Edward O’Hara Thu 2/6/2020 5:11 PM
To understand the letter to the Hebrews we always need to keep in mind that this letter is written to well… the Hebrews, and not the whole world. This means that whatever it says, it says to those who were under the law to show them a better way. This is in contrast to the rest of the world who have never been under the law. Those who Paul describes in Eph.2:11-13 as Gentiles saying, “That at that time ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” So the letter to the Hebrews was written to Israel to show them how Jesus was the fulfillment of that law for them just as He said. So that they would know that Jesus is their promised Messiah.
Now with this premise, I have a question to ask. Is it true as so many teach it is, that the sacrifices Israel performed under the law were only able to “cover” their sins? And is it true that their sins remained only covered, and not forgiven, until Jesus came? I ask this because I have heard this taught from so many pulpits I won’t even try to count them. And they teach this even though when Jesus was living as a man on earth He forgave sins. Mt.9:5.
When you read in Heb.9:13 “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh”, doesn’t that sound to you like forgiveness for Israel? It sure does to me. In fact, since being sanctified is to be set apart then it most certainly is forgiveness. Because forgiveness by it’s very definition is to be set apart from sin.
But, when you read in the next chapter in Heb.10:4 it says “It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away the sin”. Woah! Wait a minute. Does this seem like a contradiction to what we just read in Heb.9:13? I mean how can both of these be true? How can the sacrifices bring both forgiveness for Israelites by “sanctifying to the purifying of the flesh”, and at the same time it be “impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin”? How can this seeming contradiction be explained to make these scriptures both be true at the same time? Well, since the believer knows that the scriptures never contradict themselves we know they are indeed true at the same time. And now by understanding them in context, we will see how.
As I said before Heb.9:13 says that the sacrifices Israel performed actually served to purify their flesh. Because in it we read “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh“. So this verse says that their sins were not just covered, but they were sanctified(set apart) from them so it purified them from their sins, which is forgiveness. But, if this is true then what does Heb.10:4 mean when it says “It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away the sin”? And why did Jesus have to come if they already had forgiveness of sins under the law?
In Heb.9 and 10 it specifically addresses the contrast of the sacrifices Israel was commanded to do under the law with the final once for all sacrifice of Jesus. Saying that the sacrifices of bulls and goats could sanctify to the purifying of the flesh ie they brought forgiveness of their sins. But, by reading carefully we see that this is a purification only from the sins of the past year. This is why it says that Israel needed to continually repeat these sacrifices year after year. This shows that even though Israelites were forgiven for the sins of the past year, these sacrifices were not able to do what Jesus’ did because they did not take away all sins “once for all”. So we see here that part of the answer is that only sins of the past year are forgiven by the sacrifices of bulls and goats. But, we still need to answer why those sacrifices under the law could not “take away” their sins? This means that sins being “taken away” must be different from sins being forgiven.
We see that the sacrifices under the law served two purposes for Israel. 1. They were a constant reminder of sins by their being done year after year. And 2. These sacrifices served the purpose of purifying those who brought these sacrifices from their sins. But, this purification was only for the sins they committed for the past year. So this is why it “can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect”. Because the forgiveness they attained was only for the sins of the year prior. And any sins after that would have to be addressed again when they would perform those same sacrifices the following year.
But, Hebrews tells the Israelite that the sacrifice of Jesus was different. That it was “better” than those sacrifices under the law. Because it served to 1. Completely remove the covenant that caused their sins to be imputed (Heb.9:15, Rom.5:13) by Jesus fulfilling it just as He said He came to do in Mt.5:17,18.
And 2. By doing so this is what purged Israel’s consciousness of sins under that Old Testament (Heb.9:14). Because the sacrifice of Jesus, His death, gave power to the New Testament (Heb.9:15-17). A testament where it was no longer necessary for Israel to come year after year sacrificing for sin because Jesus’ sacrifice was the “once for all” sacrifice that caused the sacrifices under the law to become obsolete. So the Old Testament that required these sacrifices was “done away” by the sacrifice of Jesus.
So it was by removing the law itself that Jesus “took away” the sacrifices under the law. This acted to purge their consciences by taking away the covenant in which were the sacrifices that were to Israel a constant reminder of sin. And because Jesus’ sacrifice was the once for all sacrifice for sin(Heb.10:10), when the Israelite trusted in Jesus their sins were removed “as far as the east is from the west” by removing the Old Testament completely. Just as God promised Israel He would do in Ps.103:8-12. For in it Israel is told;
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
From this, we can now see that the reason that Jesus’ sacrifice for Israel “took away” their sins was by His sacrifice taking away the entire system of Old Testament law-keeping wherein sin was imputed. God did this because He wanted their consciences to be purged from sin itself. Not just forgiven of them as the sacrifices under the law did. This was necessary because God wanted them to be able to stop thinking in terms of works that their consciousness of the law promoted. And begin to think in terms of the relationship. An intimate loving fellowship with God that only salvation by grace through faith can bring.
This is something that Hebrews was written to show them could never happen while they were under the law. But, would only be made possible by Jesus’ once for all sacrifice for sin removing the law given through Moses which takes away sin and replacing it with a New Testament. Which is why Heb.7:16 says Jesus “is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.” The same life that He gives to all who trust in Him.
So this is how these seemingly contradictory scriptures are understood to both be true at the same time. And do not contradict each other at all. So it is both true that the sacrifices under the law could bring forgiveness to Israelites under the law by “sanctifying the flesh”, while also still not being able to “take away the sin”. Because for that to happen the law must be taken away so that Israel could be given a different system from the system given through Moses. So that they would no longer be constantly reminded of sin by those sacrifices they had to do year after year while under the law.
So Hebrews was written to tell the Israelite that Jesus’ sacrifice took away their sins under the law once for all by His death giving power to a New Testament thereby taking away the law itself, the Old Testament, that was for them a constant reminder of sins. And Paul’s message to the Gentiles tells them that Jesus’ sacrifice was to bring them to faith in Him by proving that He is God. So that when they turn from idols to serve the living and true God (1Thes.1:9) they are saved. These are the messages for both Jew and Gentile respectively to the end that “all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. Rom.10:13.
Have you believed in Jesus? Have you called on the name of the Lord? Have you been born of the Spirit so you can inherit eternal life? If you are reading this God is calling you. He loves you and wants you to know Him. Because knowing Him is eternal life.John17:3. So if you do not know Him please take the time right now to pray and confess Jesus as Lord of your life. And believe that He has raised from the dead. Because by doing this and really meaning it from your heart you will be saved from death to life. From sin to righteousness. And from wrath to peace with God. Because when you trust in Jesus you leave the old life behind where you were only able to trust in what has been made. And now will be equipped to trust in Jesus who alone can equip you for heaven because by His resurrection He is the only WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.
Prophecy Unfolding Before Our Eyes in Real-Time
God often uses men who are not of the best moral character. Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Herod, and Trump (amongst others), to accomplish His will in events He orchestrates during human history. We either trust the sovereignty of God or we don’t. Nothing happens apart from Him…
The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back…
The Birth Pains Are Growing Stronger….
One of the signs of ruling class collapse is when they can no longer enforce the rules that maintain them as a ruling class. When the Romans started making exceptions to republican governance, it was a matter of time before someone simply decided the rules no longer applied to them. Perhaps the robot historians will consider Obama our Marius or Sulla. Maybe that person is in the near future. Either way, the rule of law is over and what comes next is the rule of men.
- Corinthians 4:8-11 New King James Version (NKJV)
- We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9. persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10. always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
“Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants.”
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