The Letter to the Hebrews: a commentary & meditation
"Since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus

Scripture: Hebrews 10:19-39
19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

26 For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on the prisoners, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised.

37 "For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him."

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls.

Meditation: The author to the Hebrews says we have a great priest over the house of God. Jesus is our High Priest who not only shows us the way to the Father, but who also makes it possible for us to come into the very presence of God. His sacrifice was necessary to cleanse us from sin so we would be fit to enter God's presence. He is the new and living way to the presence of God.

We are urged to approach the presence of God in full assurance of the faith and to offer him worship. Nothing must hold us back from approaching God's throne of grace and mercy. We must hold fast the confession of our hope. Our hope is God himself and his great promises to us. We must not lose a grip of what we believe, especially in the face of cynicism which robs faith, of materialism which makes us forget God, and pessimism when circumstances seems to work against us.

We are also urged to get out of ourselves and to give ourselves to others, to consider how to stir one another to love and good works, to meet together for worship, and to encourage one another. The Christian life cannot be lived in isolation. We must be Christ to one another in the way we relate, speak, act, serve, and care for our neighbor. No matter how insignificant we may seem, each has an indispensable role to play in bringing Christ to one another and to the world.

The author to the Hebrews also warns us about the danger of falling back into serious sin and drifting away from fervor and love of God. Sin is not just rebellion against God's law, but it is a spurning of God's love. Sin is also a failure to recognize the sanctity of life lived in Christ. Christ has cleansed us in his blood. Sin is the failure to recognize the sacrifice of the cross. Sin is also an outrage to the Holy Spirit. When we sin we listen to the voice of evil rather than to the voice of the Spirit who speaks in our hearts and we spurn the grace to live as Christ's disciples.

The author to the Hebrews concludes his appeal with a threat. He quotes from Deuteronomy 32:35-36: God will judge his people. Christianity is the message of God's redeeming love and mercy, but it is also a message with a warning that in the end judgment comes. We must not spurn God's grace and love but hold fast to our confession of hope in God.

"Lord Jesus Christ, you are our great High Priest who has opened the way to the Father's presence. Help me to draw near with full confidence and boldness and to not shrink back out of negligence or fear."

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(c) 1999 Don Schwager