Our author has sought to make the point that Christ's once and for all, complete and effective sacrifice as our great high priest, assures our right of approach to God and thus guarantees our perseverance in the faith. In this conclusion to his argument he describes Christ enthroned in power and glory, having guaranteed our sonship through his atoning sacrifice.
v11-12. Our author again makes the point that the sacrificial offerings of the Aaronic Priesthood were not completely effective. Those priests had to repeatedly offer sacrifices for themselves and the people, and that repetition showed that the effectiveness of the sacrifices was limited. Yet, on the other hand, Christ offered one sacrifice, once-and-for-all, and having done this sat down in the sanctuary. The Aaronic priests could not sit down after completing their sacrifice, for it would have to be repeated again. Yet, Christ could sit down, for his sacrifice need never be repeated again; it was permanent in effect.
v13. The idea of kingly authority, alluded to in Psalm 110:1, is further expanded. Here our author refers to the kingly role of Christ who is the priestly king after the order of Melchizedek. He does not develop the idea of Melchizedek's kingship, as it is outside his thesis, rather he outlines the priestly role of Christ the royal king. Paul develops this idea further in 1Cor.15:24-28.
v14. Our author goes on to detail the effective results of Christ's once-and-for-all sacrifice. The sacrifice of Christ has purified his people from the moral defilement of sin and has assured them of an enduring right-relationship with God.
v15-17. Jeremiah 31:33-34 is now quoted in support of the idea that Christ's sacrifice is final and effective. The first quotation supports the contention that the covenantal promise (that Israel will be made an acceptable people through their obedience) has been fulfilled in the obedience of Christ. Obedience to God's law, together with a desire to carry it out, is ours through our identification with Christ. The second quotation outlines the consequence of such obedience, namely that the guilt of God's people has been completely blotted out.
v18. Since Christ has achieved a once-and-for-all perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, there remains no useful function for the old Jewish cultic system. Because of Christ's obedience, we are forgiven forever.
The author of Hebrews first quoted Jeremiah 31:31-34 to make the point that the old covenant (God's agreement with the people of Israel), with its ineffective sacrificial system, is superseded by the new covenant in Christ. Now he again quotes Jeremiah, this time to make the point that the new covenant is both effective in the removal of sin and produces an inward spiritual renewal which transcends the need for written laws. This new agreement between God and mankind rests on the perfect priestly sacrifice of Christ, an agreement that is both effective and permanent.
We live within the age of grace. Our Lord has inaugurated a process that will unify the entirety of God's creation. He has broken the power of evil and made it possible for rebels to be restored into fellowship with the Creator. Christ has achieved this on the cross. For the present, he now reigns in glory managing the process of restoration - a process which begins here on this earth and finally extends into the heavenly realms.
We who have experienced grace and are caught up in this process of restoration, can be sure that the management of the process is on line and will have its desired outcome. We will ultimately stand before the living God as a holy people. Our state of rebellion has been dealt with, we stand now as God's friends, and day-by-day we are shaped toward coming glory.
The shaping process we face in our day-to-day existence is primarily managed through the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Initially, the Spirit takes the Word of God, as revealed in the scriptures, and drives it into our hearts. Then, having that "law" in our hearts, we are empowered for the living and the doing of it. In this way life shapes us as we seek to do God's will in the face of physical, psychological and spiritual opposition. By this process, we who are holy learn something of what we are already in Christ.
1. What point is the writer making when he stresses the repeated offerings of the Aaronic priesthood? v11.
2. What point is being made by noting that after Christ's sacrifice he sat down?
3. "He sat down at the right hand of God". What does this infer about the status of Christ?
4. Read Psalm.110. This prophetic psalm, concerning the coming priest/king after the order of Melchizedek, speaks of his work in v1, which verse is taken up in Heb.10:13. What role is it referring to?
5. In what sense have we been "made perfect"? v14
6. In what sense are we "being made holy"? v14
7. In what sense is the law "in" our hearts and "on" our minds and how is this different from the experience of an Old Testament saint? v16