Musings on the Epistle to the Hebrews: Hebrews 9-10:1-18

HEB 9-10:1-18  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Listen from:
We closed at Hebrews 8; and pursuing the structure of the epistle we will now read Hebrews 9 down to Hebrews 10:1818Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:18). This is the last section of the doctrinal part; and then to the close we get moral exhortations. From the opening of Hebrews 9 to verse 18 of Hebrews 10 is one argument.
Suppose we linger a little over the structure of the epistle. Did you ever present a little distinctly to your mind the glories that belong to the Lord Jesus? There are three forms of glory that attach to Him — moral glory, personal glory and official glory. From the manger to the cross was the exhibition of His moral glories. In "these last days” the Lord is exhibiting some of His official glories, and by-and-by He will exhibit more of them, as in millennial times. The prophets of old spake of His sufferings and the glories which should follow — not glory. But His personal glory is the foundation of every one of these.
This is a grand subject for our constant meditation — the glories of the Lord Jesus from the womb of the virgin to the throne of His millennial power. All through life He was exhibiting His moral glories. The scene for these is past now, and He has taken His seat in heaven; but that has only given Him an opportunity to display others. The four gospels give me a view of His moral glories here. In the Epistle to the Hebrews I see Him seated in heaven now in a constellation of official glories. In other writings we get His coming glories. Whenever you see Him you cannot but see Him in the midst of a system of them.
In these Hebrews 9 and 10 you get what He was doing on the cross, the foundation of every one of His present glories. In the first eight chapters we get a varied display of the conditions of the Lord Jesus now in heaven; and now, as the sustainment of all these, in Hebrews 9 and 10 we have an account of the perfection of the Lamb on the altar.
Do you ever make “these last days" a subject of thought? Why is the Spirit entitled to call the age through which we are passing the “last days"? We shall have other days after these. Why then does He call them the last days? Beautifully so — because God rests in what the Lord Jesus has accomplished, as thoroughly as He rested at the close of creation in the perfection of His own work. It is not that in the unfolding of the economy of God we shall not have other ages; yet, in the face of that, the Spirit does not hesitate to call these the "last days."
In all the Lord has done He has satisfied God. He perfects everything He touches, and makes it eternal, and God does not look beyond it. Everything is set aside till Christ is brought in, but there is no looking beyond Him. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever." Now the moment, I get God resting in anything I get perfection; and the moment I get perfection I am in the last days. God has reached satisfaction, and so have I. Christ may be unfolded in millennial days; but it is the very same Christ that we have now. Shall I get Moses then or Joshua? They are all (treated in the light of Christ) “beggarly elements." All give place one after another; but Christ being introduced to the thoughts of God, God rests in Him; and when you come to see where you are, you are in God’s second Sabbath — and see how one thing exceeds the other! The rest of the Redeemer is a much more blessed thing than the rest of the Creator. In Christ you have got perfection — the rest of God — and you are in the "last days."
Now when we come to Hebrews 9 and 10 we see Christ, not properly or characteristically in heaven, but on the altar. The glories that surround Him now have been given to us one after another — the glory of the priesthood — the glory of the Purger of our sins — the predestinated Heir of the world to come — the Apostle of salvation — the Dispenser of the covenant that never gathers age to itself — the Giver of the eternal inheritance — these are the glories of "these last days."
In Hebrews 9:1010Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. (Hebrews 9:10) we see the cross that sustains them all. How blessed it is to track from Matthew to John a path of moral beauty. Was the Lord Jesus in office here? No; He was here in subjection. When I have looked at Him thus I am invited to look upwards. Is it One traveling in moral beauty I see there? No, not that specially; but it is One who has been seated at the right hand of the Majesty with an oath in the very midst of glorious beauties — One whom the satisfied, unrepenting heart of God has seated there. It was the testing purpose of God that seated Adam in Eden. It is the unrepenting heart of God that has seated Christ in heaven.
And now we come to read the perfection of His work as Lamb of God, as the grand foundation of all these glories. He would not have perfected His moral glories here if He had not gone on to the cross and died there. He would not have had His official glories in heaven if He had not gone on to the cross and died there. When the Lord Jesus was hanging as the Lamb of God on the accursed tree and over His bleeding brows was written the inscription in every language, “This is the King of the Jews," they sought to blot it out — but God would not have it blotted out. He would have the whole creation know that the cross was the title to the kingdom. The inscription that Pilate wrote on the cross, and God kept there, is very fine.
Supposing the cross sustains the glory, according to the inscription, now tell me what sustains the cross itself? Is the cross without a foundation? The secret comes out in these chapters: as the cross sustains your hopes it is the Person that sustains the cross. His personal glory is the sustainment of the cross. If He were less than God manifest in the flesh, all He did was no more worth than water spilled upon the ground. Of all the mighty mystery of official, millennial, eternal glories, the cross is the support and the Person is the support of the cross.
He must sustain His own work, and His work must sustain everything. This is just the argument of these chapters.
There was a veil hanging between the place where the priests ministered and the mystic dwelling-place of God. That veil was the expression that that age gave a sinner no access to God. Were there not sacrifices? Yes, there were; and God’s altar was accepting them. But they were “gifts and sacrifices that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience." Beautifully then, at this point, He comes to your heart and demands a note of admiration. “For if the blood of bulls... sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Supposing we inspect the old tabernacle, and see the beggarliness of all its elements — that the blood of bulls could not bring you into the presence of God; and from the beggarliness of all that, look at the satisfyingness of the blood of Jesus, will you not exclaim, “How much more shall it purge our consciences?” That is the way you are to come to the cross — laying doubtings and questionings aside, and losing yourself in admiration. The thing the Spirit does is to take you gently by the hand and lead you up to the altar at Calvary, and tell you who the victim that is bleeding there is. None but one who was personally free could say, “I come to do Thy will." Have you any right to a will? Has Gabriel or Michael? To do God’s pleasure is their business; but here was One who could offer Himself without spot to God. "How much more," then, shall such a sacrifice purge our consciences and introduce us at once to the living God? That entitled me to say, that while we look at His glories — His official glories — we see that the cross is the sustainment of them all.
But if the soul does not know the personal glory of the Lord, it positively knows nothing. That is the secret you get here. He, for whom God prepared a body, through the eternal Spirit, satisfied the altar. Yes, satisfied the brazen altar before He went into the holy sanctuary to do the business of God’s priest. And atonement flows from satisfaction. If I find out that Christ’s sacrifice has answered the cravings of the brazen altar, I see that my reconciliation is sealed and settled for eternity.
The Epistle to the Ephesians tells you to stand upon this, and look round about you at the glories of your condition. The Epistle to the Hebrews shows you the glories of Christ’s condition in the compass of about three hundred verses. What a world of wonders is opened! You sustained by what He has done; and what He has done sustained by what He is.