Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,…
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into, etc. Here the sacred writer enters upon the last great division of the Epistle. Having closed the argumentative portion, he opens the hortatory and admonitory part of his work. Our text is an exhortation to avail ourselves of the great privilege of access to the presence of God through the blood of Jesus. We have -
I. A DECLARATION or CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGE.
1. What the privilege is in itself. It is twofold.
(1) The right of approach unto the presence of God. We may "enter into the holy place." There is a reference here to the entrance of the high priest into the holy of holies under the Mosaic economy. The holy place in the text is the Divine sanctuary, "the place of God's essential presence." We have the privilege of access into his presence. We have this at present in prayer. Even now in prayer, and spiritually, we may "reach the inmost recesses of the Divine sanctuary, the very heart of God." And we may do this without the intervention of' any human priesthood, or the presentation of any material sacrifice. Hereafter we may enter into his presence in person. Already our Lord is there. And he prayed for his disciples, "Father, I will that where I am, they also may be with me." Admission into the manifested presence of God is the exalted privilege awaiting every true Christian in the future. "We shall see him even as he is." "I will behold thy face in righteousness," etc. "In thy presence is fullness of joy," etc.
(2) Confidence in approaching the presence of God. We have "boldness to enter into the holy place." This boldness is not rashness, or irreverence, or unreverence. It is rather a holy freedom of access to God because of our assurance that we shall be graciously received by him. See this in the exercise of prayer. We may freely express our wants and wishes to our heavenly Father; for, being our Father, he will not resent our filial confidence, but will welcome us the more because of it.
2. How the privilege has been obtained for us. "By the blood of Jesus." It is by the sacrifice of Christ that we have the right of access to the presence of God. And it is by the infinite love of God manifested in that sacrifice that we have confidence in availing ourselves of this right. In a word, this great privilege has been obtained for us through the mediation of our Lord and Savior. This is here represented as a way: "By the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way," etc. The description is instructive.
(1) The characteristics of the way. It is a new way; i.e. newly made, recent, or newly opened. Truly and beautifully Stier says, "No believer under the Old Testament dared or could, though under a dispensation of preparatory grace, approach God so freely and openly, so fearlessly and joyfully, so closely and intimately, as we now, who come to the Father by the blood of Jesus, his Son." It is a living way. "The way into the sanctuary of the Old Testament was simply a lifeless pavement trodden by the high priest, and by him alone; the way opened by Jesus Christ is one that really leads and carries all who enter it into the heavenly rest, being, in fact, the reconciliation of mankind with God, once and for ever effected by him through his ascension to the Father - 'a living way,' because one with the living person and abiding work of Jesus Christ" (Delitzsch). "Jesus saith, I am the Way," etc. (cf. John 14:1-6).
(2) The inauguration of this way. "Which he dedicated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh." There is a comparison between the flesh of our Savior and the veil which separated the most holy from the holy place. "While he was with us here below," says Delitzsch, "the weak, limit-bound, and mortal flesh, which he had assumed for our sakes, hung like a curtain between him and the Divine sanctuary into which he would enter; and in order to such entrance, this curtain had to be withdrawn by death, even as the high priest had to draw aside the temple veil in order to make his entry to the holy of holies." In his death our Lord put off the weak, mortal flesh; and at his death "the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom," laying open the holy of holies. Dying, our Lord laid aside those conditions of body which could not be taken into heaven itself, and removed the barriers which kept us from God (cf. Corinthians 1:21, 22).
(3) The encouragement to tread this way. "And having a great Priest over the house of God." The description is suggestive. "A great Priest." One who is both Priest and King; "a royal Priest and priestly King." He is "over the house of God," i.e. the Church; the one great communion of saints both in heaven and upon earth; the Church triumphant above and the Church militant below. Here is encouragement to tread the new and living way. Our great Priest has trod the way before us. He has entered the heavenly sanctuary, and abides in the glorious and blessed Presence. He is there on our behalf; as our Representative, as our Forerunner, and as an attraction to draw his people thither also.
II. AN EXHORTATION TO AVAIL OURSELVES OF THIS PRIVILEGE, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith," etc. Consider how we are to avail ourselves of this privilege.
1. With perfect sincerity. "With a tree heart." A heart free from hypocrisy and from self-deception. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
2. With assured confidence. "In full assurance of faith." Not questioning our right of access, or the certainty of our gracious acceptance, through Christ. Not with divided confidence, but "in fullness of faith" in Christ. The full undivided faith is required, as Ebrard says, "not a faith such as the readers of the Epistle to the Hebrews had, who to the questions, 'Is Jesus the Messiah? Is he the Son of God?' replied in the affirmative indeed with head and mouth, but yet were not satisfied with the sacrifice of Christ, but thought it necessary still to lean on the crutches of the Levitical sacrifices, and on these crutches would limp into heaven." We fear that there is much of this divided faith at present, or at least a great lack of "fullness of faith" in the Savior. The faith of some is divided between the Christ and the Church, or some human priesthood; others, between the Christ and the sanctions of reason or philosophy; and others, between the Christ and what they conceive to be their own personal merits. If we would draw near to God acceptably, we must do so "in full assurance of faith" in our great Priest as the only and all-sufficient Mediator.
3. With purity of heart and life. "Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body washed with pure water." There is a reference here to the Levitical purifications (cf. Exodus 29:21; Leviticus 8:30; Leviticus 16:4, 24; Hebrews 9:13, 14, 21, 22; 1 Peter 1:2). And in the last clause of the text there is probably a reference to Christian baptism, which is symbolic of spiritual cleansing (cf. Acts 22:16). The idea seems to be that to approach God acceptably we must be morally pure in heart and in action. But "who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" And so we draw near to God at present trusting in the Christ for pardon and for purity. Through him we are justified before God by faith, and have daily cleansing for daily impurities. And hereafter we shall draw near to his blessed presence "having washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb," and shall appear before him as members of "a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish."
1. How great are our privileges of present access to God in prayer, and hope of future approach to him in person!
2. How solemn are our obligations to avail ourselves of our privileges, and to walk worthily of them! - W.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,