Summary: An invitation to consider anew the precious opportunity we have to enter the presence of God.
Our text begins with the word “therefore.” Now in the Greek, this word points backwards to the teaching that has gone before. In other words, “in light of this teaching,” these following things are true. The writer had carefully built a case that Christ is the Superior, once-for-all sacrifice, and the superior high priest who has abolished the old priesthood. Now listen. In our text for today, there are two great propositions that are a summary of this teaching. There are two great propositions, and then based on these two propositions, there are five exhortations.
Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place
1. Listen, my friend. This is more than just an invitation to Sunday School. This is more than just an invitation to a Church Service. This is more than just an invitation to superficial Bible Study. This is an invitation to the very presence of God. You may ask, “could a sinner like me ever be welcomed into the Most Holy Place.” This text gives you two reasons that you can confidently enter the Most Holy place. 1) the blood of Jesus, 2) the body of Jesus. Notice that neither of these things have anything to do with what you have done. They both refer to what Jesus has done.
a. The Most Holy Place is a reference to the “Tabernacle, or the Temple, [which] represented God’s special presence, and only the high priest could enter there once a year.” (MacArthur, Hebrews, p. 260). This was on a day known as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On this day, the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place with a blood offering to atone, or cover over the sins of the people. This was not a day of confidence, though. The Scriptures reveal to us that the high priest would tie a rope around his ankle and would place bells at the bottom of his garment before entering the Most Holy Place. The bells would ring as the priest would move about performing his priestly duties behind the curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple. If the bells stopped ringing, the other priests would know that God was not pleased with the sacrifice and had struck the high priest dead. The priests would then extract the dead priest from the Most Holy Place with the rope that was tied around his ankle. Surely this is not representative of confidence.
b. But the writer of Hebrews says, “Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy place…” But now, notice that this invitation is not just open to the High priest but to the priesthood of all believers. If you have asked Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of your life, you are no a pauper, you are a priest.
c. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
d. As a follower of Christ you are a priest that has access to the very presence of God. But notice that unlike the OT priest that entered into the presence of God by the blood of a goat, you, NT priest, enter by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19).
i. Jesus’ blood opened the door for you to have access to God Himself. The presence of the Father is the privilege of the priest.
ii. If the blood of Jesus has cleansed you from the stain of your sin, you are privileged as a priest to participate as a priest in the presence of God.
iii. “The blood of Jesus Christ, however, counts for everything, and the person who trusts in His atoning work can come with complete boldness before God, claiming all the blessings and promises in His Son. We can come expecting mercy and grace, (Heb. 4:16) rather than justice. For if God gave us justice, He would have to condemn us, because this is what we deserve. But Jesus, through His shed blood, satisfied God’s justice in our behalf, so that we can now claim God’s mercy and grace. God cannot condemn us who are in God’s grace.” (MacArthur, 260)
e. Not only is the by the blood of Jesus, but verse 20 says we can enter the presence God by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.
i. The word “new” used in verse 20 is used only one other time in the NT. Originally, the word meant, “freshly slaughtered.” “Jesus is the new way, the freshly slaughtered sacrifice which opens the way to God. It seems contradictory that the freshly slaughtered way would also be the living way. But Jesus’ death conquered death and gives life. His death is the only way to life that is everlasting” (MacArthur, 261)