No Old Covenant worshiper would have been bold enough to try to enter the holy of holies in the tabernacle. Even the high priest entered the holy of holies only once a year. The thick veil that separated the holy place from the holy of holies was a barrier between people and God. Only the death of Christ could tear that veil and open the way into the heavenly sanctuary where God dwells.
A gracious invitation (vv. 19-25): “Let us draw near…Let us hold fast…Let us consider one another.” This threefold invitation hinges on our boldness to enter into the holiest. This boldness rests on the finished work of Christ; on the Day of Atonement, the high priest could not enter the holy of holies unless he had the blood sacrifice. But our entrance into God’s presence is not because of an animal’s blood but because of Christ’s shed blood. This open way into God’s presence is “new” and not part of the Old Covenant that “grows old and is ready to vanish away”. It is “living” because Christ “ever lives to make intercession” for us. Christ is the new and living way! On the basis of these assurances – that we have boldness to enter because we have a living High Priest – we have an “open invitation” to enter the presence of God. The Old Covenant high priest visited the holy of holies once a year, but we are invited to dwell in the presence of God every moment of each day. What a tremendous privilege!
A solemn exhortation (vv. 26-31): This is the fourth of the five exhortations found in Hebrews. It is written to believers and follows in sequence with the other exhortations. The believer who begins to drift from the Word will soon start to doubt the Word. Soon, he will become dull toward the Word and become “lazy” in his spiritual life. This will result in despising the Word, which is the theme of this exhortation. The evidence of this “despising” is willful sin. This exhortation is not dealing with one particular act of sin, but with an attitude that leads to repeated disobedience. How does an arrogant attitude affect a believer’s relationship with God? It is as though he trods Jesus Christ underfoot, cheapens the precious blood that saved him and insults the Holy Spirit.
What should a believer do who has drifted away into spiritual doubt and dullness and is deliberately despising God’s Word? He should turn to God for mercy and forgiveness. There is no other sacrifice for sin, but the sacrifice Christ made is sufficient for all sins. It is a fearful thing to fall into the Lord’s hands for chastening, but it is a wonderful thing to fall into His hands for cleansing and restoration. David said, “Let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are His mercies” (1 Chron. 21:13).
An encouraging confirmation (vv. 32-39): In case any of his readers should misinterpret his exhortation, the writer followed it with words of encouragement and confirmation. His readers had given every evidence that they were true Christians. He did not expect them to despise God’s Word and experience the chastening of God. The readers had been willing to suffer reproach and persecution, even to the spoiling of their goods. At that time they had great confidence and hope; but now they were in danger of casting away that confidence and going back into their old religion.
The secret of victory was in their faith and patience (“courageous endurance”). The believer who lives by faith will “go into perfection”. But the believer who lives by sight will “draw back unto perdition”. What is perdition in this context? To put it simply; a believer who does not walk by faith goes back into the old ways and wastes his life. “The saving of the soul” is the opposite of “waste”; to walk by faith means to obey God’s Word and live for Jesus Christ. We lose our lives for His sake – but we save them (see Matt. 16:25-27)! We can be confident, as we walk by faith, that our Great High Priest will guide us and perfect us!
Hebrews 10:19-39 Reflection Questions:
What is the gospel verse that talks about the tearing of the veil between the holy place and the holy of holies at Christ’s death?
What does it mean to you to dwell in the presence of God every moment of each day? Do you do it?
The major theme of Hebrews is “God has spoken – how are you responding to His Word”?