The Book of Hebrews #36 chapter 10:1-18
The Book of Hebrews
Christ: The Living Sacrifice #1
Hebrews 10:1-18
 
It seems to me that over the course of time there has been a subtle, or maybe not so subtle shift in the preaching ministry of the church. The apostle Paul, in cultured Corinth, was determined, he said, to "know nothing among you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."
 
That is the very foundation of the church.  The necessity of the blood sacrifice of Jesus is essential if a church will be true to the Bible.  But over time, the blood and crucifixion have lost their popularity.  So what many have done is just drop the word “crucified”.
 
They preach Christ, but skirt the issue of the death and crucifixion.  Others go a step further to simply preach.  Theirs is a worldly, feel-good message that seeks to build people up and make them feel better about themselves without the involvement of God at all, much less the necessity of the blood.
 
But here, we preach Christ crucified, the only hope of men. And that is the theme of the tenth chapter of Hebrews.  Tonight we are going to start on the first 18 verses.  I am not under any illusion at all that I will finish, but we’ll go until we come to a good stopping place.
 
At chapter 10, the author makes a critical shift in his presentation concerning the necessity of the death of Jesus.  We’ve been seeing that historically.
These Jews understood Jesus had to die because their inheritance depended upon a death.  They also would have known God’s requirement for blood to provide forgiveness for sin.  They also had an historical connection to the necessity of a substitute to take away their sin.
 
But in these verses, the author moves from the historical standpoint to the theological significance.
This is the depth of what His death meant, in all of its richness.
 
Now, you'll remember that the theme of the Book of Hebrews is the absolute sufficiency and superiority of Christ over all of the features and people connected with the old covenant.  And He is writing to those Hebrews who have been saved, to say that they can put all of their trust in Jesus Christ. There is no need to hang on to the Temple services, to the priesthood, to the rituals, to all of the circumstances of Judaism. They can let go of them.
 
And He's also speaking to the unsaved Jew who is intellectually convinced and stands on the edge of salvation and saying, "Come on. You can put your trust in Christ. You can come from Judaism to Christianity. It will be sufficient." They don't need the Temple. They don't need the priests. They don't need the sacrifices. They don't need the offerings. They don't need the washings. They don't need the holy days. They don't need the ceremonies. It's all been done away. All of that was baby talk, kid stuff. Jesus Christ brought maturity and perfection.
 
And finally, he’s saying to the Jew who rejects Jesus as Messiah to consider the evidence for the superiority of Christ.
And as we come to chapter 10, the main focus is about Jesus as a sacrifice for sins.
 
In chapter nine, he zeroes in on the need for a sacrifice.  Jesus died as a sacrifice for the same reasons they understood as Jews the necessity of a sacrifice.
 
In chapter 10, he’s not talking about the need for the sacrifice, but rather the character of the sacrifice and some of what we see here is a repeat of what is found in chapter nine. 
 
Now, notice the teaching technique he uses to present his subject.  In chapter nine, he uses comparison.  Jesus death worked just like having a will.  Jesus blood functioned like the blood that was shed in the temple.  Jesus substituted for sins.
 
But in chapter ten, he doesn’t use comparison; he uses contrast.
 
First, he talks about the contrast between the effectiveness of the blood of Jesus and
 
1. The Ineffectiveness of Animal Sacrifices
 
Now, you'll remember that in the Old Testament the priests were busy all day long slaughtering animals and it was a bloody mess from dawn to sunset. All day long they were engaged in bloody sacrifices, repeatedly, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them.
 
It is said at some Passover times there would be as many as 300,000 lambs slain within a week.
In fact, so much of the blood would run out of the temple ground and down certain prepared places that the Brook Hedron would run red.  There were sacrifices, sacrifices and more sacrifices. But all of them ultimately failed because they were unable to satisfy God's holy demands.
 
Why did they fail?  Let me give you the reasons.
 
#1 - They couldn't bring access to God.
 
That was the great need of man, but they couldn't do it. Even the priest at his best on the Day of Atonement, could not take the people inside the veil. The veil always remained.
 
verse 1
 
The word "perfect" speaks of access to God. We saw that in chapter 7, verse 11 and then in verse 19.
 
So perfection is having access to God or drawing near to God and the old covenant couldn't do that. The veil always remained to keep you separated from God.
 
Now the reason it couldn’t do it is because it wasn’t the real thing.  It wasn’t designed to bring men near to God.  What does verse 1 say?  The law was only a shadow and not the real thing, and even though it was repeated over and over, it could never get you close to God.
 
Now notice in verse 1 the phrase, “the good things to come” What are the good things to come?
 
That’s everything that came through Christ. That is all of the privileges and blessings that came through the sacrifice of Christ. The law pictured those things. It was all foretold in the Old Testament sacrifices.  God provided all kinds of pictures.  And some picked up on that.
 
When John the Baptist first saw Jesus, he looked at Him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." He obviously understood Jesus was the fulfillment of all the Old Testament pictures.
 
So the coming of Christ, the first time, is the fulfillment of good things to come.
 
Now keep in mind, the author is using contrast to make his point and nothing pictures that any more vividly than his choice of words in verse 1.
 
Notice the two words, "shadow" and "image," because they're important. The first word, “shadow”, is a word that means a pale shadow or a silhouette.  It shows the outline, but no detail.  Shadow is a good translation because it means a form without substance.  And that’s what the Old Covenant was.
 
Then comes the contrast.  The old was a shadow and not an image.  The word there speaks of a detailed representation.  Now he’s talking about the real deal. 
 
So the Spirit is saying, "The old system was a shadow. Jesus is the reality."
 
 
 
Without Christ, you can't get past the shadow of God. And the Jew then as the Jew today who lives in the teachings of Judaism and are so dedicated to Judaism are living in the shadows, and there is no substance.
 
Isn’t that sad?  To be that close to the truth and miss it?  In fact, the modern Jew who refuses Christ lives in a strange limbo. They not only do not accept the final sacrifice of Christ, but they fail to continue the sacrifices of the old covenant. They find themselves living in a flase talking themselves into a security standing in limbo between two systems, and going through a ritualistic, symbolic representation of the old, which is antiscriptural.
 
And you'll notice the word "perfection," teleao, which means to come to its complete end. It does not...in this sense, the word does not mean maturity. It means to come to full end, to full completion. And the idea, as I said, is access to God. The completed end of any kind of a pattern that God establishes is that man might come into a full relationship with Him. That's possible only through Jesus Christ, not through the old covenant.
 
And you'll notice that He stresses the fact that they did it over and over again. But no repetition of a shadow amounts to the substance. You can't pile up shadows and all of a sudden have the substance. It doesn't work that way.
 
You say, "Well, if this thing didn't work, why did God go to all the trouble to give it to them? What was the point of it?"
 
 
Well, the point of it was to serve as
 
#1 -  A Shadow
 
It was a reminder that some coming reality was going to happen; that their salvation was coming, and they needed to look forward to that.
 
And it was also valuable because it served as
 
#2 – A Reminder about God and Sin
 
 With all of that sacrificing going on, I think they were fairly well aware of the price of sin. They were constantly being reminded that the wages of sin is death because death was going on all day long throughout their history, and animals were being slaughtered.
 
And I think thirdly God gave them that because
 
#3 – A Temporary Fix
 
There was some value in the Old Testament sacrifices in that, even though they didn’t remove sin, they covered it. There was a removal of judgment and a degree fellowship with God that was maintained.
 
Well, that’s just the first of several reasons the animal sacrifices were ineffective.  We’ll see more next week.
 
Let’s pray
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