the Hebrews now comes to the practical implication of all that he has been saying. From theology he turns to practical exhortation. He is one of the deepest theologians in the New Testament but all his theology is governed by the pastoral instinct. He does not think merely for the thrill of intellectual satisfaction but only that he may the more forcibly appeal to men to enter into the presence of God.

He begins by saying three things about Jesus.

(i) Jesus is the living way to the presence of God. We enter into the presence of God by means of the veil, that is, by the flesh of Jesus. That is a difficult thought, but what he means is this. Before the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle hung the veil to screen off the presence of God. For men to enter into that presence the veil would have to be torn apart. Jesus' flesh is what veiled his godhead. Charles Wesley in his great hymn appealed to men:

"Veiled in flesh the godhead see."

It was when the flesh of Christ was rent upon the Cross that men really saw God. All his life showed God; but it was on the Cross that God's love really was revealed. As the rending of the Tabernacle veil opened the way to the presence of God, so the rending of the flesh of Christ revealed the full greatness of his love and opened up the way to him.

(ii) Jesus is the High Priest over God's house in the heavens. As we have seen so often, the function of the priest was to build a bridge between man and God. This means that Jesus not only shows us the way to God but also when we get there introduces us to his very presence. A man might be able to direct an enquirer to Buckingham Palace and yet be very far from having the right to take him into the presence of the Queen; but Jesus can take us the whole way.

(iii) Jesus is the one person who can really cleanse. In the priestly ritual, the holy things were cleansed by being sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifices. Again and again the High Priest bathed himself in the laver of clear water. But these things were ineffective to remove the real pollution of sin. Only Jesus can really cleanse a man. His is no external purification; by his presence and his Spirit he cleanses the inmost thoughts and desires of a man until he is really clean.

From this the writer to the Hebrews goes on to urge three things.

(i) Let us approach the presence of God. That is to say, let us never forget the duty of worship. It is given to every man to live in two worlds, this world of space and time, and the world of eternal things. Our danger is that to become so involved in this world that we forget the other. As the day begins, as the day ends and ever and again in the midst of its activities, we should turn aside, if only for a moment, and enter God's presence. Every man carries with him his own secret shrine, but so many forget to enter it. As Matthew Arnold wrote:

"But each day brings its pretty dust

Our soon-choked souls to fill;

And we forget because we must,

And not because we will."

(ii) Let us hold fast to our creed That is to say, let us never lose our grip of what we believe. The cynical voices may try to take our faith away; the materialist and his arguments may try to make us forget God; the events of life may conspire to shake our faith. Stevenson said that he so believed in the ultimate decency of things that if he woke up in hell he would still believe in it; and we must have a grip on the faith that nothing can loosen.

(iii) Let us put our minds to the task of taking thought for others. That is to say, let us remember that we are Christians not only for our own sake but also for the sake of others. No man ever saved his soul who devoted his whole time and energy to saving it; but many a man has saved it by being so concerned for others that he forgot that he himself had a soul to save. It is easy to drift into a kind of selfish Christianity; but a selfish Christianity is a contradiction in terms.

But the writer to the Hebrews goes on to outline our duty to others in the most practical way. He sees that duty extend in three directions.

(i) We must spur each other to noble living. Best of all we can do that by setting the fine example. We can do it by reminding others of their traditions, their privileges, their responsibilities when they are likely to forget them. it has been said that a saint is someone in whom Christ stands revealed; we can seek ever to incite others to goodness by showing them Christ. We may remember how the dying soldier lad looked up at Florence Nightingale and murmured: "You're Christ to me."

(ii) We must worship together. There were some amongst those to whom the writer of the Hebrews was writing who had abandoned the habit of meeting together. It is still possible for a man to think that he is a Christian and yet abandon the habit of worshipping with God's people in God's house on God's day. He may try to be what Moffatt called "a pious particle," a Christian in isolation. Moffatt distinguishes three reasons which keep a man from worshipping with his fellow Christians.

(a) He may not go to church because of fear. He may be ashamed to be seen going to church. He may live or work among people who laugh at those who do so. He may have friends who have no use for that kind of thing and may fear their criticism and contempt. He may, therefore, try to be a secret disciple; but it has been well said that this is impossible because either "the discipleship kills the secrecy or the secrecy kills the discipleship." It would be well if we remembered that, apart from anything else, to go to church is to demonstrate where our loyalty lies. Even if the sermon be poor and the worship tawdry, the church service still gives us the chance to show to men what side we are on.

(b) He may not go because of fastidiousness. He may shrink from contact with people who are "not like himself." There are congregations which are as much clubs as they are churches. They may be in neighbourhoods where the social status has come down; and the members who have remained faithful to them would be as much embarrassed as delighted if the poor people in the area came flooding in. We must never forget that there is no such thing as a "common" man in the sight of God. It was for all men, not only for the respectable classes, that Christ died.

(c) He may not go because of conceit. He may believe that he does not need the Church or that he is intellectually beyond the standard of preaching there. Social snobbery is bad but spiritual and intellectual snobbery is worse. The wisest man is a fool in the sight of God; and the strongest man is weak in the moment of temptation. There is no man who can live the Christian life and neglect the fellowship of the Church. If any man feels that he can do so let him remember that he comes to Church not only to get but to give. If he thinks that the Church has faults, it is his duty to come in and help to mend them.

(iii) We must encourage one another. One of the highest of human duties is that of encouragement. There is a regulation of the Royal Navy which says: "No officer shall speak discouragingly to another officer in the discharge of his duties." Eliphaz unwillingly paid Job a great tribute. As Moffatt translates it: "Your words have kept men on their feet" (Job 4:4). Barrie somewhere wrote to Cynthia Asquith: "Your first instinct is always to telegraph to Jones the nice thing Brown said about him to Robinson. You have sown a lot of happiness that way." It is easy to laugh at men's ideals, to pour cold water on their enthusiasm, to discourage them. The world is full of discouragers; we have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.

Finally, the writer to the Hebrews says that our Christian duty to each other is all the more pressing because the time is short. The Day is approaching. He is thinking of the Second Coming of Christ when things as we know them will be ended. The early Church lived in that expectation. Whether or not we still do, we must realize that no man knows when the summons to rise and go will come to him also. In the time we have it is our duty to do all the good we can to all the people we can in all the ways we can.

THE THREAT AT THE HEART OF THINGS (Hebrews 10:26-31)

10:26-31 For, if we deliberately sin after we have received full knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin is left. All that we can expect is to wait in terror for judgment and for that flaming wrath which will consume the adversaries of God. Anyone who regards the law of Moses as a dead letter dies without pity on the evidence of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you think, that man will be deemed worthy who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, who has failed to regard the blood of the new covenant, with which he was made fit for God's presence, as a sacred thing, and who has insulted the Spirit through whom God's grace comes to us? For we know who it was who said: "Vengeance belongs to me; it is I who will repay," and again: "The Lord will judge his people." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Every now and again the writer to the Hebrews speaks with a sternness that is almost without parallel in the New Testament. Few writers have such a sense of the sheer horror of sin. In this passage his thoughts are going back to the grim instruction in Deuteronomy 17:2-7. it is there laid down that, if any person shall be proved to have gone after strange gods and to have worshipped them, "you shall bring forth to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones. On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses he that is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from the midst of you."

The writer to the Hebrews has this horror of sin for two reasons.

First, he lived in a day when the Church had been under attack and would be under attack again. Its greatest peril was from the possible evil living and apostasy of its members. A Church in such circumstances could not afford to carry members who were a bad advertisement for the Christian faith. Its members must be loyal or nothing. That is still true. Dick Sheppard spent much of his life preaching in the open air to people who were either hostile or indifferent to the Church. From their questions and their arguments and their criticisms he said that he had learned that "the greatest handicap the Church has is the unsatisfactory lives of professing Christians." The unsatisfactory Christian undermines the very foundations of the Church.

Second, he was sure that sin had become doubly serious because of the new knowledge of God and of God's will which Jesus had brought. One of the old divines wrote a kind of catechism. He ends by asking what happens if men disregard the offer of Jesus Christ. His answer is that condemnation must necessarily follow, "and so much the more because thou hast read this book." The greater the knowledge, the greater the sin. The conviction of the writer to the Hebrews was that, if under the old law, apostasy was a terrible thing, it had become doubly terrible now that Christ had come.

He gives us three definitions of sin.

(i) Sin is to trample Christ under foot. It is not mere rebelliousness against law; it is the wounding of love. A man can stand almost any attack on his body; the thing that beats him is a broken heart. It is told that in the days of the Hitler terror there was a man in Germany who was arrested, tried, tortured and put into a concentration camp. He faced it all with gallantry and emerged erect and unbroken. Then by accident he discovered who it was who had laid information against him--it was his own son. The discovery broke him and he died. Attack by an enemy he could bear; attack by one whom he loved killed him. When Caesar was murdered he faced his assassins with almost disdainful courage. But when he saw the hand of his friend Brutus raised to strike, he wrapped his head in his mantle and died. Once Christ had come, the awfulness of sin lay not in its breaking of the law but in its trampling of the love of Christ under foot.

(ii) Sin is the failure to see the sacredness of sacred things. Nothing produces a shudder like sacrilege. The writer to the Hebrews says in effect: "Look at what has been done for you; look at the shed blood and the broken body of Christ; look at what your new relationship to God cost; can you treat it as if it did not matter? Don't you see what a sacred thing it is?" Sin is the failure to realize the sacredness of that sacrifice upon the Cross.

(iii) Sin is the insult to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit speaks within us, telling us what is right and wrong, seeking to check us when we are on the way to sin and to spur us on when we are drifting into lethargy. To disregard these voices is to insult the Spirit and to grieve the heart of God.

All through this, one thing comes out. Sin is not disobedience to an impersonal law; it is the wrecking of a personal relationship and the wounding of the heart of the God whose name is Father.

The writer to the Hebrews finishes his appeal with a threat. He quotes Deuteronomy 32:35-36 where the sternness of God is clearly seen. At the heart of Christianity there remains for ever a threat. To remove that threat is to emasculate the faith. At the end of the day it is not all one for the good and the bad man alike. No man can evade the fact that in the end judgment comes.

THE DANGER OF DRIFT (Hebrews 10:32-39)

10:32-39 Remember the former days. Remember how, after you had been enlightened, you had to go through a hard struggle of suffering, partly because you yourselves were held up to insult and involved in affliction and partly because you had become partners with people whose life was like that. For you gave your sympathy to those in prison; you accepted the pillaging of your goods with joy; for you knew that you yourselves hold a possession which is better and which lasts. Do not throw away your confidence, for it is a confidence that has a great reward. You need fortitude so that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. For in a short time, a very short time, "He who is to come will come and he will not delay. And my just man shall live by faith; but if he shrinks back, my soul will not find pleasure in him." We are not men to shrink back from things and so to come to disaster, but we are men of a faith which will enable us to possess our souls.

There had been a time when those to whom this letter was written had been up against it. When first they had become Christians they had known persecution and plundering of their goods; and they had learned what it was to become involved with those under suspicion and unpopular. They had met that situation with gallantry and with honour; and now, when they were in danger of drifting away, the writer to the Hebrews reminds them of their former loyalty.

It is a truth of life that in many ways it is easier to stand adversity than to stand prosperity. Ease has ruined far more men than trouble ever did. The classic example is what happened to the armies of Hannibal.

Hannibal of Carthage was the one general who had routed the Roman legions. But winter came and the campaign had to be suspended. Hannibal wintered his troops in Capua which he had captured, a city of luxury. And one winter in Capua did what the Roman legions had not succeeded in doing. The luxury so sapped the morale of the Carthaginian troops that when the spring came and the campaign was resumed they were unable to stand before the Romans.

Ease had ruined them when struggle had only toughened them. That is often true of Christian life. Often a man can meet with honour the great hour of testing and of trial; and yet lets the time of plain sailing sap his strength and emasculate his faith.

The appeal of the writer to the Hebrews is one that could be made to every man. In effect, he says: "Be what you were at your best." If only we were always at our best, life would be very different. Christianity does not demand the impossible; but if we were always as honest, as kind, as courageous, as courteous as we can be, life would be transformed.

To be such we need certain things.

(i) We need to keep our hope before us. The athlete will make his great effort because the goal beckons him on. He will submit to the discipline of training because of the end in view. If life is only a day to day doing of the routine things, we may well sink into a policy of drift; but if we are on the way to heaven's crown, effort must always be at full pitch.

(ii) We need fortitude. Perseverance is one of the great unromantic virtues. Most people can start well and almost everyone can be fine in spasms. To everyone it is sometimes given to mount up with wings as eagles; in the moment of the great effort everyone can run and not be weary; but the greatest gift of all is to walk and not to faint.

(iii) We need the memory of the end. The writer to the Hebrews makes a quotation from Habakkuk 2:3. The prophet tells his people that if they hold fast to their loyalty, God will see them through their present situation. The victory comes only to the man who holds on.

To the writer to the Hebrews life was a thing that was on its way to the presence of Christ. It was therefore never something that could be allowed to drift; it was its end which made the process of life all important, and only the man who endured to the end would be saved.

Here is a summons never to be less than our best; and always to remember that the end comes. If life is the road to Christ none can afford to miss it or to stop half-way.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

 


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Bibliography Information
Barclay, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 10:4". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/hebrews-10.html. 1956-1959.


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Friday, July 21st, 2017
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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