Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,
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.
Boldness to enter into the holiest.I. THE HOLIEST PLACE.
1. The special residence of the Deity.
2. The scene of holy services.
3. The residence of holy beings.
4. From this place those blessings are communicated that make us holy.
II. THE WAY OF ACCESS.
1. A new way.
2. A living way.
3. A consecrated way.
III. THE MANNER OF APPROACH.
1. With boldness.
2. With a true heart.
3. In full assurance of faith.
4. With hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.
5. With bodies washed with pure water.Application. Learn:
1. The gospel method of salvation. The blood of Jesus. Its expensiveness and its preciousness.
2. There must be personal application before we can enjoy its benefits.
3. All who thus personally approach shall obtain mercy.
4. How shall they escape who neglect so great salvation?
(J. Burns, D. D.)I. THE HOUSE OF GOD. What a Divine house is the physical universe, if we had but minds capable of realising its unity and looking upon it as a whole! What a great house even this earth of ours is, full of things innumerable both great and small I And yet this is but the uttermost court to this house. But the physical universe, whatever be its glory, can never be the true house and home of intelligence, thought and will. Only men build up the home of man. And He whose image man wears, and whoso child he is, says, "My people are My portion; Israel is My inheritance." What a sphere, then, of intelligence, love, and perfected will there must be as the aim and end of a physical universe which is so glorious! And if man's nature rests in nothing less than man, and demands a human home in which to dwell, what a sphere of voluntary thought and reflection there must be for God, the Maker of heaven and of earth, and the Father of us all! But just as within the sphere of the physical, we require the intelligent, so within the sphere of intelligence there must be that of friendship, for the house of God. The universe of His friends, of His innocent, as well as of His redeemed and happy creatures — these form the house of God; this is Mount Zion, "the mountain of the house of the Lord," the dwelling-place of the Most High — to which we are invited to draw near, "to an innumerable company of angels, to the General Assembly and Church of the firstborn, to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to God, the Judge of all." The Father's dwelling-place is in the house of His children. But this, the house of His friends is a "house of many mansions"; it has its outer courts, its vestibule, its holy chambers, and its holiest; and between the outer courts, occupied by the children of earth, and that holiest of holies, what intervening abodes there are of angels, of elders, of principalities, of thrones, of dominions, of powers, and of the redeemed of all ages and experiences — throughout which, and in whom, God is all and in all! But within the holiest is enthroned, in meekest majesty, One who is "set over the House of God," and who, in bodily presence, is the House of God, in the express image of His person and the brightness of His glory, in whom it pleases all the Father's fulness to dwell, and who is the home of His eternal rest.
II. THE WAY TO IT. We must not forget, in considering the way to this house, that the house itself is spiritual, that it is the home for the thoughts, for the affections, for the will of God; a sphere in which His Spirit finds fellowship, satisfaction and rest; in which He is all and in all — the spring, the source of all power and life, and of all the forms of life answering to the power. Then, clearly, it must be a house only accessible on certain definitely determined conditions; conditions, not arbitrary, but imposed by the very nature of things, given in the very nature of God and His relations to His creatures. Everything has its own way by which it may be entered. Things must be related to have access to each other. Spiritual things have spiritual ways of access, and require spiritual discernment. No wonder then that the text speaks of the way to the House of God as a "new way." It is not the original way of man's primitive nature, but a way newly opened up in view of the necessities of the state and circumstances into which man's sin and sinfulness had brought him, a way for sinners into the holiest of holies, the presence of God. The way of His descent to us may become the way of our ascent to Him. But, it is further called a "living way," not merely because it leads to life, nor because it gives life, nor because it vitally renews itself, nor because its use is restricted to the living — though in all these senses there is much truth; but because it is a way set up in Him who is the Life. Christ is the way to Christ, as the light is the way to the sun, and the seed-life of the flower the way to the flower. He is the life-fountain and also the stream which conducts to it. But, in addition to its being "a new and living way;" it is also said to be a way which Christ has "consecrated for us through the veil of His flesh." By this expression, "the veil of His flesh," the apostle gathers up in unity of significance the whole incarnate relations of the Son of Man, in His representative character, on our behalf, and represents them as a veil of separation between Him and the house of His glory which He had with the Father before the world was, and says, "Only through that can there be a way for man to God." And this was true for Christ Himself as well as for us. Only by the rending of the veil of His flesh could He, who "came out from God," return to Him.
III. THE SEVERAL CHARACTERISTIC QUALIFICATIONS WITH WHICH WE ARE EXHORTED TO DRAW NEAR TO GOD WITHIN THE VEIL. "Let us draw near in the full assurance of faith"; that is, being fully assured that this way of " access to God" for sinful men has been opened up; thai God has solved His own problem; and that in Christ, His representative and ours, the Son of God and Son of Man, it stands a completed work, with its gate on this side the veil, for us as for Him — the cross, and, through the veil, its goal — the cross crowned in glory. Assured of this, let us draw Hear, none daring to make us afraid; for should any arrest our course, and demand our right; to enter within " the holiest," we can point them to the way, and to our hearts, sprinkled with the blood of Him who in our nature and in our name is set over the house of God. Having this assurance of faith, "let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering." An assured faith in the fact that we have the new and living way of access to God cannot fail to beget a stedfast hope. Faith not only warrants but demands hope, is in fact the substance of our hope. And He who is its Author has made abundant provision for its growth and expansion in the great exceeding precious promises He has given us, through which we "become partakers of the Divine nature," and "receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls."
(W. Pulsford, D. D.)I. THE WARRANT "TO ENTER INTO THE HOLIEST."
1. "The blood of Jesus." This blood is the most precious thing that we can conceive of. It is set before us in Scripture in different views.(1) It is compared to the blood of the passover lamb. It may therefore be said to be the blood of protection and of deliverance.(2) It is compared with "the blood and water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop," used by Moses at Sinai. It may therefore be said to be the blood that ratifies the covenant.(3) It is compared with " the blood used on the day of atonement." It may therefore be said to be the blood by which we draw nigh unto God.(4) As under the Old Testament, "almost all things were purged with blood," so it is said to be " the blood which cleanseth us from all sin."(5) To show its unspeakable value, it is said to be "the blood of God" (Acts 20:28).
2. Another warrant is, that we have "a new and living way" — that is, a way quite different from that which the high priest had of old to enter into the "holy of holies."
3. This way is said to be "consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh." Now, every obstacle is removed; and every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is warranted to enter for himself into the immediate presence of God, and there transact all the concerns of his own soul.
4. Another powerful and suitable warrant is expressed in these words — "and having an High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near." When we consider this High Priest, what He is, what He has done, and what He is continuing to do, we have encouragement inexpressible. He is God and man. He is our Brother — our Righteousness — our Sanctification — our Redemption. How glorious is our great High Priest! How happy to be under His guidance — His management — His care!
II. YOUR WELCOME.
1. "Draw near with a true heart." This implies that you have nothing in view but the supply of grace which you find you need. Let this lead you to inquire of what graces you stand in the utmost need; and let this alone employ all your present desires and petitions to your heavenly Father.
2. Another evidence of your welcome is "full assurance of faith." This you can have by the study of Christ, in His person, and offices and intercession. In all He is, in all He does, and in all He has done, He is perfect. He can save every soul, be the condition of that soul what it may. But farther, He can give the Holy Spirit, to unite unto Himself — to conform to the Divine image. In one word, He can give "full assurance of faith." Did you ever ask this " assurance " from Him? Did He ever deny it to you? This " assurance" is your welcome.
3. A farther evidence of your welcome is to draw near with "hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience." This is done by the Holy Spirit, for Christ's sake. When the Spirit enables you to believe, lie at the same time applies to your heart the virtue of the precious blood of Christ. This removes all opposition to faith — to love — to every other grace in the mediatorial person of Christ. This "purges the conscience from dead works" (Hebrews 9:13, 14). With such attainments you may, with full welcome, draw near to the mercy seat; for these constitute your welcome there.
4. The last evidence of welcome mentioned in our text is, "our bodies being washed with pure water." This language is also figurative, and is taken from the act of consecrating Aaron and his sons to the priest's office. This is obtained by the promise (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
(James Kidd, D. D.)1. I would first lead you to consider for a moment the term "brethren": "Having, therefore, brethren." There was a strong feeling of brotherhood amongst the Jews, not only on account of their original stock, but on account of their separation from the rest of the world; but the term here denotes the spiritual brotherhood of believers in Jesus Christ. It is not merely that believers are united by natural affections, without any intervening medium; but they are united to each other in Jesus — and that is the closest tie which the soul of man can ever know. What a difference it would make in our treatment of each other, if we could recognise with a loving heart our brotherhood in Christ Jesus! How many jealousies it would remove; and how many of those heart-burnings, which eat as a canker into our spiritual life!
2. Notice, in the next place, the term " boldness." This is put in contrast with the fear under the law, which deprived the worshipper of all confidence; and it marks the holy liberty of the child of God, compared with the bondage in which he was held under the law. One of the great snares of Satan is to endeavour to beat men off from this point, as if it were presumption, But read the Word, and see for yourselves what is said upon the subject. "He suffered, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God."
3. But still observe — it is by the blood of Jesus, because "without shedding of blood there is no remission." It is the blood of Christ alone that annihilates the distance between the believing sinner and God; there is no approach but through that blood, and "those who are afar off are made nigh" by it.
4. This is called " a new and living way," because it is peculiar to the new covenant of grace, and because it is always new and efficacious; it does not wax old, as did the first covenant; that was for a time only, till "the times of reformation," we are told, but this is for ever. And it may be called living, because it is the only way of entering into life.
5. But the apostle goes on to say, that our Lord has consecrated for us this way "through the veil, that is to say, His flesh." The meaning of this expression appears to be, that as when the veil was rent at the death of our Lord there was no longer any hindrance to entering into the holiest, so Christ's flesh being rent by His death, a way was opened to all believers, by the sacrifice which He offered, into the very kingdom of heaven. There is very much instruction for us here. Every other priesthood but the priesthood of Christ has the effect of keeping the worshipper at a distance from God; but His priesthood is put before us as a motive to draw near.
6. Another expression is made use of, which is full of point. "In full assurance of faith." Faith is needed in God's service, because "without faith it is impossible to please Him." "Full assurance" is to be understood of faith in the priesthood of Christ. It is the superiority of that priesthood which the apostle aims to establish throughout this Epistle. And the " assurance of faith" does not respect the assurance which a man has of his own salvation, but of the efficacy of Christ's priesthood, and the sufficiency of His atonement and intercession, as opposed to all other ways of access.
7. But the apostle goes on to say — "having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience." This is a consequence of our having a "full assurance" of the efficacy of Christ's priesthood, that we get delivered from the burden of an evil conscience. The conscience of every man has been defiled by sin, nor could the offerings under the law perfect a man with respect to it; but the blood of Jesus can, and when applied to the conscience takes away the condemning power of sin, as respects the guilt of it.
8. Another effect is, that the man desires to "perfect holiness in the fear of God"; which is just what we are taught in the last phrase of the text — "our bodies washed with pure water." This denotes purity of life and conversation. Thus must we be careful to cultivate holiness of life, if we would approach Him with acceptance; as the former clause, "having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience," had reference to our justification, so this latter clause has reference to our sanctification, or to our growth in grace and conformity to the image of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
(J. W. Reeve, M. A.)I. WHAT HAS BEEN DONE.
1. In actual historical fact the glorious veil of the temple has been rent in twain from the top to the bottom: as a matter of spiritual fact, which is far more important to us, the separating legal ordinance is abolished. Jesus has made thee nigh, as nigh to God as even He Himself is.
2. This rending of the veil signified, also, the removal of the separating sin. Pardon, which removes sin, and justification, which brings righteousness, make up a deed of clearance so complete that nothing now divides the sinner from his reconciled God. The Judge is now the Father: He, who once must necessarily have condemned, is found justly absolving and accepting. In this double sense the veil is rent; the separating ordinance is abrogated, and the separating sin is forgiven.
3. Next, be it remembered that the separating sinfulness is also taken away through our Lord Jesus. It is not only what we have done, but what we are that keeps us apart from God. Through the death of our Lord Jesus the covenant of grace is established with us, and its gracious provisions are on this wise: "This is the covenant, &c., I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts." When this is the ease, when the will of God is inscribed on the heart, and the nature is entirely changed, then is the dividing veil which hides us from God taken away: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."
II. WHAT WE HAVE.
1. We have "boldness to enter in."
2. Let us follow the example of the high priest, and having entered, let us perform the functions of one who enters in, "Boldness to enter in " suggests that we act as men who are in their proper places.
3. If you will look at the text, you will notice that this boldness is well grounded. "Having therefore boldness." Paul is often a true poet, but he is always a correct logician.
4. Why is it that we have boldness? Is it not because of our relationship to Christ which makes us "brethren"
5. We may have this boldness of entering in at all times, because the veil is always rent, and is never restored to its old place.
III. How WE EXERCISE THIS GRACE.
1. We come by the way of atonement.
2. An unfailing way.
3. A living way.
4. A dedicated way.
5. A Christly way.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(H. Bushnell, D. D.)
A new and living way1. The way is new, not the old road of outward sacrifice, but the devotion of willing hearts.
2. Jesus dedicated it to the use of the redeemed host by first travelling along it Himself (for the essence of the dedication ceremony consisted in a solemn opening for the first time to public use).
3. It is also a living way, the path of a living spirit, not a routine of mechanical obedience; by quickening in us His own spiritual life Christ brings us near to God, and unless His spirit live in us we cannot follow in His way.
4. This way leads through the veil of flesh. The flesh is a real veil, shutting men out from the sight and knowledge of God, just as the typical veil shut out all but the high priest from the holy chamber of God's presence. It forms an obstacle not only against the unclean and sinful, who desire to hide themselves from God's holy eye and wilfully build up a wall between themselves and Him, but -even against God's own people who, in spite of an earnest desire to come to Him, are hindered by the necessary imperfection of their mortal nature. Even Jesus Himself had to make His way through this veil of flesh; for He was made subject to the infirmity of the flesh, and liable to temptation. Sinless as He was, He had the understanding and the will of the flesh, its thoughts and desires, its natural appetites and affections. He had therefore to crucify the flesh in will and to be crucified in deed, to put off His mortal garment, and pass through death unto life, before He could altogether pierce the veil of flesh. By passing through this Himself He opened a way for His brethren also to pass through. As the typical veil was rent asunder at His death, so a wide road was opened through the veil of flesh, that all those whom He hath consecrated in His blood may enter in the strength of His spirit into the presence of God.
(F. Rendall, M. A.)
(J. C. Cumming, D. D.)
(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)
An High Priest over the house of God.I. THE DENIAL OF THE PROPER PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST BREAKS THE INTERESTING AND INSTRUCTIVE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS. Revelation is the glow of an early morning, shining to the perfect day. The foundation of the building was laid in the patriarchal ages; and it rose to the completion when by the ascension of Christ He became the head of the corner, and gave the weight and beauty of His majesty to give stability and ornament to the building. All the Scriptures testify of Him; to Him give all the prophets witness: as our great High Priest, Christ was seen with Moses and Elias, who "spake with Him of His decease" which He was about to "accomplish at Jerusalem." They had looked forward to His day, not with curiosity merely, but with lively interest, as to the consummation of that sacrifice of which theirs were but the types, and their faith in that alone was imputed to them for righteousness.
II. As the connection between the two Testaments would be broken by the denial of the priesthood of Christ, so THE HARMONY BETWEEN THE DIFFERENT DISPENSATIONS OF .REVEALED RELIGION TO MAN WOULD BE DESTROYED. The frame-work of revealed religion has been precisely the same in all ages: that man is a sinner; that on the ground of his own right he cannot be justified; that law, though it admits of atonement and satisfaction, is inexorable in the exaction of its penalty; that the guilty can only be pardoned through the sufferings of the innocent; that God can only be approached through mediation; and that intercession for the guilty is admissible only as it has respect to sacrifice for sin. How impressive, how solemn are these truths, transmitted as they are to us by the testimony of all ages, and marked and signalised by the rites of the Church wherever she has erected her temples! This is sufficient to prove that they are the expression of the counsels of the Divine mind; that they are the axioms on which He governs the guilty race; and that, like Himself, they are unchangeable.
III. If we have not in the gospel a real sacrifice and a real priesthood, then CHRISTIANITY LOSES ITS EXCLUSIVE CHARACTER, and can no longer claim to be the religion of mankind. That the religion of Jesus Christ makes such a claim cannot be doubted; and that it was understood by its first preachers to have this exclusive character is matter of history and not of reasoning.
IV. IF WE HAVE NO SACRIFICE, NO PRIESTHOOD, IN THE GOSPEL, THEN CHRISTIANITY, INSTEAD OF BEING THE CONSUMMATION AND PERFECTION OF ALL OTHER DISPENSATIONS OF RELIGION TO GUILTY MAN, IS IN FACT INFERIOR, IMPERFECT, AND THE LOWEST IN HOPE AND CONSOLATION. Who can lay his hand upon his heart and appeal to God that he has never offended in thought, in word, in temper, or in deed? The same gospel which reveals the righteousness of faith reveals also the wrath of God from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God," No; thanks be to infinite mercy, we are not so left. We have a High Priest over the house of God. If any man sin, there is a sacrifice of infinite value: the death of the incarnate Son of God. Repentance, and a believing application to the blood of atonement, are followed by conscious pardon. The grace of the Holy Spirit is given to the humble and praying believer to realise in his experience and conduct the holiness of the gospel.
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