19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God.
Let us draw near to God
Here’s the picture that Hebrews has been building up for us for at least the past 6 chapters. The Most Holy Place was the dwelling of God Himself. It was the centre of the OT tabernacle and in it was the ark of the covenant – the LORD’s very throne.
But of course the whole Old Covenant system kept the people away from God’s presence. the great thick curtain, mentioned in v20 – it had guardian cherubim embroidered into it to remind people of the sword bearing angelic guards protecting the way back to Eden. Do you remember when Adam and Eve sinned they were expelled from God’s holy presence and God put cherubim with flashing swords - like throwing sword martial artsists to bar the way back in. You are a sinner and God is holy, holy, holy. There’s no entry through here. Not unless you’ve got a great sacrifice and a great priest.
And that’s the thing that Hebrews is celebrating. v19 this whole system has been resolved. a once and for all and forever effective sacrifice - the blood of jesus, a new and living way opened for us - A new covenant. a great high priest over the house of God - jesus in Go’s presence eternally FOR US and the result is “Come on in!” COME ON IN!
It’s extraordinary. Hebrews says, walk with CONFIDENCE into the presence of the Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord Almighty. You could imagine the Old Testament priests appalled, running along behind us in their robes saying “You can’t go in there! Are you even Jewish?” “Nope” we say.
“And where’s your sacrifice, I don’t see a sacrifice. And where’s your priest, you need a priest.” And we say the blood of the LORD Jesus has been shed, is that a good enough sacrifice? And He is our great High Priest, appearing for us in heaven right now, is that a good enough priest? Yes it is and so we DRAW NEAR to God.
This command to draw near is repeated seven times in Hebrews. It’s a major theme. Christ’s sacrifice is the perfect sacrifice, His priesthood is the perfect priesthood, draw near with confidence.
And you think, well I can’t, can I? I get tongue tied in the presence of earthly authorities. I make a fool of myself in the presence of minor celebrities. I feel small and awkward and ashamed in the presence of human greatness. Can I really draw near?
Yes, v22 goes on:
draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
There is a FULL assurance that comes from faith. When we see Jesus, arms open on the cross, we see just how approachable He really is. He assures we can draw near and we trust Him. Not only that He sprinkles our hearts with His blood. The blood of the OT sacrifices were sprinkled on external things to say “This sacrifice has outwardly cleansed these things.” Christ’s sacrifice goes deep – it cleanses even our wayward and sinful hearts. No more guilt – it’s all been laid on Jesus: He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him. And by His wounds we are healed. No need for guilt. Christ has paid for it all, cleansed it all, removed it all.
And our bodies are washed with pure water. In between the altar and the holy place of the tabernacle there was a massive basin where the priests washed before entering the holy places. Jesus has taken us through that washing into God’s presence. And for our part, baptism is the symbol of this deeper washing. But as we stand before God no need to feel out of place, no need to feel uncertain, no need to feel guilty, no need to feel impure – Christ has cleansed us. Draw near.
But what does that actually mean? What does it look like to ‘draw near to God’?
In Hebrews 10 there are three important contexts we need to bear in mind as we draw near:
The holiness of God
The suffering of the Christian life, and
The need for community
- the holiness of God
it is simply breathtaking that we are welcomed into the presence of God because God is so holy. so holy. We must have been made so clean. God is like this and that impresses upon the nature of our relationship with him. In Fatherly love he has poured out himself to make us clean, to make us his children. We may be confidently in his presence now but nothing has change about who he is. he doesn’t suddenly become God All Matey. No our Father is God Almighty
Those fearful verses in vv26-31
v26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,
v29 speaks of punishent
v30 of vengeance
v31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
scary verses made even scarier if you think you are the person who can only expect judgement
i’ve spoken with christians who have been crippled by the fear that they are damned because of ongoing sin. Whenever I held out the grace of Jesus they would always come back to these verses and say “I’m keeping on sinning, therefore I’m trampling on the Son of God therefore I will be punished.”
Is that what these verses are saying? Are they saying that too much sin will eventually mean you trample the Son of God and get judged.
Well look, it would be very strange if Hebrews was teaching that true Christians could lose their salvation. Just look back a dozen verses to verse 14:
by one sacrifice Christ has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy.
Those being made holy are the Christians and Christ by His death has made them perfect FOREVER. So unless this writer has completely changed his theology in the space of a dozen verses, this is not about true Christians who sin too much and end up in hell.
No v26 is not about any old perpetual sin. The context and the use of sinning as a verb in hebrews suggests that this must be the sin of rejecting Christ who is the one and only sacrifice for sins. v29 seems so make that clear - it’s a rejection of Christ and his saving death and the spirit who makes that available to us.
The person who deliberately walks away from Jesus Christ and says of the cross and the Holy Spirit - what a load of nonsense
As someone said to me at a wedding on Friday where i preached the gospel, ‘God and me we have an agreement, I don’t bother him and he doesn’t bother me’
That’s the sin that tramples on the cross and the Spirit. It’s the only unforgiveable sin - blasphemy against the holy spirit - because it is the rejection of the only means of forgiveness.
It’s like a drowning man rejecting the one lifeguard who has swum out to save him - pushing him away, trying to drag him under with them.
More than that it is the spurning of a lover isn’t it? God in love pours out his life to save the people he has made, the people who belong to him. He Gives his own son. Because he loves. and to have that love rejected, thrown back in your, I’ll stay with other lovers - it’s Deeply wounding, deeply angering.
If anyone ends up in hell. They will do so having trampled hell bent over the crucified Jesus - his arms open but spurned.
But notice who God is. the lover of our souls is Holy Holy Holy - a furnace of burning purity. And you can draw near and be refined, be made holy, be made like him in love.
So the first thing is Let us draw near to God - the holy God
the second is
Let us hold unswervingly to hope
The context of the suffering of the christian life vv32-end
the orignial recipients of the book of Hebrews have v32 been through a great conflict and suffering
v33 they’ve experienced insult and perscutoin
v34 some of them have beem imprisoned or had property confiscated
have you ever experienced any of this in your christian life.
the christian life brings troubles, persecutions. we are strangers in the world. if the world hated me, says Jesus, it will hate you also
direct insult, persecution, imprisonment and violence is the experience of millions of christians today around the world. Nigeria, India, Iraq, Indonesia. churches and homes burned, lives lost..
how does anyone keep going as a christian in those sorts of circumstances?
how do you keep drawing near?
in the west we may not encounter violence and gross mistreatment as Christians but there is a kind of persecution - a withering derision and active sidelining of christian belief which has a deeply suffocating effect on our faith and perseverance.
how do you keep going as a christian in those sort of circumstances?
how do you keep drawing near when everyone is telling us that our faith is our silly hobby.
and then there are the sufferings of encountering and fighting our sin which afflicts all Christians
how do you keep drawing near
2 things in the passage
community and the future
v33 they stood side by side with each other in suffering
v34 they sympathised with those who were suffering
= to co-suffer. suffer with
they did suffering and struggle together as a community
2. they did it looking forward to the future
v34 better and lasting possessions
a remarkably tangible view of the future
they could persevere when their possessions were confiscated or their homes burned down because they were looking foreward to a concrete future hope. The new creation. An inheritance kept for you.
imagine if you have your books, your computer, your car confiscated, your home, church damaged, your reputation stripped away
such a concrete view of a physical tangible perfect future hope.
i have better possessions coming to me
of this they were convinced v36 we will receive what he has promised
Jesus didn’t just promise persecution. he promised a new creation hope. lasting possessions and relationship with him
v36 in just a little while …will come
lovely name for Jesus ‘he who is coming’
who is Christ? he is he who is coming
he is on his way, we will see him face to face
our faith is not some laughable hobby.
the future is Christ’s and we will inherit a whole universe with him
3. context for drawing near
let us not give up meeting together
let us consider how we might spur one another on to love and good deeds
the context of cimmunity
drawing near to God happens in community
i need to be thinking about you
and about how i can spur you on to love Jesus and others and to good deeds
and you need to be thinkiong about me and about how you can encourage me
bevcaise i can’t draw near to God without you and you can’t draw near to God without me
we need each other
we need to spur each other on and we need to be deliberate about it
v25 we need to meet together and keep on meeting together
because NOT meeting together is habit forming
interesting. You might have imagined he’s say that meeting together can becoem a habit which it can
but not meeting together can become a habit v v quickly
haven’t you had that?
you miss splinter group or church because something comes up you can’t make it. it makes it easier not to make it the following week.
these verses say please watch out. if you want to draw nearto God you must draw near to each other. we need each other
don’t give up meeting together.
it’s crucial ..because staying away can slide into drifting away which can slide into falling away
Don’t give up meeting together.
who is the lord laying on my heart that i can encourage today?
as we come now to the service of the Lord’s supper
where we celebrate that in jesus we have a perfect sacrifice
a wonderful high priest
let us draw near to the god who is holy holy holy
let us hold firmly to the hope we profess in all the sufferings of this life
let us encourage one another daily
don’t stay away. with confidence draw near with sincere hearts.