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October 29, 2006

 

Background Passage: Hebrews 10:1-18

Lesson Passage: Hebrews 10:1-4, 8-18

 

Introduction: For many years I thought of the Old Testament Tabernacle as a beautiful and sublime place: gold and bronze gilded fixtures, magnificent symmetry of the Tabernacle arrangement, and striking, brightly colored fabrics and leathers.My attention centered on the impressive ritual garments of the priests and the glorious presence of God overshadowing the Most Holy Place.Then, while reading the Book of Hebrews, I gained another perspective.

 

The loveliness of the tabernacle was marred by the daily sacrifices.Hereís my point.The priests made daily sacrifices: every day the death rattle of dying animals broke the sacred silence around the great tent.The priestís knives made short work of the sacrificial beasts, and blood flowed profusely.Blood splattered everywhere and the unpleasant odors of animals, death, and blood must have permeated the air surrounding the Tabernacle.The pristine garments of the priests were, no doubt, splattered with blood from the sacrifices, and the sticky residue of blood must have covered the priestís hands.The stench of offal must have hung heavy in the air.The ritual sacrifices were an assault on the senses.The price of sin was high.

 

The Tabernacle provides a marvelous picture of the effects of sin.God created mankind with great splendor and dignity; nevertheless, sin stained everything mankind touched.The Lord told Adam that the wages of sin was death, and the sin of our first parents brought a ruinous defilement on the entire race.The Tabernacle sacrificial system provides us with a sobering reminder of the awful consequences of sin.The penalty for sin is death, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.

 

The Old Testament sacrificial rituals provide us with great insight regarding the way of redemption.

(1)   It revealed the holiness of God and taught our ancient fathers the importance of reverence before the Righteous Lord.

(2)   It depicted the sad separation of sinful man from his benevolent Creator.God made man holy and happy, but sin interrupted that congenial fellowship and barred man from the presence of God.The Lordís presence remained evident to the people of Israel as they observed the Pillar of Fire and Cloud; nevertheless, sinful men could not enter the Holy Place because of the effects of transgressionóseparated, sadly separated, from the glorious presence of God.

(3)   It kept alive a hope that mankind might regain their access to God through the atoning sacrifice of a bloody offering.Only death could propitiate the wrath of God.The sacrifices served a foreshadow of a way of remission; yet, the ritual killings continued, day after day, without any real satisfaction of the great debt sinners owe to God.Bleeding animals could not atone for the grievous transgressions of a sinful people.Something more was needed.

(4)   Above all, the Tabernacle rituals pointed sinners to Christ.His death for sinners rests at the very heart of the gospel, and this message never grows old.In our study of Hebrews we have encountered the claims of Christís supremacy over the angels, the Law of Moses, the Old Testament priesthood, and now, we observe the most important principle of this book.The Jesus not only serves as the great High Priest of his people, he also is the sacrifice that effectually atones for the sin.He is both the Priest and the sacrifice in Godís plan of redemption.

 

We near the end of our study of the doctrinal section of the Book of Hebrews, and, as we would expect, this crescendo occurs in Chapter Ten.The hortatory section of the book builds on the theological principles expressed in this strategic chapter.Like no where else in the Book of Hebrews, Chapter Ten ushers us into the Holy of Holies, the place atonement and reconciliation.Let us enter this study with profound reverence, joy, and assurance.

 

 

Outline of the Background Passage:

 

I.                   The Inadequacy of the Old Testament Sacrificial System (10:1-4)

A.    ďThe LawĒ (refers to the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law) served only as a shadow of good things to come (v.1a).The Tabernacle was the shadow; Christ is the substance of the promises of God. What is a shadow?It bears the form of the substance, and it provides a helpful, revealing impression of the contours of the reality.When the sun shines behind an object, the shadow falls in such a way that it anticipates the arrival of the substance.The Law foreshadowed the coming of Christ and gave glorious insight into the promised redemptive work of the Savior. Nonetheless, believers must not value the shadow over the substance.Once the Savior appeared, the shadow became superfluous.

B.     The continual repetition of the Mosaic sacrifices demonstrated that they did not and could not provide a lasting remedy for sin (vv. 1b-3).The Tabernacle offerings, continually repeated, could not purge the consciences of those who participated in the performance of rituals; in fact, the cyclical pattern of sacrifice merely served a constant reminder of the defilement of sin (See v. 3).

C.     Ultimately, the blood of bulls and goats could not atone for the sins of mankind (v. 4).A man must pay for manís sin.This verse foreshadows the incarnation of Christ who became a man so he could die for human beings.

 

II.                Christ Replaced the sacrificial System of the Old Testament (10:5-10)

A.    Godís ultimate purpose was not satisfied in the ritual sacrifices (vv. 5a, 6, and 8a).Hebrews quotes Psalm 40:6-8.David, in this wonderful Psalm, declared that God demands a transformation of the heart rather than the mere duty of ritual.The sacrifices of Davidís day did not address the real concern of God, the purity of the human heart.Hebrews uses this principle to drive home the point that the blood of goats and bulls never transformed a single heart.Divine justice and human need demand a greater sacrifice.

B.     Christ took on a human body so he could do for sinners what ritual sacrifices could not accomplish (vv. 5b, 7, and 9a).Christís humanity, coupled with his glorious deity, provided a sufficient atonement for sinners.

C.     Christís perfect sacrifice took away the old sacrificial code (v. 10).The previous manner of worship gave way to the establishment of a better way, the sacrifice of the Savior.For these ancient readers to return to the rituals of the Old Covenant, after Jesus ushered in a new and better way, would be the height of folly.

 

III.             The Effects of the Lordís Sacrifice for Sinners (10:11-18)

A.    Jesus completed his work of atonement and sits at the right hand of God (vv. 11-12).The Mosaic Code required the priests to remain standing during their ministrations.This standing posture, according to our text, indicated that their work was not completed.Christ, on the other, took his seat at the right hand of God because he had finished his work.He died, once for all time (The writer of Hebrews returned to his references to Psalm 110).

B.     Christ secured his victory, and the victory of his people, and awaits the culmination of his triumph when God will humiliate Christís enemies by making the ungodly a footstool for the exalted Son (v. 13).

C.     Christ, in his death and resurrection, perfected those who are being sanctified (v. 14).Careful Bible students should note the verbs tenses used in this verse.ďHe has perfectedĒ translates a perfect tense that denotes a completed action and the ongoing results of that action.The Lord Jesus perfected his people; that is, he restored them to the divine purpose for which God created them.Who, then, is perfected in this manner?The text tells us that this perfection applies to ďthose who are being sanctified.ĒThis verb tense indicates an ongoing action.We may know that Christís has secured our perfection by our progressive growth in holiness.

D.    Christ, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, affirms that those for whom the Lord has died will know the remission of their sins (vv. 15-18).What mark do these forgiven people bear?The Law of God is written on their hearts and minds (v. 16). They no longer regard the precepts of the Lord as external constrains on their conduct; instead, they delight in the Law of the Lord.

E.     The cessation of the Old Testament sacrificial system indicates that Christ has satisfied, for his people, the righteous demands of the Law.Remission of sin has been achieved through the timeless and eternal work of Christ (v. 18).