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Hebrews 11:1-12 We Must Believe

The writer of Hebrews says that the righteous shall live by faith. He says that we draw near with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith. He said we endure to the end by faith. He’ll tell us without faith it is impossible to please God—which does raise a question, “What exactly do we mean by that? What exactly does the writer mean by faith? That’s what we want to talk about today so if you have a Bible, turn with us to Hebrews 11, certainly the most familiar chapter in the book of Hebrews, often referred to as the Faith Chapter, or the Faith Hall of Fame. So in chapter 11 the writer is wanting to get very practical in the sense of, “What do we mean by faith and what does this look like lived out in real life?”  He starts with what we’re going to call the Hebrews’ definition. I don’t think Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1, is meant to be the all-inclusive definition of faith but it is the Hebrews’ definition—it clarifies how he is using the term.  Verse 1: 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men (or saints) of old gained approval. (*NASB, Hebrews 11:1-2) 

So again the idea of hope is not wishful thinking. It’s a term that can be misleading. We say, “I hope it doesn’t snow tomorrow,” but that’s not what the biblical term hope means. It’s always future but it’s also always certainThis has been a major theme in the book of Hebrews. The hope of the gospel is not that everything in this life is going to work out and make sense. It is the promise that ultimately our salvation is completed and we are ushered into a new heaven and a new earth where it will be everything our heart desires. That’s the hope of the gospel. For people headed into persecution, that was their hope—that one day it wouldn’t be like that. So he says it’s the assurance of things hoped for.  

Now that word assurance is a word that can be translated a couple of different ways. There is lots of discussion; all of the translations would pick one or the other. The idea of assurance is the idea of confidence. The other possible interpretation carries more the idea of substance. It’s taken the idea of confidence, but I think it pushes it a little farther. It is a term that could be used to describe like the substance or the foundation of a house. It is the foundation on which everything else is built. So the idea is: this isn’t just something I firmly believe, but I believe it so much that it actually creates the foundation or the substance of my life. It is what I live for. It is what defines my values; it is what defines my worldview; it is what defines my priorities and obedience. As a matter of fact it goes so far that, because this is really what I believe and I believe it so strongly, I actually live that value system in the here and now, and by doing that, I create a glimpse today of the world to come. That’s probably the right way of understanding what the writer is talking about—that faith is such a deep conviction, there’s so much confidence, it isn’t just an intellectual assent, it isn’t just getting the right answers on a test, it actually creates the substance upon which I build my life, and in so doing I give people just a glimpse of the world that is to come. 

The conviction of things not seen—that word conviction is a legal term. It carries the idea of weighing the evidence and coming to a conclusion or a conviction. It is a reminder that biblical faith isn’t a leap of faith; it isn’t an emotional, careless, reckless, wishful thinking. It’s actually thoughtful; it’s reasoned out and this is my conviction—this is what I believe is true. That is illustrated then in verse 3: 

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared (or created) by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 

Basically going back to Genesis, chapter 1, by faith we believe God created. “In the beginning God created.” Can I prove that to you? No. Were any of us there then? No. By faith we believe that God created. The second part of that verse, So that what is seen…that is this world. It takes no faith to believe that the world exists; that is the walk of sight. The faith step is, “How did we get here?” …and what it says is, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. So the idea is even though this is what we see, we do not believe that the world created itself. We don’t believe that the world self-created, but rather there was something or someone that was invisible that created what is visible. So this reminds us that the issue is not being a person of faith or not being a person of faith. Everybody lives by faith. The issue is, “What is the object of our faith?” So, for example, if we believe as some do that the universe created itself—that something came from nothing—that’s not science; that is a faith statement. Most of us would simply say we don’t have that much faith. Something doesn’t come from nothing. The universe can’t self-create; if it doesn’t exist, it can’t cause anything to happen. We just don’t have that much faith. So, based on the evidence, we have concluded there must be a God and that God created.  

Therefore we have concluded, with conviction, that Genesis 1 is true. It is not contrary to science; it is based on science. So, “In the beginning God created.” That’s the idea, then, of verse 3.  Starting in verse 4 the writer begins to tell stories to illustrate what he’s talking about: 

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 

The text is not saying that Abel’s performance made him righteous. The text is saying that by faith, what he believed was the basis of his righteousness, but that faith manifested itself in action. Cain and Abel were Adam and Eve’s first two sons. We’re not really privy to what the conversation was with God, but clearly there was something that had to do with sacrifice to God.  Abel believed in God; Abel believed God tells the truth; Abel believed that God’s way is the best way; Abel believed that God is God—Abel believed! And he believed to such a degree that it became the substance of his life, which is reflected by what he was willing to give to God. There’s a lot of conversation about what made Cain’s offering unacceptable. Some think it’s because it wasn’t a blood sacrifice; I don’t really think that’s correct. We know from the law that a grain offering was acceptable to God. We also know from the Genesis 4 text that Cain was a farmer. That’s what he had; he was to give out of what he had. If you go back and read the text in Genesis 4, what it says exactly is that God had regard for Abel and his sacrifice; He did not have regard for Cain and his sacrifice. The emphasis of the text is there was something wrong with Cain’s heart that then was reflected in what he gave; and God was pleased with Abel’s heart, which too was reflected by what he gave. It is interesting to note it is essentially the fourth page of the Bible and we are already being told that what we believe will be manifested in what we are willing to give to God. It just is a reminder that at the end of the day everybody lives out his or her belief system. Ultimately your belief system is not what you say you believe. Your belief system is how you live your life. That becomes the substance that defines your life. So what the text is saying is Abel believed; he believed God’s way is the right way; it’s the best way.  He believed that God tells the truth, and it was reflected in his gift. What the text goes on, then, to say is by faith, even though Abel has been dead for thousands of years, his story still speaks, because what he believed was true and eternal. Verse 5: 

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND (literally he disappeared) BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.  

Literally his life brought pleasure to God. I love the way that’s worded because it’s really helpful to think about. What God asks in return for what He has done for us is that we believe it. We believe it to such a degree that we actually live like it, and when we actually live out of what is true, it is a life that brings God pleasure. The story of Enoch is in Genesis, chapter 5. There isn’t much there; the way the text is worded it appears that when Enoch had a son by the name of Methuselah, something happened in that moment that turned his heart to God, and from that moment through the rest of his life he lived in a way that it brought God pleasure. It had to do with what he believed by faith, to such a degree it became the substance of his life and that’s how he lived. It’s an odd story because at one point Enoch disappears. He can’t be found because God simply took him to heaven. Enoch never died; he just walked into the presence of God. Now it’s really important that we don’t misunderstand. The text is not saying, “If you really believe with all your heart, you won’t die; you’ll just walk into the presence of God.”  It’s good to remember Enoch, by faith, didn’t die; he walked into the presence of God but Abel, by faith, was violently murdered. So there is a reality to the story that by faith it is not necessarily predictable; we just believe and live our lives according.  Verse 6 is a very important verse. I want to come back later to it. So I am going to skip to verse 7: 

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence (or fear) prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 

Now the story of Noah is really a remarkable story when you think about it. God comes along and tells Noah that He is going to bring judgment on the earth through this flood, but He is going to save Noah and his family. Noah chose to believe God tells the truth, but what would be required is he would now dedicate his life to the building of a gigantic ark through which they would be saved. The warning period was a hundred and twenty years. Most scholars think the actual building of the ark took somewhere between fifty and seven-five years. Now again, think about this:  Faith isn’t intellectual assent; faith isn’t just sitting around in a  group talking about what you believe; faith is something you believe so strongly it becomes the defining substance of your life, to such a degree that  Noah believed that  something would happen that has never happened before. Imagine spending seventy-five years of your life building a gigantic ark. You’re at least a hundred miles from any significant body of water and the world has never known a flood before. Noah just simply chose to believe God tells the truth, and if that’s what God said, then that’s true, and it defined his life. The text says the reverence—the awe, the worship—of God was so strong in Noah, he believed! The fact that he was building this gigantic ark for salvation was also a message to the rest of the world of condemnation—that judgment is coming and, if you’re not in the ark, then you will suffer the judgment of God. That’s what the text means there. Verses 8: 

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed (the text means obeyed promptly) by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Vs. 8-10) 

Abraham is just another remarkable story. Abraham and his family lived in what would have been a relatively modern city in the day, and along comes God and says, “I want you to move. I’m going to make you a great nation.” Perhaps Abraham said, “Where are we going?” And God said, “Don’t worry about that.” The text says Abraham obeyed promptly. God said it and Abraham believed it. But again, this isn’t an intellectual assent; this isn’t just a group sitting around talking about what they believe. He actually took his family and left. Having been in that part of the world a couple of times, you get a sense of just how courageous that was.  It’s not a very friendly land. Food, water, safety, protection—these all would have been significant concerns. He left the comfort of where he was to go to a place; he didn’t even know where they were going. He just believed God tells the truth. When he got to the land of promise, it would have been wonderful if immediately he would’ve moved into a lovely mansion by the sea. But he lived as an alien, as a stranger, as a wanderer, in a tent the entire rest of his life! Now just think about this. God promised he would inherit the land, but for the rest of his life—in an ancient world it was very unsafe unless you lived in a walled city—so imagine for the rest of your life you live in a tent as a pilgrim, as a alien, as a wanderer. But he believed some day God would keep His promise. That was equally true of Isaac; it was equally true of Jacob. They all lived in tents. They, never in their lifetimes, ever actually possessed the land; they just kept believing God tells the truth. It says they were looking for a city whose foundations—in other words not a tent, it’s a house, it’s a building with a foundation— foundations whose architect and builder is God.  Ultimately the land of promise was a shadow, but it was only that.  It was a shadow of the land of promise, which is the land to come in the presence of God. Abraham, never in his lifetime possessed the shadow, but he does possess the fulfillment of the promise in the presence of God. The text goes on in verse 11: 

By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him (God) faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE. 

Now the discussion moves to Sarah, and Sarah often gets a bad rap. We fail to really understand the faith and the courage of this woman. Imagine the conversation with her husband when they are quite nicely settled in a relatively modern city and Abraham says, “We’re leaving.”  “Where are we going?”  “I don’t know. We’re just going out into the wilderness, and God will tell us.” But she believed; she trusted her husband and she believed. It’s true there were moments where she struggled; there were moments when Abraham struggled. But try to get your head around this. She is told at age sixty-five, as a barren woman, that she is going to have a child, and ten years later, still no child. So she comes up with plan B: “Maybe Abraham should sleep with my maid; we’ll do it that way.” God shows up and says, “We’re not going to do it that way. You’re going to have to trust Me.” Fifteen more years go by, and what the text tells us is: she believed!  She believed that God tells the truth; she believed that God would be faithful. She believed so much that she stayed with her husband.  She believed so much that she was still having relations with her husband and, at age ninety, she had the child. That is unbelievable faith! That’s not intellectual assent. That’s not a group of people sitting around talking about it. That became the very defining substance of their lives! It caused them to take significant, courageous steps of faith, based on the belief God tells the truth. 

Back to verse 6, which I consider to be a very significant verse—in some ways a life-changing verse for me: He says in verse six: 

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, (…not difficult, not challenging…it’s impossible! I cannot live a life that brings God pleasure without faith, without really believing that God tells the truth.) …for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 

Now what does he mean when he says we must believe that God is? He is not merely saying you believe God exists; James says the demons believe that God exists.  It is much more like when Moses is before the burning bush and he asks God His name and God says, “I Am.” It’s a very similar statement in the sense that you must believe that God is…that God is who He says He is… that God tells the truth…that He has done what He says He has done…and I believe that to such a degree that it actually becomes the substance of my life! It creates my worldview; it creates my value system; it creates the tracks upon which my life will travel. 

So now let’s get really practical with this. Last time in chapter 10, verse 22, we talked about the imagery that we brought back from the book of Galatians of the idea of the Light Room. When the writer of Hebrews tells us—commands us to draw near—it’s the invitation into the Light Room, into the very presence of Jesus, to experience the intimacy and the depth of the relationship, to dance with Jesus to the music of Amazing Grace. But he says, “When you do that, you come with a sincere heart, a true heart, rightly motivated. I’m not doing that to earn anything or prove anything, I’m just coming because of what I believe is true.” He says, “Draw near to God with a sincere heart  in full assurance of what? …of faith!” In other words it’s based on the fact I really do believe God tells the truth!  

I cannot prove to you that Jesus died for your sins. I cannot prove to you that the blood of Jesus is sufficient to cover your sins. I cannot prove to you that there is nothing else that needs to be done. I cannot prove to you that you stand right in the presence of a holy God. I cannot prove to you that Jesus is coming back. I can’t prove any of that to you. You choose to believe it by faith. Oh, we could talk about things like the authority and reliability of the Scriptures; we could talk about the record of God’s faithfulness throughout history; we could talk about changed lives, but at the end of the day I can’t prove any of that to you. You’re left with wrestling with the question: “Do you or do you not believe God tells the truth?” The alternative is to believe God is a liar. So the idea of drawing near with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith is saying, “I believe that and that is the basis by which I dwell in the Light Room. Even on my worst days when I’ve blown it again, I still believe what God said is true, and I dwell in the light!”  

But here’s the thing you have to wrestle with. If you find yourself so often in the Dark Room, with your shame and your guilt, in the dark room with your definition again of being Loser Christian, and somehow you have to, to some degree pay for your sin again, the only thing you can conclude is you don’t believe God tells the truth. The only basis by which you dwell in the Dark Room again and again is apparently you don’t yet believe God tells the truth. Why else would you be there? Now part of it is just learning and understanding the truth. I understand that. A lot of people have been taught a lot of things that aren’t correct. I also understand that a lot of people have been taught a lot of lies and those voices can be very powerful. That’s why we gather; that’s why we open up the Scriptures to study together, to learn, to understand what God says. At some point I can explain it to you, but I cannot believe it for you. You have to decide whether or not you believe God tells the truth. That’s the essence of his definition of faith: “I believe it to such a degree I actually live that way. It becomes the defining substance of my life!” 

He says those who come to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. What’s the reward? The reward, in this case, would be to live in the light, in the presence of Jesus, the life that your soul longs for. That’s the reward of your faith if you choose to believe God tells the truth. 

Our Father, we celebrate Your faithfulness today. Lots of us would say sometimes things just make no sense. They’re painful, they’re confusing, and sometimes they just seem cruel and contrary to who You say You are. God, those are the moments we choose to live by faith. We believe that You tell the truth and that You are a rewarder of those that seek You. Lord, may that be true of us today. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Hebrews 9:15-28 – Christ Died for Our Sins

For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15).

For this reason. Because all this is true that was said before this verse about Jesus and His “once for all” sacrifice, and “once for all” entrance into the Most Holy place, heaven itself.

He is the mediator of a new covenant.  It does not carry the idea that Jesus is somehow negotiating terms between a holy God and sinful people.  It rather carries the idea of this layer between a holy God and sinful people.There was this clear understanding that the presence of God dwelt in the Holy of Holies, and that could only be accessed by the high priest, and only once a year.  So, the people were very clear that there was this layer, this mediation layer (sanctuary, sacrifices, High priest system) between them and a holy God in the Old Covenant. So, Christ is now the mediator of a new constitution between God and the whole human race, distinguished here from the old covenant between God and the Israelites.

Since a death has taken place for the redemption of the violations that were committed under the first covenant. Because of Jesus, this long-awaited redemption and atonement for transgression has already taken place for those under the old covenant or first covenant, as those sins could not be really atoned from the blood of bulls and goats. Because of its repetition, the old covenant ministry could not convince the worshipper that his/her confessed sin had actually been cancelled and “cleansed” (Heb 10:1-11).  Their conscience was not clean. However, that blemish is not carried over into the New Covenant. Christ has already redeemed every daily sin and every Day of Atonement residual sin confessed in the Old Testament (and also the New Testament). This makes Ellen White’s often repeated “The blood of Christ..was not to cancel sin” nonsense.

Those who have been called. All people under the old and New covenant who are called to be his children.

May receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. This knowledge of receiving the promise of eternal inheritance is a present reality for the believer and not a fact that needs to be determined based on a future investigation (1844) as SDAs teach.

For where there is a covenant, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when people are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.  (Hebrews 9:16-17)

Covenant used here is like what we would say a last “will” or a testament. When somebody creates a will, that will may be full of promises, but those promises do not have legal force. They are not fulfilled or acted upon until that person dies.

Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood (Hebrews 9:18)

The first covenant had to be initiated, inaugurated, dedicated, sanctioned, consecrated, with the blood of animal. We should expect to hear how the new covenant is inaugurated as well very soon as the author is contrasting the old and new.

For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” (Hebrews 9:19-20)

For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law. That included all the law including the ten commandments.

He took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop. Blood of “the sacrificial victims”, and “water and scarlet wool and hyssop” used for purification is what is meant here.

Sprinkled both the book itself and all the people. In Exodus 24:8 no mention is made of the sprinkling of the book, only of the people. Sprinkling upon the altar, upon which the book of the covenant might lie is probably meant.

This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you. This is the blood by which the covenant is ratified. 

And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood (Hebrews 9:21)

He sprinkled both the tabernacle. Probably not at the same time that he sprinkled the book and the people, for then there was no tabernacle; but afterwards, at the time that it was set up.

All the vessels of the ministry with the blood. All the furniture employed in the service of God. The altar, the laver, the censers, dishes, bowls, etc (Exodus 40:10-11).

And almost all things are cleansed with blood, according to the Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22)

And almost all things are cleansed with blood. For some things were purified by fire and water (Numbers 31:22-23), but almost all things are cleansed with blood. Cleansed (katharizō) implies not only purification from sin, but also dedication or consecration like when Moses sprinkled with blood both the “book”, and “tabernacle” and “all the vessels” to consecrate them, and to inaugurate them, to initiate the earthly sanctuary service. After all, there was no sin in the “book” or “vessels” to purify from blood. 

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. The bottom line is there is no salvation but through the sacrificial death of Christ, and to prefigure this, the law itself would not grant any remission of sin without the blood of a victim.

Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these things, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these (Hebrews 9:23) 

Therefore. “Therefore,” is given based on everything mentioned in the previous seven verses concerning the shedding of the blood of the covenant-victim and the purification or dedication of the things associated with the tabernacle, people, its implements, and its rites. If the earthly tabernacle was dedicated in type by blood, we can expect something to be said about the heavenly things themselves in the following words.

It was necessary. According to the appointment of God, it was necessary. There was no other way.

For the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these things. It is the heavenly which is the pattern, and it is the earthly which is a copy.  These “copies of the things in the heavens,” meaning the earthly tabernacle, people and associated implements, “should be cleansed (katharizō) with these things.” The word “these” is speaking of the blood of dedication obtained from the covenant-victims. It was necessary for the earthly sanctuary to be initiated, inaugurated, cleansed, consecrated with blood of sacrificial victims.

But the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. However, to inaugurate and initiate the heavenly things themselves, where the ultimate presence of God is, it required better sacrifices than the blood of animals.In the actual presence of God, to actually make payment for sin, what would be required would be more than that! It would take something more than merely the blood of bulls and goats.  It would take the long-awaited death of the Messiah. Therefore, this verse is teaching that the Old Covenant inauguration needed to be fulfilled by a better inauguration sacrifice in order to bring in a New Covenant.

Moreover, under the Old Covenant, the author has already said that all things were sprinkled with blood in order to purify them, including “both the book itself and all the people” (Hebrews 9:19). As we are the purpose of Christ’s coming, meaning the redemption of man, then it is necessary that the people be purified by Christ’s shed blood. Hence, the heavenly things required not only the perfect sacrifice to inaugurate the new covenant, but also Christ presented Himself before the Father to purify or cleanse those things which will be accepted into His eternal realm. That is all His people, who are being built into “a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). When did this happen? From the resurrection of Christ, when the new covenant was inaugurated, not in 1844.

Hence, the “cleansing of the sanctuary” is not about removing sin from the sanctuary per the old covenant day of atonement pattern. Hence, this verse is not speaking of cleansing heaven from defilement of sin or anything unclean that entered heaven. Rather it is about a new pattern which cleanses the believer [the temple of the living God] with the sinless blood of Christ (which happened when Christ inaugurated the heavenly sanctuary at His ascension, not in 1844).

There is not a single Bible verse anywhere in the Old or New Testament that says that confessed sins are transferred into the heavenly sanctuary and then defile the sanctuary in any way to be cleansed only on a future day of atonement. In the Old Covenant sanctuary, the Bible says that the entire sanctuary was cleansed on the Day of Atonement and not merely the Most Holy Place (Leviticus 16:20). In the Adventist sequence Jesus (at least) ministered in the Holy Place until 1844. This would have required that the Holy Place be cleansed first long before 1844. SDA’s to fit their cultic theology only cleanses the Most Holy Place in violation of the Old Testament type.

For Christ did not enter a holy place made by hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us (Hebrews 9:24)

For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands. So Jesus did not come to be assimilated into the old covenant tabernacle or the temple like a Jewish high priest.  Jesus would not simply go into the tabernacle and go through the routine of the Levitical Priestly system. That’s what an earthly high priest would do who entered into a sanctuary made by hands.

A mere copy of the true one.The earthly sanctuary was just a picture of the true one, not the exact thing, and was so formed as in some sense to correspond to it.

But into heaven itself. For the sanctuary into which Christ entered is not a copy or a token of the things in the heavens, but heaven itself. Since Christ is the veil (Heb 10:20), there are no separate “rooms” in God’s dwelling place. No sane person would quote this text to prove that God lives in a 2-room house in heaven.

Now to appear in the presence of God for us. We cannot doubt that these words continue the contrast between the true High Priest and the high priest on earth. As the Jewish high priest appeared before the shekinah, the symbol of the divine presence in the most holy, so Christ appears before God himself in our behalf in heaven itself at the ascension. The “presence of God” means exactly what it literally says. Contrary to the Old Covenant pattern, God’s throne room in Revelation contains a rainbow, 24 elders, 7 Spirit-lamps of fire before the throne, a sea of glass and 4 creatures surrounding the throne — all in contrast with the Old covenant patterns (Rev 4:2-8). The 1844 theology of two rooms or two phases is pure nonsense and cultic (Heb 9:24).

Nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year by year with blood that is not his own (Hebrews 9:25) 

As the high priest enters the Holy Place year by year with blood that is not his own. Again, this is talking about the once-a-year entrance of the Jewish High Priest into the most holy place. The earthly high priest had to offer sacrifices often to enter the Most holy place, but Jesus does not have to offer himself often to enter heaven itself. That is the whole point this verse and the next verse is showing. The sacrifice of Christ is not like that of the Jewish high priest, which must be offered every year to enter the Most holy place. If Christ sacrifice is like bulls and goats, then he would have to suffer often, and enter the sanctuary often.

Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26) 

Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often. But Jesus wasn’t going to offer Himself year after year (he offered once for all). Otherwise, He would have to die every year since the foundation of the world. If Christ had not ended the patterns, then he must repeat them! If Christ did not end the daily sacrifices, then he must still die daily. If Christ did not end the yearly sacrifices (Day of Atonement), then he must still die yearly. Because he offered “once for all”, He entered the most Holy place (heaven itself) once for all. Notice again.

But now. “Now” refers to the first century, it is a reality when the apostle is writing these words. “Now” the Old Covenant sanctuary had already been replaced by “heaven itself.” The Aaronic priesthood had already been replaced with the non-Hebrew Melchizedek priesthood (Heb. 7:11-18). The everyday shadow rituals of the literal altar of burnt offering, the water laver, the loaves, the candlestick, and the altar of incense had all ended in the reality of Christ. Christ does not have to offer often as the High priest. Therefore.

Once. Once for all; once in the sense that it is not to be repeated again.

At the consummation of the ages. This is referring to the days of Christ’s ministry on earth called the last days (Hebrews 1:2), the end of the ages (1 Corinthians 10:11), the fulness of the time (Galatians 4:4), when Christ appeared at His first coming.  This is saying it was time for the old covenant to be fulfilled, to usher in a new age, a new covenant through Christ our High Priest. 

While SDAs proclaim 1844 as the heavenly Day of Atonement and as a last day event warning about the nearness of the end of the age, they ignore 9:26b which clearly places the event at the “now” of Calvary. Last days began with Christ’s first coming. This same “consummation of the ages”, “end of the age,” “fullness of time” and “these last days” is found in Acts 2:17; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:10; Hebrews 1:2 and First Peter 1:20 — and none of these refer to 1844, but the time between His first and second coming.

New Covenant believers need to stop thinking about the New Covenant using Old Covenant terminology. “Christ is not” in a tiny building in heaven that has compartments like that of the Old Covenant. “Christ is not.” entering heaven many times. Again, He “is not.” He is “in heaven itself.” Since the first century He is “now” already in the “presence of God for us” –- in the Most Holy since his ascension to the right hand of God.

He has been revealed. He revealed himself as God in flesh at His first coming.

To put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. That’s a legal term. It means to render sin void.  Literally for the “the annulment of sin”. How? By the sacrifice of Himself. Hebrews 9:25-26 clearly tells everybody (except SDAs) that “now” Christ has appeared to “cleanse” or “put away sin” by the sacrifice of Himself, not in 1844, but at His ascension and enthronement, and is now in the very presence of God. No body can have a clear conscience under the SDA doctrine of investigative judgement, or pre-advent judgement, because like the Old Covenant sanctuary pattern, sins have not been completely dealt with. On the contrary, Jesus has appeared to put away sin “now”, not in 1844. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John `:9). “The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:18)

And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27)

Destined for people to die once. Just as certainly as we die once.

After this comes judgment. Every single person will die, and you will stand face to face with a holy God and give an account whether we accepted Christ’s perfect sacrifice or not- this is the final judgement or white throne judgement (Rev. 20:12). If there was an investigative judgement going on now to determine who will receive the eternal inheritance, the author would have said “Just as it is destined for people to die once, and before this comes judgement”. No! Those who disobey the gospel are judged already now (John 5:24). According to the Scriptures, God doesn’t require any further judgement to decide who are his children before we die. After we die, we will face the final judgement. In that moment, do you really think it will be adequate to say, “I was very religious; I did some rituals; I did some activities; I did some good works?”  Do you really think that’s going to cut it in that moment?  What the writer of Hebrews is saying is that has never been the basis of salvation. From Genesis three on, there has always been a message that someone will have to die. The consequence of sin is death.  Someone had to die our death for God to grant us forgiveness, and God himself provided us that means of sacrifice through His Son.

So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him (Hebrews 9:28)

So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many. Just as certainly as we die once and then face judgment, so Jesus only had to die once (not repeatedly, not continually) to bear our sins.

Will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin. That is, when be comes again he will not make himself a sin-offering; or will not come in order to make atonement for sin. Rather to usher them to the salvation of the new heaven and the new earth, where there is no reference to sin.

Hebrews 1:1-8 Jesus the appointed Son?

 

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways” (Hebrews 1:1)

God spoke through the prophets meaning through the characters of the Old Testament. Many portions means many ages over a considerable amount of time; many ways—through the Scriptures, through dreams, through visions, through a number of different ways God communicated in the old covenant. 

In these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

In these last days has spoken to us in His Son. Last days is a reference to Old Testament prophecies that then defines the time from the time of Christ until the return of Christ. Jesus isn’t just one more communication in the line of prophets. He is the final word from God. Christ (who also spoke to us through the apostles) is God’s final word to man. Not Ellen White, not Muhammad, not Joseph Smith. Now the writer of Hebrews goes through a series of affirmations related to who Jesus is. All of it has to do with this idea that Jesus is superior to everyone else (prophets) and everything else (revelation). It all comes back to this idea of where else would you turn, for every direction you turn is going to be inferior to the exalted Christ. In what form did the Son speak to us in these last days? Not in His pre-existence as God, but He spoke to us as God-Man, when He became flesh, a servant, when He became the anointed one, the Messiah.

Whom He appointed heir of all things through whom also He made the world. The Son made the world, therefore the eternal Son already owned the universe by virtue of creating it with the Father.  “All things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col 1:16). However, even in the state He spoke to us, when He was born of a woman, and became God-Man, He is declared or appointed the heir of all things such as we find when Paul says, the Messiah, “who was declared the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4). A son is heir to everything his father owns, however, the language here is figurative because an “heir” is one who inherits something after the death of the owner. This cannot possibly be applied in this sense to Jesus because the God the Father did not die. Indeed, He cannot. Hence, the idea here is that the Son (whether in His pre-existence or God-Man existence), has authority over and possesses all things.

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3)

He is the radiance of His glory. Radiance refers to what shines out from the source of light. Whatever the glory the Father had, the Son shines out that source of light. He is not a lesser God; He’s the full radiance of God.

The exact representation of His nature. The Greek word charakter, translated “representation,” did not express a general likeness but an exact duplication of the original.Jesus’ essence or divine nature is the exact duplicate of the Father’s nature. This is because Jesus shares the same divine nature with the Father.

Upholds all things by the word of His power. The idea is not so much that Jesus upholds the universe as a dead weight, similar to Atlas shouldering the world. Rather He carries all things forward on their appointed course (Colossians 1:17). Jesus Christ’s word has tremendous power and authority. It is the greatest force in the universe.

Made purification of sins. He did so by His self-sacrifice on the Cross and by His work as the ultimate priest. The Greek word katharismos, translated “purification,” means both removal and cleansing (cf. Mark 1:44; 2 Peter 1:9). Who has authority to say you are purified from your sins? Seems to me you would have to have the authority, power, possession, and ownership over everything. You would have to be the creator. You would have to be the sustainer. You would have to be the full radiance of God. Only God has the authority to say that He covers the sins of the world!  It is mysterious and sometimes confusing to figure out how exactly that death two thousand years ago covers my sin, yet it is true.

He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. The idea of sitting down at the right hand of God is very significant. In the old covenant, the priests daily had responsibilities in the tabernacle and the temple to offer sacrifice and do their required work, but the priests were not allowed to ever sit down on the job. The reason for that is it carried the message that the work is never completed and so they always had to remain standing, always at work, because the work was never done. Christ’s intercession in heaven is not that of an Aaronic priest standing before God to offer the blood. His intercession is that of a King seated on His throne, exercising the rights and titles gained by His finished work. The sitting at the right hand of God is a well-known figure, derived from Psalm 110:1, in order to designate supreme honor and dominion over the world (Romans 8:34).

Having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they (Hebrews 1:4)

Having become as much better than the angels. These words must be closely joined with the last clause of Hebrews 1:3; becoming better than angels is not of His pre-existence before He became flesh, but of what became of Him after He had “made purification of sins” and sat down at the right hand of God. Being made better than angels—by His exaltation by the Father (Heb 1:3, 13) is in contrast to His being “made lower than the angels” for short while on earth (Heb 2:9). Going forward from verse four, the author of Hebrews turns this conversation to Jesus being superior to the angels. Part of the argument raised by some at that time was that Jesus was just a man. He was just another one of God’s prophets but He certainly doesn’t have the authority to overthrow the message or the Law of Moses (including the ten commandments) ordained by angels (Hebrews 2:2; Gal.3:19). He certainly doesn’t have the authority to usher in a new covenant as if somehow He’s introducing something new. He’s certainly not higher than the angels nor does He have authority to do that. Hence, the author of Hebrews refutes such opinions by showing that Jesus’ words have final authority because He has become “so much better” by His resurrection, and “more excellent” than the angels by taking His seat at God’s right hand. And there is much more to Him than just a man.


He has inherited a more excellent name than they. After He had “made purification of sins” and sat down at the right hand of God, Christ inherits His more excellent name, not as the Eternal Son, but also as the God-Man after His resurrection. What is that excellent name? It is the name “Son”.  

For to which of the angels did He ever say, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? (Hebrews 1:5a)

That’s from Psalm 2 and of course the obvious answer is, “Never!” God identified Jesus as His Son, not the angels. When do the words “This day have I begotten thee” apply? An apostle has given the sure and certain answer to this question. Paul said, “God hath raised up Jesus; as also it is written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Acts 13:33). Thus, the begetting mentioned in this place is the resurrection of Christ. It was the resurrection that established all that Christ said and did, confirming the virgin birth, the incarnation, the miracles, the prophecies, everything. Christ, therefore, as the exalted God-Man, was and is far above all angels.

And again, “I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME”? (Hebrews 1:5b)

This is taken from 2 Samuel, chapter 7, verse 14. This is David talking about Solomon as the future King of Israel but it is a foreshadowing of God the Father identifying one in David’s line, His Son, who will be the ultimate King, the fulfillment of the prophecy, and obviously Father never said that of the angels. It is significant that David is quoted here because David is called the “First born” (Psalm 89:27), though he was not the firstborn child of Jesse, but the youngest and the eight.

“And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” (Hebrews 1:6)

And when He again brings the firstborn into the world. When He bringeth in means when the Father introduces the one with the title “Firstborn” into this world. In context, time of this introduction appears to be when the Son became the Messiah in the first advent though “again” may also refer to the second coming such “that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven [angels] and on earth [humans] and under the earth [perhaps demons]” (Philippians 2:10). This word “first born” was used both as an idea and to designate the one born first. Since the firstborn son was “first in line” and received the position of favor and honor, the title “firstborn” indicates of someone of the highest position and honor. Many of those not born first in the Bible are given the title “firstborn.” David as we mentioned (Psalm 89:27) and so is Ephraim (Jeremiah 31:9). According to Rabbi Bechai (quoted in Lightfoot) the ancient Rabbis called Yahweh Himself “Firstborn of the World.” It was a title, not a description of origin. The idea in this verse is that Jesus is superior because He is the object of angelic worship since He possesses that honor and glory of a First born or First begotten. The angels worship Him; He does not worship among them. Revelation 5 gives a glimpse of the angelic worship of Jesus. Jesus is the “only begotten” Son of God, but the title Firstborn is used primarily for His resurrection (Revelation 1:4).

And regarding the angels He says, “He makes His angels winds, And His ministers a flame of fire.” (Hebrews 1:7)

This is a quote from Psalm 104. The psalmist is saying and the writer of Hebrews is now affirming that angels are messengers of God like the wind and the lightning. Angels are magnificent beings. They are created by God. They are powerful beings. They have a significant role in God’s economy. God the Father is speaking in this verse, and regarding the angels, He says, they’re just created messengers because He makes them so, and God uses them to accomplish His mission. What does the Father says regarding the Son?

But regarding the Son He says, “Your throne, God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of righteousness is the scepter of His kingdom (Hebrews 1:8)

But regarding the Son He says, Your throne, God, is forever and ever. Here the Father is describing the Son’s nature in opposition to the angels before. The angels were created spirits, but regarding the Son, the Father addresses the Son as God; Father says, Jesus is not only the “Son” but is “God” just like the Father. However, the angels are ministers and servants in the Son’s kingdom, where the Son sits on His throne as King, from eternity; therefore his name and person is better than theirs.

The scepter of righteousness is the scepter of His kingdom. Jesus’ “scepter” , that is, His “royal scepter”, is used here figuratively to refer to His authority and shows the characteristic of His Kingdom. Jesus, as King, has a scepter of “righteousness”, emphasizing that His authority is based on righteousness.

See also: