In the previous chapters of this letter, the writer has been driving home the superiority of the new covenant, and of Jesus as our high priest. He continues in verse one, stating that the law was just “a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities.” The sacrifices of old, year after year, were just a temporary forgiveness of sins because “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” But Jesus Christ came to do God’s will (verses 5-7 quote Psalm 40:6-8), and offered Himself up as a single sacrifice for all time (verses 10-12).
Verses 19-23 bring it all home. Whereas before we as servants of God could not enter the holy place, Jesus has torn the curtain – the veil – open for all time (an allusion to the literal event of Matthew 27:51-52 when Jesus was crucified). And because we have “a great priest over the house of God,” we can draw near with confidence, clean from evil conscience, and with a true heart – full of the assurance of faith that our sins are forgiven. We can now hold fast to our hope without wavering because “he who promised is faithful.”
Verses 24-25 are quoted often to remind us that we need to be faithful in attendance of worship, as it says:
“…let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…”
Those who claim they can serve the Lord themselves without being part of a worship service ignore this passage at their own peril. How can we “stir up one another” or “encourage one another” if we do not meet together, as the writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says? Verse 26, and following, warn of the danger of trying to “go it alone.” It is far too easy to slip away from the path, and back into sin. As verse 31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
We need each other because that encouragement, those things that “stir up one another” help give us endurance. And we “have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”
Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com. For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.