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Lowell Brueckner

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It’s The Real Thing


  (an expository study of the book of Hebrews)

Chapter 10

 1. For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.

2. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.

3. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.

4. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

5. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a Body You have prepared for Me.

6. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.

7. Then I said, ‘Behold I have come – in the volume of the book it is written of Me – to do Your will, O God.’”

8. Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law),

9. then He said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second.

10. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.


The eternal will of God

 New Testament teaching is very clear concerning God’s intentions in giving the ceremonial law and to go beyond God’s intentions is folly. God gave the law for a shadow to foresee an image, which is to come. The law has no abiding substance. It points to a reality to come, which will do an effective and eternal work for those who approach (1).

 When Jesus offered the Samaritan woman living water, so that she would never again thirst, she expressed her weariness in taking the daily walk to the well. It was, perhaps, ¼ mile, after which she would return with the full jar: “Sir, give me this water, that I may not… come here to draw.” There is drudgery in work that must be repeated continually, but God does a work that is perfect and doesn’t ever need to be repeated.  The people came and the priests offered sacrifices continually, while the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies every year. They never found relief for their wounded conscience. The work was unending, until Jesus came (2).


 “In the seventh month on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls” (Lv.16:29). The modern Jew continues to afflict his soul on that day – the Day of Atonement, fasting, remembering and confessing his sin. He does not even have the satisfaction, these days, of watching the blood of an animal shed for him. He does not have a temple on the one place that the Lord indicated, where sacrifice could be made. So he continues year after year mourning for his sins, but there is no atonement and no cleansing; he will die without hope (3).

 You will notice the present tense in which the writer describes the situation. It was taking place in Jerusalem, as he writes, before 70 A.D On the tenth day of the seventh month every year, the blood of bulls and goats was being shed (4), only pointing to the great and perfect Day of Atonement, when the blood of the Lamb of God was shed once for all.  

 Christ submits Himself to the Father, making the solemn declaration, as he takes on the Body that the Father had prepared, that this was His will, to which the sacrifices and offerings only pointed. God had this Body in mind, long before He formed it in the womb of Mary. It was His will before the worlds and the first man, Adam, were created. The preparation work began in earnest, when Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were called into that purpose. Then Judah was prepared, as we read the account of Joseph and his brothers, and we see an amazing transformation in Leah’s fourth son, whose name meant praise.

 A transformation also took place, by faith, in a harlot named Rahab of Jericho and she was adopted into the Hebrew family. After her, Ruth, the faithful Moabitess, legally forbidden access to Israel, found her place as the great-grandmother of King David. On and on, the genealogy was carefully chosen throughout the Hebrew history, including the 70-year captivity. Nothing stopped its unfolding, until a Baby was laid in the hay of a Bethlehem manger. He clothed Himself with this Body of death (5). The Father took no pleasure in the blood of animal sacrifices and burnt offerings (6), but 30 years after Jesus was born, His voice rang out from heaven over the waters of Jordan, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased(Mt.3:17). It was all recorded in the volume of the Book, the Old Testament Scripture (7).

 His birth, ministry, death and resurrection was a work of the trinity. Mary was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Mt.1:18), and at His baptism “He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him” (Mt.3:17). After “the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness” (Mk.1:12), “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit” (Lk.4:14) to minister. He offered Himself to the Father through the Spirit on the cross (He.9:14) and was resurrected by the Father through the Spirit (Ro.8:11). The trinity brings us into the presence of God: “Through Him (Christ) we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph.2:18).

 Here is the logic of the Holy Spirit, inspiring His human vessel: The fact that God took no pleasure in sacrifices and offerings, according to the law, signifies their removal (8). The perfect will of God is expressed and established in the Body and work of Jesus Christ (9). That which He removes is the continual sacrifices year by year, and that which He establishes is once and for all eternity.

Please look and meditate on verse 10: The will of God in Christ, which was settled in eternity past, concerns us! God willed our perfect sanctification through the body and blood of Christ.  (10). Sanctification means to be set apart and we are set apart from the population of the world as God’s eternal possession – once for all. That is the significance of the church: The body called apart.  “You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification…” (1 Co.1:30). Our position in the throne room of heaven is pure and secure. The commentary of Jamieson-Faucett-Brown says it well: “The whole work of redemption flows from ‘the will’ of God the Father, as the First Cause, who decreed redemption from before the foundation of the world. The ‘will’ here is His ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGN WILL.” The Lord Jesus came in perfect compliance to that will.

11. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

12. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,

13. from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.

14. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

15. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,

16. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”

17. then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

18. Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.


 Perfect remission of sins

 The writer, and we recall that He is perfectly inspired by the Holy Spirit, is quite repetitious in this chapter. God knows that repetition is a good teacher. Every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly we have learned previously. They are always standing and continually ministering, because their work is never accomplished. Sin remains to plague men forever (11). The phrase, but this Man, is a glorious introduction to the Son of Man, who is the hope of mankind. He sat down at the right hand of God. The contrast is wonderfully obvious; He sits down having accomplished the work perfectly (12).

 When He took His seat, He awaits another result of His cross; the Father will one day send Him back into the world to conquer His enemies and make them His footstool (13, read Revelation, chapter 19). I want to complete here the teaching of perfect sanctification in Christ begun in the previous section. Nothing that is marred or polluted can ever gain access to the throne room of God. However, the sanctification that we have in Jesus Christ gives us a perfect position before God. We are totally accepted in Him, when we come before Him in prayer in the name of Jesus, and our salvation is sure at the hour of our death or when He returns for His own. The work that Christ did cannot be improved upon (14). 

 Practical sanctification is another matter. The new nature, received when we are born again desires that we live a life that pleases God, but unfortunately, because we walk in a body which is tainted by sin, we are far from perfect in our daily walk. Therefore, as we submit to the Father´s discipline, our practical living should become more and more like Christ. We will learn more about this in chapter 12. 

Once more, we see the writer giving authorship to the Holy Spirit for the Old Testament Scriptures, stating, the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us (15). Then he quotes again, as he did in chapter 8, Jeremiah 33:33-34 (16-17). Their sins are remitted, God no longer holds them in his memory and therefore, there is no need any more for sacrifices (18).

 19. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20. by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,

21. and having a High Priest over the house of God,

22. 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.

23. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

24. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,

25. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.


A way of life, freely and effectively applied

 We come into this covenant, as Gentiles, and because we are confident of Christ’s perfect work and the Father’s acceptance of it, we come boldly into the true Holy of Holies in heaven, which is the Father’s throne room (19). (This is impossible, if we are looking at our own practical holiness.)

 The commentators tell me that the new way refers to freshness. It is a term used nowhere else in the New Testament and it means newly killed. It is not inferring that this way did not exist previously, but this way is through a recently killed sacrifice. The animal blood in the Old Testament had to be sprinkled as soon as it was shed, or it would become coagulated and useless.  The way through the blood of Christ is always warm and fresh and can be freely applied. Living refers to a fountain that is always running, of which Jesus spoke, when He referred to living water. So we conclude that now we have a way that is always warm and available, always fresh, and can be applied effectively to any life at any time in history. Ah, the beauty of Holy Spirit-teaching!

 The veil, which the high priest pulled aside once a year to enter the Holy of Holies, represents Christ’s flesh. When He was on the cross, the veil was rent in two from top to bottom. When He was smitten, afflicted, wounded, bruised, and chastised (verbs from Isaiah 53), a way opened into the holy presence of God (20). He has consecrated… that is, prepared, dedicated and established… this way for us. It is there for us to enter in… whosoever will! (Rev.22:17).

 There He sits today as High Priest over all that is God’s reality and His true, eternal habitation (21). The true heart is the inner man, born-again, “not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever…this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (1 P.1:23-25). It is this word that gives full assurance, by the highest authority, to our position and it is for anyone, who will receive and trust in it. It declares us sprinkled from an evil conscience and washed with pure water, not according to Old Testament law, but according to the grace and eternal will of God (22).

 On our part, we need to believe and confess, consistent with this truth, never needing to doubt or vacillate. God cannot lie and His promise cannot fail (23). We need to take our brothers and sisters into account, fan the flames of love, and add oil to the wheels of their ministry in the body of Christ. As the Holy Spirit is doing through the writer of Hebrews, by exalting Christ and the will of the Father, we can stir up the love of God in the lives of others. It is burning, it simply needs the wind of the Spirit to blow on it. The good works are the fruits of faith which naturally flow out of love (24), as Rahab believed God and therefore protected His spies, who came to her house (Josh.2:1-21)

 Assembling can take place by twos and threes, as well as by scores or hundreds. Remember Jesus’ promise of His presence among two or three, who gather together. Go back to chapter 3:13, where the writer already tells us to “exhort one another daily”. The consequences are so indescribably terrible for those, who are careless. We obviously need mutual edification and exhortation, so we dare not neglect it, and this is to be increasing practiced as we move closer and closer to the time of the end. Not a future night, but a Day awaits the congregation of saints and is to be always in our hearts and minds (25). For the saints, the day burns brighter unto a perfect day – when He appears (2 P.2:19).

26. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

27. but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

28. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

29. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

30. For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”

31. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.


New Testament wrath and vengeance

 Those whose manner is to forsake assembling are the ones most in danger of that, which follows. As they willfully neglect Christian fellowship, so they willfully sin. They know the truth, but they neglect it and drift away (2:1) and there is no telling, where they might end up. The Greek literally signifies to willfully go on sinning. It does not refer to individual acts of sin, but a lifestyle of sin. If they do not cling to the sacrifice of Christ, as we have been studying it, then there is no other sacrifice for them (26). All that awaits is eternal condemnation from an angry God, as He takes vengeance on His adversaries. The careless, indifferent, and neglectful are His enemies (27). Verse 28 shows the augmented seriousness of the New Covenant, not only by superior promises, but by increased judgment. We will notice, as well, that everything that has to do with God requires confirmation… two or three witnesses. It never depends on the testimony of one.

 There is nothing as serious, under Moses, as what the Holy Spirit has put before us in this chapter and, in fact, in this entire book. Under the law of love, grace and mercy from God, the consequences of rejection are infinitely severer. The premise is set before us as a question, which requires a logical answer. What are the consequences of treading on God, Who was made flesh, of treating lightly and commonly the incalculably precious blood of Christ and of insulting the easily-grieved Holy Spirit of grace?  The arrogance required for such an attitude expressed in verse 29 is stunning. The pronoun in that verse is not we, but he. It is unthinkable that a heart, which has experienced new birth, should manifest such an attitude. We will see a few verses later that it cannot, but here the comments given in chapter 6, verses 4-8, apply.

 I have to wonder why some teachers think it is necessary to threaten believers with eternal damnation in order to keep them in line. There seems to be an arrogant independence, humanism really, behind the doctrine of self-preservation. I also stay far away from those who teach that once you are saved, no matter what you do, you will go to heaven. I think both are missing an appreciation for the power of grace that, not only assures the child of God of his salvation, but also keeps Him from falling.

 It seems to me that John sums up New Testament teaching on this subject when he states, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but He who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (1 Jn.5:18, ESV). Some translations, including the KJV, have keeps himself, but that is incorrect, because the Greek does not give a reflexive verb here, so the simple translation is keeps him. He will not do well, who keeps himself. He must humbly commit himself to God’s keeping power, as Peter writes: “Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation” (1 P.1:5). John and Peter’s assertions line up nicely with Jesus’ words to the Father: “Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost…” (Jn.17:12). He told the Jews that His disciples were His sheep: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (Jn.10:28).

 The writer quotes Moses (Dt.32:35-36, see also Nah.1:2) when he said that we know Him who said… He knew, and the early Christians knew, God as an avenger… vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord (30). The Old Testament revelation is carried very clearly into the New. Paul said, “It is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you… in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God” (2 Th.1:6,8).

 He also quotes, The Lord will judge His people, and that is a fearful thing (31). There is even judgment unto death and Paul told the Corinthians that because of their lightness in partaking of the Lord’s Table, “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” (1 Co.11:30-32).

 32. But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings;

33. partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated;

34. for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.

35. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

36. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

37. “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

38. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

39. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.


We are not of those who draw back to perdition

 Memory is a gift, especially in Christian experience. David encouraged himself in the Lord, looking back at God’s promises to him and His help throughout his life (1 S.30:6). We join with the Hebrew Christians, looking back at the time, when God first brought light into our life and perhaps we can also recall being ridiculed and even threatened. We may have been taken through physical, emotional or spiritual trials, in which we saw the Lord’s hand clearly upon us, helping us in the trial. It is a command: Bring those things to remembrance (32)!

 If the Hebrew Christians were not part of the reproaches and tribulations, they at least suffered with those who went through them (33). We need, in our day, to stand with the suffering church, throughout the world who, as I write and you read, are being mocked, tortured or put to death. They are our brothers; let us be their companions (33). The writer himself has experienced the Hebrews’ compassion for him, when he was imprisoned.

 Their possessions were taken from them and they saw that as an occasion to rejoice. It made heaven all that much more a reality and comfort. Today’s believer in the western world must get his eyes on heaven, as his hope and home. When things are too comfortable here below, he tends to put down roots and grow fond of this evil world. Life here is cruel and vain, from the crib to the grave. It is an unalterable fact that we grow old, get increasingly feeble and die, and take nothing with us to the grave. Those are wise things to recall and they help to keep our attachments here light and easy to release (34).

 Because this is so true, don’t let go of the confidence in all that the Bible teaches and promises. They were given to you… take them and live in the comfort of them. You honor God by believing and rejoicing in His work for your salvation. Glory in Christ, His cross and resurrection (35)! Endurance is a Christian virtue, expressed by the apostle John from his exile in Patmos: “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience (same Greek word as in Heb.10:36) of Jesus Christ” (Rv.1:9). The church of Philadelphia was commended for it (Rv.3:10), and it is expressed as a great characteristic of believers in many texts. The writer saw the Hebrew believers’ need for it and I dare say that we also lack.

 Because life is short, we need to keep our eyes on the sky. He will come and His coming is not to be delayed one moment beyond that, which is determined by the Father, in the perfect fulfillment of His purposes. The Israelites were kept in exile for the time necessary, and not one day beyond, in order that the proper discipline would be performed in their lives. (We will learn more of His discipline in chapter 12). Whether by His coming in the clouds, or His coming for us in death, we are not far from heaven. Let us live accordingly (37).

 There is one thing that God demands as essential in order to enter and to live in the Kingdom of God. It is this thing called faith; this comes as an introduction to the next chapter. Faith is trust in God. The soul of the writer and the Holy Spirit, who inspires him, is grieved by falling back from trust in God and, for the third time, we have the famous quotation from Habakkuk that is the backbone of the New Testament, “The just shall live by faith” (Hab.2:4, see also Ro.1:17 and Gá.3:11). As grievous as backsliding may be, this verse is not about falling into sin or backsliding into worldly pleasure. That is not the problem with the believers, to whom he is writing. It is a greater disservice to Christ, that they lose confidence in His person and His perfect work for their salvation (38).

 Having warned of that, though there are some tendencies in that direction and the devil sometimes leaves them shaken with threats and doubts, the writer assures them of his conviction that they are not going back to perdition. He said similarly in chapter 6:9: “We are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.” I was referring to this final verse, when I said that a born-again believer could not possibly have the attitude expressed in verse 29. We are not of those who draw back, he writes now. Who are these who do not draw back? Simply the ones, who are listening from their hearts as this letter is read to them. Just as they did so many centuries ago, I think that the only ones who are seriously considering my comments on this book, are those with open hearts to learn and practice all that we are being taught. Therefore, I put before your eyes again, the final verse: We are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul!




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