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The Insufficiency of the Old Testament Sacrifices Compared with the One Perfect Offering of Christ.
The insufficiency of the Old Testament offerings:
v. 1. for the Law, having a shadow of good things to come and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
v. 2. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshipers, once purged, should have had no more conscience of sins.
v. 3. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every. year.
v. 4. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
The fact which has stood out in the entire discussion till now, namely, that all the acts of worship in the Old Testament cult were only figurative, symbolical, typical, is here restated in order to stress the finality of Christ's one sacrifice: For the Law, having merely a shadow of the good things to come, not the actual figure of the things, can never make perfect, with the same sacrifices which they offer year by year perpetually, those that draw near. The Law with all its rites, ceremonies, sacrifices was but a shadow of the really good things to come in and with Christ; what it offered was inadequate, unsubstantial. With the appearing of Christ the better covenant was ushered in, for He brought the reality, in Him salvation was realized. In the Old Testament, indeed, the coming of the great spiritual blessings was intimated and prophesied, and the believers placed their hope of salvation in the Messiah that was to be manifested. But they were still obliged, year after year and generation after generation, to bring the same sacrifices, to renew their offerings, to expiate their sins by symbolical acts, to reconcile the God of the covenant through the blood of bullocks and goats, all of which, in itself, could not make the worshipers perfect, just as no repetition of the shadow can amount to the substance.
To emphasize this truth, the writer asks: Otherwise they would surely have ceased to be offered; because of the no longer having a consciousness of sins the worshipers that were once cleansed. If the worship, the sacrifices, the offerings of the Old Testament had succeeded in making the people that partook in them perfect, if they had actually been cleansed from their sins and of the consciousness of guilt, then they certainly would not have sought a renewal of the sacrifices year after year. It was because the entire cult of the Jews had power only in so far as it foreshadowed the perfect sacrifice of Christ that it was of any benefit at all. Being, however, only a type, the annual repetition of the sacrifices of atonement became necessary.
It remains true, then, as the author concludes: But in them there is a remembrance again of sins every year, for it is impossible that the blood of bullocks and of goats should take away sins. The sacrifices being unable in themselves to work perfection in the worshipers, their annual repetition became really an annual reminder of sins. The writer seems to have in mind especially the great Day of Atonement, on the tenth day of the seventh month in the Jewish year. On that day, in the most solemn and impressive Temple service in the entire year, the trespasses of the entire people were confessed before the assembled multitude, their sins were ever again recalled to their mind. The sacrifices of the day mere able to symbolize, to point forward to, the one perfect Sacrifice which took away the sins of the world; but they themselves were not able to produce this glorious effect. They were insufficient, inadequate; they could not remove the guilt that burdened man's conscience. The Old Testament believer that wanted to be sure of his salvation could reach this happy state only by trusting in the coming Messiah.
The willing sacrifice of Christ:
v. 5. Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared Me;
v. 6. in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure.
v. 7. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God.
v. 8. Above, when He said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure there in, which are offered by the Law,
v. 9. then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. He taketh away the first that He may establish the second.
v. 10. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
The inadequacy of the Law, of the Old Testament worship with its sacrifices, having been demonstrated, the author immediately proceeds to point out that Christ's offering was willing and fully adequate: Wherefore, on entering the world, He says, Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not want, but a body didst Thou prepare for Me; in burnt offerings and sin-offerings Thou hast no pleasure; then I said, Behold, I come, in the roll of the Book it is written concerning Me, I come to do Thy mill, O God. The author quotes Psalms 40:6-8, thus indicating that this is a Messianic psalm, and that the Messiah Himself expressed the scope of His work. Christ's entrance into this world, His incarnation, suffering, and death, was made in full agreement with the gracious counsel of the Triune God concerning the salvation of mankind. It was the willingness of His vicarious work that gave it its wonderful value. Christ knew that with His entrance into the world the new and better covenant had begun, that the sacrifices and offerings, the whole burnt offerings and the sin-offerings of the Old Testament, had lost all their significance. God no longer wanted them, He no longer had any pleasure in them; the substance having appeared, there was no longer need of a shadow, of a type. See also Psalms 50:7-15; Psalms 51:18-19; Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 6:20; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-23. Instead of that, the Lord had formed or prepared a body for the Messiah. The Hebrew text has, literally, Ears didst Thou bore for Me, which may refer to Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17, as indicating that Christ was the willing servant of His heavenly Father in the matter of His Passion and death. Or, if we adhere more strictly to the Greek text, it is evident that the Messiah states His willingness to have the will of God accomplished in His human body. This is brought out still more strongly in His cry: I come to do Thy will, O God, as it is written in the roll of the Book concerning Me. Christ's entire ministry, during all of which time He fulfilled the Law of God for us, and especially His suffering and death, was not inevitable in the sense of His having submitted to it by force of necessity, but only in this sense, that He, of His own free will and in accordance with the gracious, eternal counsel of God, laid down His life for all mankind, John 10:17-18. Mark that He says "in the roll of the Book," thus referring to an accepted canon of Scripture, even in the Old Testament. The word "roll" originally designated the end of the rod on which the parchment making up a book was rolled, and finally the roll itself.
The sacred writer now explains the significance of the quotation: He says above (in the first part of the quotation), Sacrifices and gifts and burnt offerings and sin-offerings Thou didst not want, nor didst Thou take pleasure therein (yet these are offered according to the Law), then He added, Behold, I come to do Thy will, O God! He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. It was true, indeed, that the Ceremonial Law of the Jews prescribed the offering of the various sacrifices, those for every day and for the Sabbath, as well as those for the great festivals and for the Day of Atonement. But these sacrifices had served their purpose in the old covenant. They have been done away with, abolished, repealed, by the coming of Christ, who willingly offered His body as the adequate offering to gain a perfect redemption for the sins of the whole world. Thus the old way of sacrifices and offerings was replaced by the one adequate, eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ, all this in accordance with the gracious will of God. Of this will the author says: in which will we are sanctified through the offering of Christ once for all. In or by the gracious will of God, as expressed in the sacrifice of His only-begotten Son on the altar of the cross, as realized in the perfect atonement made by Christ, we are now sanctified, made holy and just in the sight of God, for the perfect righteousness of Christ, as established through His active and passive obedience, is imputed to us by faith. Thus we have now been brought into the one true fellowship with God through the offering of the body of Christ in accordance with the Father's eternal will, a sacrifice so perfect that its adequacy lasts throughout eternity. The one perfect offering:
v. 11. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
v. 12. but this Man, after he had offered one sacrifice for Sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God,
v. 13. from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.
v. 14. For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.
v. 15. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us; for after that He had said before,
v. 16. This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them,
v. 17. and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
v. 18. Now, where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
That the one sacrifice of Christ has been acknowledged and accepted as such by the heavenly Father is illustrated and demonstrated by His being exalted to the right hand of God: And every priest, indeed, stands day after day ministering and often offering the same sacrifices, inasmuch as they are unable ever to remove sins entirely: but this Man, having brought one sacrifice for sins, has seated Himself for all time at the right hand of God, waiting, so far as the rest is concerned, till His enemies be made His footstool. The point here made in addition to the nature of the sacrifices of old is that pertaining to the action of the priests themselves. There was the never-ceasing, yet ever ineffectual and unavailing service of the Jewish priests. Daily they stood in their ministrations, again and again they offered the same sacrifices; it became a matter of almost deadly mechanical routine, Deuteronomy 10:8; Deuteronomy 18:7; Judges 20:28. In spite of all this they could never take away, entirely remove, the sins of the people by all their offerings; the best they could do was to comfort the worshipers with the antitype of the perfect sacrifice of the Messiah. But Jesus is no longer standing in the performance of the works of His office, as the priests of old were obliged to. One single offering He made, one single sacrifice He brought; but so great, so perfect was the value of this one offering that its perfection is indicated by the fact of Christ's sitting down at the right hand of God as one who has quite finished His work and knows that its power and worth will last throughout eternity. As the Victor over all His enemies, He is quietly and confidently waiting to see them all laid at His feet, to be made His footstool, Psalms 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25-27. There is, then, no need of any further sacrifice: For by a single offering He has perfected for all time them that are sanctified. The fact that He gave Himself into death as the Substitute of mankind once, the fact that He paid the price of all men's ransom with the price of His holy blood once, that is sufficient. No more needs to be done, no more can be done. Salvation, the reconciliation of man with God, is secured forever. In the one sacrifice of Christ there is a cleansing sufficient for all men, both to bring them into fellowship with God by imputing to them the perfect righteousness and holiness of God through faith, and to keep them in this fellowship by renewing their hearts by daily contrition and repentance and causing them to dedicate themselves, their lives, to God anew with every further day of their lives. The sacred writer now offers proof from Scripture to show that the one sacrifice of our Mediator is final: But there testifies to us also the Holy Spirit; for after saying, This is the covenant which I will covenant toward them after those days, says the Lord, Setting My laws upon their hearts, and upon their minds I shall inscribe them, (He adds,) And their sins and their iniquities I shall remember no more. Note that the words here quoted, taken from Jeremiah 31:33-34, are directly and explicitly ascribed to the Holy Ghost, the real Author of the Holy Scriptures. Through Jeremiah the Lord expressly stated that after those days, when the period of the Old Testament should come to an end and that of the New Testament be ushered in with the incarnation of Christ, He would make a new covenant with His people, with those whom He had chosen for His own. The terms of this covenant are plainly stated and consist only of such things as God intended to do in the interest of mankind. He wanted to set His laws, the Gospel proclamation of the New Testament, upon their hearts; this wonderful message of redemption He wanted to inscribe in their minds, make it known to them by faith. And by that token, by their acceptance of the assurance of their salvation, all their sins, all their unrighteousnesses, all their iniquities, all their trespasses, all their guilt should be forgotten and never again be remembered. That is Gospel, glorious, saving Gospel-truth, not the opinion of some fallible man, but the assurance of the Holy Ghost, of the eternal God Himself.
And so the author fittingly concludes, from the entire discussion which began with chapter 5: But where there is forgiveness of these, there no longer exists an offering for sins. Where there is forgiveness of sins, where this glorious state of the complete and eternal remission of sins obtains, as it truly does in our case since the perfect sacrifice of Christ has been made and accepted, there a further offering of sins is useless and senseless, and the contention of the Romish Church, with its doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass, becomes actually blasphemous. We no longer have need of a Levitical priesthood, we no longer have need of any further sacrifices for sins, since the fact of the adequate, perfect offering of Christ is so soundly established. No matter how long the earth may still stand, the assurance of the forgiveness of sins is ours, and throughout eternity this fact will be the theme of our endless praises before the throne of the Lamb: We have remission of sins, we have the grace of God, we have eternal salvation
An Admonition to Stand Firm in the Faith, with Patience and Thanksgiving.
The necessity of holding fast the profession of faith:
v. 19. Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,
v. 20. by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh,
v. 21. and having an High Priest over the house of God,
v. 22. let us draw near with a true he art in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
v. 23. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, (for he is faithful that promised,)
v. 24. and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works;
v. 25. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.
On the basis of the entire doctrinal discussion as the author brought it in the first part of his letter, he now offers various admonitions, since it is self-evident with a Christian that sanctification follows justification. The connection with the pictures of the entire preceding section is very skillful: Having, then, brethren, confidence for the entrance into the Most Holy Place in the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, through His flesh, and a High Priest over the house of God. Because Christ Jesus, as the true High Priest, through the one sacrifice of Himself, has perfected us forever, therefore the writer may freely talk to us in this strain. It is the form of address which always makes an impression and usually has the desired result in the case of Christians. Our confident expectation of entering into the most holy place of heaven is not based upon any merit or worthiness in ourselves, but upon the blood, upon the merit of Jesus. For Jesus Himself is the new, the living Way. If we are but united with Him in the intimate fellowship of faith, then our way, with Him, will lead us through the veil of His own flesh into the very presence of the divine glory. For just as the high priest of old pushed aside the veil which barred the way into the Most Holy Place, so Jesus laid aside the mortality of His flesh, the weakness of His earthly life, and opened unto us heaven itself, giving us free access to the Throne of Grace, Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:31; Luke 23:45. Nor is that all. Not only did we have, when Jesus was living here on earth, but we have even now, a great High Priest over the sanctuary of heaven; for it is now that Christ is performing that part of His work which assures us of the fact that the mansions above are ready for our occupancy; for He is our Advocate with the Father. And who else would be qualified to plead our cause in the same measure as He to whom we owe our salvation? Knowing this, we have boldness and confidence of faith. We know that the way is prepared for us, and that we may enter into the sanctuary of heaven, into our home above, whenever the Lord calls us.
This being the case: Let us keep approaching with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, sprinkled in our hearts from an evil conscience, and having our bodies washed with clean water. Using a term which is taken from the Old Testament cult concerning the regular and repeated entering of the priests, their drawing near to the altar to perform the work of their office, the inspired writer urges us, as true priests of the New Testament, to approach to the Lord with the confidence of faith. With a true heart we should come, not with hypocritical sanctimoniousness, but disposed in such a manner as to be really interested with the whole soul in the worship of the Lord, seeking His grace. In full assurance of faith we should draw near, not in absolute certainty, but in firm reliance upon the salvation earned by the blood of Jesus, since the correlate of faith is always the Word of the Gospel with its message of redemption. For that reason faith is not a subjective matter, not a matter of feeling and disposition, but an objective certainty which clings to the promises of the Lord. We should come having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience; being assured that the filth of our hearts has been washed away by the blood of Jesus, we can prepare our hearts for the work of priests to the almighty Lord, Exodus 29:4; Exodus 30:20; Exodus 40:30, even as our bodies are washed with clean water, the cleansing water of Baptism having washed away all our sins, Ephesians 5:26: Titus 3:5. Thus prepared, we are privileged at all times to approach the heavenly temple and the eternal altar by a new and living way, enter its inner sanctuary by faith, and present ourselves in the presence of God.
This being the situation, it follows: Let us hold fast and unbending the confession of our hope, for faithful is He that promised, and let us consider one another for the purpose of inciting to love and good works, not forsaking the assembling together, as is the custom of some, but admonishing one another, and this the more so, in proportion as you see the day drawing near. ALL Christians may be so firm in their faith and in their hope because this hope has such a firm foundation, one that does not rest upon the uncertain sands of human opinion or protestations of friendship, but upon the faithfulness of our Lord, 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:24. We are not yet enjoying the fullness of the blessing which He has held out before us, we are not yet experiencing the consummation of our salvation, but God's promises cannot fail, not one of them will ever fall to the ground. But while we are still walking in the flesh, we must take into account our own and our neighbor's weakness, and for that reason, in a tactful way, incite and stimulate one another to love and excellent works. See 1 Thessalonians 5:11. This constant stimulation and emulation cannot take place, of course, where the Christians do not meet together, both for public worship and for other assemblies in which the weal and woe of the work of the Lord is discussed. The writer, therefore, urges the believers not to neglect such meetings. Even in those days, as the writer is obliged to remark, some of the members of the congregations had the bad habit of staying away from such meetings of edification, probably with the plea of pressure of business or from fear of persecution, just as it is today. The nearness of the last day, however, and the remembrance of the account which we shall be obliged to render on that day should make us willing and eager to heed the admonition here given. If people professing the Christian faith neglect churchgoing and attendance at the meetings set aside for mutual encouragement and admonition, they not only give offense to the weak in faith, but are themselves endangering their Christianity, their faith. The change from faith to unbelief often comes on so gradually, so imperceptibly, that the damage is done before the deluded victim is aware of it. Faithfulness in the regular use of the Word and the Sacrament should characterize all true Christians.
The sacred writer now supports his admonition by a very solemn warning:
v. 26. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
v. 27. but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
v. 28. He that despised Moses' Law died without mercy under two or three witnesses;
v. 29. of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of Grace?
v. 30. For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people.
v. 31. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Here the dreadful result and the final consequence of falling from faith is portrayed with terrible realism: For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge' of the truth, there no more remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expecting of judgment and of a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. The writer is not speaking of some ordinary transgression of the Ten Commandments, such as even Christians become guilty of every day. He emphasizes that he refers to a willful sin, which consists chiefly in neglecting that to which he has just admonished, namely, that people that have come to the faith do not hold fast the confession of hope without wavering, that they neglect the means of grace, no longer attend church services, or at best very irregularly, and neither apply nor receive brotherly admonition. The denial of Christ is the sin, and the contempt of the means of grace is the road leading thereto. People that become guilty of this sin do so purposely, with deliberate intent, and they go on sinning, they persist in their transgression. Having received the knowledge of the truth, having accepted Jesus Christ and His salvation, such people maliciously and blasphemously deny the accepted facts, the truths of the Gospel. And in their case it holds true that the sacrifice for sins no longer exists for them. The very nature of their sin has this result; for, having denied the expiatory offering of Christ which they had once received in faith, they have discarded the only means of salvation. What they have to expect, therefore, is the terror of the Last Judgment, of the final doom; what they must look forward to is the fury of the fire of hell, which will consume and destroy forever, throughout eternity, the adversaries of the Lord. The intensity of this punishment is such as to make it impossible adequately to portray its fierceness.
The writer makes an attempt to do this by means of an example taken from the story of Moses: Any one that has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses; of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be considered worthy that has trampled on the Son of God and has reckoned the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified a common thing, and has insulted the Spirit of Grace? The readers of the letter were familiar with that provision of the Mosaic code which placed the penalty of death upon the sin of idolatry, Deuteronomy 17:2-7. If any person belonging to the children of Israel was found guilty of that sin, as substantiated by the testimony of two or three witnesses, capital punishment was the only punishment which was deemed adequate. For idolatry is essentially denial, a malicious breaking of the covenant existing between God and His people. In such a case, therefore, no distinction was made, there was no respect of persons: death was he penalty. Now the author lets his readers judge for themselves as to an adequate punishment for him that denies the faith in Jesus Christ in the manner here described. In order to show the heinousness of the offense, the blasphemous apostasy is characterized. It consists in trampling the Son of God under foot as a contemptible thing, not worthy of a better treatment. It includes a despising of the blood of the covenant, of the holy, innocent blood of Christ, as something common, of no more value than the blood of any 'human being. It finally goes to the extent of insulting the Spirit of Grace, the same Spirit who, in the means of grace, has given the redemption of Christ, has wrought sanctification in the heart. Such a person deliberately blasphemes. Such is the description of a man's condition who, after having received the grace of God in conversion, now sins in such a terrible manner, and not only once and under particular provocation, but again and again, with a certain fiendish delight in shocking others by his utter recklessness. Note: There can be no doubt that the author is here describing the sin against the Holy Ghost, which, on account of its peculiar character, is outside of the pale of God's forgiveness. But mark that he does not accuse any of his readers of having committed the sin, his only object being to warn them lest they do become guilty and be lost forever.
To bring home his warning properly, the sacred writer refers to two passages of the Old Testament: For we know who said, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay; and again, The Lord will judge His people. Terrible it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Deuteronomy 32:35-36; Psalms 135:14. When God, who is faithful also in keeping His threats, will sit in judgment and execute vengeance, then it will be too late to flee from the wrath to come. Then the knowledge that it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God will no longer be able to turn the condemned person to repentance. If we believers, who are condemned by the Law, but have become partakers of the grace of God through the gift of the Holy Ghost, willfully and maliciously deny the saving truth and grace and blasphemously spurn all offers of salvation, we have no one but ourselves to blame if the terrible vengeance of God strikes us on the last day.
A motive of Christian patience:
v. 32. But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions,
v. 33. partly, whilst ye were made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions, and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
v. 34. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
Here is another excellent point made by the author in order to give his exhortation the proper force: But recall the former days, in which, after being enlightened, you endured much wrestling with sufferings, partly by being held up to reproaches and afflictions, partly by becoming associates of those that fared in that way. The eagerness and fervency of the first love is always an appropriate argument in stirring up new enthusiasm in the hearts of Christians everywhere. This was true also of the Jewish Christians. In the first years after their conversion, after they had just received the knowledge of the truth, after they had been fired by their love for their Savior, they endured the persecutions of their fellow-countrymen and of their rulers cheerfully, Acts 8:1; Acts 12:1. They considered it an honor to be held up before men with scorn and ridicule, with reproach and contempt. It may often have been a bitter wrestling with afflictions to which they were utterly unaccustomed, their own flesh and blood being a dangerous ally of the enemies and very often ready to give up the apparently unequal fight. But so strong was their faith in those years, so fervent their love, that they not only endured all such afflictions of derision and scorn, but also, in a measure, openly defied the adversaries by associating with those who fared the same way; they sympathized with those who were imprisoned, and welcomed the violent seizure of their possessions. This the author thankfully acknowledges in his own case: For indeed you had sympathy with those in bonds (including myself), and you endured the confiscation of your possessions cheerfully, knowing that you for yourselves have a better and lasting possession in heaven. That is the attitude of the believers at all times. Being united with their fellow-Christians by the most intimate bonds of faith and love, they rejoice with them that are happy, but also have compassion with those that are obliged to bear persecutions and tribulations. And so far as this world's goods are concerned, their loss may be borne all the more cheerfully, since their true possessions are above, such riches as are beyond the reach of robbers and tyrants, Matthew 6:20; Luke 12:33.
The need of steadfastness:
v. 35. Cast not away, therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.
v. 36. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
v. 37. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
v. 38. Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.
v. 39. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
With all these facts to stimulate them in their Christian life, the writer may well add the concluding exhortation: Do not cast away, then, your confidence, for it has a rich hope of reward; for you have need of patience, in order that, after having done the will of God, you might receive the promise. The remembrance of what they had already endured and the consciousness of their lasting possession in heaven are the best and most urgent motives to keep the Christians firmly and cheerfully confident. For this hope will most assuredly not make ashamed, since it has the promise of the most wonderful reward of grace, namely, that of eternal salvation through the merits of Jesus Christ. Thus the result and reward following their steadfast confidence is in itself a reason which should incite them to the greatest fervor and the highest efforts. At the same time they have need of this patient endurance, for circumstances and conditions certainly do not favor the Christians in their position in the midst of a world that is inimical to the cause of Christ. But it is only by enduring to the end, by holding fast to the faith in Christ and doing the will of God as long as life lasts, that the promised reward will be forthcoming, Revelation 2:10.
That this prospect, which holds out the idea of the cross, which is the lot of the Christians, might not discourage them, the author adds: For yet a little, a very little while, and He that is coming will have come and will not delay. See Hosea 2:3-4: Isaiah 26:20. It may often seem to the believers as though they were about to be crushed under over whelming odds; but their final deliverance is near. It is only a little, a very little while, and the Lord will come for His second great advent, to judge the quick and the dead, to bring the enjoyment of everlasting salvation to His people. It may seem to some that He is delaying, that His promise will not come true; however, His day is coming just as sure as His word is the truth, 2 Peter 3:8-9. Keeping this in mind, the Christian will be upheld in his faith by the words of the Lord, Habakkuk 2:4: Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11: But My just one shall live by faith, and if he draw back, My soul has no pleasure in him. Only he that to the end remains in the faith in Jesus Christ, that clings without wavering to the consolation of Christ's perfect merit, and does not permit himself to be turned aside by any consideration from within nor by any attack from without, shall live. Faithfulness and loyalty are the two virtues which must stand out in every believer.
Very diplomatically and tactfully the sacred writer concludes his admonition: But as for us, we are not of those that shrink to perdition, but of faith to the gaining of the soul. By including himself with his readers, the author makes his appeal all the more effective. The true believers are not characterized by such timid shrinking which results in giving up the confession of faith. Their faith may sometimes grow weak under the constant battering to which it is subjected, and may have anything but a heroic aspect. Men of faith the Christians must be in spite of all attacks; for it is only thus that they acquire and hold their soul's salvation, that they obtain the deliverance of their souls, to be held as the most precious possession throughout eternity.
The inspired author compares the insufficiency of the Old Testament cult with the one willing and perfect offering of Christ, adding an urgent admonition to be firm and patient in faith and thus to obtain the salvation of souls.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Hebrews 10". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany