Last Sunday morning, we talked about how the Law was just a foreshadowing of the person and work of Jesus Christ. The sacrifices couldn't make people perfect or erase their sins, but Jesus did. Because He fulfilled the Law, He replaced it.
Hebr. 10:9 ...He takes away the first in order to establish the second.
We are not to go back into Jewish Law because Jesus has fulfilled it and taken it away. There are no longer any offerings for sin.
As we have discussed several times previously, the temple could not be entered by just anyone. Only the priests could enter in, and even they were forbidden to go behind the veil that covered the entrance into the Holy of Holies.
Only the High Priest could go behind this veil, and only on the Day of Atonement. Of course, the high priest would enter fearfully on that day, afraid of being struck down dead. God had warned that to enter in on any other day would mean certain death, saying...
Lev. 16:2 ...he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die...
And even on the Day of Atonement, the high priest was warned that he must...
Lev. 16:13 ...put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, lest he die.
So entering into the earthly Holy of Holies was cause for great fear. But here we are told that we don't need to be afraid to enter into the heavenly Holy of Holies - God's throne room. We can enter in with confidence, because the way has been opened.
Now here is the opportunity to see another picture that God painted. We know that there was an obstacle keeping people out of the throne room where God was, the Holy of Holies. It was a heavy curtain called "the veil." Throughout the course of history, only a few men, the high priests, could get around behind the veil for a short time, but none of them could stay in there. The only way to open that way for everyone would be to tear the veil open.
Now the author tells us that just as the earthly Holy of Holies was a model of the heavenly throne room of God, the earthly veil was also a symbol, a model, a foreshadowing of something covering the heavenly entrance to that throne room. He tells us that the veil was a prophetic picture of the flesh of Jesus Christ!
In the days of the Old Testament, a handful of guys were allowed to come around the curtain in heaven, just as the high priests were allowed on earth. Men like Ezekiel and Isaiah were allowed behind the veil, invited in for a short time to see the throne of God in heaven. But they couldn't stay there - they could only take a glimpse and exit again.
Just like in the earthly temple, the only way to enter permanently would be to tear the veil. And that is what happened when Jesus allowed His flesh to be torn. The night before He hung on the cross,
Matt. 26:26 ...Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."
Peter later wrote that,
1Pet. 4:1 ...Christ has suffered in the flesh...
When Jesus was tortured and crucified, His flesh was torn. And when that flesh was torn, the way was opened.
God graphically illustrated this to all who were in Jerusalem for the Passover that year. At the moment Jesus died,
Mark 15:37-38 ...Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
God did on earth what He had done in heaven - the veil was torn, and now the way in was open.
Now we all can enter into the Holy of Holies.
- We don't need to be afraid as the high priests were.
- We don't have to go through the washing and sprinkling rituals as they did.
- And we don't ever have to leave.
- We can enter with confidence and full assurance.
- We have been sprinkled and washed by Christ.
- And we can stay there forever.
All because we didn't sneak around the veil - we went through it!
These Jews to whom the author is writing had become Christians. But they were beginning to waver in their faith. They were considering going back to the old ways, to be bound under the old laws and the old covenant. They had confessed Jesus as their Savior by grace, but were now thinking about abandoning that confession because of the persecution they'd been subjected to.
It hurts so much to see people waver in hope, to lose their grip on their confession of Christ. They get wiped out by so many things. Troubles and trials, fears and lack of faith.
The author gives them reassurance: He tells them not to abandon Christ, because God is faithful. He's going to carry them through, and they will be rewarded.
Have you, like them, forgotten that God is faithful? He hasn't given up on you, He hasn't forgotten you. He hasn't washed His hands of you.
- If you feel like you're teetering on the edge of temptation and you're about to give in, remember that
1Cor. 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.
God's faithfulness will always make sure that you have a way out.
- Do you feel like you're just not going to make it? That you're ready to give up and check out? The Bible says,
1Ths. 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
God's faithfulness will preserve you and carry you through - you are going to make it.
- Do you feel overwhelmed and overburdened by trials, difficulties, and spiritual attacks? Paul told us,
2Ths. 3:3 ...the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
God is faithful. Like the author tells them, so I tell you. Don't waver, don't give up, don't give in. He's going to carry you through.
These people are going to stick it out or bail out, and the author knows that the determining factor will be whether or not they are plugged into the church fellowship. I don't know if it as apparent from your perspective as a churchgoer as it is from mine as a pastor, but being in the assembly is vital for a long-term Christian walk.
Some people are quite confused about the purpose of church. They say, "I don't need to go to church to worship God. I can worship on a mountaintop or on the golf course." Praise God, they can. But God has ordained this assembling of ourselves together, and requires our attendance. Not because He is concerned about the number on the attendance sign that hangs in so many church foyers. It is because He knows that when we fail to be in the fellowship, it is only a matter of time before we fall.
So the author tells these Hebrews how vital it is not to forsake the assembling together. Unfortunately, some do have that habit, but we are not to be among them.
Now, of course I'm preaching to the choir, because you're all here. Most of you have realized the impact that coming into the assembly has on your walk, and on your week. Do you know why that is?
Because when we are gathered in His name, He is part of the gathering. Jesus promised,
Matt. 18:20 "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst."
Now, He is not only in our midst, but His power is present as well. Paul told the Corinthians,
1Cor. 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus
When we assemble in Jesus' name, Jesus' power is present.