Summary: Jesus is the end of the law and our living hope!
October 21, 2012
We’re entering one of the most misused and misunderstood passages of Hebrews, and I want to encourage you right now to check your 21st century American mindset and try to understand what we’re about to read from the mindset of a 1st century Jew. The main point of Hebrews (and the main point of what we’re about to read) is to encourage Jewish Christians who were suffering persecution and being shunned for abandoning Moses.
Christ is better than Moses (3:3)! He is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person (1:3), He is God’s only begotten Son and the rightful heir to the everlasting throne (1:5-9), He is the creator of all things and will outlive it all (1:10-12), and the mighty angels are merely His servants (1:13-14).
Because of this we should be careful to obey Him. It may seem as though He’s not so high and powerful now, but that’s only because He was made low for a little while so that He could die for His brethren, and in the end He will destroy even death and the devil (2:8-18). So don’t harden your hearts if you hear Him; the Israelites in the desert made that mistake, and they all died there because of it (3:7-19). They are an example to be feared and a type or shadow of the people who now hear and reject (4:1-11). If we do the same we know that we’ll one day have to settle accounts with the God who sees and knows everything (even the thoughts and intents of our hearts) (4:12-13), so we cling to Christ who is our Great High Priest who has compassion on us and feels our infirmities (4:14-5:10).
And then we come to where we left off last week. He rebukes them for being more like babies than teachers; they need milk and not meat because meat is for the mature. But I don’t think this is saying they don’t read their Bibles enough; I think it’s saying “you’re not reading it correctly.” They are stuck in Judaism. They haven’t tied it all together that Christ is the fulfillment of the priesthood and the temple and the sacrifices and all the ceremonies and rituals of the Old Testament.
They don’t know how to discern good from evil because of this, so he says,
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection;
The word for principles is ἀρχή (arche), and it has to do with beginnings or origin or firsts. The word for doctrine is λόγος (logos), and it means “words.” The idea is, “Leaving the first things that were spoken to us about Christ, let us go on unto perfection. We see Christ in the shadows of Old Testament, but now we have the substance! Move on to being “perfect” or “mature”!
not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works,
Read Hebrews 9:6-15: “The priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. 7But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: 8The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 11But 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; 12Neither 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. 13For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14How 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? 15And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”
Now go over to Hebrews 10:1; 19-22: “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. […] 19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”