REMINDED OR REMOVED?
Lord, You have removed the old and inaugurated the new.
Read HEBREWS 10:1–10
Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All
10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”[a]
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
- Hebrews 10:7 Psalm 40:6-8 (see Septuagint)
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The old sacrificial system could not ‘make perfect those who draw near’ (1), but ‘we have been made holy’ (10). With bated breath, I thank my Lord…
In Hebrews 10 our writer is reaching the climax of the arguments of the first ten chapters of his letter. I begin today by noting (again) the passage’s contrasting words and phrases: on the one hand words like ‘shadow’, ‘repeated endlessly’, ‘year after year’, ‘annual reminder’; and on the other hand ‘realities’, ‘once for all’, ‘sets aside’. I worship my Lord because He has removed my sins forever, unlike the old sacrificial system which reminded worshippers constantly of their sinfulness.
How puzzling this teaching must have been to the original Jewish Jesus-followers who listened to it! Did not God himself set up the sacrificial system in detail? Yes, but Paul had already drawn attention to the contrast between shadow and reality (Col 2:17). Our writer now pictures Christ using the words of a Davidic psalm (Ps 40:6–8) to draw attention to what God really desires. The ‘pierced ears’ of the Hebrew text of Psalm 40:6 have been translated dynamically by the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament used often by the writer of Hebrews) as a ‘prepared body’ (5). The background is probably the devoted, listening, suffering obedience of the Lord’s servant in Isaiah (Isa 50:4–11).
I conclude today’s meditation by reflecting on the contrast in verse 5 between ‘sacrifice and offering’ and ‘a body’. Unwilling, unknowing animals were dragged to sacrifice under the old system, without any choice in the matter. It was and is the perfect will of God to make us holy – and, in knowing, loving obedience to that will, Christ offered His own body for us once and for all. For this premeditated dedication to my salvation, flinched from and carried through, Jesus will be my hero forever.
‘Here his whole name appears complete; / nor wit can guess, nor reason prove / which of the letters best is writ, / the power, the wisdom, or the love.’ (Isaac Watts, 1674–1748 ‘Nature with open volume stands’)
Father, as Jesus wanted to do only Your will, so we long to do only that which pleases You.
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