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The epistle, recounting some particular circumstances which characterised
the first covenant shews that neither were sins put away, nor was the
conscience purged by its means, nor the entrance into the holiest granted
to the worshipers. The veil concealed God. The high priest went in once a
year to make reconciliation-no one else. The way to God in holiness was
barred. Perfect, as pertaining to the conscience, they could not be through
the blood of bulls and of goats. These were but previsionary and figurative
ordinances, until God took up the real work itself, in order to accomplish
it fully and for ever.
But this brings us to the focus of the light which God gives us by the Holy
Ghost in this epistle. Before proving by the scriptures of the Old
Testament the doctrine that he announced and the discontinuance of the
actual sacrifices-of all sacrifice for sin, the writer, with a heart full
of the truth and of the importance of that truth, teaches the value and the
extent of the sacrifice of Christ (still in contrast with the former
offerings, but a contrast that rests on the intrinsic value of the offering
of Christ). These three results are presented:-first, the opened way into
the sanctuary was manifested, that is , access to God Himself, where He is,
second, the purification of the conscience; third, and eternal redemption
(I may add the promise of an eternal inheritance).
One feels the immense importance, the inestimable value, of the first.
'The believer is admitted into God's own presence by a new and living way
which he has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His
flesh; has constant access to God, immediate access to the place where He
is, in the light. What complete salvation, what blessedness, what security!
For how could we have access to God in the light, if everything that would
separate us from Him, were not entirely taken away through Him who was once
offered to bear the sins of many? But here it is the precious and perfect
result, in this respect, which is revealed to us, and formally proved in
chapter 10, as a right that we possess, that access to God Himself is
entirely and freely open to us. We are not indeed told in this passage that
we are seated there, for it is not our union with Christ that is the
subject of this epistle, but our access to God in the sanctuary. And it is
important to note this last, and it is as precious in its p]ace as the
other. We are viewed as on earth and being on earth we have free and full
access to God in the sanctuary. We go in perfect liberty to God, where His
holiness dwells, and where nothing that is contrary to Him can be admitted.
What happiness! What perfect grace! What a glorious result, supreme and
complete ! Could anything better be desired, remembering too that it is our
dwelling-place? This is our position in the presence of God through the
entrance of Christ into the sanctuary.
The second result shews us the personal state we are brought into, in order
to the enjoyment of our position; that we may, on our part, enter in
freely. It is that our Saviour has rendered our conscience perfect, so that
we can go into the sanctuary without an idea of fear, without one question
as to sin arising in our minds. A perfect conscience is not an innocent
conscience which, happy in its unconsciousness, does not know evil, and
does not know God revealed in holiness. A perfect conscience knows God; it
is cleansed, and, having the knowledge of good and evil according to the
light of God Himself, it knows that it is purified from all evil according
to His purity. Now the blood of bulls and goats, and the washing repeated
under the law, could never make the conscience perfect. They could sanctify
carnally, so as to enable the worshiper to approach God outwardly, yet only
afar off, with the veil still unrent. But a real purification from sin and
sins, so that the soul can be in the presence of God Himself in the light
without spot, with the consciousness of being so the offerings under the
law could never produce. They were but figures. but, thanks be to God,
Christ has accomplished the work; and, present for us now in the heavenly
and eternal sanctuary, He is the witness there that our sins are put away;
so that all conscience of sin before God is destroyed, because we know that
He who bore our sins is in the presence of God, after having accomplished
the work of expiation. Thus we have the consciousness of being in the light
without spot. We have the purification not only of sins but of the
conscience, so that we can use this access to God in full liberty and joy,
presenting ourselves before Him who has so loved us.
The third result, which seals and characterises the two others, is that
Christ, having once entered in abides in heaven. He has gone into the
heavenly sanctuary to remain there by virtue of an eternal redemption, of
blood that has everlasting validity. The work is completely done, and can
never change in value. If our sins are effectually put away, God glorified,
and righteousness complete, that which once availed to effect this can
never not avail. The blood shed once for all is ever efficacious.
Our High Priest is in the sanctuary, not with the blood of sacrifices,
which are but figures of the true. The work has been done which puts sin
away. This redemption is neither temporal not transitory. It is the
redemption of the soul, and for eternity, according to the moral efficacy
of that which has been done.
Here then are the three aspects of the result of the work of Christ:
immediate access to God; a purged conscience; and eternal redemption.
Three points remain to be noticed before entering on the subject of the
covenants, which is here resumed.
First, Christ is a High Priest of good things to come. In saying "things to
come",the starting-point is Israel under the law before the advent of our
Lord. Nevertheless, if these good things were now acquired, if it could be
said, "we have them," because Christianity was their fulfillment, it could
hardly be still said-when Christianity was established-"good things to
They are yet to come. These "good things" consist of all that the Messiah
will enjoy when He reigns. This also is the reason that the earthly things
have their place. But our present relationship with Him is only and
altogether heavenly. He acts as Priest in a tabernacle which is not of this
creation: it is heavenly, in the presence of God, not made with hands. Our
place is in heaven.
In the second place, "Christ offered himself, by the eternal Spirit [see note #16],
without spot, to God."
Here the precious offering up of Christ is viewed as an act that He
performed as man, though in the perfection and Value of His Person. He
offered Himself to God-but as moved by the power, and according to the
perfection of the Eternal Spirit. All the motives that governed this
action, and the accomplishment of the fact according to those motives, were
purely and perfectly those of the Holy Ghost; that is, absolutely divine in
their perfection, but of the Holy Ghost acting in a man (a man without sin
who, born and living ever by the power of the Holy Ghost, had never known
sin; who, being exempt from it by birth, never allowed it to enter into
Him); so that it is the Man Christ who offers Himself. This was requisite.
Thus the offering was in itself perfect and pure, with out defilement; and
the act of offering was perfect, whether in love or in obedience, or in the
desire to glorify God, or to accomplish the purpose of God. Nothing mingled
itself with the perfection of His intent in offering Himself.
Moreover, it v.was not a temporary offering, which applied to one sin with
which the conscience was burdened and which went no farther than that one
an offering which could not, by its nature, have the perfection spoken of,
because it was not the Person offering up Himself, nor was it absolutely
for God, because there was in it neither the perfection of will nor of
obedience. But the offering of Christ was one which, being perfect in its
moral nature, being in itself perfect in the eyes of God, was necessarily
eternal in its value. For this value was as enduring as the nature of God
who was glorified in it.
It was made, not of necessity, but of free will, and in obedience. It was
made by a man for the glory of God, but through the Eternal Spirit, ever
the same in its nature and value.
All being, thus perfectly fulfilled for the glory of God, the conscience of
every one that comes to Him by this offering is purged; dead works are
blotted out and set aside; we stand before God on the ground of that which
Christ has done.
And here the third point comes in. Being perfectly cleansed in conscience
from all that man in his sinful nature produces, and having to do with God
in light and in love, there being no question of conscience with Him, we
are in a position to serve the living God. Precious liberty! in which,
happy and without question before God according to His nature in light, we
can serve Him according to the activity of His nature in love. Judaism knew
no more of this than it did of perfection in conscience. Obligation towards
God that system indeed maintained; and it offered a certain provision for
that which was needed for outward failure. But to have a perfect
conscience, and then to serve God in love, according to His will-of this it
This is christian position: the conscience perfect by Christ, [see note #17]
according to the nature of
God Himself; the service of God in liberty, according to His nature of
love acting towards others.
For the Jewish system, in its utmost advantages, was characterised by the
holy place. There were duties and obligations to be fulfilled in order to
draw near, sacrifices to cleanse outwardly him who drew near outwardly.
Meanwhile God was always concealed. No one entered into "the holy place :"
it is implied that the "most holy" was inaccessible. No sacrifice had yet
been offered which gave free access, and at all times. God was concealed:
that He was so characterised the position. They could not stand before Him.
Neither did He manifest Himself. They served Him out of His presence
without going in.
It is important to notice this truth, that the whole system in its highest
and nearest access to God was characterised by the holy place, in order to
understand the passage before us.
Now the first tabernacle-Judaism as a system-is identified with the first
part of the tabernacle, and that open only to the priestly part of the
nation, the second part (that is, the sanctuary) only shewing, by the
circumstances connected with it, that there was no access to God. When the
author of the epistle goes on to the present position of Christ, he leaves
the earthly tabernacle-it is heaven itself he then speaks of, a tabernacle
not made with hands, nor of this creation, into which he introduces us.
The first tent or part of the tabernacle gave the character of the
relationship of the people with God, and that only by a priesthood. They
could not reach God. When we approach God Himself, it is in heaven; and the
entire first system disappears. Everything was offered as a figure in the
first system, and even as a figure shewed that the conscience was not yet
set free, nor the presence of God accessible to man. The remembrance of
sins was continual]y renewed (the annual sacrifice was a memorial of sins
and God was not manifested, nor the way to Him opened).
Christ comes, accomplishes the sacrifice, makes the conscience perfect,
goes into heaven itself; and we draw nigh to God in the light. To mingle
the service of the first tabernacle or holy place with christian service is
to deny the latter; for the meaning of the first was that the way to God
was not yet open; the meaning of the second, that it is open.
God may have patience with the weakness of man. Till the destruction of
Jerusalem He bore with the Jews; but the two systems can never really go on
together, namely, a system which said that one cannot draw nigh to God, and
another system which gives access to Him.
Christ is come, the High Priest of a new system, of "good things," which,
under the old system, were yet " to come ;" but He did not enter into the
earthly most holy place, leaving the holy place to subsist without a true
meaning. He is come by the (not a) more excellent and more perfect
tabernacle. I repeat it, for it is essential here: the holy place, or the
first tent, is the figure of the relationship of men with God under the
first tabernacle (taken as a whole); so that we may say, " the first
tabernacle," applying it to the first part of the tabernacle, and pass on
to the first tabernacle as a whole, and as a recognised period having the
same meaning. This the epistle does here. To come out of this position, we
must leave typical things and pass into heaven, the true sanctuary where
Christ ever lives, and where no veil bars our
Now it is not said, that we have " the good things to come." Christ has
gone into heaven itself, the High Priest of those good things, securing
their possession to them that trust in Him. But we have access to [see note #18]
God in the light by virtue of Christ's presence there. That presence
is the proof of righteousness fully established; the blood, an evidence
that our sins are put away for ever; and our conscience is made perfect.
Christ in heaven is the guarantee for the fulfillment of every promise. He
has opened an access for us, even now, to God in the light, having cleansed
our consciences once for all-for He dwells on high continuously-that we may
enter in, and that we may serve God here below.
All this is already established and secured; but there is more. The new
covenant,of which He is Mediator, is founded on His blood.
The way in which the apostle always avoids the direct application of the
new covenant is very striking.
The transgressions that were imputed under the first covenant, and which
the sacrifices it offered could not expiate, are by the blood of the new
covenant entirely blotted out. Thus they which are called -observe the
expression (ver. 15)-can receive the promise of the eternal inheritance;
that is to say, the foundation is laid for the accomplishment of the
blessings of the covenant. He says, " the eternal inheritance," because, as
we have seen, the reconciliation was complete, our sins borne and canceled,
and the work by which sin is finally put away out of God's sight
accomplished, according to the nature and character of God Himself. This is
the main point of all this part of the epistle.
It is because of the necessity there was for this sacrifice-the necessity
that sins, and finally sin, should be entirely put away, [see note #19] in order to
the enjoyment of the eternal promises
(for God could not bless,as an eternal principle and definitively, while
sin was before His eyes), that Christ, the Son of God, Man on earth, became
the Mediator of the new covenant, in order that by death He might make a
way for the permanent enjoyment of that which had been promised. The new
covenant, in itself,did not speak of a Mediator. God would write His laws
on the hearts of His people, and would remember sins no more.
The covenant is not yet made with Israel and Judah. But meanwhile God has
established and revealed the Mediator, who has accomplished the work on
which the fulfillment of the promises can be founded in a way that is
durable in principle, eternal, because connected with the nature of God
Himself. This is done by means of death, the wages of sin and by which sin
is left behind; and expiation for sins being made according to the
righteousness of God, an altogether new position is taken outside and
beyond sin. The Mediator has paid the ransom. Sin has no more right over
Verses 16, 17 are a parenthesis, in which the idea of a " testament " (it
is the same word as "covenant " in the Greek, a disposition on the part of
one who has the right of disposal) is introduced, to make us understand
that death must have taken place before the rights acquired under the
testament can enjoyed. [see note #20]
This necessity of the covenant being founded on the blood of a victim was
not forgotten in the case of the first covenant. Everything was sprinkled
with blood. Only in this case it was the solemn sanction of death attached
to the obligation of the covenant. The types always spoke of the necessity
of death intervening before men could be in relationship with God. Sin had
brought in death and judgment. We must either undergo the judgment
ourselves or see our sins blotted out through it having been undergone by
another for us.
Three applications of the blood are presented here. The covenant is founded
on the blood. Defilement is washed away by its means. Guilt is removed by
the remission obtained through the blood that has been shed.
These are in fact the three things necessary. First the ways of God in
bestowing blessing according to His promise are connected with His
righteousness, the sins of those blessed being, atoned for, the requisite
foundation of the covenant, Christ having withal glorified God in respect
of sin when made sin on the cross.
Second the purification of the sin by which we were defiled (by which all
things that could not be guilty were nevertheless defiled) is accomplished.
Here there were cases in which water was typically used: this is moral and
practical cleansing. It flows from death, the water that purifies proceeded
from the side of the holy Victim already dead. It is the application of the
word-which judges all evil and reveals all good-to the conscience and the
Third, as regards remission. In no case can this be obtained without the
shedding of blood. Observe that it does not here say " application." It is
the accomplishment of the work of true propitiation, which is here spoken
of. Without shedding of blood there is no remission. All-important truth!
For a work of remission, death and blood-shedding must take place.
Two consequences flow from these views of atonement and reconciliation to God.
First, it was necessary that there should be a better sacrifice, a more
excellent victim, than those which were offered under the old covenant,
because it was the heavenly things themselves, and not their figures, that
were to be purified. For it is into the presence of God in heaven itself
that Christ has entered.
Secondly, Christ was not to offer Himself often, as the high priest went in
every year with the blood of others. For He offered up Himself. Hence, if
all that was available in the sacrifice was not brought to perfection by a
single offering once made, He must have suffered often since the foundation
of the world. [see note #21] This remark leads to the clear and simple declaration
ways of God on this point- a declaration of priceless value. God allowed
ages to pass (the different distinct periods in which man has in divers
ways been put to the test, and in which he has had time to shew what he is)
without yet accomplishing His work of grace. This trial of man has served
to shew that he is bad in nature and in will. The multiplication of means
only made it more evident that he was essentially bad at heart, for he
availed himself of none of them to draw near to God. On the contrary, his
enmity against God was fully manifested.
When God had made this plain, before the law, under the law, by promises,
by the coming and presence of His Son, then the work of God takes the
place, for our salvation and God's glory, of man's responsibility-on the
ground of which faith knows man is entirely lost. This explains the
expression (ver. 26) " in the consummation of the ages."
Now this work is perfect, and perfectly accomplished. Sin had dishonoured
God, and separated man from Him. All that God had done to give him the
means of return only ended in affording him opportunity to fill up the
measure of his sin by the rejection of Jesus. But in this the eternal
counsels of God were fulfilled, at least the moral basis laid, and that in
infinite perfection, for their actual accomplishment in their results. All
now in fact, as in purpose always, rested on the second Adam, and on what
God had done, not on man's responsibility, while that was fully met for
God's glory. (Compare 2 Tim. 1:9, 10; Titus 1:1, 2.) The Christ, whom man
rejected, had appeared in order to put away sin by the sacrifice of
Himself. Thus it was morally the consummation of the ages.
The result of the work and power of God are not yet manifested. A new
creation will develop them. But man, as the child of Adam, has run his
whole career in his relationship with God: he is enmity against God.
Christ, fulfilling the will of God, has come in the consummation of ages,
to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and His work to this end is
accomplished. This is the moral power of His act, [see note #22] of His sacrifice
before God; in result, sin will be
entirely blotted out of the heavens and the earth. To faith this result,
namely, the putting away of sin, is already realised in the conscience,
[see note #23] because Christ who was made sin for us
has died and died to sin, and now is risen and glorified, sin (even as made
it for us) left behind.
Moreover, this result is announced to the believer- to those who are
looking for the Lord's return. Death and judgment are the lot of men as
children of Adam. Christ has been opened once to bear the sins of many; and
" unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin
unto salvation," not to judgment.
For them, as to their standing before God, sin is even now put away: as
Christ is, so are they; their own sins are all blotted out. Christ appeared
the first time in order to be made sin for us, and to bear our sins; they
were laid upon Him on the cross. And, with regard to those who wait for
Him, those sins are entirely put away. When He returns, Christ has nothing,
to do with sin, as far as they are concerned. It was fully dealt with at
His first coming. He appears the second time to deliver them from all the
results of sin, from all bondage. He will appear, not for judgment, but
unto salvation. The putting away of sin on their behalf before God has been
so complete, the sins of believers so entirely blotted out, that, when He
appears the second time, He has, as to them nothing to do with sin. He
appears apart from sin, not only without sin in His blessed Person-this was
the case at His first coming-but (as to those who look for Him) outside all
question of sin, for their final deliverance.
"Without sin" is in contrast with " to bear the sins of many." [see note #24] But
it will be remarked, that
the taking up of the assembly is not mentioned here. It is well to notice
the language. The character of His second coming is the subject. He has
been manifested once. Now He is seen by those who look for Him. The
expression may apply to the deliverance of the Jews who wait for Him in the
last days. He will appear for their deliverance. But we expect the Lord for
this deliverance, and we shall see Him when He accomplishes it even for us.
The apostle does not touch the question of the difference between this and
our being caught up, and does not use the word which serves to announce His
public manifestation. He will appear to those who expect Him. He is not
seen by all the world, nor is it consequently the judgment, although that
may follow. The Holy Ghost speaks only of them that look for the Lord. To
them He will appear. By them He will be seen, and it will be the time of
their deliverance; so that it is true for us, and also applicable to the
Jewish remnant in the last days.
Thus the christian position, and the hope of the world to come, founded on
the blood and on the Mediator of the new covenant, are both given here. The
one is the present portion of the believer, the other is secured as the
hope of Israel.
How wonderful is the grace which we are now considering!
There are two things that present themselves to us in Christ-the attraction
to our heart of His grace and goodness, and His work which brings our souls
into the presence of God. It is with the latter that the Holy Ghost here
occupies us. There is not only the piety which grace produces; there is the
efficacy of the work itself. What is this efficacy? What is the result for
us of His work? Access to God in the light without a veil, ourselves
entirely clear of all sin before Him, as white as snow in the light which
only shews it. Marvelous position for us ! We have not to wait for a day of
judgment (assuredly coming as it is), nor to seek for means of approach to
God. We are in His presence. Christ appears in the presence of God for us.
And not only this: He remains there ever; our position therefore never
changes. It is true that we are called to walk according to that position.
But this does not touch the fact that such is the position. And how came we
into it ? and in what condition ? Our sins entirely put away, perfectly put
away, and once for all, and the whole question of sin settled for ever
before God, we are there because Christ has finished the work which
abolished it, and without it in God's sight. So that there are the two
things- this work accomplished, and this position ours in the presence of
We see the force of the contrast between this and Judaism. According to the
latter, divine service, as we have seen, was performed outside the veil.
The worshipers did not reach the presence of God. Thus they had always to
begin again. The propitiatory sacrifice was renewed from year to year-a
continually repeated testimony that sin still was there. Individually they
obtained a temporary pardon for particular acts. It had constantly to be
renewed. The conscience was never made perfect, the soul was not in the
presence of God, this great question was never settled. (How many souls are
even now in this condition!) The entrance of the high priest once a year
did but furnish a proof that the way was still barred that God could not be
approached, but that sin was still remembered.
But now the guilt of believers is gone, their sins washed away by a work
done once for all; the conscience is made perfect; nor is there any
condemnation for them. Sin in the flesh has been condemned in Christ when a
sacrifice for sin, and Christ appears ever in the presence of God for us.
The High Priest remains there. Thus, instead of having a memorial of sin
reiterated from year to year, perfect righteousness subsists ever for us in
the presence of God. The position is entirely changed.
The lot of man (for this perfect work takes us out of Judaism) is death and
judgment. But now our lot depends on Christ, not on Adam. Christ was
offered to bear the sins of many [see note #25]
-the work is complete, the sins blotted out, and to those who look for Him
He will appear without having anything, to do with sin that question having
been entirely settled at His first, coming. In the death of Jesus, God
dealt with the sins of those who look for Him; and He will appear, not to
judge, but unto salvation-to deliver them finally from the position into
which sin had brought them. This will have its application to the Jewish
remnant according to the circumstances of their position; but in an
absolute way it applies to the Christian, who has heaven for his portion.
The essential point established in the doctrine of the death of Christ is,
that He offered Himself once for all. We must bear this in mind, to
understand the full import of all that is here said. The tenth chapter is
the development and application of this. In it the author recapitulates his
doctrine on this point, and applies it to souls, confirming it by scripture
and by considerations which are evident to every enlightened conscience.
1. The law, with its sacrifices, did not make the worshipers perfect; for,
if they had been brought to perfection, the sacrifices would not have been
offered afresh. If they were offered again, it was because the worshipers
were not perfect. On the contrary the repetition of the sacrifice was a
memorial of sins; it reminded the people that sin was still there, and that
it was still before God. In effect the law, although it was the shadow of
things to come, was not their true image. There were sacrifices; but they
were repeated instead of there being one only sacrifice of eternal
efficacy. There was a high priest, but he was mortal, and the priesthood
transmissible. He went into the holiest, but only once a year, the veil
which concealed God being unrent, and the high priest unable to remain in
His presence, the work being not perfect. Thus there were indeed elements
which plainly indicated the constituent parts, so to speak, of the
priesthood of the good things to come; but the state of the worshipers was
in the one case quite the opposite of that which it was in the other. In
the first, every act shewed that the work of reconciliation was not done;
in the second, the position of the high priest and of the worshiper is a
testimony that this work has been accomplished, and that the latter are
perfected for ever in the presence of God.