We have learned that the sacrificial system that meant so much to the Jews was unsubstantial, and only a shadow pointing forward to the reality in Christ. Only the death of Christ could deal effectually with sin. The writer is now stressing the once-for-all character of Christ’s sacrifice.
v. 1 The law, although holy, righteous, and good (Romans 7:12), was only a ______________ pointing to Christ. Morris (1981) said, “The author is saying that the law is no more than a preliminary sketch. It shows the shape of things to come, but the solid reality is not there. It is in Christ.”
What commandments was Jesus referring to when he said, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt 22:40)?
We have learned that the Day of Atonement was observed once a year. The high priest would offer sacrifices for his own sin and the sin of the people in the Most Holy Place. However, the author is emphasizing that animal sacrifices repeated endlessly “can never make perfect those who draw near to worship.” What does that mean? Basically, the old system never had the ability to effectually deal with the inherent sin of humankind.
Only through Christ are we perfect in the spiritual sense of drawing near to God in worship and prayer. As a genuine Christian, we can draw near to the throne of God with confidence because we are forgiven and perfect “in Christ.”
Our sin is completely forgiven through Christ. We are perfect or complete in the sense that nothing more can be done to forgive our sins. Only perfection can approach our holy God, therefore, we come to God the Father through Christ who was the one and only perfect human being and ultimate sacrifice.
Since we do not offer animal sacrifices for our sin, what should our daily practice be as genuine Christians who struggle with sinful behavior, thoughts, and feelings everyday?
v. 2 The rhetorical question emphasizes ineffectiveness. It also, points to the date of the writing (before the destruction of the temple 70 AD). It appears that the sacrifices were still being offered at the time. However, if they were effective in cleansing sin and taking away a guilty conscience “once for all” they would have stopped being offered.
v. 3 The Day of Atonement was an annual reminder or remembrance of _________…. In reality, the annual ceremony reminded people of the fact that something had to be done about sin.
v. 4. No way forward through the blood of animals because_________________.
v. 5-7 The author supports his argument by referencing Scripture. Psalm 40:6-8.
Morris writes, “When Christ was about to come into the world, he said to God…. The words of the psalm are regarded as coming from Christ and as giving the reason for the Incarnation. The preexistence of Christ is assumed.”
We see the failure of these offerings and sacrifices to finally achieve God’s purpose. Even as they were offered they did not fulfill God’s will, nor was he necessarily pleased.
In fact, what is most important here? “I have come to do your will, O God.” What is more important than sacrifice? I Samuel 15:22 OBEDIENCE.
Christ was our obedient and perfect sacrifice. However, the sacrifice of animals—the animals didn’t understand obedience and they weren’t perfect. In the old sacrificial system, the offering weren’t against the will of God nor was God displeased with them necessarily. Morris (1981) said, “…considered in themselves as simply a series of liturgical actions, they were not the product of the divine will nor did they bring God pleasure….But the thrust of the quotation emphasizes the importance of the will.”
Certainly, when an offering was made by penitent people who were expressing their hearts through the sacrifice, God surely knew one’s heart. However, then and today, when we just go through rituals and our heart and mind, soul is not in it…well, God knows where we are in relationship to Him.
God through Isaiah speaks of the meaningless rituals and hypocritical behaviors performed:
The multitude of your sacrifices—
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?” says the LORD.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your evil assemblies.
14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts
my soul hates.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even if you offer many prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood;
Where are you today? Like Jesus, are we showing our Love for God through willing obedience?
What are some rituals we may go through today? And because our hearts are not in it, do we miss relating with, experiencing joy, and blessing from our Holy God?
v. 8 “(although the law required them to be made).” We have learned and emphasize that the sacrificial system was divinely inspired but preliminary. Morris said, “But they were not God’s final will nor God’s answer to the problem of sin. They were partial and pointed the way. Even though they came as part of the law, we are to recognize their limitation.”
v. 9. Again, Jesus came to do the will of God. What is the “first” that is set aside to establish the “second?”
The Levitical sacrifices are no longer necessary in light of the ultimate and perfect sacrifice of Christ. Morris said, “These are not complimentary systems that may exist side by side. The one excludes the other. No compromise is possible between them.”
v. 10 “And by that will we have been made ____________ through the _____________ of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
When we talk about “made holy” or “to sanctify” we usually refer to a process of becoming, progressing in Christian qualities and character. However, the writer of Hebrews uses that same terminology differently than the apostle Paul.
Morris said, “In Hebrews the same terminology is used of the process by which a person becomes a Christian and is therefore ‘set apart’ for God….The sanctification meant here is one brought about by the death of Christ. It has to do with making people Christian, not with developing Christian Character. It is important also to notice that it is the offering ‘of the body’ of Christ that saves.”
we have been sanctified: The Greek word, Hagiazo means to be separated out, to separate from the profane, dedicated to God. When a person comes to Christ, they are “born again”, the person is “Sanctified” separated out from the world. The sacrifice of Christ’s body has separated out those who put their faith in him. This is in contrast to the daily and yearly sacrifice of the first system. Christ sacrifice was “once for all”, there was no other sacrifice needed (truthnet.org).
Our prayer is that you have been sanctified because you put your faith in Jesus, our perfect and final sacrifice!
Expositor’s Bible Commentary (1981) Frank Gaebelein (ed)
NIV Study Bible (1985)