Lesson 24: "Let Us Draw Near With a True Heart. . ." (Hebrews 10:22)
The Book of Hebrews. Welcome to our study and welcome to lesson #24. For some reason, I get the feeling we hurried through the last couple lessons. The reason for that feeling, I think, is that the 45-verse block we tried to cover (ch. 9-10:18) is so broad, it covers so much, that it's impossible to adequately cover all the connection in two twenty minute sessions. For example, down in ch. 10, v.5-6-7-8-9, there is a scriptural citing from the O.T. that we did not touch on...this comes from the 40th Psalm. Like I said, there are just too many ramifications. All we can do is stir it a little and leave it with you. If you read Milligan's book, his illustrious comments here, I believe, are worth repeating. Milligan said (and I quote): "This is one of the most profoundly interesting sections in the whole Bible. Leading us back, as it does, to the original gracious purpose of God, conceived, of course before the foundation of the world, but gradually revealed and illustrated from the fall of man until it was fully developed in the kingdom of Christ, it embraces within itself an outline of the whole remedial system. We see in it both the shadow and the substance in their true and proper relations to each other; and all looking to the one grand consummation, when the last enemy, Death, having been vanquished, the kingdom will be delivered up to God the Father. To understand this one section, therefore, in all its legitimate bearings, is, in fact, to understand the whole economy of Divine grace." (Unquote!). Then after discussing Christianity in contrast to the ancient Egyptians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Jews, etc., Milligan has this comment (and I quote): "The great end of all religion is to purify the conscience from all that is impure and unholy; and so to qualify us for the service of God here, and for the enjoyment of his presence hereafter" (unquote!) At this juncture, he calls attention to the words of our writer (in Heb. 9:14). And then he adds (and I quote): "Without this, all outward purifications are of no avail. The body will soon go to corruption, do as we may." (Unquote!). Milligan was a profound thinker and I appreciate, and I am impressed by his insights. He certainly knew the book from cover to cover. I suggest you take the time to read his book.
We would like in this lesson to read the text in 10:19-39...that's 21 verses, the rest of the chapter, a little more manageable section. We touched on this in our last lesson, saying that our writer here digresses again with a strong admonition to the Christians in and around Jerusalem. We have just covered the longest single section in the book (i.e. ch. 7:1-10:18) which is 86 verse long, covering the priesthood of Christ as the Mediator of the new covenant, the new testament, emphasizing all those shadow-image connections between the law of Moses and the law of Christ. The 21 verses coming up, 10:19-39, are similar, I said, to the last half of ch. 5 and that thought extended down into ch. 6, if you remember. The first half of this book was punctuated with several short admonitions of this type. Perhaps, you will recall ch.2..."Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed...how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" Then in ch. 3, he said: "holy brethren...consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession..." The phrase "our profession" there in 3:1 implies we as Christians serve as priests under Jesus, who is said to be our High Priest. You see, we have a duty, a responsibility, we are accountable is the idea. Then ch. 4 started off, "Let us therefore fear, lest...any of you should seem to come short of it." At the end of ch. 4, "Seeing then that we have a great high priest...let us hold fast our profession... Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace..." Then beginning in 5:11, "ye are dull of hearing...ye have need that one teach you again..." implying those in and around Jerusalem were not keeping up on their duties. And, of course, we need to ask ourselves, how does that apply to me? It has been characteristic of our writer to follow his discussions with rapid admonition to straighten up and do it right AND he does it again. Let's read! Beginning in 10:19, are you ready? We'll read to the end of the chapter. Here we go, beginning in v.19...please read!
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a high priest over the house of God; let 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. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised; and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said. Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazing-stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."
O.K. quickly, get your eyes on v.19 and let's talk our way through it again. The word "therefore" (v.19) shows this is the conclusion to the foregoing section. What is it we need to have? "Boldness!" Let us have boldness! What for? To enter into the holiest... How? "by the blood of Jesus" the Christ, our Saviour. Boldness? This word suggests faith and confidence to a strong degree...no pussyfooting around. It's not a game, it's not child's play. It's the most important thing you will ever encounter in your life. Now, be sure and get the connection here! Our writer draws his admonition, i.e. his warnings and his caution-alarms in terms of those figures in his previous discussion. What's this faith and boldness for? "To enter into!" That means all the way across the threshold... INTO. Not just a quick start and then a bog-down. Not just a big bang and then go to sleep on the job. Hang-in-there with faith, confidence and boldness. Don't give in until you have made your calling and election sure, as Peter said it (II-Pet. 1:10). O.K., then, INTO what? Into; the holiest of all...what is that? Heaven! That which is within the veil. That is where our "forerunner is for us entered" (6:20). The second room (beyond the veil) in the temple was "called the holiest of all"...or God's dwelling place (that's 9:3). That was a figure or a shadow of heaven itself (called the "holiest of all" 9:8, which was not at that time made known). Jesus has NOW already entered INTO heaven for us, he is sitting on the righthand of God (10:12). Jesus has now entered "into heaven itself" (9:24). You see, that figure of "through the veil" (here v.20) is a reference to that curtain-like structure which stood between the old priests like Zechariah doing their duty in that old sanctuary and the dwelling place of God just across that heavy curtain (called the veil) that separated the two sanctuaries of the old tabernacle. However, our writer sees in his shadow-type thinking that old veil (miraculously torn from top to bottom at 3:00 PM that day that Jesus died on the cross, Matt. 27:51) as the figure of Christ's body, Christ's flesh (end v.20) that was also torn by nails and a spear on the cross. Christ's body, the sacrifice of his very flesh and blood, is the sacrifice for our sins AND stands between us and God in the new system, just as the veil of the temple stood between those priests and God...in the old system as those priests went about doing their duty. Can you see his figure? To enter heaven we must enter through Jesus' sacrifice of flesh and blood, which in this sense is the veil. And we cross this veil only once in a lifetime (Heb. 9:27-28). To enter heaven and be with Jesus and God for an eternity is the hope set before us (6:18), that "hope we have as an anchor of the soul" (6:19), where our forerunner has entered. The HEBREWS writer is, thus, saying: don't mess up...DON'T MESS UP!!
Now, how do we get there? "By the blood of Jesus" which is "a new and living way" (v.20). Have you got it? Jesus, sitting in heaven, is the High Priest over us (v.21). Now, v.22-23-24-25 is the way we get there. First, we must become a Christian. We must be a soldier of the cross, we must be a servant in the Lord's army, so-to-speak. Or Jesus will say (Matt. 7:21), "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." OR, for those who become Christians but do not serve (Matt. 25:12), he will say: "Verily I say unto you, I know you not." Now, what are the requirements for becoming a servant of the Master? It involves the heart, it involves faith, it involves conscience, it involves water (v.22). Then (v.23) when we become a soldier, it involves fidelity or faithfulness to King Jesus (v.23) and it involves consideration of one another (v.24) and it involves love and it involves good works (v.24). You've got to work at it! It involves carrying out our priestly duties (v.25).. .i.e. day by day very much as those old priests attended their duty and kept the lamps and incense of the tabernacle perpetually burning...we must in a similar way let our light shine...keep shining. We must not forsake our duty which involves assembling with our brothers and sisters in Christ at the appointed times, exhorting and encouraging each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs and of course worshipping the God of heaven in spirit and in truth as is prescribed in the book. We must prepare day by day and plan our duties as the days approach (end of v.25). Have you got it? Now, please do this little exercise for me. Move back up to v.19...and then underline these words: beginning in v.19. (#1) Underline: "the blood of Jesus." (#2) Skip down to v.22, underline "a true heart in full assurance of faith." (Have you got it? Turn the tape player off long enough to get a pencil, if you need to...) (#3) Underline the word "heart(s)." Then (#4) mark the word "conscience" and (#5) the word "water" (at the end of v.22). Then in v.23, (#6) underline: "consider one another"...underline: "love" and mark "good works" (at the end of v.24). Then in v.25, mark the word "assembling" and mark "exhorting one another." Have you got it? Now, turn the tape player off long enough to read to your self those words you just underlined. Look at them close. Those words are the high points of the section. It is "by the blood of Jesus... A true heart in full assurance of faith... heart... conscience... and water." Then after you become a Christian: "consider one another... love... good works... assembling... exhorting one another."Have you got it? Turn it off and do it NOW!........... did you do it? You have just read abrief outline of our writer's scheme of redemption... the steps of salvation, we might call it.
You see, in this section the writer is exhorting them to do it right. Thus, you would expect, I think, that his exhortation would reflect in some way the scheme, plan or arrangement by which those Christians in and around Jerusalem should have been working and worshipping in those day, and of course, this scheme or arrangement extends on down to us via the H.S. through this book, we call the Bible. In those words and phrases you just underlined, you have the outline...look at it again. In that phrase "the blood of Jesus" (v.19), you have (in effect) a reference to the gospel, i.e. the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (as defined in I-Cor. 15:1-4). V.3 there, says, with reference to the gospel: "by which also ye are saved." The power of salvation is in the gospel (Rom. 1:16). Thus, our writer puts that thought right up front. That is Christ's part in our salvation. Then, we have a part in our salvation...as Peter said on the day of pentecost: "save yourselves" (Acts 2:40). Our part by which we draw near (v.22) is expressed in that phrase "A true heart in full assurance of faith." Then, don't forget! "Faith cometh by hearing" (Rom. 10:17). "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb. 11:6). This involves the heart and the conscience as we just covered in our last section. We live in a time of remission of sins (Heb. 10:18, just up the page). If we will meet the requirements of obedience, God will remember our sins and our iniquities no more (v.17). That involves our heart and our conscience. Remission of sins takes place in baptism (Acts 2:38). Baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God (I-Pet. 3:21). It is by baptism we put on Christ (Gal. 3:27). It is by baptism (water baptism) we become members of Christ's body, the church (I-Cor. 12:13). Thus, our writer makes reference to this in that: "washed with pure water" phrase (at the end of v.22). Then, going on to v.23, faith is not only involved in becoming a Christian, continued faith is necessary in living the Christian life. Thus, he says: "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering..." i.e. after we become a Christian. First of all, our faith in Christ obligates us to our profession, i.e. our duties...just as the old priests were obligated to their duties... i.e. to keep the lights and the incense perpetually burning. We have a corresponding Christian duty, you see. We must do this "without wavering" (v.23)...did you get that? Now, how do we do that? We must "consider one another" (v.24). Do you remember Matt. 25:40? Jesus said: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." We must provoke each other "unto love" (v.24) and we must provoke each other to do "good works" (end of v.24). Of course, that involves "a knowledge of the truth" (v.26) and, of course, that involves "assembling" and that involves "exhorting one another" (v.25). Thus, our writer is getting down to the nitty-gritty of how to do it and do it right. We'll get back to this. Until our next lesson, have a good day.