Hebrews 10:19-25

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 27, 2021 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” -Hebrews 10:19-25

At the beginning of this passage, we see a “therefore,” which often means the author is making a conclusion – and that’s what’s happening here. The author has spent a lot of words laying down the doctrine of the Old Testament and its old covenant versus the new covenant of Jesus Christ that we are now under. He’s explained why that’s important and how it works (to the best of our limited human knowledge anyway). Now, he begins to tell his readers what we are to do about this with our lives.

The events of Jesus’ life have given believers in Christ a new confidence. In the Old Testament ways of doing things, the people were afraid to be in the presence of God, which dwelt in the Most Holy Place of the temple; they knew that God cannot tolerate being in the presence of sinful human beings, so they could be struck dead at any moment. But now, verse 19 tells us that because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we have confidence that we can enter God’s presence without fear! This was accomplished only through the blood of Jesus being poured out as a sacrifice for all of humanity.

There used to be a curtain that divided the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple. But that curtain was torn during Jesus’ death – see Matthew 27:45-54, Mark 15:33-39, or Luke 23:44-46. It’s interesting to note that all three of these gospel accounts share this detail; that shows how important it was that the way to God had opened up at the very moment of Jesus’ death.

As verse 20 tells us, the tearing of the curtain (or veil) was symbolic of Jesus’ death making a way for all people to be able to approach God. It opened a “new and living” way for us. This is completely new compared to the old way of doing things, and it is living just as Jesus is alive after His resurrection. Just as Jesus’ body was torn apart in His death, so the divider between God and mankind was torn apart.

Verse 21 connects back to the author’s discussion of Jesus as our great high priest previously in the letter – Hebrews 4:14-5:10 and chapters 7-8. The author connects the humility that occurred with Jesus’ death to His exaltation that occurred with being our great priest and being over the house of God. Jesus is both a lowly servant and a ruler at the same time.

In the next few verses, the author gives us 3 exhortations. The first is in verse 22: “Let us draw near to God.” We must draw near to God with a sincere heart; that means we need to become right with God in our innermost being. As we are sinful people, we know that we can only be made right through Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection. It is through our faith in Him that we can be assured that we are able to draw near to God. He is the only one who can truly cleanse us from our sins so that we can be in His holy presence.

The reference to “having our bodies washed with pure water” may be a reference to Christian baptism. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward cleansing from our sins, but it’s the inward cleansing that is most important. Other religions of the day practiced ritual outward cleansings, but Christian baptism is the only one that would truly cleanse our innermost beings and allow us to draw near to God as the author encourages us to do.

The second exhortation is in verse 23: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” This hope is not something that we think may happen but something that we know for sure to be true. We have hope in Jesus Christ! Because of His death and all that was accomplished in it, we have the certain hope of eternal life with God forever. We need to firmly hold onto that. We know that this hope is certain because of who God is; God is faithful to always fulfill His promises.

The third exhortation is in verse 24: “Let us … spur one another on.” This is to be a mutual activity between all Christian believers, not just from leaders to others or vice versa. The goal or this mutual encouragement is to love one another and do good deeds. This is clearly not how we are saved but our response to the saving work of Jesus Christ.

First we draw near to God through faith because of His actions, then we cling to the hope that that gives us, and then we use that to encourage one another in love. Note that we see the trilogy of faith, hope, and love here, just as Paul references in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Some English translations make it look like verse 25 gives a fourth exhortation to not give up meeting together, but it’s a different construction in Greek. Instead, this is a further explanation of how to fulfill the third exhortation. How do we encourage one another? By continuing to meet together. It’s hard to encourage people you’re not communicating with, and in the early Church, the only efficient means of communication was in person.

Now, we do have lots of other methods to encourage one another – phone calls, text messages, emails, social media, video chats, etc. – but there is still something special about being in person together with people. Being physically apart from friends and loved during the Covid-19 pandemic has (hopefully) reinforced the value of this physical togetherness. Sure, you can communicate in many other ways, but being with other people is so much better for developing deeper relationships with them and encouraging one another.

So, how should we go about applying this passage to our lives today? Recognize the great sacrifice that Jesus made and what that brings us – opportunity for relationship with God. Take advantage of that and draw near to God, cling to the hope that is only found in Him, and live out God’s love by meeting together to encourage one another.

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