Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,…
I. WHY THE APPROACH IS TO BE MADE. There needed the statement of no reason here; the necessity of approach is assumed. The great thing required was to substitute a new ground and a new mode of approach for a ground and a mode which had become useless, nay, even harmful. The Israelite had always acknowledged that he must approach Deity in some way or other. If God had not appointed a certain way of access in the Levitical ordinances, the Israelite would have taken his own way. Indeed, it is lamentably plain that too much he did take his own way. He had to be turned from the golden calf by the sharpest of chastisements, and many a century elapsed before image-worship and debasing rites lost their hold upon him. Moses and the prophets, say all the representatives of Jehovah under the first covenant, had quite as hard work to turn away their fellow-countrymen from image-worship as the writer of this Epistle afterwards had to turn them away from types to antitypes, from shadow to substance, and from a temporary discipline to its abiding result in the Christ. The approach to God may be looked at as either a need or a duty, and whichever aspect be considered, it is evident that a loving, foreseeing God will provide the way. He provides the right way to the right end. Let us try to imagine him leaving Israel to its own devices when it escaped from Egypt. The people would still have built altars, slain sacrifices, and appointed priests. What God does is to deliver the conscience from the tyranny of every idolatry and bring it under reasonable government and guidance. He frees human religious customs from cruelty, lust, superstition, and makes them typical and instructive. And now we come to the means of a full approach to God in Christ, is it not plain that all this is to supply a corresponding need and give scope for a corresponding duty? Jesus tells us there is a true Vine; so there is a true altar, a true sacrifice, a true Priest. The image-worshipper, whose darkened heart is filled with falsehoods about the nature and the service of God, is yet faithful to what he thinks to be right. Shall we be less faithful, who have opportunities for such service and such blessing.
II. THE GROUND OF APPROACH. The spirit of man has to find its entrance into the holy place, and has to give its reason for confidence in expecting admission - a reason which every man must apply to his own understanding, so as to make his approach as practical, as persevering, as possible. It is not expected of us, who have no experience of the details of Mosaic sacrificial institutions, to appreciate all the details here. We have not to he won away from sacrifices of beasts and dependence on an earthly priest. But, nevertheless, we must apprehend that the only ground of satisfactory approach to God is in Christ. There is no way to reach harmony with that great Being in whom is light and no darkness at all, and who cannot be tempted with evil, save through Christ. In Christ there is hope for the sinner, something to draw him, something to lift him above useless resolutions and vain struggles. Jesus Christ is the Way. "You have come to Mount Zion," says the writer in Hebrews 12. To the real Zion, which is part of the city of the living God. But we are brought there that we may be safely and permanently introduced into the true holy of holies, and into that communion with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which gives purity and blessedness.
III. THE MODE OF APPROACH. The whole man must be united in a true approach to God. It is now that we have to approach, and there can be no separation between the inward and the outward man. The heart must be right and the body must be right. Mere bodily approach could never have profited at any time, save to the extent that it freed the worshipper from the penalties of complete disobedience. But still bodily approach has its place. With the body we have to serve God; and cleanliness is not only a wholesome and a comfortable thing - it is also sacred. People have sometimes been exposed to ridicule by quoting the common saying, "Cleanliness is next to godliness," as being from the Scriptures. They are not so far wrong, for that is what this passage virtually says. Then with a true heart, and a vigorous, prosperous faith bearing us onwards, we shall make a real and secure progress towards possession of the mysteries of godliness. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,