Musings on the Epistle to the Hebrews: Hebrews 10:19-39

Hebrews 10:19‑39  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 5
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We are coming now to another beautiful part of the epistle, and as we hinted to a new division of it. We will read from verse 19 to the close of Hebrews 10. You may have observed the general structure of the epistles. Take the Ephesians, for instance: in the first three chapters we get doctrinal truth, and in the last three the moral application of it. So in Colossians, Galatians, Romans, and so forth. Now in Hebrews it is the same, and we are just entering now on the practical application of what has gone before.
“Now the full glories of the Lamb adorn the heavenly throne," as a beautiful hymn of Dr. Watts says. Constantly through this epistle we have been looking up and seeing this. But let me ask, do you see glories anywhere in “these last days" that are not attaching to the Lord in heaven? You will tell me that all glory belongs to Him, and I grant it; but I tell you, you ought to see glories attaching to yourselves. Such is the wondrous working of God, that He has made the poor sinner a glorious creature. These same last days that have set Christ on high, in the midst of the glories, have set the poor believing sinner down here in the midst of glories.
I want that you and I be girt up to an apprehension of them. We do not wait for the kingdom to see glories. Is it no glory for you to have a purged conscience? Is it no glory to be fully entitled to be in the presence of God without a blush? no glory to call God, Father? to have Christ as your Forerunner in heavenly places? to enter into the holiest without a quiver of conscience? no glory to be introduced into the secrets of God? If we can lift up our heart and say, “Abba, Father"? if we can lift up our heart and say, "Who shall condemn?" or "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" If we can believe that we are bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh; that we are part of Christ’s fullness, will any one say there is no glory in all that? So that this epistle introduces us to most precious thoughts. It tells me to look up and see Christ adorning the throne, and to look down and see the poor sinner shining on the footstool.
The world sees nothing of these glories. We only apprehend them in the glass of the Word by faith; but I do say boldly, that I do not wait for the kingdom to know what glory is. I look up and see the Lamb in acquired glories. I look down and see the saint in gifted glories. Now the moral application begins. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." There I look at myself; and will any one say there is not glory in such a condition? That is my title. Now the exhortation is that you are to enjoy your title. To enjoy is to obey. The first duty you owe to God is to enjoy what He has made you, and what He has given you. “Let us draw near." Use your privilege, as we say. It is the first grand duty of faith, and I am bold to say it is the most acceptable duty of faith.
How narrow we are to enjoy these glories. Do you ever look at yourself in the glass of the Word? We are very much accustomed to look at ourselves in the glass of circumstances — in the glass of relationships. If we say in the secret of our heart, with exultation of spirit, “I am a child of God"; if, with exultation of spirit we can say, "I am co-heir with Christ," that is the way to begin obedience. Here it is exactly that. “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith."
We should look on ourselves as the priesthood of God. The priests of old were washed when they were put into office. Then every day their feet were washed before they entered the tabernacle to serve the Lord. The pavement of God’s own presence was not stained by the foot of the priest. He went in, in a character worthy of the place. Are you occupying the presence of God all the day long in the consciousness that you are worthy of the place? How will you be presented before Him by-and-by? Jude tells you — "faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." You ought to know that you are in His presence now faultless or without spot. We cannot put ourselves in the flesh too low; and we cannot put ourselves in Christ too high. If one may speak for another, we find it much easier to degrade ourselves in the flesh than to magnify ourselves in Christ. That last is what the Spirit is doing here.
Now He tells me, having got into the holiest, what to do there. If I know my title to be in the presence of God, let me know also that I am there as the heir of a promised glory; I am there to be kept there till the glory shines out. We are the witnesses of a class of glories, just as the Lord Jesus is the witness of a class of glories. We are in a wealthy place; and having got in there we are to hold our hope without a quiver. "Let us hold fast the profession of our hope without wavering" (as the word should be). If we got in without a quiver, we are to hold our hope without a quiver. That is what our God has called us to. We are there with boldness; and being there, we are to talk of our hope. And we are to talk of charity also, “to provoke unto love and to good works." What exquisite service! Who can utter the beauties of these things?
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together... but exhorting one another." When you get into the house, what are you doing together? Are you to be down in the depths of conscious ruin? No; but exhorting one another to love and to good works. These are the activities of the house. We dwell together in one happy house, exhorting one another, and so much the more as we point to the sky and say, “Look! the dawning of morning is near; the sky is breaking." We want a great deal more to exhort one another to know our dignity in Christ than to know our degradation in ourselves. It is very right to know ourselves poor worthless creatures. Confession is very right; but to gird up the mind to the apprehension of our dignity is much more acceptable and priestly work than to be ever in the depths. “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee." Here we see ourselves accepted; holding our hope without wavering; exhorting one another; and saying, as we point to the eastern sky, "The dawn is coming."
Then, having thus conducted us to verse 25, he brings in a solemn passage about willful sin. We read the counterpart of this in Numbers 15, where presumptuous sin is looked at. Under the law there were two characters of offense. A man might find a thing that was his neighbor’s, and deal falsely about it, or he might lie to his neighbor, and there was a trespass offering provided. But when a man picked sticks on the sabbath day he was to be stoned at once. There remained nothing for him but "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation." It was presumptuous sin, flying in the face of the legislator. This is the presumptuous sin of the New Testament. It is running in the face of the God of this dispensation, as the gatherer of sticks ran in the face of the God of the law. We are not to be careless about sin. If we do the least sin we ought to be broken-hearted about it. But that is not the thing contemplated here. It is a defection from Christianity.
Then, having come to verse 31, he exhorts them to “call to remembrance the former days." Let me ask your souls, “Do you all remember the day when you were illuminated?" One might say, “The light shone brighter and brighter upon me." I believe Timothy may have been such an one. Timothy, I have often thought, under the education of his godly mother, may have passed gently into the flock of God. But most people know the moment of their illumination; and if there is a moment of moral energy in the history of the soul, it is the day of its quickening. Why do not you and I carry the strength of that moment with us? Is He a different Jesus that we have now? When I know that the day was when all was over between God and me, and that now the day has come when all is over between the world and me, that is practical Christianity. What was that day that he called on them to remember? The day when, being illuminated, they “took joyfully" the spoiling of their goods. Why was this? How does he account for it? Their eye was on a better inheritance. Let me grasp the richer thing, and the poorer thing may pass away for aught I care.
We can account for victory over the world just as easily as we can account for access to God. That, let me say, is just the knot that this epistle ties. It puts you inside the veil, outside the camp. In the wondrous, divine, moral character of Christianity, the grace and the blood of Christ work exactly contrary to the lie of the serpent. The lie of the serpent made Adam a stranger to God, and at home in this polluted world — inside the camp and outside the veil. Christianity just alters that. It restores us to citizenship in the presence of God, and strangership in the world; and verse 35 of this chapter is the one verse in this epistle that knits these things together.
Hold fast your confidence and it will be the secret of strength to you. Where do we see victory over the world? In those who are happiest in Christ. Why are you and I so miserably down in the traffic of the world? Because we are not as happy in Christ as we ought to be. Give me a soul that has boldness and joy in God’s presence and I will show you one that has victory over the world.
Now the apostle tells us that a life of patience intervenes between the day of illumination and the day of glorification. I am not to count on a path of pleasure — a path of ease — a path of prosperity — on being richer or more distinguished tomorrow than today; but I am to count on a path of patience. And is not there glory in that? Yes; there is companionship with Christ. No greater glory is or can be yours than to be the companion of your rejected Master. That is your path. “If any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him." He was not ashamed to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were strangers here; but if we become citizens here, instead of strangers — strike alliance with the world — He who could say, "I am the God of my strangers," can say to the citizen of the world, "I have no pleasure in him."
May you and I exhort one another to love and to good works, and, pointing to the eastern sky, say, The day is dawning! Amen.