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Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All May 16, 2015

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
Tags: , , , ,

Here are my thoughts on Hebrews 10:1-18.

Summary: The author begins by:

  • conceding that the old covenant between God and men was a harbinger of the new covenant
  • inferring that the old covenant was not designed to be permanent.

The impotency of the old covenant is highlighted by the fact that God appointed that its attendant sacrifices should be repeated; thus, the blood of those sacrifices could not take away sin.

The author then quotes from Psalm 40:6-8 to show that:

  • none of the sacrifices of the old covenant were suited to either the glory of God or the needs of the souls of men
  • the sacrifice of the new covenant – that of Christ Himself – was suitable in that regard.

Indeed, by offering Himself as a sacrifice, Christ:

  • fulfilled God’s eternal purpose and design
  • perfectly sanctified the church once only.

Now the author reiterates that since the Levitical priests – under the old covenant – had to stand and repeat their sacrifices, those sacrifices could not take away sins. In contrast, Christ sealed the new covenant by offering Himself as a sacrifice once only; He now sits at God’s throne, having perfectly sanctified the church.

The author concludes by quoting from Jeremiah 31:33-34 to show that in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit declared that God would make a new covenant with men where their sins would be taken away.

Thoughts: In verses 5-7, the author quotes from Psalm 40:6-8 to show that Christ came to dwell among mankind in order to fulfill – and abolish – the old covenant. Owen offers some insights on this point in his commentary:

No sacrifices of the law, not all of them together, were a means for the expiation of sin, suited to the glory of God or the needs of the souls of men. The constant use of sacrifices to signify those things that they could not effect in worshipers was a great part of the slavery that the church was held in under the old testament…Yes, and Christ himself had a command from God to lay down his life for the accomplishment of this work.

I found these verses to be rather poignant, especially since they hint at the great suffering that Christ was prepared to endure in order to abolish the old covenant and seal the new covenant. While I am ignorant in terms of the form and structure of Hebrew poetry, I can still appreciate the beauty of these three verses. Indeed, verses 5 and 6 neatly summarize the problem at hand – that sacrifices and offerings could not mend a broken relationship with God – while verse 7 presents the solution to this problem, which is the sacrifice of Christ Himself. These verses can also encourage modern-day believers, as they lend further support to the notion that doing God’s will is difficult and involves some degree of suffering. Of course, we can be further encouraged by the fact that Christ emerged victorious through His suffering – thereby guaranteeing our ultimate victory through our suffering.

This passage concludes the “theory” section of this letter; the next passage inaugurates the “practice” section of this letter. Overall, I would say that the author has presented an awesome proof of the superiority of the person and work of Christ to all of the core tenets and iconic figures of Judaism. Indeed, the plethora of carefully selected Old Testament quotations serve as an indomitable argument that the Hebrews cannot ignore; they were intimately familiar with the Old Testament, yet they failed to infer – before receiving this letter – that it testifies to the impending arrival of a Person who would render it obsolete in terms of maintaining the relationship between God and men. I would certainly like to meet the Hebrews in the next life and learn how they perceived the “theory” section of this letter. Were they thoroughly swayed by the author’s arguments and utterly convinced that they needed to respond to the Gospel with faith and obedience? Did they dispute the author’s interpretation of at least some of their selected Old Testament quotations? Were they offended to some degree by the author’s systematic dismantling of their former belief system?



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