(We pick up again the remaining Hebrews studies)
Meditations in Hebrews 10: 43. Confidence and Exhortations
Heb 10:19,22 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus….. let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith
Our writer has just shown how Jesus died once and for all so that we could enter a new covenant whereby God’s Holy Spirit would indwell us and transform us from inside-out. These verses are very logical (which is why I have referred to his writing as an ongoing argument – not the hostile sort, but the sort that seeks to convey a point of view with logical outcomes). So it comes as no surprise that we come to another link word, “Therefore” or, if you like, “As a consequence therefore” which says, “Because it is clear that God has done everything He could through the Cross of Christ, to put us right with Himself, AND because we have confidence to come into God’s presence because of what Jesus has done for us, THEREFORE the logical outworking of all this is that we can ‘draw near to God with the assurance that faith brings.’
This Confidence: But he has two things to say about this confidence which is referred to in verse 21: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus….” It is a confidence to enter what had been a shut-away place of God’s presence that only the high priest had been able to enter and that only once a year.
But then, the first of the two things he has to say about it, he says HOW this is possible: “by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,” (v.20) There had been a massively thick and high curtain that divided off the innermost place where God was said to reside but Christ had earned a way through that curtain and it was, of course, by offering his own body as a sacrifice. (Note: some commentators link ‘curtain’ and ‘body’ and say when the curtain was torn open (Mk 15:38) that was symbolic of Jesus body being ‘torn open’ on the Cross. I do not like that interpretation because no where else is his time on the Cross described in such a way and it is more logical to speak of his work on the Cross earning a way into God’s presence, which is what this section is all about.)
But then he says a second thing about WHY we have this confidence to come into God’s presence: “and since we have a great priest over the house of God,” (v.21) We can come to God confidently not because of a method but because of a person. This has all been achieved by God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, who has done it all for us in his love for us, and he’s the one, sitting at his Father’s right hand who can speak up for us as we have seen previously.
Now make sure you are absolutely clear about this because many Christians live a life of uncertainty. We have confidence to come to God as His children, NOT because of anything we have done or not done, but first because the penalty had been paid or the sentence carried out in respect of the guilt we carried because of our sins and, second, because it is the very Son of God who does this for us. He is FOR us!
Five “Let us” exhortations: Now, as a consequence or outworking of these things that establish our salvation and enable us to come into God’s presence, the writer, still with his ‘pastoral’ hat on, exhorts us to do five things, each one starting with ‘Let us’ as he seeks to stir up our faith and our Christian lives:
- Draw near to God: “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” (v.22a) We have ‘sincere hearts’, open, honest, truthful hearts, hearts all out for God, ever since we surrendered our lives to God when we first came to Him, and as we now live by faith that faith assures us, we can do this!
Two riders: But there are two riders that go with this ‘Let us’: i) “having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience” i.e. we’ve been washed by his blood, to use Old Testament Levitical language, and made clean in His sight so we can have a clear conscience and ii) “having our bodies washed with pure water.” Water washing was another process of the Tabernacle worship.
Ezekiel speaks of washing: Now Ezekiel, in the Exile context spoke a prophetic word that went much further than the Exile: “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezek 36:24-27) What an amazing passage with its seven (perfect number or number of completion) “I will’s”, the third of which was to wash and cleanse them. The apostle Paul wrote, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” (Eph 5:25,26) The inference there is that God’s word cleanses but I would suggest that this refers to the truth of the work on the Cross. The ‘hearts sprinkled’ and ‘bodies washed’ refer to the work of the Cross to cleanse the believer internally and to also bring about a cleansing externally, a transformed life.
And so: So this is the first of the five exhortations and it is very simple – as one of God’s children, take time out to sit quietly and draw near to Him in prayer (because that is where almost certainly it will happen) or maybe worship, and know Him. You CAN do this because of what Christ has done on the Cross for you and because he is working today for you. By his work on the Cross he has cleansed you internally so that your outer life will be transformed and cleansed as well. You ARE God’s child and you ARE precious to Him, so put life aside for a while and draw near to Him. We will consider the remaining four in the next study.