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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Hebrews 9

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 11-12

DISCOURSE: 2301

CHRIST ABOVE THE LEVITICAL PRIESTS

Hebrews 9:11-12. Christ being come an High-priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

THOUGH there are a multitude of types, besides those which were instituted by Moses, yet the most direct and complete representations of Christ are certainly to be found in the Mosaic ritual. Amidst the various ordinances relative to the priests and the temple, there is perhaps not any one point, however minute, which has not a typical reference, though, for want of an infallible instructor, we cannot precisely ascertain the meaning in every particular. The Epistle to the Hebrews, however, affords us great assistance in our inquiries into this subject, inasmuch as it declares the exact relation between the types and the one great Antitype in all the principal and most important points. The text especially, connected as it is with the whole preceding and following context, leads us to consider,

I. The resemblance between Christ and the Aaronic priests—

It would be endless to enumerate all the points of agreement between them: we shall rather confine our attention to those referred to in the text.

1. The high-priests were taken from among men to mediate between God and them—

[This is expressly declared to be the end of their institution [Note: Hebrews 5:1.]. Aaron and his descendants were called to this office [Note: Hebrews 5:4.]; and, in all the transactions between the Israelites and their God, they performed that office according to the commandment. Thus our blessed Lord was taken from among men; he was bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. He assumed our nature for that very purpose, that he might be capable of officiating as our great High-priest [Note: Hebrews 2:14-17.], and, in that nature, he both comes from God to us, and goes to God from us.]

2. Their mediation was to be carried on by means of sacrifices—

[The precise method in which they were to execute their office is recorded in the 16th of Leviticus: nor could they deviate from it in the least: if any but the high-priest had presumed to enter within the vail, or he, on any other day than that of the annual atonement, or even then without the blood of the sacrifices [Note: ver. 7.], he would have instantly been smitten, as a monument of Divine vengeance. Thus Christ approached not his God without a sacrifice [Note: Hebrews 8:3.]. He presented his own sacred body as an offering for sin; and, having “offered himself without spot to God,” he is “gone with his own blood within the vail,” and makes that blood the ground of his intercession on our behalf [Note: ver. 24. with the text.].]

3. They obtained blessings for those on whose behalf they mediated—

[The judgments, which Gad had denounced against the transgressors of his law, were averted, when the high-priest had presented the accustomed offerings, and God was reconciled to his offending people. In like manner does Christ make reconciliation for us by the blood of his cross [Note: Colossians 1:20.]: He “gives his own life a ransom for us,” and thus redeems us from those awful judgments which our sins have merited. Nor is it a mere deliverance from punishment that we obtain through him: “we are brought nigh to God by his blood,” and are restored to the possession of our forfeited inheritance [Note: Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 1:11.].]

But while the text intimates the resemblance between Christ and the high-priests, it most unequivocally declares also,

II. His pre-eminence above them—

This part of the subject also would open a large field for discussion: but, confining ourselves to the text, we shall notice his pre-eminence only in the particulars which are there specified.

1. He officiated in a far nobler tabernacle—

[As he belonged not to the tribe to which the priesthood attached, he could not exercise his ministry within the precincts allotted to them [Note: Hebrews 7:13.]. The tabernacle therefore, in which he officiated, was his own body, while he continued upon earth; and the heaven of heavens, when he ascended within the vail [Note: Hebrews 8:2. The “tabernacle” seems primarily to refer to his body. Compare John 1:14. ἐσκήνωσεν, with Colossians 2:9. But it may also relate to heaven, since it certainly was a figure of that also, ver. 24.]. How infinitely does this exalt him above all the Aaronic priests! We allow that the tabernacle was glorious: but what glory had it, when compared with Christ’s immaculate body, in which, not a mere symbol only of the Divine presence dwelt, but all the fulness of the Godhead? And what was the holy of holies in comparison of heaven itself, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God? Surely in whichever light we view the tabernacle in which Christ officiated, we must acknowledge it to have been far “greater and more perfect than that which was made with hands.”]

2. He offered a far more valuable sacrifice—

[The high-priests could offer nothing but the blood of beasts, which had not in itself the smallest efficacy towards the expiation of sin: the virtue, which it had, was wholly derived from its typical relation to the great Sacrifice. But “Christ is entered into the holy place with his own blood;” and there presents it before God as a propitiation for our sins. Compare the sacrifices then, the blood of goats and of calves, with the blood of our incarnate God: who does not see the worthlessness of the one, and the infinite value of the other? No wonder that the former needed to be “offered year by year continually,” since they had no power to take away sin, or to pacify an accusing conscience [Note: ver. 9.]: but the latter fully satisfies for the sins of the whole world, and, having been once offered, perfects for ever them that are sanctified by it [Note: 1 John 2:2. Hebrews 10:14.].]

3. He obtained far richer benefits for his people—

[The utmost that the high-priest obtained for the people was, a remission of those civil or political penalties which were annexed to their several transgressions: with respect to real pardon before God, the annual repetition of their sacrifices sufficiently manifested, that that was beyond the sphere of their influence [Note: Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:4; Hebrews 10:11.]. But Christ has obtained for us redemption from all the bitter consequences of sin; as well from the sufferings, which we should have endured in the future world, as from the bondage, to which we should have remained subject in this present life. Nor are the effects of his sacrifice transient, like those under the law: it excels no less in the duration than in the greatness of the benefits it procures; it obtains for us, not redemption only, but “eternal redemption.” Well then may he be called “an High-priest of good things;” for there is nothing good in time or eternity, which he does not procure for those who seek an interest in his mediation.]

This subject may serve to shew us,

1. What use to make of the Levitical law—

[If we read it merely as a system of rites and ceremonies, without considering the end of its institution, it will appear absurd, and utterly unworthy of its Divine Author: but, if we view it in its relation to Christ, it will appear beautiful and very instructive. There is no longer a veil over it with respect to us [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:14.]; let us look at it therefore as at a mirror that reflects his glory; and we shall have no cause to regret the time and labour that we employ in exploring its mysterious contents.]

2. How to appreciate the blessings of redemption—

[We may form some judgment of them by meditating on the terrors of hell, and the glories of heaven: but there is nothing that can so fully discover their value, as a consideration of the price paid for them. Who can reflect on “the precious blood of Christ by which we are redeemed,” and entertain low thoughts of the blessings purchased by it? Would men be so indifferent about salvation, if they thus considered how great it was? Surely, it would be impossible: callous as the human heart is, it would melt into contrition at the sight of an expiring God [Note: Zechariah 12:10.]. Let us but habituate ourselves to such views as these, and neither earth nor hell shall ever hold us in the bonds of sin. With such a sight of the prize, we shall never cease to run till we have obtained it.]

3. What grounds of hope there are for the very chief of sinners—

[Had any other price been paid for our redemption, many might have doubted whether it were sufficient for them: but who can doubt, when he knows, that he has been bought with the blood of Christ? This will expiate the foulest guilt: the difference, that exists between one sinner and another, is lost, when we apply to Christ’s infinitely meritorious atonement: its efficacy is the same, whatever degrees of guilt we may have contracted: it will avail for one as well as for another; nor is there any “sin of such a scarlet or crimson die, but it shall be made white as snow,” the very instant it is washed in this fountain: “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.” Let none then despair: let us rather consider what “an High-priest we have over the house of God;” and “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help us in the time of need [Note: Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:19-22.].”]


Verse 13-14

DISCOURSE: 2302

THE JEWISH SACRIFICES TYPICAL OF CHRIST’S

Hebrews 9:13-14. If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

THE peculiar benefits of Christianity are usually displayed by contrasting our state with that of the heathen world: but they will be seen nearly to the same advantage, if we compare our privileges with those that were enjoyed under the Jewish dispensation. The Jews indeed had much that distinguished them above other nations: but we possess in substance what they enjoyed only in the shadow. One great object in the Epistle to the Hebrews is, to set this matter in a just point of view. This has been done with great perspicuity and strength of argument in the preceding context: and the author having shewn that we have a true, and eternal redemption obtained for us, while that accomplished by the Jewish ordinances was only typical and temporal, states afresh, in few words, the grounds of his conclusion, and appeals to every intelligent reader for the justness of it.

In discoursing on his words we shall shew,

I. The excellence of the type—

The Jewish ordinances were altogether typical of Christ’s sacrifice—

[The ordinances mentioned in the text, though similar, as means of purifying from pollution, were very different from each other as to the kind of pollution which they were intended to remove. The blood of bullocks and goats was offered annually on the great day of expiation, to atone for the moral guilt both of the priests and people [Note: Leviticus 16:6; Leviticus 16:15.]. The ashes of the heifer, which, together with cedar, hyssop, and scarlet, had been burnt without the camp, were to be mixed with running water, and sprinkled upon a person who had contracted any ceremonial uncleanness (as from the touch of a grave, a corpse, a human bone, or any thing that had been touched by an unclean person). On the third day, and on the seventh, they were to be sprinkled on him; and then he was to be esteemed clean [Note: Numbers 19:12.]. These were typical of Christ’s sacrifice, by which the greatest sins may be forgiven; and without which, not even the smallest pollution imaginable can ever he purged away.]

As types, these certainly were deserving of much regard—

[While they shadowed forth, and prepared men for, the Messiah that should come, they conveyed many real benefits to those who conformed to the rules which they prescribed. The penitents who bewailed their moral defilements, had their hopes of mercy and forgiveness revived and strengthened: and they who, on account of some ceremonial uncleanness, were separated for seven long days from the house of God, and from all intercourse with their dearest friends, were restored, as it were to the bosom of the Church, and to communion with their God. Doubtless these rites were burthensome; but every one who valued the favour of God, and the blessings of social converse, would thankfully use the means which God had prescribed for the renewed enjoyment of them.]

Nevertheless the things, which were glorious in themselves, lost all their glory when contrasted with,

II. The superior excellence of the antitype—

As, by a type, we mean a shadowy representation of something future and substantial; so, by an antitype [Note: ἀντίτυπος. 1 Peter 3:21.], we mean that thing which corresponds to the type, and had before been represented by it. The antitype then, or the thing that has been before represented, is, the sacrifice of Christ: and this infinitely excels all the ordinances by which it had been shadowed forth. The superior excellence of this appears particularly, in that,

1. It purifies the conscience—

[The legal offerings never could remove guilt from the conscience [Note: Hebrews 9:9.]: they were mere remembrances of sins [Note: Hebrews 10:3-4.]; and the constant repetition of them shewed that those, which had been before offered, had not availed for the full discharge of the persons who offered them [Note: Hebrews 10:2.]. But the blood of Christ, once sprinkled on the conscience, “perfects for ever them that are sanctified [Note: Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:14.].” No other atonement is then wanted, or desired: the sinner needs only to exercise faith on that, and he will have peace in his soul; “being justified by faith, he shall have peace with God.” How strongly does this mark the superiority which we ascribe to the sacrifice of Christ!]

2. It sanctifies the life—

[Though the Jewish ordinances availed for the restoration of men to the enjoyment of outward privileges, they never could renew and sanctify the heart. On the contrary, they rather tended to irritate the minds of men against both the law, and him that enjoined it. But the blood of Christ sprinkled on the soul, instantly produces a visible change in the whole man: “the dead works” which were daily practised with delight, are now abandoned; and “the service of the living God,” which before appeared irksome, is now its chief joy. It is undeniable that many in every place throughout the world (wherever the Gospel is preached) have undergone a very great change in all their views, desires, and pursuits; they have become dead to the things of time and sense, and have devoted themselves in body, soul, and spirit, to the service of their God. Let the question be put to all of them, When did this change take place? there will be but one answer from them all: they will with one voice acknowledge, that it was effected by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ upon their hearts and consciences; that, till that blessed period, they were altogether carnal; and that from that time, they have been under the habitual influence of spiritual affections. What more can be wanting to establish the point before us?]

The pre-eminence of Christ above the legal offerings will yet further appear, while we shew,

III. How it is that the transcendent worth of the one may be inferred from the comparatively trifling value of the other—

The Apostle’s argument in the text is this: If the Jewish sacrifices availed for the smallest good, how much more will the sacrifice of Christ avail for the greatest possible good? The force of this argument will appear by comparing,

1. The nature of the offerings—

[The blood that was sprinkled on men under the law, was merely the blood of worthless beasts: but what is that which is sprinkled on us? Let the voice of inspiration answer this question; It was “GOD that purchased the Church with his own, blood [Note: Acts 20:28.].” Astonishing mystery! “the blood of Christ” was the blood, not of a mere man, but of one who was God as well as man. How plain is the inference in this view! Surely, if the blood of a beast, which was only externally “spotless,” availed for any thing, much more may the blood of Christ, that immaculate Lamb, avail for every thing.]

2. The persons by whom they were offered—

[Under the law the offerings were presented by sinful men, who needed first to offer for their own sins, before they were permitted to offer for the people’s. But our sacrifice was offered by God himself: Christ was both the sacrifice and the priest: yea, each person of the ever-blessed Trinity was engaged in this stupendous work: the Father was the person to whom the sacrifice was offered; Christ was the person who offered it; and “the Eternal Spirit” concurred and co-operated with him in this mysterious act. Let then the offerings be compared in this view, and how infinite will the superiority of Christ’s appear!]

3. The suitableness of each to the end proposed—

[What was there in the blood of bulls and goats that could wash away the stain of sin! How could that satisfy the Divine justice, or avert his wrath from sinful man? there was not the least affinity between the means and the end. But Christ was “bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh;” and he assumed our nature on purpose that he might stand in our place and stead. Here was a perfect suitableness between the means and the end. Must the penalty due to sin be endured? He became a curse for us, and submitted to endure its just deserts. Must the law be fulfilled and honoured? He magnified it by his perfect obedience. And being God as well as man, he was at liberty to do this for us; and his substitution in our place is justly available for our salvation. How plain then is the Apostle’s inference when viewed in this light! Surely, when these considerations are all combined, there will be a strength in his argument, and a force in his appeal, which must bear down every objection, and fix the deepest conviction on our minds.]

This subject may further lead us to observe,

1. How manifest is the doctrine of the divinity of Christ!

[We need not look to any passages that confirm this doctrine by direct assertions; since in the text it is contained with yet stronger evidence in a way of implication. Let it be supposed for one moment that Christ was a mere creature: how will the Apostle’s argument then appear? If the blood of one creature avails for the obtaining of a mere shadowy and temporal benefit, how much more shall the blood of another creature avail for the obtaining of all that God himself can bestow? This were as absurd as to say, if a child can lift a feather, how much more can a grown person lift a mountain? Such an appeal would be unworthy of any man that pretends to common sense; and much more of an inspired Apostle. But let the divinity of Christ be acknowledged, and the appeal is clear, convincing, incontrovertible. Indeed the doctrines of the atonement and of the divinity of Christ are so interwoven with each other, that neither of them can be denied without effectually subverting both. Let us seek then to be well established in these important truths.]

2. How necessary is it to trust entirely in Christ’s atonement!

[It is not possible to state a case more strongly than this is stated in a chapter before referred to [Note: Numbers 19.]. We cannot conceive less guilt to be contracted by any act than by unwittingly touching a thing, which, unknown to us, had been before touched by an unclean person: yet nothing but the sprinkling of the ashes of a red heifer could ever remove the uncleanness contracted by it: if the person that had contracted it were the holiest man on earth, and were to shed rivers of tears on account of what he had done, and increase his circumspection in future an hundredfold, it would be all to no purpose; he must die as a defiler of God’s sanctuary, if he did not use the purification which the law appointed. How much more then must that soul perish which is not purified by the blood of Christ! How impossible is it that even the smallest sin should ever be expiated in any other way! Let this then teach us to look unto Christ continually, and to have our consciences ever sprinkled with his precious blood.]

3. How inseparable is the connexion between faith and works!

[They greatly err, who think that the doctrines of faith are subversive of morality. The very faith that purges the conscience from guilt, purifies the life also from dead works, and animates us to serve the living God. Let this connexion then be seen in our lives; so shall we most effectually remove the calumny; and “by well-doing put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”]


Verse 22

DISCOURSE: 2303

NO REMISSION WITHOUT BLOOD

Hebrews 9:22. Without shedding of blood is no remission.

THE external administration of religion has been extremely different in different ages of the world: but the method of acceptance with God has been invariably the same. Before the Mosaic ritual was formed, pardon was dispensed through the blood of sacrifices: and since it was abolished, men obtain mercy through that blood, which the sacrifices both before and under the law were intended to prefigure.

To mark the correspondence between the sacrifices under the law, and that offered by Jesus on the cross, is the great scope of the Epistle to the Hebrews. In the preceding context it is observed, that the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry were purged with blood; and then it is asserted as an universal truth, “that without shedding of blood there is no remission.”

This assertion being of infinite importance, we shall,

I. Establish it—

The observances of the ceremonial law shew that men were saved by blood under the Mosaic dispensation—

[For every offence, sacrifices were to be offered according to the rank and quality of the offender: and whatever animals were sacrificed, whether bullocks, goats, lambs, or pigeons, they were to be slain, and their blood was to be sprinkled both on the altar, and on the offerer: and it was by the blood so sprinkled, that the offerer was cleansed from guilt. If a person were so poor that he could not bring a pair of young pigeons, he was at liberty to offer a measure (about five pints) of fine flour: a portion of which, answerably to the destruction of the beasts, was to be burnt, in order to shew the offender what he merited at the hands of God [Note: Leviticus 5:6-13.].

There were indeed other purifications, some by fire, and others by water: but these were for ceremonial only, and never for moral defilement.

Thus the law, with the one exception above mentioned, spake exactly the language of the text.]

The same way of salvation still obtains under the Gospel—

[The typical sacrifices are indeed superseded by the one sacrifice of Christ. But it is through his sacrifice, and through it alone, that any man is saved.]

This is capable of direct proof from Scripture—

[The warning which Eli gave to his sons, when they poured contempt upon the sacrifices, and caused them to be abhorred by the people, not obscurely intimated, that acts of injustice towards men might be punished by the magistrate, and yet be forgiven through the great Sacrifice: but that, if any person poured contempt upon the sacrifices, he rejected the only means of salvation, and must therefore inevitably perish [Note: 1 Samuel 2:17; 1 Samuel 2:25.].

There is a yet stronger assertion to this effect in the chapter following the text, where it is said in the most express terms, that they who reject this Sacrifice have nothing to expect but wrath and fiery indignation [Note: Hebrews 10:26-27.]; which could not be true, if there were any other way of salvation provided for us.]

It may be yet further proved by arguments, which, though of an indirect nature, are not less satisfactory than the foregoing—

If salvation be not by blood, the whole Mosaic ritual was absurd

[For what end could so many innocent beasts be slaughtered, and consumed by fire, if it were not to prefigure the great Sacrifice? If they were intended to shadow forth the way of salvation through the sacrifice of Christ, there was abundant reason for such observances; and the lives of myriads of beasts were well bestowed in such a cause. But on any other supposition, the legal sacrifices, having no typical reference, were unworthy of God to institute, or of man to offer.]

If salvation be not by blood, the prophets grossly misrepresented their Messiah

[Christ was spoken of as “making his soul an offering for sin;” as having “our iniquities laid upon him;” as “wounded for our transgressions,” that he might “heal us by his stripes [Note: Isaiah 53:5-12.]:” it was foretold that he should “be cut off; but not for himself;” that he should “finish transgression, make reconciliation for iniquity, make an end of sin, and bring in an everlasting righteousness [Note: Daniel 9:24; Daniel 9:26.]:” yea, he was prophesied of as “a fountain that should be opened for sin and for uncleanness [Note: Zechariah 13:1.]:” and John, who was more than a prophet, pointed him out as that very Lamb of God, that should take away the sins of the world [Note: John 1:29.]. Now what can be the meaning of these passages? how are they applicable to Christ, if they do not mark out his atonement? and what truth is there in such representations, if we be not to seek remission through his atoning blood?]

If salvation be not by blood, the declarations of the Apostles, yea, and of Christ himself, are far more likely to mislead, than to instruct the world

[Christ expressly told his Disciples, that his “blood was shed for the remission of sins [Note: Matthew 26:28.].” And the Apostles uniformly declare, that God purchased the Church with his own blood [Note: Acts 20:28.]; that our reconciliation to God [Note: Ephesians 2:16. Colossians 1:20.], and our justification before him [Note: Romans 5:9.], together with our complete redemption [Note: Ephesians 1:7. Revelation 5:9.], are by blood, even by the blood of Christ, that spotless Lamb [Note: 1 Peter 1:19.]. Is this the way to teach men that they shall be saved by their works? Must we not utterly despair of understanding any thing they have said, if we are not to expect salvation by the blood of Christ?]

The Apostle’s assertion being thus fully established, we shall,

II. Improve it—

The death of Christ has an aspect upon every thing that relates to our souls.

But not to enumerate many points, let us reflect on,

1. The evil of sin—

[We are assured that not one sin could have been forgiven without shedding of blood. Nor was it the blood of bulls and of goats only that was necessary, but the blood of God’s dear Son, even of Jehovah’s Fellow: what then must sin be, that required such a sacrifice? We behold the evil of it in the miseries that are in the world; and still more in the torments of the damned: but most of all do we see its malignity in the sufferings of the Son of God; without which not the smallest transgression could ever have been expiated. Let us then view sin in this light, and we shall no more account it a small and venial evil.]

2. The folly of self-righteousness—

[Self-righteousness consists in substituting something of our own in the place of the atonement, or in blending something of our own with it. In either case we utterly make void the death of Christ [Note: Galatians 2:21.]. And what madness is this! It is, in fact, to shut ourselves out from all hope of pardon, and to rivet our sins upon our souls for ever.

It may be thought indeed that Christ died to purchase us a right and power to save ourselves by our works. But if this was the case, why did St. Paul impute the rejection of his own nation to their going about to establish their own righteousness [Note: Romans 9:31-32; Romans 10:3.]? and why did he desire to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness [Note: Philippians 3:9.]? Why did he declare that if any man were circumcised with a view to obtain justification by the law, Christ should profit him nothing [Note: Galatians 5:2; Galatians 5:4.]? Why did he contrast salvation by grace, and salvation by works, so as to shew that they could not be blended or consist together [Note: Romans 11:6.]? This alas! is a refuge of lies, which, together with all who flee to it, will be swept away with the besom of destruction.

Let us not then dare to put ourselves in that way, wherein God declares there is no remission.]

3. The encouragement which the Gospel affords to sinners—

[When it is said that “without shedding of blood there is no remission,” it is doubtless implied, that through shedding of blood there is remission. And what a glorious truth is this! how refreshing to the weary soul! Let it be contemplated with holy joy and wonder. There is no sin, however great, from which the blood of Christ will not cleanse the soul [Note: 1 John 1:7.]. David, after contracting the foulest guilt, was yet able to say, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow [Note: Psalms 51:7.]. Let every one then go to the fountain opened for sin; let him plunge, as it were, beneath that sacred flood; and he shall instantly become pure and spotless in the sight of God [Note: Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:27.].”]

4. The wonderful love of Christ—

[He knew that sin could not be forgiven, unless he would take upon him our nature, and make atonement for us by his own blood. And rather than leave us to perish as the fallen angels, he accepted the hard conditions, left the bosom of his Father, put himself in our place, and submitted to endure the penalty due to sin. O what transcendent love! how inconceivable its heights, how unsearchable its depths [Note: Ephesians 3:18-19.]! Let our minds dwell upon it continually; that our hearts being warmed with this mysterious, incomprehensible love, we may be ever vying with the hosts of heaven in singing, “To him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, be glory and dominion for ever and ever [Note: Revelation 1:5-6.].]


Verse 23

DISCOURSE: 2304

USE OF TYPICAL PURIFICATIONS

Hebrews 9:23. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better things than these.

THERE is very considerable difficulty in this passage. The scope of the whole chapter is clear: it is intended to shew, that, whilst the sacrifice of Christ was shadowed forth by the Levitical sacrifices, it was infinitely superior to them all. But the difficulty arises from the double meaning of the word which we translate “Testament:” it means either a covenant, or a testament: and the Apostle, having used it evidently in the former sense, comes, apparently at least, to use it in the latter sense: and the doubt is, whether the entire passage should be construed as relating to the covenant, or whether the idea of a testament should be admitted. On either construction, there will be difficulty; for, on the one hand, it is not easy to see what a mediator has to do with a testament; nor, on the other hand, what need there is for a person, making a covenant, to die, before it can become valid. Perhaps the best solution of the difficulty, if solution it may be called, is this: That an agreement, as entered into between two parties, is a covenant: but that a free gift, as that agreement evidently is on God’s part, and a gift of something through the death of him who obtains it for us, assumes somewhat of the character of a testament. A covenant, it is well known, was ratified with a sacrifice; and the victim must die, before the covenant could be complete. It is equally clear, that a testament is of force only when the testator is dead: so that, in both cases, death must ensue, before the instrument can be valid: in the one case, the death of a victim; in the other case, the death of the party himself. But, I confess, this is not very satisfactory; and perhaps, after all, the best way is, to take the idea of a covenant throughout the whole, and to put that construction on the word in the different places where it is translated “testament.” This will preserve more of unity throughout; and be, upon the whole, least liable to objection.

However, whilst I state the difficulty as appearing in the context, it is proper to observe, that it does not at all affect the sense of our text. That is clear and determinate; and it will open to us a field of rich instruction, whilst I shew from it,

I. Whence arose a necessity for typical purifications—

Typical purifications were made on many occasions—

[The Apostle here refers to them, first, as made for the ratification of the covenant which God entered into with his people on Mount Horeb: yet, if we compare his account with that of Moses, we shall see several points of difference between the two; because, though the Apostle principally referred to that occasion, he had other occasions in his mind, which he comprehended with it. The account of Moses is, that Moses first related to the people the terms of God’s covenant—that the people consented to them—that Moses then wrote them in a book—that the next morning early he built an altar, and offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings upon it—that he then put half of the blood into basons, and sprinkled the other half upon the altar, having previously, it should seem, put the book upon the altar—then he read to them from the book the very same words which he had before delivered orally; and they again renewed their consent to them, and their perfect acquiescence in the terms proposed—then he took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words [Note: Exodus 24:3-8.].” To this account the Apostle adds, that the blood was mixed with water; and that, by means of scarlet wool and hyssop, he sprinkled with it the book, and all the people [Note: ver. 19, 20.]. His sprinkling of the book is easily accounted for, by supposing it to have been laid upon the altar: and his sprinkling of all the people, by his sprinkling it on the representatives of all. And it may be, that water was mixed with the blood in order to facilitate the sprinkling of it; and that scarlet wool and hyssop were used by him for the purpose of sprinkling it more widely than he could do with his fingers. If we suppose these things, there will be no disagreement between the two statements; only the Apostle’s will be the fuller. But, as the Apostle unquestionably refers to other occasions of sprinkling besides that when the covenant was made, I rather suppose, that he, in this particular enumeration of minute circumstances, (such as the use of water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop,) refers to the purification of the leper, in which these things were used by the express command of God [Note: Leviticus 14:4-7.].

I have said, that the Apostle unquestionably refers to other occasions besides the making of the covenant: and that he does so, appears from his mention of “the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry [Note: ver. 21.]:” for the tabernacle was not then reared; nor were the vessels of the ministry made; nor had the covenant above-mentioned any thing to do with “remission of sins [Note: ver. 22.].” But afterwards, when the tabernacle was reared, and furnished with all the vessels belonging to it, then was there a solemn sprinkling of them all with blood. The account deserves particular attention, because it reflects the clearest light upon the Apostle’s statement in my text. At that time, and for ever afterwards on the great day of atonement, was “an atonement made for the holy sanctuary itself, as well as for the tabernacle of the congregation; and for the altar too, no less than for the priests and the congregation.” On every thing was the blood of atonement sprinkled, in order to cleanse the whole, even every vessel from the pollution it contracted by being used in the service of sinful man [Note: Leviticus 16:15-20; Leviticus 16:33.].]

But whence arose a necessity for these purifications?—

[Doubtless, the necessity arose, primarily, from the mere arbitrary appointment of God, who had commanded them to be made. But, subordinate to that, there were other, and most important, reasons too for these ordinances: for by purifying every thing with blood, God first shewed to his people their extreme need of mercy; next, He shadowed forth to them the mercy which he had in reserve for them; and, lastly, He confirmed their expectation of that mercy in his appointed time.

What could a sinner think, when he understood that the very altar of God itself, yea, and the most holy place, the immediate residence of the Deity, needed to be purified with blood, because they were defiled by their use in the service of man? Must he not feel that his depravity was extreme, when his very best services were so polluted, that not only must they be purified with blood, but the very altar, on which his offerings were laid, and the sanctuary itself also, into which the blood of them was carried, must be purged with blood also? Truly these ordinances were a daily source of the deepest humiliation to every soul amongst them.

But knowing, as of necessity they must, that these ordinances were only “shadows of good things to come [Note: Hebrews 10:1.],” they would look forward to a better sacrifice, which should in due time be offered. They would see that remission of sins can be obtained through blood alone, through the blood of an innocent victim shed in their place and stead, and through the sprinkling of that blood upon their souls.

And by the daily repetition of the same ordinances, they must be constantly reminded of God’s gracious purposes towards them; and be assured that he would, in due time, accomplish all that he had promised.

Thus were the typical purifications necessary in their place.]

But it was not in the patterns only of heavenly things that there existed a need of purification, but “in the heavenly things themselves.” I must therefore proceed to shew,

II. What necessity there is for purification in the things typified—

Under the new covenant, no less than under the old, must every thing be purified with blood—

[Our persons are altogether polluted and defiled: our bodies are a mass of corruption, our souls a sink of iniquity. There is no abomination that sin has brought into the world, but the soul is the very womb in which it is generated, or rather the fountain from whence it flows, as its proper and perennial source. How can such a creature find acceptance with a holy God, if there be not found some blood capable of purifying him from guilt, and some water capable of cleansing him from his inherent defilements?

Our services also must, of necessity, partake of all this defilement: for “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Verily, as our common actions in life need purification; so do our very tears need to be washed, and our repentances to be repented of.

But of “the heavenly things” spoken of in my text, heaven itself is the principal: for it is that which was typified by the most holy place; it is that of which the sanctuary was intended to be a “pattern.” And does that need purification? Yes, it does: nor could God himself endure it as a residence, so to speak, if it were not cleansed from the defilement it contracts by the introduction of sinners into it. Therefore, as the high-priest sprinkled the sanctuary with blood; so does our great High-priest, who “has entered into heaven, with his own blood [Note: ver. 12.]” sprinkle and purify that holy place, and thus “prepare it as a mansion for his believing people [Note: John 14:2-3.].]

But for this end there must be a better sacrifice than any that were offered under the law—

[The blood of beasts might suffice to cleanse men from ceremonial defilement: but it could never avail for the cleansing of moral guilt in any one particular: no; “it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin [Note: Hebrews 10:4.].” To effect that was beyond the power of any created being. Had the first archangel assumed our nature for that end, he would have failed in the attempt. To so great a work none but God himself was competent: and God himself must become a man, and shed his own blood for us, ere one single sin can be blotted out from the book of God’s remembrance, or one of our fallen race be able to present to God one acceptable service. All that was shadowed forth under the law must actually be fulfilled. The Son of the living God must take upon him our nature; must die as an atonement for sin; must enter into heaven with his own blood; must sprinkle that blood upon the mercy-seat, and before the mercy-seat; must sprinkle us also, even every child of man who shall ever be interested in his atonement: even the covenant itself, too, must he sprinkle with his blood, in order to its ratification before God, and its application to our souls: all this, I say, must be done, in order to the admission of any human being to the realms of bliss. It is all necessary for God’s honour; for no less a sacrifice than this would satisfy his justice: and it is all equally necessary for our happiness; since nothing less can bring peace into our consciences, or operate with a transforming efficacy on our souls.

As the patterns then of these things needed a purification by the blood of beasts, so do the things typified need to be purged by the blood of our incarnate God.]

Let us, then, learn from these things,

1. The need we all have of the covenant of grace—

[God, as you know, has made a covenant with us. And this covenant we must receive. We must, as all Israel did, declare our consent to it, and engage to look for life on the terms which it prescribes. St. Paul says, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has enjoined unto you.” If God had only offered it as a gift, methinks no sinner in the universe should have hesitated to accept it: but God enjoins it with authority; and declares, that on no other terms whatever shall any sinner ever find acceptance with him. Accept, then, this covenant. Think not to make covenants of your own, whereby to secure some glory to yourselves: for you may be assured that God will never agree to any other, than that which he has proposed, and his only dear Son has ratified. The Israelites were not left to modify the covenant after their own taste; but were required to accept that which was given them of the Lord. So is there no other alternative for you, but to accept or reject the covenant of grace. If you think but one moment, you would not wish for any other covenant than that which is revealed, wherein God gives all, and you receive all. For what could you do to recommend either your persons or your services to God? If you were to shed rivers of tears, you could never wash away so much as one sin: nor, whatever efforts you might make, could you ever offer one single service, which should stand the test of God’s law, and defy the eye of Omniscience to discern a flaw in it. I say again, therefore, lay hold on this covenant; and look for all its blessings, as the free gift of God for Christ’s sake.]

2. The way in which we may become partakers of it—

[You have already seen how Moses sprinkled all the people with the blood of the sacrifice: and by that sprinkling were they all made partakers of it: and in the same way must you also become partakers of the covenant of grace. St. Paul tells us, that to this sprinkling of blood every believer comes [Note: Hebrews 12:24.]: and St. Peter tells us, that by it every believer is saved [Note: 1 Peter 1:2.]. In truth, as it was the shedding of the blood of Christ that satisfied the Divine Majesty, and ratified the covenant; so is it the sprinkling of that blood on our hearts and consciences that can alone entitle us to its benefits. But, in relation to this matter, there is a very important difference between the Israelites and us. They were sprinkled in the persons of their representatives: but we must be sprinkled in our own persons: nothing amongst us can be done by proxy. We must ourselves dip the scarlet wool and hyssop, so to speak, in the blood of our great Sacrifice; and by faith must sprinkle it on our own hearts and consciences. Yea, we must daily sprinkle with it both our persons and our services, and look for heaven as prepared for us by it, that we may to all eternity sing, “To Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” “The sacrifice of Christ was unto God of a sweet-smelling savour [Note: Ephesians 5:2.]:” let it be so to us also; and all that has been purchased by it shall be ours.]


Verse 24

DISCOURSE: 2305

THE HOLY OF HOLIES A TYPE

Hebrews 9:24. Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.

IT appears, at first sight, unworthy of God to appoint with such precision every the minutest circumstance relating to the tabernacle and its services. Provided he were worshipped and served, it should seem a matter of no importance whether the place, wherein he was worshipped, were of such or such an exact form, or whether the ceremonies observed in his worship were exactly of such or such a kind. But God intended to prefigure every thing relating to the Messiah and his kingdom: and therefore it was necessary not only that a model of every thing should be given to Moses [Note: Hebrews 8:5.], but that these patterns of heavenly things, made by Moses according to that model, should undergo a purification by the blood of carnal sacrifices, that so the heavenly things themselves, which were to be purified by the great Sacrifice, might be the more evidently prefigured [Note: ver. 23.]. These types having been given, Christ accomplished them on earth in part, and is now perfecting the accomplishment of them in heaven; whither he is gone, as the high-priests went into the holy of holies, to appear before God on behalf of his people.

It is our intention to shew,

I. In what respect heaven was typified by the holy of holies—

The whole edifice of the tabernacle or temple was a figure of Christ’s human nature, in which the God-head dwelt; and of the Church also, in which God resides [Note: John 2:19; John 2:21. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.]. But the most holy place, which is also called “the tabernacle [Note: ver. 3.],” eminently represented heaven:

1. It was the immediate residence of the Deity—

[The Shechinah, the bright cloud, which was the symbol of the Deity, dwelt between the cherubims upon the mercy-seat; and there God manifested himself more than in any other place on earth [Note: Exodus 25:22.]. Thus also, but in an infinitely brighter manner, does he display his glory in heaven. He is indeed on earth and even in hell; neither can the heaven of heavens contain him; for he pervades all space. But, though he is on our right hand, we cannot see him; nor, if we look for him on the left hand, can he be found by us [Note: Job 23:8-9.]. But in heaven he is seen face to face; and all the heavenly hosts behold him shining forth in all the brightness of his glory.]

2. It was inaccessible, except with the blood of sacrifices—

[No person whatever was to enter into the sanctuary, except the high-priest, nor could he, except on the great day of annual expiation; nor even then, except with the blood of beasts, that had been offered in sacrifice to God [Note: ver. 7. “not without blood.”]. Thus is there no admittance into heaven but through the blood of our great Sacrifice. Not even our great High-priest himself, when he had become the Surety and Substitute of sinners, could enter there without his own precious blood [Note: ver. 12.]; and heaven itself needed, as it were, to be purified from the defilement it contracted through the admission of sinners into it, even as the sanctuary, with all the vessels of it, were purified from the pollutions they had contracted through the ministration of sinful man [Note: ver. 21, 23. with Leviticus 16:16.].]

3. It was the repository of all the principal memorials of God’s power and grace—

[The Apostle enumerates the various things which were deposited in the holy of holies [Note: ver. 4, 5. The Apostle does not say, that the censer, or altar of incense, as θυμιατήριονmay signify, was in the holy of holies (for it was on the outside of the vail), but that the holy of holies had it: that being of very distinguished use, when the high-priest entered within the vail.]; all of them, either memorials of God’s providential care, or exhibitions of his covenant love. And are they not all in heaven, concentrated and combined in the person of Christ? Christ is the true ark, in which the law is kept, and fulfilled: and, while he makes intercession for his people, he is also the food of their souls, and the performer of all those miracles of grace that are wrought on their behalf. We cannot behold him, but we must immediately be persuaded that God is able and willing to accomplish for us all that our necessities may require.]

But while we see that the true tabernacle, even heaven itself, was prefigured by the holy places made with hands, let us consider,

II. The end for which our Lord ascended thither—

Our Lord could not go into the earthly tabernacle, because he was not of that tribe to which the priesthood belonged: but into the heavenly sanctuary he went,

1. As our Forerunner—

[God has ordained, that all his people should one day dwell with him around his throne. All true penitents now are priests unto God, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, male or female [Note: Revelation 1:6.]: and Jesus is gone, as he himself tells us, to prepare places for them [Note: John 14:2-3.]. He is expressly said to be gone within the vail as our Forerunner [Note: Hebrews 6:20.]. Let us then contemplate him in this view; and look forward to the time when we shall follow him within the vail, and “be presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”]

2. As our Head and Representative—

[It was not as an individual merely that Christ ascended into heaven, but as the Head and Representative of his redeemed people. All that he did and suffered was in their place and stead. Hence they are said to be “circumcised in him,” and to be “buried with him in baptism,” and “crucified with him.” In the same capacity also he went within the vail, to appear in the presence of God for us. Hence we are said to be “risen with him,” yea, to be already “sitting with him in heavenly places [Note: Ephesians 2:6.].” And on this our hope greatly depends: for, because “our life is hid with Christ in God, we may be assured that, when he shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory [Note: Colossians 3:3-4.].”]

3. As our Advocate and High-priest—

[It is in this view that the Apostle principally speaks of him in the text. The end for which the high-priest entered into the typical sanctuary, was, to present the blood of the sacrifice, and to cover the mercy-seat with the clouds of incense. It was precisely thus that Jesus went into the heaven of heavens for us. He is gone to present his own blood before the throne of God, and to plead the merit of that blood on behalf of sinful men. And it is on this very account that he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, namely, because he ever liveth to make intercession for them [Note: Hebrews 7:25.].]

Infer—

1. How excellent is the Gospel salvation!

[The Mosaic economy was excellent in comparison of the state of heathens, because it provided a way of acceptance with God, a way, too, that was of divine appointment. But the Gospel points out to us a far greater Priest, officiating in a nobler tabernacle, presenting an infinitely richer sacrifice, and offering a more powerful intercession on our behalf. Let us then value this Gospel, and search into its contents, and seek its blessings with our whole hearts.]

2. What encouragement have all to embrace and to hold fast this Gospel!

[Were any thing wanting to complete the work of salvation for us, we might well hesitate, before we embraced the overtures of the Gospel. But a view of Christ as our High-priest dissipates our fears, and encourages both the weakest and the vilest to come to God through him. “If any man sin,” says the Apostle, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is also the propitiation for our sins [Note: 1 John 2:2.].” Again it is said, “Seeing we have a great High-priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession [Note: Hebrews 4:14.]:” and again, “Having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, and having an High-priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith [Note: Hebrews 9:19; Hebrews 9:21-22.].” Let us then make this improvement of the subject; so shall we, each in his appointed order, appear before God for ourselves, and dwell in his immediate presence for ever and ever.]


Verse 26

DISCOURSE: 2306

CHRIST’S APPEARANCE TO TAKE AWAY SIN

Hebrews 9:26. Now once, in the end of the world, hath he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

TO obtain a just knowledge of the Gospel, we should view it in its connexion with the law; partly, in a way of comparison; and partly, in a way of contrast. From the comparison, we shall ascertain its nature: from the contrast, we shall learn its excellency. Compare it with the law; and you will find that it agrees with the law, as the seal with the impression on the wax: there is not the smallest feature in the law, to which there will not be found a corresponding lineament in the Gospel. But there are in the Gospel points which the law could by no means exhibit. Its priests were men, who needed first to offer for themselves. They officiated in an earthly tabernacle; and presented only beasts, for offerings; and presented them often, on account of their inefficacy to expiate the sins of men. But the High-priest under the Gospel is no other than God himself; who, having assumed our nature, offered his own body, once for all; and is entered into heaven itself, there to carry on and perfect his work for all who come to God through him. It is in this view that the Lord Jesus Christ is spoken of in the passage before us. He is contrasted with the priests under the law, as “not having entered, like them, into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:” and as “not offering himself often, as the high-priest entered into the holy place every year, with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world. But now once, in the end of the world, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

From these words I shall take occasion to shew,

I. The insufficiency of the Mosaic sacrifices—

By “the end of the world,” we are to understand, the end of the Mosaic dispensation [Note: That period is called the Fulness of Times, Galatians 4:4. Ephesians 1:10; and the Last Days, Hebrews 1:2. 1 Peter 1:20; and the Ends of the World, 1 Corinthians 10:11.]. During that period, sacrifices were offered. But they were insufficient for the removal of sin.

1. They had not in themselves any suitableness to that end—

[What virtue could there be in the blood of bulls and of goats? “It was not possible for them to take away sin [Note: Hebrews 10:4.].”]

2. They were not ordained of God for that end—

[They were intended only to prefigure Christ; and to direct the eyes of men to him, and to keep up the expectation of him in the world [Note: Hebrews 8:5.].]

3. The very repetition of them was an acknowledgment of this—

[Had they fully expiated sin, there would have been no occasion for the repetition of them; and “they would therefore, of course, have ceased to be offered [Note: Hebrews 10:1-2.].”]

In contrast with them, we here behold,

II. The perfection of the Christian Sacrifice—

“To put away sin the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world.”

He was a proper sacrifice for sin—

[He was altogether spotless, both in body and soul [Note: 1 John 3:5.]. In him, therefore, there was both a suitableness for a sacrifice, and sufficiency to make atonement for sin: a suitableness, because he was a partaker of our nature; and a sufficiency, because he was a partaker also of the divine nature. On him the iniquities of the whole world were laid [Note: Isaiah 53:6.]; and under the curse due to them he died [Note: Galatians 3:13.].]

By his one offering of himself, he effected what the Mosaic sacrifices never could—

[He put away sin from before God, “who is reconciled to us through the blood of the cross [Note: Colossians 1:21-22.]:” and he put it away also from man, both in its guilt and power. So did he cancel the guilt of men, that “all who believe in him are justified from all things [Note: Acts 13:39.]:” and so did he break its power, that it never can have dominion over one of his redeemed people [Note: Romans 6:14.].]

Infer—

1. How highly privileged are we who live in the present age!

[We have not to present to God those poor and worthless sacrifices which left the conscience still burthened with guilt [Note: ver. 9.]; but can plead one which is a sufficient propitiation for the sins of the whole world [Note: 1 John 2:2.], and “perfects for ever all them that are sanctified [Note: Hebrews 10:14.].”]

2. What infatuation are they guilty of, who hold fast their sins!

[Think what has been done to deliver us from them. God has laid them all upon his only-begotten Son, that they might be “put away from us, as far as the east is from the west.” But, in holding them fast, we say, in fact, ‘ “Thou shalt never wash my soul [Note: John 13:8.]:” I regard not thy tender mercies: I prefer my sinful gratifications before all that thou canst do for me; and I will have them, in despite of all that thou hast threatened to do against me.’—Say, beloved, what will be your views of this conduct, in a short time? The Lord grant, that, ere it be too late, you may believe in Christ; lest “the corner-stone, which you so ungratefully reject, should fall upon you, and grind you to powder!”]


Verse 27-28

DISCOURSE: 2307

CHRIST’S SECOND COMING

Hebrews 9:27-28. As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.

IT is probable that many in the first ages of Christiany wondered, as indeed many even at this time do, how persons should be saved by the death of Christ, thousands of years before he came into the world; more especially since the most solemn sacrifices under the Jewish economy were of no effect beyond the year in which they were offered. But the Jewish sacrifices needed to be repeated, because they were worthless and inefficient: whereas the perfection of Christ’s sacrifice gave it a retrospective and prospective efficacy, so that, at whatever period of the world it should be offered, it needed never to be repeated. This is the scope of the passage before us; and the Apostle illustrates his argument by an awful and acknowledged truth. To comprehend the force of his observations, we must consider,

I. Man’s destination to death and judgment—

Every man must die—

[This is too obvious to need a proof. Whatever be our age, condition, pursuits, and prospects, we must die. If our life were protracted to the age of Methuselah, we must die at last: God has “appointed” it; nor shall his decree be either defeated or reversed. But it is only “once” that we can die. Though some few who have been miraculously restored to life, have died a second time, we must not expect to return from our graves. If the great work of salvation be not completed before we die, we shall be undone for ever [Note: Ecclesiastes 9:10.].]

After death we shall all be judged—

[God has appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, and reward every man according to his works. And this also shall be but “once:” for, though every man’s state is fixed as soon as he goes into the invisible world, it is not till the general resurrection that his body shall participate the portion assigned to his soul. And, as there is no return from death to another state of probation, so there is no appeal from the sentence that shall be passed in that day.]

The Apostle having mentioned this, proceeds to state,

II. A similar appointment respecting Christ—

Christ “once” died for the sins of men—

[Though in appearance our Saviour died like other men, yet in reality his death was altogether different from theirs. He died as a sacrifice for sin: his death was that very atonement which had been typically represented from the beginning of the world. But though he was to be “a propitiation for the sins of the whole world,” he died only “once.” The legal sacrifices were constantly repeated, because they were rather “remembrances of sins” than a real expiation of them: but “he, by one offering of himself, hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified [Note: Hebrews 10:14.];” and “many,” even all that believe in him, have their sins removed for ever by virtue of it.]

He also will “appear a second time” at the day of judgment—

[At his first coming he appeared “in the likeness of sinful flesh [Note: Romans 8:3.],” and was treated as a sinner both by God and man: but at his second coming he will assume a very different appearance. As the high-priest, while offering the annual sacrifices, was clothed only in plain linen garments, but when he had completed his sacrifice, came forth in his splendid robes to bless the people [Note: Leviticus 16:23-24. with 8:7, 9 and Numbers 6:23-24.]; so our great High-priest will put off the garb of humiliation, and shine forth in all his majesty and glory [Note: Matthew 25:31.]. At his first coming, he saved not himself; but, at that day, he will impart “salvation” unto others, even to all who seek him in sincerity and truth.]

The Apostle having introduced God’s appointment respecting man to illustrate that respecting Christ, we shall point out,

III. The correspondence and connexion between them—

The mention of death and judgment as appointed unto man was not at all necessary to the Apostle’s argument: but, as an illustration of it, it was very pertinent.

1. Death and judgment are the consequents of sin; and the first and second coming of Christ shall be the means of salvation.

[If there had been no sin, there would have been no death, nor any occasion for a day of judgment: and, if Christ had not come to bear the sins of men, there would have been no salvation: all must have inevitably and eternally perished. Moreover, as the law required that the High-priest, after having finished his work within the vail, should come forth to bless the people; so in the Divine appointment, Christ’s second coming is necessary to the complete salvation of his followers.]

2. Death and judgment shall be fatal to unbelievers; and the first and second coming of Christ shall be means of salvation to them that believe

[The Lord Jesus, as a Judge, will condemn the wicked; “he will come to take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not his Gospel.” But as a Priest, he will come forth only to bless his redeemed, who are praying without, whilst he is interceding for them within the vail [Note: Luke 1:9-10.]. They are fitly represented as “looking for him;” and he will appear to their unutterable and eternal joy.]

Address—

1. To those who are regardless of their spiritual welfare—

[O that you would duly consider the certainty and nearness of death and judgment! You would then soon turn from vanity and sin, and labour to secure an interest in Christ. Let this subject then dwell upon your minds, till you are quickened by it to seek the Lord, and have obtained through him the remission of your sins.]

2. To those who are anxious to save their souls—

[If you really look to Christ to take away your sins, you need not be afraid of death and judgment. You may look forward to Christ’s second coming, not with comfort only, but unspeakable delight. Stand then in this posture, looking for and hasting to that blessed day [Note: 2 Peter 3:12.]: if he tarry, wait for him; and in due time you shall hear from his lips that reviving sentence; “Come, ye blessed children of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.”]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/hebrews-9.html. 1832.

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