For the Love of God, Volume 1/November 15
From Gospel Translations
1 Chronicles 5—6; Hebrews 10; Amos 4; Psalms 148—150
HEBREWS 10 BRINGS TOGETHER many of the earlier arguments of this book, while advancing some new ones. It also marks a transition: from 10:19 on, the balance of explanation and exhortation changes. Now there is more of the latter and less of the former.
The summary of the antecedent instruction is found at the beginning of the chapter: “The law [by which the author means the entire law-covenant, not least its tabernacle, priestly system, and sacrifices] is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who would draw near to worship” (10:1).
By contrast, “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place [not the Most Holy Place of the old tabernacle or temple, but the very presence of the living God] by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain” (10:19-20). That generates a sequence of five “let us” statements.
(1) Let us draw near to God (10:22). Because so full and final a sacrifice has been offered for us, let us make use of it, approaching this holy God “with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,” precisely because our consciences have been purged.
(2) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess (10:23). What Christ has accomplished on the cross is the fulfillment of the Old Testament models and predictions, but the climax of what it inaugurates is still future. Our ultimate vindication and transformation lie ahead. But this hope is as certain as the triumph of Christ was effective, “for he who promised is faithful” (10:23).
(3) Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (10:24). We do not seek the consummation as spiritual lone rangers; Christians live now in the community of the church and will live then in the community of the heavenly city.
(4) Negatively, let us not give up meeting together (10:25). Just because some fall into withdrawal patterns is no reason why we should, if we truly grasp the greatness of the salvation in which we are participating and the glory yet to be revealed.
(5) Comprehensively, let us encourage one another—indeed, more and more “as you see the Day approaching” (10:25). Everyone will grow weary from time to time, or lapse into unrest or self-focus. If all believers pledge themselves to encourage one another in the gospel and all it grants and promises, there will be far fewer individual failures, against which the author warns in the remaining verses of the chapter.