1For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.
2Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?
It is essential to view the Law as a shadow of what has come in Christ. There are things to learn from the Law, principles that are indeed timeless as they point to Christ and how He desires us to live. However, the Law was never given to save because it cannot. If it could, the sacrifices wouldn’t have needed to be continually offered up because they would have already made the one offering them pure of heart. But the Law did not clean the conscience, for it made people even more aware of their sin. This was God’s intention all along (Galatians ). Before we can turn to God in faith and obedience, we need to first become aware of our fallen nature. The Law serves to make this happen, shutting us up under sin and death with no hope of earning our way to heaven. Only Christ makes eternal life possible for those who draw near to Him.
3But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.
4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
The sacrifices year by year and day by day served as regular reminders of the sin of the natural man. Until we put our faith in Christ, our sins remains on our account. The blood of bulls and goats never brought salvation to the people of Israel. It was merely an outward, symbolic consecration to God, differentiating them from the pagan nations around them. Only those who acknowledged their sin and walked by faith before God leading to obedience from the heart could be saved.
5Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,
"SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED,
BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; 6IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. 7"THEN I SAID, 'BEHOLD, I HAVE COME
(IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME)
TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.'"
8After saying above, "SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them" (which are offered according to the Law),
9then He said, "BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL." He takes away the first in order to establish the second.
10By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
As Psalm 40:6-8 says, burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin cannot make God accept us. Christ came and did perfectly the will of God so that we could be saved on His merits. The sacrifices done according to the Law could not save. Thus, there is no longer any need to perform sacrifices since Christ has established a second and better way. Through His perfect obedience and sacrifice we can be sanctified once and for all. It is the offering up of His body that counts, not the blood of bulls and goats. In Jesus, there is more than external symbolic consecration. There is a setting apart and reformation of our hearts.
11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,
13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.
14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, 16"THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM
AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART,
AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,"
He then says, 17"AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS
I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE."
18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
The Old Testament priests daily offered sacrifices, but these could never take away sin. Jesus, however, offered Himself up as a sacrifice for sins for all time. There is no longer any offering for sin because Christ was the perfect and final offering for sin (Psalm 110:1). We have forgiveness, and that is what we need. In God’s eyes, we stand perfected for all time, even though in this life God is still teaching, molding, and shaping us into His image. Positionally before God we are perfect; practically in this life, Christ is still sanctifying us. But He will complete the work that He started (Philippians 1:6). The new covenant is a transformation of the heart in which God’s law, His moral imperatives and desires, are written on our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 31:33-34). He remembers our lawless deeds no more. The Law shows us right from wrong, but only in Christ can forgiveness be found.
19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,
21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Christ has made it so that we can boldly and confidently enter the presence of God and offer up our requests before Him. The new covenant is a real and living relationship with the God of the universe inaugurated by Christ Who by His sacrifice tore down the veil that had prevented us from entering God’s presence. With Christ as our high priest, advocate, mediator, and intercessor, we can draw near with full assurance and sincerity before God with cleansed consciences. We don’t even have to worry about external washings and regulations because in Christ even our bodies have, in a spiritual sense, been washed clean before God.
23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Our confession of faith is our anchor as we confess Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives. This we are to hold tightly to so as not to waver and doubt. It is important to remember what Christ has done for us, to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ in faithfulness, love, and good deeds, and to gather together with other believers. Where there are true believers, there needs to be fellowship. Christ knows that being around those who have likewise been redeemed is of great value to our individual walks with Him. As the day of Christ’s second coming grows nearer every day, the more difficult it will be to walk in faithfulness. The more we will need to be encouraged by one another. We must never underestimate a kind word spoken for the purpose of encouraging a person in their walk and service before Christ. Our Lord is faithful to enable us to persevere.
26For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
27but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.
Every person will have a chance to receive the truth one way or another in their lives. Otherwise, they could not be held accountable for a choice they did not make (Joshua 24:15). God has revealed Himself through creation, through His Son, through His Word, and even in our consciences which convict us of right and wrong (Romans 1:18-20, 32, Psalm 19:1-2, Ecclesiastes 3:11). As the human heart encounters the knowledge of the truth, it can either seek Jesus out, in which case He will be found (John 3:21), or it can reject Him, in which case there will be a terrifying expectation of judgment by fire which will consume Christ’s adversaries (Isaiah 26:11). This eternal torment (Revelation ) should motivate people to seek out Jesus, and it certainly has relevance in providing urgency to the gospel message. For those who reject the gospel, there is no sacrifice of Christ to be available for them to save them.
28Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
29How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
In the Law, there were many sins that held the penalty of death on the testimony of two or three witnesses. It was indeed very, very severe, and as a shadow of the new covenant now revealed in Christ, we see how it illustrated that the wages of sin is death (Romans ). Hell is indeed a very severe penalty. Those who reject the Son of God and thereby trample Him under foot will most certainly face His wrath and vengeance. They also blaspheme and insult the Holy Spirit of grace and refuse to appropriate the blood of the covenant which alone could have saved and purified them.
30For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY " And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE."
31It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
As Deuteronomy 32:35-36 states, God will judge and hand out vengeance for those who refuse the sacrifice of His Son. It is the most loving thing our Lord could have ever done by giving up His Son and letting Him die an excruciating death on our behalf. To reject Him is certain to bring us God’s wrath for all eternity. To fall into the wrath of God is a terrifying thing. Hell’s is God’s punishment, not the devil’s playground. This is why we should fear Him (Luke 12:5).
32But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings,
33partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.
34For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.
These believers were enduring great persecution, even joyfully accepting the seizure of their property. They refused to denounce Jesus, and they maintained their joy by knowing that they had eternal possessions as an inheritance. They were publicly insulted, and many of their brethren were imprisoned. Yet they showed compassion and sympathy, not neglecting them but associating with them. They were not afraid to stand for Christ. It did not take long for the persecution to start once these put their faith in Christ. The world doesn’t like Christ, and they will hate us on account of hating Him (John ). All who desire to live godly in Christ will be persecuted (2 Timothy ).
35Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
36For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE,
HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. 38BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH;
AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.
39But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
The author wanted the believers to endure in faith and confidence, for they had a great reward to look forward to. As believers, we may stumble (Peter even denied Christ three times). But because of Christ in us, we are not those who ultimately shrink back to destruction. Our faith by the grace of God and the work of the Spirit in our hearts will preserve our souls. God’s desire is that we walk with endurance, doing the will of God for us, even if it involves suffering, knowing that we will be rewarded accordingly. As Habakkuk 2:3-4 says, Christ will be back soon, so let us look forward eagerly to His coming and to our eternal rewards for our faithfulness (2 Corinthians 5:10). We have the promise of eternal life, and Christ will deliver on His promise.