“The priests stand day after day, performing ministerial duties, offering the same sacrifices repeatedly, although they can never actually remove sins. But this Priest, after He had offered one sacrifice for sin for all eternity, took His seat at God’s right hand, from that time onward anticipating the time when all who oppose Him are made a footstool for His feet. By His one offering, He has eternally perfected all those who are purified from sin. The Holy Spirit affirms this by saying, “This is the covenant I will make with them in those latter days, says the Lord, I will impress My laws on their hearts, engrave them upon their minds, and no longer remember their sins and iniquities.” Now, when sins have been forever forgiven and forgotten, there is no further need of atonement for them.” (paraphrased)
In this passage, the author compares Jesus’ atonement with myriads of ritual offerings (vv. 11-13), declares the effectiveness of His sacrifice (v. 14), and confirms it with Scriptural proof (vv. 15-18).
“Every priest standing and ministering daily” is a brief synopsis of the monotonous Judaic system. The following two verses depict the strong contrasts between the old and new covenants:
<> the same daily sacrifices (v.11) versus one final sacrifice (v.12)
<> myriads of ineffective sacrifices (v.11) versus an eternally effective sacrifice (v.12)
<> a continuous and temporal ministry (v.11) versus a completed and eternal ministry (v.12)
<> numerous priests who stand up to minister (v.11) versus one Priest seated at God’s right hand (v.12)
This is the last time in his epistle the author will remind his readers of the long succession of priests who redundantly offer ineffectual sacrifices. The priests are seen as “standing,” performing the same endless cycle of responsibilities ad infinitum. There were no chairs in the tabernacle, for priests were not allowed to sit. All activities were performed while standing. The treadmill of perpetual work was never finished, highlighting the fact it did not adequately atone for sins. “Ministering” is leitourgon, from whence we derive the word “liturgy.” The servile standing posture of priests pictures their liturgical labors. This graphically contrasts the imperfect Levitical plan with Christ’s perfect plan of salvation (v. 12).
Sins were never effectively “taken away,” for the conscience was not stripped of the guilt of sin. “Take away” (perielein) means “to remove utterly and absolutely; to strip off like a garment.” Levitical sacrifices were instituted and continuously performed to demonstrate man’s spiritual longing to be reconciled to God. Christ’s solitary sacrifice remains the final solution to the problem of sin. “This Man” is compared with the multitude of priests referenced in verse eleven.
Seven times the writer has drawn prophetic truth from Psalm 110 (1:13; 5:6; 5:10; 6:20; 7:17; 7:21; 10:12-13). This Messianic Psalm is quoted to show that both His sacrifice on earth and His position in heaven are permanent and eternal. A seated Priest pictures one who has completed a task (Zech. 6:13), and four times in this epistle Christ is depicted as sitting. In every instance, it is associated with His current exalted position of power and authority. He is enthroned as:
<> The Son of God (1:3)
<> The Great High Priest (8:1)
<> The Redeemer (10:12)
<> The Author and Finisher of our faith (12:2)
As both King and Priest, Jesus prefigured His future enthronement when He sat down in the temple after reading a passage from Isaiah regarding His Messianic office (Lk. 4:18-21). After His arrest, Jesus claimed this exalted place of honor for Himself. Regarding His words as blasphemous, the high priest tore his own robe in protest (Mk. 14:62-64). But soon after this incident, Jesus ascended, “was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mk. 16:19).
Although He is seated, His posture does not suggest inactivity. The Lord’s demeanor is one of patient expectation, anticipating the day when all His enemies will be completely vanquished. Jesus’ victory is so complete His enemies will become “His footstool”. This concept originated with the custom of a conqueror placing his foot on the neck of a captive enemy (Josh. 10:24). One of Christ’s objectives is to put all things under His feet (I Cor. 15:25-27). Jesus has triumphed over all demonic powers (Col. 2:14-15 & Heb. 2:14). Sinners will cry for deliverance from “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16). The Antichrist and his cohorts will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). Eventually, even death itself will be swallowed up in Christ’s victory (I Cor. 15:26, 54).
Jesus’ self-oblation consummated what generations of blood rituals could never accomplish. “Perfected” (teleioo) means “to bring to a state of permanent completion”. The concept of sanctification in this epistle invariably refers to the Believer’s position in Christ. Paul uses this same term to stress the need for the pursuit of holiness and moral perfection (I Cor. 1:30 & 6:11).
In the book of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit is pictured as the One who:
<> distributes gifts and performs miracles (2:4)
<> inspires sacred writers (3:7; 9:8 & 10:15)
<> dwells in Believers (6:4)
<> is the source of grace (10:29)
The writer reaffirms God’s sanction of this new agreement by reminding his readers that Jeremiah’s prophecy was inspired by the Holy Spirit (Jer. 31:31-34). “The covenant I will make with them” points to its universality. This new global pact is no longer restricted to Israel, but includes Believers in every dispensation. God’s plan of salvation was effective because it accomplished everything the prophets foretold. The indwelling Spirit writes on “fleshy tables of the heart,” rather than upon tables of stone (Jer. 31:33 & II Cor. 3:3). The atonement of Christ sets us apart for His service, for His statutes and commandments are inscribed in our minds.
While God remembers His holy covenant (Lk. 1:72), he no longer recalls forgiven sins. Continuing his quote from Jeremiah, the writer summarizes the primary purpose of the new covenant. Our former transgressions are cast into the sea of God’s forgetfulness, never again to condemn us or plague us with guilt.
This passage completes the primary doctrinal portion of the epistle. The writer has reached one inevitable and irrefutable conclusion: because complete remission of sin has been provided through Jesus Christ, no further animal oblations are necessary. The phrase “no more offering for sin” serves as a recapitulation. Our sins are remembered no longer (v. 17) because sin offerings are no longer relevant (v. 18). Believers are now free from the debt of sin, its consequences. and resultant alienation from God.
QUESTIONS: CHRIST AND THE NEW COVENANT
1. Jesus Christ:
A. offered a final sacrifice for sins
B. offered an eternally effective sacrifice
C. completed His ministry on earth
D. is seated on God’s right hand
E. all of the above
2. What duties of Levitical priests could be performed while standing?
3. According to Zechariah 6:13, what priest is seated?
4. According to Revelation 3:21, who will Believers one day be seated with?
5. Who is “this man” referred to in Hebrews10:12?
6. How many times in the book of Hebrews is Jesus seen as “seated?”
7. Paraphrase Psalm 110:1 and write a paragraph regrading the significance of this verse.
8. In the book of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit:
A. performs miracles and distributes gifts
B. inspires sacred Biblical writers
C. indwells Believers
D. is the source of grace
E. all of the above
9. What verses seem to be indelibly etched on your hearts through memorization? List a few.