Hebrews 8:1 – 10:18
A Better Ministry (8:1-13)
The two great Covenants have to do with Israel, not the Church, as we clearly see from Rom. 9:4; "... Israelites; to whom pertaineth ... the covenants". Covenant theologians argue that the New Covenant is with the Church; but if we look at Jeremiah 31:31 we find that the New Covenant will be made with "the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah". The covenants are with Israel and for the earth. The Church is heavenly, and called out of the earth. If we compare the two covenants we will see striking differences:
|Old Covenant||New Covenant|
|Made with:||Israel at Sinai in the wilderness||Israel and Judah in the Millennium|
|Character:||Blessings or cursings conditional upon Israel's obedience||Unconditional blessings|
|A system of:||Demand (works)||Supply (grace)|
The great difference between the two covenants is that the Old was on the basis of works, and the New is on the basis of grace. The language of the Old is "if thou shalt ... then I will...", but the language of the New is just "I will...". The prophecy of Jeremiah 31 was given after the utter failure of Israel under the Old Covenant was manifest, which set God on His part free to make a New Covenant. On the people's part, the cross must come in first, because it was necessary to transfer the issue of their responsibility to Israel's smitten Messiah. The guilt of breaking the Old must be cleared before the New could be established. Therefore, we can see that the death of Christ was needed to "take away the first and establish the second" (Heb. 10:9). If the New Covenant is made with Israel, why does the cup in the Lord's Supper represent "the blood of the New Covenant" (1 Cor. 11:25, etc.)? If we look at the blessings of the New Covenant we will see that Christians have those same blessings in Christianity, although we also have many blessings that go far beyond those of the New Covenant (Eph. 1; blessings "in Christ"). Therefore, it can be said that Christians share the blessings of the New Covenant, without being formally under the covenant. Paul clearly says that Christians are "competent, as ministers of the new covenant" (2 Cor. 3:6) although we are not under it as a binding contract; "not of letter, but of spirit". The spirit of the New Covenant is grace, and that is what characterizes our relationship to God in Christianity. The same blood that has secured the New Covenant blessings for future Israel has secured our blessings in Christianity today.
A Better Sanctuary (9:1-12)
A Better Sacrifice (9:13 – 10:18)
The Sacrifice of Christ. Having introduced the subject of the “better sacrifice” of Christ in v.12, the writer of Hebrews now enters on that subject directly, showing the parallels and contrasts with the sacrifices of Israel’s earthly system. All blessing for man comes always and only through the death and blood of Christ. All the death and blood of Old Testament sacrifices had a ceremonial application, but no efficacy to remove sin or give the conscience peace.
The Necessity and Results of Christ’s Death and Shed Blood (9:13-28)
What We Have Through the Blood (vv.13-23)
- First, the blood was used to inaugurate the Old Covenant. In Exodus 24, after Moses had read the law to the people, and the people had agreed to keep it (Ex. 24:3), Moses took blood and sprinkled the book and the people, stating “This is the blood of the covenant which God has enjoined to you.” The blood in this way inaugurated the Old Covenant, and formally placed the people under it. In a parallel way, the blood of Christ has been shed so that Israel, when the New Covenant is made with them, will come under its blessings. We as Christians already enter into the blessings of that covenant without being under it. This is why the cup in the Lord’s Supper represents “the blood of the New Covenant” (1 Cor. 11:25, etc.), because that blood that has secured the New Covenant blessings for future Israel, as well as our blessings in Christianity today. The blood of sprinkling at Sinai was a solemn warning of death if Israel disobeyed, whereas the blood of Christ speaks of grace and blessing. It is interesting that some of the details recorded here are not mentioned in Exodus. We read nothing of the water, scarlet wool, or hyssop at the inauguration of the Old Covenant, but all three are found in the cleansing of the leper (Lev. 14) and in the cleansing of contact with death, or the red heifer offering (Num. 19). Obviously they were involved at Sinai, but not recorded in Exodus.
- Second, the blood was used for purification; “the tabernacle too and all the vessels of service he sprinkled in like manner with blood; and almost all things are purified with blood according to the law”. It is clearly as distinct aspect from the inauguration of the covenant, because the tabernacle and vessels were not then built! This “sprinkling” in v.21 alludes to the Day of Atonement when Aaron, at Moses’ direction, would “make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel”, and this was done by the sprinkling of blood (Lev 16:16-20). This sprinkling was done to guard against any defilement of the meeting place which man, on his part, might bring in. This aspect is taken up further in v.23. It is added that “almost all things are purified with blood according to the law”. In the Old Testament things were purified sometimes by water, which represents moral cleansing, but sometimes by blood, which represents a judicial cleansing. Jesus came by water and blood (1 John 5:6). Even if something cannot be charged with guilt, it can still be defiled by sin, and thus needs purification.
- Third, the blood was used in the remission of sins. This final aspect of the blood is the greatest; “and without blood-shedding there is no remission”. Remission of sins means the cancelling of the guilt of sins. The word remit means ‘to cancel or refrain from exacting or inflicting a debt or punishment’. It is the moral foundation for the forgiveness of sins; the blood of Christ has been “shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). The offering of Christ vindicated and glorified the nature of God in respect to sin, and this set God at liberty to cancel the the guilt of those who come to Christ in faith, and bless them according to His own purpose of love. The sacrifices under the Old Covenant could only remit sins in a ceremonial way, and thus the veil remained under that system. Only the sacrifice of Christ and His precious blood has efficacy to remit sins judicially before God. Not until the blood of Christ was sprinkled before the eye of God could that veil be rent and the believer invited to draw near!
Three Appearances of Christ (vv.24-28)
The Weakness of the Law and Its Sacrifices (vv.1-4)
The Will of God: Accomplished by Christ (vv.5-10)
The Work of Christ: Done Once For All (vv.11-14)
For His blood and the Priest are there;
And we joyfully seek God’s holy face,
With our censer of praise and prayer.
The burning mount and the mystic veil,
With our terrors and guilt, are gone;
Our conscience has peace that can never fail,
‘Tis the Lamb on high on the throne.
The Witness of the Spirit: The Work Is Done (vv.15-18)
- Notice that it says “errors of the people”. The sin offerings of the Old Testament only covered “sins of ignorance” (Lev. 4:2, 13, 27; 5:15, 17), but provided no remedy for “presumptuous sins” (Num. 15:30-36). This also shows the shortcomings of that old system.
- “Certain things were imposed on them until the time of reformation. Christ came, ‘an High Priest of good things to come.’ What does that refer to? Some may find a difficulty as to whether ‘to come,’ refers to what was future for the Jews, while that tabernacle was standing, or to what is now future. I believe both. All was new in Christ. It was to come on a new foundation. The basis is laid for the entire and perfect reconciliation of man with God.” – Darby, J.N. Collected Writings, vol. 27, p. 385.
- …If these good things were now acquired, if it could be said, “we have them,” because Christianity was their fulfilment, it could hardly be still said — when Christianity was established — “good things to come.” They are yet to come. These “good things” consist of all that the Messiah will enjoy when He reigns. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
- C.E. Stuart and W. Scott promoted an evil teaching that Christ entered heaven in the disembodied state to sprinkle his own blood before the throne of God. He twisted this verse (Heb. 9:12) to that end. However, a careful examination of the verse will reveal that it does not say Christ sprinkled His own blood. He entered heaven by it, but this was as a glorified man, and as our High Priest. The sacrifice of the cross was not a priestly sacrifice, and it forms no part of the priesthood of Christ, which began with His glorification.
- Heb. 9:16-17 is the sole passage of scripture which requires or even admits of such a sense; and it is there due to “eternal inheritance” in the verse immediately preceding. The word in itself is capable of either sense, meaning in human relations a disposition, especially of property by will, and in divine things a covenant, which naturally predominates in the LXX. and the N.T. The context decides with certainty. – Kelly, W. Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
- There are three aspects in which the value of Christ's blood is here seen. First, it was the seal of the covenant, connected with its dedication to God. That was also done in connection with the covenant with Abraham; Gen. 15. A person, binding himself to death in the most solemn way, passes through the pieces of the sacrifice. It was the seal of the covenant. Second, it is purifying. Third, the blood is for remission. - Darby, J.N. Exposition of Hebrews.
- Kelly, W. Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
- The “end of the ages,” or “consummation of the ages,” are all the dealings of God with man to test his general condition. In this general sense the state of innocence came in; but the proper connection is what comes after the fall, yet not looking at man as lost, but testing his state and whether he was recoverable; or was lost and had to be saved. Without law; under law; God manifested in the flesh, were the great features of this [testing of the first man]. Hence in John 12 the Lord says, “Now is the judgment of this world.” Though there was testimony, there were no religious institutions before the flood, unless the fact of sacrifices. There were after: government; promises to Abraham, showing it was grace to one separated from an idolatrous world and head of a new race [not an accurate description]; the law; the prophets; and at last the Son as come, not as offered. Then God laid the foundation of His own purposes in righteousness. – Darby, J.N. Letters of J. N. Darby 3:442.
- The expression, “the ends of the ages,” which will be found in 1 Corinthians 10:11, is rather strange; but to preserve the sense of the Greek, we could not say, “the last times,” any more than “the end of the ages,” still less “the end of the world.” The end of the ages was not yet come; but all the different dispensations by which God had put Himself in relation with man, so far as they were connected with man’s responsibility, had come to one point, and were brought to an end in the death of the Lord Jesus. After that — great as had been His longsuffering — God established a new creation. We have therefore used the literal translation, “the ends of the ages.” – Darby, J.N. Collected Writings 13:169.
- We have had the will of God as the source of our salvation, and the Saviour’s work as the efficacious means. There now follows the no less indispensable witness of the Holy Spirit as the unfailing power of bringing our souls into the possession and knowledge of the blessing. Thus each person of the Godhead has His appropriate place, and all contribute to this end as worthy of God as it is needed by man. – Kelly, W. Exposition of Hebrews.
- Here the ears "dug" express His incarnation, as "opened" (Isa. 50) His daily dependence, and "bored" (Ex. 21) His devotedness in death and forever. - Kelly, W. Notes on Psalms.
- I highly recommend the following address: Address by Chuck Hendricks, The Digged, Opened, Pierced Ear, Toledo 1987
- Notice that Eli later died by falling off a seat, although it was probably a different seat, “by the wayside… by the gate” (1 Sam. 4:13-18). He was never able to overcome his tendency for laziness: sitting when we first read of him, and sitting when he died (but then, “very heavy”).
- Darby, J. N. Collected Writings, vol. 27, p. 386