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had always to begin again. The propitiatory sacrifice was renewed from year to year-a continually repeated testimony that sin was still there. Individually they obtained a temporary pardon for particular acts. It had constantly to be renewed. The conscience was never made perfect, the soul was not in the presence of God; this great question was never settled. (How many souls are even now in this condition!). The entrance of the high priest once a year, did but furnish a proof that the way was still barred, that God could not be approached, but that sin was still remembered.
But now, for believers, sin is put away by a work done once for all; the conscience is made perfect; and, in Christ, we are ever before God, in His presence. The high priest remains there. Thus, instead of having a memorial of sin re-iterated from year to year, perfect righteousness subsists ever for us in the presence of God. The position is entirely changed.
The lot of man (for this perfect work takes us out of Judaism) is death and judgment. But now our lot depends on Christ, not on Adam. Christ was offered to bear the sins of many-the work is complete, the sins blotted out, and to those who look for Him He will appear without having anything to do with sin, that question having been entirely settled at His first coming. In the death of Jesus, God dealt with the sins of those who look for Him; and He will appear, not to judge, but unto salvation; to deliver them finally from the position into which sin had brought them. This has its application to the Jewish remnant, according to the circumstances of their position; but in an absolute way it applies to the Christian who has Heaven for his portion.
The essential point established in the doctrine of the death of Christ is, that He offered Himself once for all. We must bear this in mind, in order to understand the full import of all that is here said. The tenth chapter is the development of this. In it the author recapitulates
a The word "many" has a double meaning here, negative and positive. It could not be said "all" or all would be saved. On the other hand, the word many generalises the work, so that it is not the Jews only who are its object.
his doctrine on this point, and applies it to souls, confirming it by Scripture, and by considerations which are evident to every enlightened conscience.
1.-The law, with its sacrifices, did not make the worshippers perfect; for if they had been brought to perfection, the sacrifices would not have been offered afresh. If they were offered again, it was because the worshippers were not perfect. On the contrary, the repetition of the sacrifice was a memorial of sin; it reminded the people that sin was still there, and that it was still before God. In effect, the law, although it was the shadow of things to come, was not their true image. There were sacrifices; but they were repeated, instead of there being one only sacrifice of eternal efficacy. There was a high priest, but he was mortal, and the priesthood transferable. He went into a "holiest of all," but only once a-year, the veil which concealed God being still there, and the high priest unable to remain in His presence, the work being not perfect. Thus, there were, indeed, elements which plainly indicated the constituent parts, so to speak, of the priesthood of the good things to come; but the state of the worshippers was, in the one case, quite the opposite of that which it was in the other. In the first, every act showed that the work of reconciliation was not done; in the second, the position of the high priest and of the worshippers is a testimony that this work was accomplished, and that the latter are perfected for ever in the presence of God.
In chapter x. this principle is applied to the sacrifice. Its repetition proved that sin was there. That the sacrifice of Christ was only offered once, was the demonstration of its eternal efficacy. Had the Jewish sacrifices rendered the worshippers permanently perfect, they would have ceased to be offered. The apostle is speaking (although the principle is general) of the yearly sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. For if, through the efficacy of the sacrifice, they had been permanently made perfect, they would have had no more conscience of sin, and could not have had the thought of renewing the sacrifice.
Observe here, that which is very important, that the
conscience is cleansed, sin being expiated, the worshipper drawing nigh by virtue of the sacrifice. The meaning of the Jewish service was, that sin was not put away; that of the Christian, that it is. As to the formerprecious as the type is the reason is evident: the blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sin. Therefore, those sacrifices have been abolished, and a work of another character (although still a sacrifice), has been accomplished. A work which excludes all other, and all repetition of the same, because it consists of nothing less than the self-devotedness of the Son of God to accomplish all the will of God the Father: an act impossible to be repeated-for all His will cannot be accomplished twice.
This is what the Son of God says in this most solemn passage (5—9), in which we are admitted to know, according to the grace of God, that which passed between God the Father and Himself, when He undertook the fulfilment of the will of God, that which He said, and the eternal counsels of God which He carried into execution. He takes the place of submission and of obedience, of performing the will of another. God would no longer accept the sacrifices that were offered under the law (the four classes of which are here pointed out), He had no pleasure in them. In their stead, He had prepared a body for His son-vast and important truthfor the place of man is obedience. Thus in taking this place, the Son of God put Himself into the position to obey perfectly. In fact, He undertakes the duty of fulfilling all the will of God, be it what it may; a will which is ever "good, acceptable and perfect." The Psalm says in the Hebrew: "Thou hast digged my cars," translated by the Septuagint, "Thou hast prepared me a body;" words which, as they give the true mean
b It is not the same word as to bore, or thrust through, in Ex. xxi., nor as open in Is.l. The one (digged) is to prepare for obedience, the others would be to bind to it for ever, and to subject to the obedience when due. Exodus xxi. intimates this blessed truth, that when he had fulfilled his personal service on earth He would not abandon either His church or His people. He is ever God, but ever man. The humbled man, the glorified and reigning man the subject man, in the joy of eternal perfection.
ing, are used by the Holy Ghost. For "the ear" is always employed as a sign of the reception of commandments, and the principle of obligation to obey, or the disposition to do so. He hath opened my ear morning by morning, (Is. 1.,) i. e. has made me obedient to His will. The ear was bored or fastened with an awl to the door, in order to express that the Israelite was attached to the house, as a slave, to obey, for ever. Now, in taking a body, the Lord took the form of a servant. Ears were digged for Him. That is to say, He placed Himself in a position in which He had to obey all His master's will, whatever it might be. But it is the Lord Himself who speaks, in the passage before us; "Thou," He says, "hast prepared me a body."
Entering more into detail, He specifies burnt offerings and offerings for sin, sacrifices which had less of the character of communion, and had thus a deeper meaning; but God had no pleasure in them. In a word, the Jewish service was already declared by the Spirit to be unacceptable to God. It was all to cease, it was fruitless; no offering that formed part of it was acceptable. No, the counsels of God unfold themselves-but first of all, in the heart of the Word, the Son of God, who offers Himself to accomplish the will of God. "Then, said He, Lo I come -in the volume of the book it is written of me-to do Thy will O God." Nothing can be more solemn than thus to lift the veil from that which takes place in heaven between God and the Word who undertook to do His will. Observe, that before He was in the position of obedience, He offers Himself in order to accomplish the will of God; that is to say, of free love for the glory of God, of free will, as One who had the power, He offers Himself. He undertakes obedience, He under
As throughout the epistle, the Messiah is the subject. In the psalm, it is the Messiah who speaks, i.e., the Anointed here below. He expresses His patience and faithfulness in the position which He had taken, addressing the Lord as His God, and He tells us, that He took this place willingly according to the eternal counsels respecting His own person. For the person is not changed; but He speaks in the Psalm according to the position of obedience which He had taken; saying always, I and me, in speaking of what took place before His incarnation.
takes to do whatsoever God wills. This is, indeed, to sacrifice all His own will, but freely and as the effect of His own purpose, although on the occasion of the will of His Father. He must needs be God, in order to do this, and to undertake the fulfilment of all that God could will.
We have here the great mystery of this divine intercourse, which remains ever surrounded with its solemn majesty, although it is communicated to us that we may know it. And we ought to know it; for it is thus that we understand the infinite grace and the glory of this work. Before He became man, in the place where only divinity is known, and its eternal counsels and thoughts are communicated between the Divine Persons, the Word
-as He has declared it to us, in time, by the prophetic Spirit, such being the will of God contained in the book of the eternal counsels, He who was able to do it, offered Himself freely to accomplish that will. Submissive to this counsel, already arranged for Him, He yet offers Himself in perfect freedom to fulfil it. But in offering, He submits, yet at the same time undertakes to do all that God, as God, willed. But also in undertaking to do the will of God, it was by the way of obedience, of submission, and of devotedness. For I might undertake to do the will of another, as free and competent, because I willed the thing; but if I say "to do Thy will," this in itself is absolute and complete submission. And this it is which the Lord, the Word, did. He did it also, declaring that He came in order to do it. He took a position of obedience by accepting the body prepared for Him. He came to do the will of God.
This, of which we have been speaking, is continually manifested in the life of Jesus on earth. God shines through His position in the human body; for He was necessarily God in the act itself of His humiliation; and none but God could have undertaken and been found in it; yet He was always and entirely and perfectly obedient and dependent on God. That which revealed itself in His existence on earth, was the expression of that which was accomplished in the eternal abode, in His own nature. That is to say (and of which Ps. xl. speaks), that which He declares, and that which He was here