Hebrews

F W Grant.

Division 3. (Heb. 4:14 — 10.)

Christ as Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, the way into which He has opened by His accomplished work, in contrast with both the priests and sacrifices of the law.

The third division of the book is at once the largest and most characteristic of it. In it we have Christ in the heavens, and the sanctuary open for us there by His priestly work. This, however, is really reached only in the third subdivision; and we have as introduction to it, first, the Priest Himself, as called, qualified, and perfected by sufferings; and then, in His resurrection-place, Priest after the order of Melchisedec, and so upon the throne. The second more briefly speaks of the better covenant and more excellent ministry that this implies. The third, and last, occupies the two chapters following.

Subdivision 1. (Heb. 4:14 — 7.)

The Priest upon the Throne.

We have first, then, the Priest Himself, in three chapters, of which more than one, however, is an interruption to the argument, made necessary by the slowness of heart accept the setting aside of the Levitical priesthood, and all that is involved in this. No doubt the apostle uses this parenthesis, (which is quite after the Pauline manner,) to speak of other things very necessary to his theme but we are made to feel the intensity of Jewish opposition, and the difficulty which the legal spirit opposes to the truth, even in the believer, by the difficulty of speaking out here what is in his mind, vital as it is to Christianity itself. It would seem probable that Peter speaks of this (at least, especially) when, praising the wisdom of, the epistle to the Hebrews, as what "our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you," he yet says that in it are "some things hard to be understood." Paul, as we see here, fully agrees with him; and therefore the earnestness and energy of his language.

Section 1. (Heb. 4:14 — 5:10.)

The Priest called of God.

The first section then identifies for us the true Priest before God; and there are again three subsections here, the first of which introduces us to two fundamental conceptions in that which follows: a "Great High Priest who has passed through the heavens," and the "throne of grace." We may take the latter as characterizing the first subsection.

A "throne of grace" is now to Christians, happily, a very familiar thought. It is only here, however, that we have precisely this expression, although we have the thought in Romans; "Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life." The blood upon the mercy-seat before God, to which the apostle also refers in the third chapter of Romans, — "A propitiation through faith by His blood," — put there by the high priest once a year, when, on the Day of Atonement, he entered the holiest, — was the typical rendering of such a thought so far as in the old dispensation it could be rendered. The mercy-seat was the throne of Jehovah in Israel, where He dwelt between the cherubim. Literally, it was the "kapporeth," or "propitiatory," the blood being that which made propitiation for the soul, — the witness of divine righteousness, which, now being met by the blood of atonement, vindicated God's grace in abiding among the people in spite of their sins.

All this was typical merely, a shadow, and nothing more. Israel could not really approach, as we know, to this throne of God, and the high priest only once a year, covered with a cloud of incense, and with the blood of atonement. For us the true sacrifice has been effected. The High Priest has passed through the heavens, the antitype to those holy places, and the throne of God is abidingly a throne of grace, to which, therefore, we are but giving honor when we come boldly to it for our need. This really implies for us the veil rent: for the throne of grace is in the holiest of all, and the rending of the veil is what has made for us a "new and living way" of approach there. The verses before us are, therefore, a real introduction to that which follows. It is the sympathy of the High Priest which we are here encouraged to reckon upon, and this is in connection with His being over the house of God. Thus we see how we are following on in one line of truth all through here. It reminds us of the words of the Lord in teaching us the consequences of His departure out of the world unto the Father: "If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:14).

How great an encouragement to know that upon the throne of God there is One who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and was "in all things tempted like as we are, sin apart"! Sin was to Him no temptation. There was nothing within that answered to it, except in suffering. There was and could be with Him no sinful infirmity; but He was true man, His divine nature taking nothing from the truth of His manhood, living a dependent life as we do, but with no callousness such as the flesh in us produces in a world everywhere racked with suffering from sin and out of joint, the trial of which He knew as no other could. In the garden He faced the awful cup with an agony that required angelic ministry to strengthen Him physically (in no other way) to sustain it. What a world it was for the Son of God to pass through! Has He forgotten it, or is He altered by being now out of it, and on the throne? No, but the very throne is characterized now as the "throne of the Lamb;" and for eternity will be the "throne of God and of the Lamb."

How well furnished for us, then, is the throne of grace! But we may notice that the apostle here speaks of nothing but "mercy and grace to help in time of need." Direct reference to any positive failure on our part is here omitted; and this is in the style of Hebrews, in which we find the believer, spite of all his weakness, as "perfected in perpetuity" by the precious blood which has been shed for him. This blood is here upon the mercy-seat, but the thought is therefore of nothing but the weakness which needs help. All sin has been already met.

This is only one side, it is true, of a subject such as this; and we shall find another when we turn to the first epistle of John. John gives us the subject of communion, and speaks of our relation to the Father. Paul here speaks of our relation to God as God. The mention of the Father at once assures us of a nearer relationship in which we stand to Him, and which cannot be broken. Sin, indeed, is only aggravated in its character by this very relationship, and communion is necessarily affected by the believer's sin. Here, therefore, we have Christ in another character, as "an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous," while, indeed, we are still reminded that He is the propitiation for our sins. But in Hebrews, as already said, we are seen as creatures before God, and here sin is not contemplated, just because it has been fully provided for. We come to "obtain mercy and find grace for seasonable help." It is weakness that needs the Priest now. With regard to sin, the precious blood already shed has done all that can be done. The blood is upon the throne; and to that throne, whenever we turn to God, (if indeed, of course, there is true turning to Him,) we shall find an open door and a ready access.

2. The second subsection is a statement simply as to the high priest in Israel. It is important to keep it distinct as that. How far it applies to Christ we find as we go on, but in every type there is an element of dissimilarity, as there is of resemblance; and that because it is a type. How could there have been in Israel a high priest who never offered for himself? It would have falsified everything. And so with the veil; how could it have been rent under the legal system? But these exceptional contrasts have a purpose, therefore, and do not in the least hinder a careful, spiritual mind from finding Christianity in Leviticus. Of course it needs that we should have learned Christianity first from the New Testament. We should not go to Leviticus as a Jew would, and expect to find the unveiling of the truth of Christ. Moses has always a veil over the glory in his face; but it is there, we have not to put it there, and the veil for us is done away in Christ.

The high priest spoken of here is one taken from among men simply, from the common class of men. Such an expression could not be used of Christ, as ought to be clear. What follows makes it abundantly so. He is "appointed for men in things relating to God, that he might offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins." The sacrifices are thus his ordinary and necessary work, as we see; but we have not come to the application yet; and he is "able to exercise forbearance towards the ignorant and erring, since he himself also is clothed with infirmity." Here is an infirmity which is not sinless, (as any infirmity that Christ knew necessarily was,) and this is definitely seen in what follows. He is obliged, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins (which Christ never did). "And no one taketh this honor to himself but as called of God, even as Aaron was."

3. The third subsection gives us the fulfilment of the type in Christ, and here we have three parts: first, His calling, in which we find, also, the foundation of His priesthood; then His sufferings, even to death, and His deliverance out of it; and lastly, having been perfected, His greeting by God in resurrection as the royal Priest, Melchisedec.

(1) First, we have the call. The priest must be called of God; as was Aaron, so Christ. As moving only in obedience, He who had come simply to do the will of God in an already marked-out way, glorified not Himself to be made a High Priest, but received His call distinctly to that office. God's recognition of the Son in manhood is quoted as that which was really this. He glorified Him as such who said to Him: "Thou art My Son; today have I begotten Thee." The same form of citation is used in the seventh chapter, verse twenty-one: "He with an oath, by Him that said unto Him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a Priest forever." The quotation, in the first place, is from the second psalm, which puts it in connection with His claim as Heir to the sovereignty of the nations. God's Priest and King are one, and the two offices are founded upon the same personal qualification. Godhead and manhood united in Him constituted Him the true Mediator between God and men. We have seen Him taking flesh and blood for this purpose, "that He might be the First-born among many brethren;" and as the First-born is the Heir, so also has He the right of redemption. Thus He is Priest and King by the same title.

Now, if we look at the Gospels to find the open call for the priesthood, there ought to be really no doubt where it occurs. It is after His baptism by John that the Lord is first openly recognized as the Son of God by the Father's voice from heaven; and the Spirit of God coming upon Him makes Him to be now in full reality the Christ, that is, the Anointed. It answers to the first anointing of Aaron alone, without blood (Lev. 8:12). John then recognizes Him as the Son of God, as the sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29-34); for this blessed Priest is one with His offering: "He offered up Himself." This, then, is our Lord's call to the priesthood. The apostle confirms the fact by a more direct quotation, the force of which he takes up later: "Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec."

(2) Immediately now we are called to see Him in the white linen robe of the Day of Atonement. He is in that suffering in which, though Son of God, He had to learn the reality of the obedience which He had voluntarily undertaken. So intense is it that even He makes "supplication with strong crying and tears to Him that was able to save Him (not from death, which was impossible, but) out of death." That prayer was heard in resurrection. But notice especially what the answer was based upon. "He was heard for His piety, as in the margin of the common version; or, "for His godly fear," as in the revised. There is the white linen garment with which alone the sanctuary could be entered.

The priest is characterized, first of all, as the one able to draw near to God; and the first question involved, therefore, is, Is he such as can really draw near? Is he personally and entirely fitted to draw near to God? That is the question as to the offering: is it a perfect, unblemished one? That is the question as to the priest. Nothing but the white linen will do here. This is what the burnt-offering most strongly enforces. The offering is flayed and rigidly inspected; then the offerer brings it to God, nothing but sweet savor. It is what Christ is as no other offering (certainly not the sin-offering) develops it. Thus day and night the sweet savor of this must come up to God.

Here it is the priest who is spoken of, and it shows us why the garments of glory and beauty are not yet upon him: not because he is not yet the High Priest, but because atonement is in question, while the garments of glory and beauty show the acceptance of the work. Here he is being perfected, and, while personally nothing could perfect Christ, we have already seen that as Originator of salvation there must be perfecting. Thus, then, we see Him here. He is in the awful depths from which no other could have emerged, — where His feet alone could have found standing. There, being perfected by bearing the load that was upon Him, He becomes to those that obey Him the Author of eternal salvation.

(3) The being perfected is sometimes spoken of as if it were the same as being consecrated, but it should be plain that here there is a deeper meaning. We have already seen that the Originator of salvation was to be made perfect by sufferings; and we have had plainly the sufferings by which He is so. Then He is saluted of God, not merely a High Priest, but a High Priest after the order of Melchisedec. Ordinarily the distinction is not realized between the simple High Priest and the High Priest after this order. It is the same Person all through, and therefore it seems to be thought that this must necessarily follow; but His glories are displayed in due order, one following the other, and it is only in resurrection that He is saluted by God in this character. Notice that it is not exactly "called," as before. He is "saluted." The Priest has accomplished the fundamental work of His priesthood, and is held and acknowledged as having done so. The linen garments are now exchanged for the garments of glory and beauty. His priesthood now assumes manifestly the Melchisedec character; but we shall have, with the apostle, to break off here and take this up more fully in the seventh chapter.

Section 2. (Heb. 5:11 — 6.)

The rejection of rejectors, and the confirmation of faith.

The second section is, as has been already said, a parenthesis to meet the unbelief of the Jews upon a matter so vital to Christianity and so affecting the whole system of Judaism as the replacing of the Levitical by the Melchisedec priesthood. Even to the Jewish Christians, these things were hard sayings; and it may be they had caused, in measure at least, the defection from the faith to which the apostle presently refers. The two parts of his address to them here, however, are very different, and the first part only is warning; the second is pure encouragement — two things that are never far separated in the gracious ways of God. He is the God of all encouragement; and all warnings are but, in effect, to draw us from every false ground of hope, that we may find in Him the fulness of unfailing blessing.

1. The first subsection characterizes Judaism from its divine side, only to insist the more on its essentially introductory nature. It was "the word of the beginning of Christ," very wrongly rendered in the text of both the common and the revised versions as "first principles of the doctrine of Christ." "The first principles of Christ" assuredly we are never called to leave. It is Judaism, which was thus only suited to the state of nonage now passed, and which they must leave to go on to the perfection, or "maturity," of Christianity.

(1) The Hebrew Christians were, in fact, not going on; at least, many were not. For the time they had been learning, they ought to have been able to teach others; but instead of that, they still needed themselves to be taught, and taught the very elements. They still needed milk, and could not digest "solid food." It is not "strong meat," an expression which has been very much abused, as if it were something requiring extra spiritual power to digest it. It is simply that which is suited for people accustomed to be exercised indeed in spiritual things, and thus educated so as to discern between good and evil. How much of right knowledge lies for us in this kind of discernment! "The man has become as one of us, to discern good and evil." To innocence we cannot go back; and though we have got into our present condition by a fall from God, He, in grace, would turn even this into blessing. The world, such as it is, is a place well fitted to produce and to cultivate such moral discernment. If it does not do this, however, it dulls and hardens the soul; and as the Word is that which God would use to form us after His mind, the not going on with it at once tends to increase in us this dullness of soul.

Judaism in some form has been that by which the enemy has sought to corrupt and oppose Christianity from the beginning; and it has, in fact, largely done so. It was a religion given of God, and owned, therefore, by Him at one time; and this can always be pleaded in its behalf by those who have never understood, or cared to understand, its true nature. The law, which God took up because it was already in man's heart, and to work out his thought to its proper end, to show him the evil and impracticability of it, — this man pleads as God's revelation! Did not even Christ say: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments"? He did, as He permits souls even now thus to put themselves under the law, in order that they may find by practical experience what they would not learn with God simply by His teaching. We only need to be true ourselves to realize the truth here, and that we are only bidden to put up our ladder to reach heaven with, that we may realize how far above us the stars shine down.

So when He gave "carnal ordinances," with plenty of signs to show their incapacity (for He never left Himself without witness in this way), and that they were only fingers pointing on to that which was to come, there was always opportunity for men to say, "These are the very things themselves." And this is the enormous evil of ritualism in all its forms today, — that it takes these Jewish forms to clothe them in the dress of Christian realities, to which they only pointed, and make that which only sanctified to the purifying of the flesh (as in the case of baptismal water) to cleanse the soul, as water never did, against the standing ordinance of God the Creator. Thus the word of God itself may be abused to seal up men in delusion, and people say, See how Scripture may mislead! But Scripture is given "that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished," and it gives no security to any other than the man of God.

(2) "The word of the beginning of Christ" is now given us in brief in the six doctrines stated, which, if they were the Christian "foundation," would be a Christianity without Christ. The apostle says: "Not laying again a foundation," because he has in view Jews who had accepted the Christian one, and who, if they went back to Judaism, would be laying again what they had given up. But nothing here is distinctly Christian. It is not a question as to the truth or necessity of what is spoken of, but of its being the Christian foundation. Two things come first, which are in fact fundamental: "repentance from dead works and faith in God," but note that it does not say here, in the Lord Jesus. Two doctrines come last, which concern the future: "resurrection of the dead," — not "resurrection from the dead," which is the Christian truth, but simply resurrection of the dead, "and eternal judgment." Between these two pairs we have what may be more questioned, but what goes to the heart of the matter as characterizing Judaism, — "a teaching of baptisms and of laying on of hands." These have been claimed as Christian baptism and confirmation, (something of which Scripture knows nothing whatever) or else baptism and ordination, — almost equally strange associates as a foundation. The truth is of nearer connection with the subject before us than such things would imply. In the first place, it is not baptism, but "baptisms;" and the baptism of the Spirit would surely never be associated with the baptism of water in such a manner. Moreover, Christian baptism is always baptisma, while this is baptismos, — a difference of form which is no doubt connected with the application in each case. Baptismos is the word used for the Jewish purifications, as, plainly, in the case of "divers baptisms" (not "washings") in the ninth chapter of this epistle, verse ten. Moreover, these are really what is referred to, or mainly referred to, here, though we must anticipate somewhat the doctrine of that chapter to make this plain.

The great failure in Judaism, as the apostle shows us there, was its failure really to purify the conscience, so as to set the soul at rest in the presence of God. In the tabernacle of old he says were offered "both gifts and sacrifices, which could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience." Why? Because they consisted only in "meats and drinks and divers baptisms," or purifications, "carnal ordinances," that is, ordinances which could not in their very nature affect the condition of the soul, but the flesh only. He contrasts them then with that which does purify. "For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer, purifying the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh" (here are the divers baptisms, namely of blood and of ashes, ordinances of flesh, purifying only the flesh), "how much rather 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?"

Thus the sacrificial baptisms were evidently an important part of the Jewish service; while, in connection with these, the laying on of hands would be naturally that which in Israel identified the offerer with the victim, his sacrifice. The two things would thus go together as teaching a most fundamental point for every conscience wounded with the sharp edge of the law, and which would yet convict any earnest soul of the folly of turning back to it as a foundation. In this way, a teaching (not "doctrine") of baptisms is significant. "Doctrine" will not do here, for that would speak rather of what the baptisms themselves would teach; while the point in this case is that what was taught was rather a ritual than a doctrine, (the blood of bulls and goats was sprinkled, the truth as to that in which the real efficacy was unpreached,) and the conscience was not purged.

And yet striking it is to see that just here, for faith indeed, under what was ceremonial, God did hide that which He would fain have the soul discover, — the true way by which the conscience could be purged. But as a ritual, on that very account, it failed altogether, because He would not have any one rest in a ritual; and indeed rest would be impossible in this way before God. Thus we can see clearly where "the word of the beginning of Christ" failed, and that it is of Judaism the apostle is speaking. In it, while sin and judgment were plain things, the remedy for sin was hid under a veil, with all the glory in Moses' face. Faith might gather comfort, so far as it could penetrate the veil, but could not yet stand in the power of the unveiled truth itself.

The apostle goes on now to show the terrible condition of those who went back to this Jewish system out of the light and blessing of Christianity. It was vain for them to think that they could replace themselves where the saints of old had been. Judaism had passed away for God, and those who went back there would find that they had left the only ground of peace and salvation. It would be even "impossible to renew again to repentance those who, having been once enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and having tasted the good word of God and the powers [or miracles] of the world to come, had fallen away." In the Israelitish cities of refuge those who had slain another without intending murder might take refuge from the avenger of blood, and Christ Himself was the true City of Refuge for those who had been partakers in the common guilt of the nation in His death. For such He Himself had pleaded at the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do;" and Peter, by the Holy Spirit, had, in view of that ignorance, preached repentance to them; but those who now went back open-eyed among His rejecters could no longer plead this. They were crucifying for themselves the Son of God afresh, and there was no city of refuge to open its doors to such. Christ could not be a refuge, as is plain, for those who rejected Him.

The warning here has been a sore perplexity to many who are as far as possible from the condition which is here contemplated. The description of these apostates, solemn as it is, does not speak of them as children of God, as justified by faith, or in any way which would imply such things as these; and the apostle, after describing them, immediately adds, as to those whom he is addressing: "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, even things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak." This is the most distinct assurance that he had no thought of one who had known salvation incurring the doom of an apostate.

What he says of them is, first of all, that they had been enlightened: they could plead ignorance, therefore, no longer. Secondly, they had "tasted"; but one may taste and, after all, refuse. Thirdly, they had been "partakers." The word does not mean, necessarily, more than external participation. It is the same word as "companions" or "fellows," which we have had before, — "partakers," or "companions," of the Holy Ghost. That is, they had been brought into that in which the Spirit of God bore witness to Christ and the fruit of His work, and thus had been associated with Him in this witness. "The powers of the age to come" are miracles, the mighty works by which the consequences of sin and the destructive power of Satan will be banished from the earth in the millennial reign. Such power was already being manifested in connection with the testimony of Christ in Israel; but all this goodness of God had been, to those of whom he is speaking, like rain which brought from the ground of their hearts only thorns and briars, thus manifesting it to be worthless and nigh to cursing. Christ having been rejected, God's last, best gift had only been found in vain.

2. The apostle goes on, however, now, as we have seen, to comfort and encourage those he is addressing. Notice, he is assured of "better things" as to them, — love to Christ's name proved practically and continuously in ministrations to His saints. God would not be unrighteous, so as to forget these fruits of His grace. Instead of discouraging them, He would have them give diligence so that hope might be in full assurance with them, imitating those "who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Abraham, "the father of all them that believe," the one in whom faith as the way of blessing has been openly inaugurated and proclaimed, naturally becomes here a most instructive example. God's word was pledged to him in the fullest way, but he had to have long patience. He saw little fulfilment on earth of that which God had promised, for not elsewhere than in God Himself does faith find its true strength and support. Here, indeed, He gave all that could be desired, not His word merely, but His oath — precious and wonderful condescension to human weakness. God will give as ample security Himself as we exact from one another. While faith must be faith, and therefore only in God, yet how tender He is! How well we may trust Him!

Our hope, however, has security of another kind than verbal. It is anchored "within the veil," in heaven itself, into which our Forerunner has entered, Jesus, "made a High Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec." The mention of the veil here is supposed by some to contradict the thought of a rent veil in Hebrews; but the veil is never stated to be taken away, for the veil is the flesh of Christ; and the only possibility for such a mistake is in confounding it with the veil of which the apostle speaks in the second epistle to the Corinthians, — that veil which was over the face of Moses, and which is not over the face of Christ. That veil, indeed, has been taken away; but the veil through which we enter into the Holiest has not been taken away, but a way made through it, "a new and living way," as we shall presently more particularly see.

Section 3. (Heb. 7.)

The Superiority of the Melchisedec to the Levitical Priesthood.

We have now before us the subject of the Melchisedec priesthood of Christ; and there are questions connected with it which require more consideration than they have yet obtained. What, exactly, does this priesthood mean? Is the whole matter for us that Christ is a Priest after that order? Is He not acting as yet in that character? And is such action purely millennial, and therefore having respect only to Israel and the earth? This is how many understand it, but does Scripture really require or warrant this? And what is the practical value for us, or for the epistle to the Hebrews, of the scriptural view? It is clear that we must take up carefully the chapter before us before we can hope to answer such questions, but let us keep them in mind all through. Whatever we may understand as to Melchisedec, it is certain that the section here, in accordance with its numerical place, shows the Priest in the sanctuary, with His propitiation work, therefore, accomplished, and in possession of the place resulting from it, "a Great Priest over the house of God." That is His present place.

There are three subsections here, with still smaller divisions in the last.
The first dwells upon Melchisedec himself as presented in the book of Genesis, made typically like the Son of God; having an indissoluble priesthood in the power of an endless life: thus not only higher in character than that of Levi, but its primacy owned, as it were, by Levi himself.
The second subsection shows us the consequences of Christ's being a Priest of this order, the setting aside of the law, the priests of which were Aaronic.
The third subsection shows us, therefore, the Priest of Christianity perfected forever and made higher than the heavens, in possession of a place to which the Levitical priesthood could lay no possible claim.

1. The first subsection cites and comments upon the brief story of Melchisedec in that wonderful way which has been to many of us such a revelation of the perfection of the inspiration of Scripture, and such an unfolding of the typical history of the Old Testament. The apostle interprets for us here both the speech and the silence of the narrative; both the names and the order of the names. Every jot and tittle has to be taken into account; and it is surely very much from disregard of this that we fail to get clear and assured knowledge of what Scripture contains. We credit it with idle words; and to us they are idle. We dishonor the Spirit who has given the Word, and we lose the deep things of God which the Spirit searches. Especially as to parabolic speech, we say that "no parable goes on all fours," and any maimed and halted interpretation can justify itself spite of such a mark as one of wisdom's children. Let Melchisedec teach us, first of all, this truth, that no jot or tittle of the Word shall pass away without fulfilment, and let us act as if we believed this.

And now, as to the name Melchisedec, "king of righteousness." First of all, he is that; then "king of Salem," that is, "king of peace." This is always a principle in the divine ways. In the millennium, righteousness must first have its sway, for peace to be brought in; and as the prophet says: "The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever" (Isa. 32:17). This is, of course, as true for the present as for the future, and fulfilled in the gospel in a far more wondrous way. As the effect of righteousness in the cross, peace has come to us; and our Melchisedec has indeed made good His name.

Next, he is "without father, without mother, without genealogy." So he is presented in the history, alone, without record of any preceding or indeed following him in his office. Again, "without beginning of days or end of life," thus "made like unto the Son of God;" not actually like Him, but made like, the type perfectly preserved from any contradiction or anything irrelevant, that we might have a picture of a non-successional, unending priesthood, such as that of the Lord Jesus is, who is also King and Priest in one Person; and so it was prophesied of Him: "Behold the Man whose name is the BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place; and He shall build the temple of the Lord, even He shall build the temple of the Lord, and He shall bear the glory; and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a Priest upon His throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both" (Zech. 6:12, 13). This is doubtless millennial, and yet very like the line of things which the apostle has been pursuing here, even to the building of the house of God; but in Hebrews all is higher. Here the house is the universe. The throne upon which the Priest sits is the throne of God (Heb. 8:1). He has not yet taken His own throne as Son of Man (Rev. 3:21); He is on His Father's, and we are thus "translated into the kingdom of His dear Son" (Col. 1:13). Thus He is already King, as He is Priest, in both characters as Son of God. His is a priestly rule over the house of God.

If we look back now to the book of Genesis, we shall find the life of Abraham: the fourth in the series of seven lives which give us the perfect picture of the divine life in man from the time of its beginning, in repentance and faith, in Adam, until in Joseph we see the image of Christ fully formed. Abraham, following Noah, was brought into a new scene which abides in the value of accepted sacrifice, and gives us the practical life of faith which is the result of being in Christ, a new creation. By his very call to Canaan, he is a pilgrim and a stranger on the earth. His life divides into two parts, in the first of which (Gen. 11:10 — 14) we have the call of God and His obedience to it; while, in the second (Gen. 15 – 21), we have the conflicts of faith. Thus the whole, as indeed Genesis as a whole, is an elaborate and perfect type in which most certainly the Christian life is set before us.

I say Christian, not because Israel is forgotten. Israel is there, and God is dwelling with her, in a love that cannot forget her; but this only makes more distinct what is our own in the book, and that decisively. Thus Abraham's own call to Canaan, the heavenly country, and his walking in it by faith as a pilgrim, is not and cannot be a type of Israel; but again, in his sons Isaac and Ishmael, Isaac is distinctly the type of "the children of the free woman."

Now it is in the end of the first part of Abraham's history that the type of Melchisedec appears. It is to Abram, the Hebrew (that is, "pilgrim"), returning from his conflict with the kings of the East, a Babylonish confederacy, that at the king's dale Melchisedec brings forth the bread and wine which speak to us with such perfect plainness of our royal Priest's provision for us now; not a sacrifice, for that has been "once for all" offered, but the memorial of a sacrifice, — too plain a thing to need enlargement on, or to need to vindicate our title to it. True, God is not yet manifested as Most High, and men and Satan seem to be joint possessors of the earth rather than God; but in the picture here, also, there is yet a king of Sodom by whom Abraham refuses to be enriched. Faith in him alone it is that counts God to be "Possessor of heaven and earth;" and faith now it is that receives such distinct ministry from the true Melchisedec, and owns God to be still in possession where most He seems to be displaced. How the bread and wine help to assure us of that!

In fact, every detail in all this story suits us admirably, and we may be confident that our Melchisedec exists for us today; not One who will be that in the millennium: — though then He will be recognized openly as such, — but Sodom will then get, not faith's refusal merely, but the judgment of God. Meanwhile, we have this ministry of bread and wine, and One with us who blesses us from the Most High God, and who, on our part, blesses the Most High God: — "In the midst of the assembly will I sing praise unto Thee."

The apostle goes on to prove from the history, brief as it is, the superiority of Melchisedec to Levi. "He was in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him;" and in Abraham, Levi, therefore, paid tithes to Melchisedec. Thus the whole Levitical priesthood owned its inferiority, and Melchisedec, as one greater than Abraham, blesses him who had the promises; but this leads us on to consequences of far greater importance.

2. In the second subsection, therefore, the apostle goes on to argue the setting aside of the law itself by the change of the priesthood. It was incontestable that according to the psalm a Priest was to arise according to this higher type, a Priest after the order of Melchisedec, and not of Aaron. We have but to consider a moment, to realize how complete a change as to the law this involved. It is not simply, as some would put it, the special law as to the priesthood; for, as we see in the Day of Atonement, all the relation of Israel to God according to that dispensation, hung upon the priesthood. The blood put upon the mercy-seat by the high priest, year by year, alone enabled God to dwell in their midst; and this could only be done by one of the family of Aaron. The law contemplated no other; yet Christ had sprung out of Judah, and the law said nothing of priesthood in connection with that tribe.

But again, why was it necessary thus to define the succession? plainly because it had to do with mortal men who could not continue in the office by reason of death. Thus it was a law of fleshly commandment. He having come, who lives eternally, sets aside the law necessarily by the very "power of an indissoluble life." All is manifestly upon a higher plane, outside the law. "There is a setting aside of the commandment going before;" and that because of "its weakness and unprofitableness." It perfected nothing. There was under it only a priesthood of dying men with animal sacrifices, unable really to atone, and a closed sanctuary, into which timidly the high priest entered once a year and immediately withdrew.

This was plain, but is to be developed presently in contrast with what is now made good to us in Christ. Now there is "the bringing in of a better hope, by which we" do, as they did not, "draw nigh to God." This introduces us to what is to be the theme of after-consideration.

3. The apostle now sets in contrast with the priests of a fleshly and earthly system, the true and heavenly Priest to whom as types they pointed. God had announced with an oath His unrepenting purpose as to Him. As a Priest forever, in the surety of a better covenant than the legal, conditional one, and in contrast with dying men, He abides eternally to care for and bring through to heaven those who draw near to God by Him, who is always living to intercede for them. We see how different is this view from that in Romans, where position in Christ is contemplated; and also from that in the gospel of John, we living because He lives (John 14:19). Here it is the living activity of the Priest to which we are entrusted, not apart from God, but as having all power with God, — this salvation to the uttermost being, of course, not the bringing into the sanctuary here, but to that full final rest which has been dwelt upon already in the epistle.

Finally, the character of our High Priest is briefly considered, — such an One becomes us, "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and become higher than the heavens, — who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for their own sins and then for those of the people, for this He did once when He offered up Himself for the law maketh men high priests who have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is perfected for evermore."

This shows how far the Lord as Antitype transcends the type. The Jewish high priest was but a sinner amongst sinners. Christ in absolute holiness is One "separate from sinners;" and yet the apostle can say, such an One becomes us; for the blood of Christ as before God has perfected "in perpetuity" those who are sanctified by it, and "the worshipers once purged have no more conscience of sins" (Heb. 10:2, 14). Thus, it is not as sinners that Christ as High Priest intercedes for us with God, but as the many sons whom He is bringing to glory. The High Priest is for infirmity, not sin, "but if any one sin we have an Advocate with the Father" (1 John 2:1). Christ is both Priest and Advocate, but the question of sin is settled for us as towards God, while between the children and the Father it may need frequent settlement.

Subdivision 2. (Heb. 8.)

His more excellent ministry as Mediator of a better covenant.

The second subdivision speaks here, too, now of our having a better ministry than that of the earthly priesthood, founded as it is upon a better covenant. The first six verses emphasize the fact that it is of the true tabernacle Christ is Minister. The last seven verses speak of the change of covenant.

1. We must remember that it is the Priest in the Sanctuary that the apostle is now showing us, — a Priest who has sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. In the Lord's case we must separate widely, as with a mere human high priest one could not, between the ministry outside and the ministry inside the tabernacle. For Him the one ceased before the other was entered upon; yet He was the High Priest when He "offered up Himself" upon the cross, and He was the High Priest when He "passed through the heavens" (Heb. 4:14). There was no difference in this respect, if we are to take exactly what is written. Upon this there would seem no need to insist; yet a verse here has been so interpreted as to mean the opposite, — that the Lord was not Priest upon earth at all; and every other statement of Scripture has been discredited to uphold what is not its statement, but a mistaken interpretation of something very different from this. The apostle does not say that when Christ was upon earth He was not a Priest, but that "if then indeed He were upon earth He would not even be a Priest." Plainly he is speaking of One not on earth, and not as looking back either to the time when He was there. He is speaking, as he says, of Christ as the glorified High Priest, the Minister of the true tabernacle, and the reason he gives is conclusive as to this. Why would He not even be a Priest on earth? Because, he answers, "there are those who offer gifts according to the law." The law, as he has said, has defined its priests as of the family of Aaron, and Christ has no place in the line of that succession; but that has nothing to do with the Lord's work on earth, as is evident. It is a totally different thing from saying that when Christ offered Himself up He was not a Priest to say that if He were on earth He would be no Priest of any sanctuary there. True it is that the law has no place on earth for this Minister of the true tabernacle. If His name were sought upon the earthly register, it could not be found in what is but the "example and shadow of heavenly things" His place is not. Necessarily so, for He has "a more excellent ministry" in connection with the "heavenly things themselves." Here, as already said, the confusion between the killing of the victim, which was not itself a priestly work, and the offering up of the sacrifice, which was absolutely so, has hindered many from seeing the truth. Yet every one must see at once that the Lord did not kill Himself, and yet offered Himself. The killing of the victim is the death of Christ looked at, as we may say, from its human side. The offering by the priest set forth, though still under a veil, what God found in it, but they both apply to what was done upon earth. The offering up of the sacrifice was not inside the tabernacle, but in the outer court, and is thus distinctly made to refer to something done upon earth. There was no presentation to God or burning of the victim in the tabernacle itself, — that is, in the sanctuary; and it is to be noted that while the apostle previously speaks of every high priest being constituted for the offering "both of gifts and sacrifices," when he comes here to the Lord's tabernacle work, he speaks of the offering of "gifts" alone. The incense and the show-bread, to go no further, belonged, of course, to the tabernacle work. The sacrifices never entered there, except in the blood being carried in. All here, therefore, is in absolute consistency with itself and with all other Scripture.

But light has been thought to be thrown by this assertion, as it is taken to be, of Christ not having been a Priest on earth, upon that propitiation which it was His, as we have been told in the second chapter, distinctly as High Priest to make. This, then, it is urged, must have been made in heaven, and refers not to the work of the cross, but to the presentation for acceptance of that work before God, by the Lord, as having entered into His presence there. If, indeed, the Lord were not a Priest on earth, there would be reason, no doubt, for such an interpretation. As it is, there is none whatever. We shall have to look at it further in the chapter following this, but the acceptance of the work of the cross by God was clearly at the moment of its being made; not only the veil rent when the Lord died shows it, but also the fact that even before He dies the cloud that was upon Him is removed. He says no more "My God," as when He was forsaken, but He says "Father," in the sense of nearness. Wrath-bearing was at an end, although the death which was still due from man as a sinner had to be taken. This He takes, therefore, proclaiming at the same time: "It is finished," as He gives up His Spirit. There was no more to be done. No presentation further was necessary before Him whose Eyes are in every place, and who gives testimony as promptly as it can be done to the work which so fully satisfies Him. With regard to the interpretation of the type here, the actual entering in of the high priest into the sanctuary with the blood which he puts upon the mercy-seat, we shall have, necessarily, to look at in what follows presently.

We have yet another question, however, to consider in connection with this thought of Christ's priesthood being exercised entirely in heaven; and that is, if His be, as the apostle insists, entirely a Melchisedec priesthood, how else could it be exercised than after death, when the "many priests" of Aaron's order proved their incompetency by the fact that "they were not able to continue, by reason of death;" and in contrast with them Christ's Melchisedec character is seen in this, that He abideth forever "in the power of an endless life"?

Now, whatever the difficulty here, it is certain that Christ was "a merciful and faithful High Priest to make propitiation" and therefore He was High Priest before propitiation was, or could be, made. If death, then, negatived the possibility of His being this at that time, then it would necessarily forbid His being so while in death, until resurrection had taken place. That is as plain as it is really decisive; for His resurrection was already the witness of the acceptance of His work, and, consequently, of propitiation (that is, appeasal) having been already made. Propitiation is by blood, and that was shed on earth; nor, when this was shed, did it wait an hour for the tokens of its acceptance. His own words, "It is finished," were followed immediately by the rending of the veil, by which the holiest was opened to man; where Christ has now gone in to take His place for us with God, in the value of that blood, our Representative.

Thus, being made perfect, He is greeted (or, "hailed") of God a High Priest after the order of Melchisedec. Notice, it is not the same word as when it is said He was "called" to the priesthood. He is "hailed" now as Victor after His conflict, when the power of that endless life that was His had been manifested in His victory over death and him that had the power of it. Death had been but the sword which the Conqueror turned against him who wielded it; and over Him it could not have dominion when once, to do the will of God, He had descended into it. That eternal life which was in Him could not be touched by it; and the giving up of earthly life, which for the merely human priests had ended their priesthood fully, and taken them entirely away from the scene of their earthly ministry, could not affect the office of Him who could answer the appeal to Him as Lord of the dying malefactor with the royal words, "This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." Thus was He still Priest and King all through. Presently, with the keys of death and hades at His girdle, He is hailed in resurrection as the Royal Priest; not made so then, but approved as fully manifested such. Already, while the disciples gaze upward after Him, a cloud received Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9). Was it mere earthly vapor? or was it not, rather, the "hail," — the welcome home, of the manifest glory? Not one poor returning prodigal, but the Father runs to greet and bring him home. Was it not fit (as when, for the objects of His redeeming love, the Lord of glory — not leaving it to angelic hosts even to give them welcome, — "the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven,") that He who was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father should thus — the angels nowhere as yet seen — be welcomed back to where He had been before, even when creation, as yet, was not called into being by His word?

(2) We are now called, in connection with this, to see the new covenant according to which the new Priest draws near to God. There is a sharp contrast here shown us between this and the legal one. The very fact, says the apostle, of the Lord's speaking of a new covenant, shows that the old was to pass away. It was, therefore, a "finding fault" with the first covenant, and all that belonged to it as such. We know what this means. God's heart was set upon the bringing His people nigh, and according to the law they could never be brought nigh. Thus, even, as regards the house of Israel and the house of Judah, with whom the new covenant is to be made in days to come, the terms of their relation to God are entirely altered. That covenant made with them in the day that He took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, did not abide. Conditional as it was, they did not fulfil its terms, did not, therefore, continue in it, and He did not regard them. It was, in fact, impossible that He could do so without denying His own nature. The covenant that He is going to make, on the other hand, asks for no fulfilment on the part of man at all, but is the simple, positive affirmation of what He will do for them. "I will put My laws into their mind, and will write them also upon their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." It is plain here that the common thought that God's law is written naturally upon everybody's heart or mind, is entirely contradicted. It is grace alone that accomplishes it for any; and we must remember that God is speaking here explicitly of His earthly people, and not of any heavenly one. So, when He says: "They shall not teach each one his fellow-citizen, and each one his brother, saying, Know the Lord: because all shall inwardly know Me, from him that is little to him that is great among them," a condition of things is implied such as the earth has yet never seen, and such as will not be seen until God brings back Israel to Himself, and the people, as He declares, shall be "all holy," — when there shall be among them no one who does not know Him. And this, too, will be, not merely externally, so as to be orthodox in the faith, but, as the word is here, they shall "inwardly" know Him. And the ground of it will be this: "I will be merciful to their unrighteousnesses, and their sins and their lawlessnesses I will remember no more.' ' Thus, the people with whom this covenant will be made will be a people in that day entirely according to His mind.

It will be asked how, according to this, the new covenant applies at all to us. Other scriptures answer this clearly by assuring us that if we have not the covenant made with us, it can yet, in all the blessings of which it speaks, be ministered to us. This unconditional grace is not limited by conditions. We have, thank God, much more than even what the new covenant declares; and grace, having laid the foundation in righteousness, can act according to its own sovereignty, and in such largeness as suits the bounty of God. We have, therefore, the new covenant fully ours, while we have much more than this, for all the "mysteries" which constitute Christianity proper are things before hidden, and really beyond it. The apostle's purpose here is evidently and simply to show us that the legal covenant is set aside, displaced by that which alone could bring any blessing for man at all.

Subdivision 3. (Heb. 9 – 10.)

The Way into the Holiest made Manifest.

Thus we have had before us the Priest, and the covenant with which He is connected. The Priest is the Son of God, the One who as such is over the house of God, that is the whole universe, which was created by Him, and which He upholds by the word of His power. Sin having come in, it is He who necessarily comes forth in order to deliver His creation from it, and at the same time to glorify God by the declaration of His holiness and righteousness and love in regard to it. For this He has been down in the lowest depths, under the penalty of sin itself, to justify that penalty, and to bring in the love and light which God is into the midst of its darkest shadows. He has gone up, "passed through the heavens," into the supreme place above all, with the power thus strangely acquired to bring in blessing according to the whole character of God Himself, justifying all God's thoughts in the creation of man, and displaying in manhood itself a depth of wisdom in those thoughts by which He is glorified forever. The way is opened thus for redeemed and saved man into heaven itself, presently to be there in actual fact, but in the meanwhile, that he may enter there in spirit, in the way in which we have it shown here, into the holiest of all: a sanctuary which, while on earth, is the anticipation of the heavenly one. That which is before us now is just the manifestation of this way into the Holiest. The work is accomplished, but we have to see the application of it to man, the purging of his conscience by the offering made for him, and the setting him free so that he may draw near to God as fully manifested by "a new and living way" which is opened to him.

There are four sections here, and the fourth of these is an exhortation in view of all that is involved. The first three give the subject itself: the first speaking of the first tabernacle of the first covenant, and which shows the character of this, the way into the holiest not being made manifest. The second shows the removal of the hindrance to manifestation. The third, the sanctification of the worshiper for the opened sanctuary.

1. The first section carries us back to the tabernacle of old, to show briefly the disposition of things there; and here stress is laid upon the division into two parts, (virtually two tabernacles,) divided from each other by the interior veil. The outermost one was practically open as the place of continuous priestly service. The inner was, with the exception of the brief visit of the high priest on the Day of Atonement, as constantly closed. The things which had their place in each are mentioned, but without any purpose to speak particularly of them. The great point here is this strict separation of the two; the one shut off being the place in which, when things were right in Israel, the glory of God abode, so that no access to God was what the unrent veil proclaimed. This first tabernacle was characteristic, therefore, of the law; when even to Moses, the mediator, it was said: "Thou canst not see My face; for there shall no man see Me and live." It was an image for the time then present, when gifts and sacrifices of such sort were being offered as could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. In their very nature they could not. They were but "meats and drinks and divers baptisms," "the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean," sanctifying only to the purification of the flesh. Such a system plainly could not satisfy God, could not bring man near to God. No one, one would say, were not the facts so plainly against us in this, could even imagine it. It must therefore pass away.

This first covenant, then, had "ordinances of divine service and a world-sanctuary." There has been a difficulty made of this last expression, but it seems, evidently, to have reference to what it was as a typical presentation of heavenly things which yet accompanied the people all the way through the wilderness. This is what is before us also, when we look at what it typified. We have such a world-sanctuary, that is to say, a place in which we can meet God and enter in faith, therefore, into heavenly things, while conscious that we are but passing through a world in which we are pilgrims and strangers. This is the sweetest grace, that such a sanctuary is open to us even here.

We must not, of course, attach the idea to any structure made with hands, nor, indeed, to anything which would imply any kind of ritualistic entrance into the presence of God. It is our joy to know that without mediation of any kind, except that of the heavenly High Priest Himself, we have ability to draw near to God, apart from all circumstances, all question even of the gatherings of His people; although here certainly we are privileged to realize to the full this heavenly worship. But we may remark that we are not here in the line of the first of Corinthians, and that Scripture itself has severed this thought of entrance into the Holiest from any idea of even our common remembrance of the Lord in His death, and of the fellowship which we enjoy as thus come together. Corinthians does not enter upon the topic of worship, even though it speaks of the Church as the temple of God; but this in regard to its holiness as such, and not to its being even a special sphere of worship. The epistle to the Hebrews is precisely that which does away with all connection of ritualistic service as necessary to the worship of God. The Jewish system pressed this very thing; but the Christian antitype to its shadows is here revealed as in absolute contrast to Judaism altogether. The holy place, with its candlestick, and table, and showbread, as to which the apostle has little to say in this connection, was Israel's practical holy place. As such it is for us not abolished, except as to its being a "first" tabernacle, in contrast with the second one. For us, as we shall see, the two tabernacles are now one, the veil not having passed away, but being rent, so that Christ is now for us a Minister of "the holy places," — both of them, — of "the true tabernacle, which the Lord hath pitched and not man." It is important to remember this, which will find more development as we go on. The point here is simply that, while the first tabernacle had its standing, (had its place, therefore, as first,) the way into the holiest was not manifest. This characterized the law, and has come to an end for us forever.

2. The second section shows us the coming in of redemption, the putting away of sin from before God, that sin which hindered God's manifestation of Himself as He desired. The things to which the Levitical system pointed are now fulfilled, the true Day of Atonement, the Great High Priest of a better tabernacle, who has entered the sanctuary, "not by the blood of bulls and goats, but by His own blood," having found, not an atonement which would last a year, but "eternal redemption." Thus the worshiper has at last his conscience purified from dead works, from that which had in it no savor of life; would not satisfy, therefore, the living God. The legalism of the old covenant has been replaced by the grace of the new. The eternal inheritance is secured to those who are called by the grace of the gospel. Christ is thus the High Priest of those good things which were typified in Judaism, things still to come, which its shadows pointed to, but nothing more. The tabernacle is a better and more perfect one, "not made with hands," not belonging to the old creation. The blood of goats and bulls has been replaced by the value of His own blood, in virtue of which He has entered in once for all into the holy places, having found an "eternal redemption." He entered in in the triumph of having done this.

There may be need of some additional clearing of the old types which are here interpreted for us, as well as of their application to the things of which they speak. The mercy-seat in the holiest, as being the "propitiatory," or place of propitiation, propitiation or atonement (for the word is the same in the Hebrew of the Old Testament and in its translation in the Septuagint Greek) being made upon it once a year, the question cannot but be raised, How does this affect the question of propitiation for us being really made in heaven, in some sense at least, when our High Priest entered in? It is evident that for Israel the blood upon the mercy-seat was the fundamental condition of all their blessing. Atonement, or propitiation, was then made "for the holy sanctuary, and for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation" (Lev. 16:33). Insomuch that this and this alone was the "day of atonement," apart from which no other sacrifice could legally have been offered, or God have remained in their midst at all. Is there nothing, then, in the substance that answers to these shadows, that answers just to this putting of the blood upon the mercy-seat, equally fundamental, that the throne may be for us that "throne of grace" which we know it to be? Or, can this speak simply of the Cross, and what was done there? and was not the blood, in any sense, carried in so as to be presented for acceptance before God in heaven?

Now, there is another question that may be asked in return, which, simple as it is, deserves yet serious consideration. Does any one conceive of our blessed. Lord carrying in literally His blood into heaven? That will, of course, be denied at once, and wonder expressed even at the suggestion of it. These are figures, it will be rightly said, and must be figuratively conceived; and we may add, as the apostle declares of them, that they are not even "the very image" of what they represent. This must not be taken as license for any avoidance of honest, consistent observance of the very terms in which it has pleased God to reveal things to us, as has many times been said, yet it has to be considered and reckoned with none the less. What could the application of the blood to the various objects to which it was applied in the Levitical ritual mean with reference to us now? When the high priest had completed his work in the tabernacle, he went out to the altar (of burnt-offering) to apply the blood similarly there. Are we to conceive of this as some further presentation of it for acceptance in relation to what the altar typifies? It is plain that this cannot be. The altar was that from which the daily sacrifices went up for Israel, and the blood put upon it for propitiation simply set forth the righteousness of God in accepting what was done there. Just so by that upon the mercy-seat God's righteousness was set forth in continuing to dwell among a sinful people. In each case it was the blood that made the propitiation (Lev. 17:11); and the application of it gave it no new efficacy, but simply revealed its efficacy in particular relations. It was one of those object-lessons of which the ritualistic service consisted, and which may be easily strained in the endeavor to find in them a kind of exactness which does not belong to them. Thus, because the burning upon the altar followed the slaying of the victim, it was made by many to speak of atoning sufferings on the Lord's part after death. It has been forgotten in all such cases that "no parable can teach doctrine." We must find elsewhere the doctrine which the type illustrates, before we can find the ground for a just application.

Now it is here that the doctrine thought to be found in Scripture as to this fails so absolutely. Where shall we expect to find it if not in Hebrews, where confessedly the Day of Atonement is the text upon which the apostle is dwelling in all this part? And where is it to be found in Hebrews, or anywhere else in the New Testament, that Christ went into heaven to make propitiation there? to present His work to God for its acceptance, or in any sense to sprinkle the blood upon the Eternal Throne?

Quite another thing is, in fact, taught there, — namely, that Christ entered in once into the holy places, having obtained eternal redemption. As risen from the dead, raised up by the glory of the Father, He entered once, not the second time, propitiation therefore already accomplished, the resurrection the evidence of the ransom accepted, nothing remaining in this way to be done. The virtue of the blood revealed itself all the way, even as the typical veil of the sanctuary had been rent at the Cross already, before a step had been taken on the triumphant journey. All is as consistent as possible, and as plain as need be. And if it be said, Have we, then, nothing that answers more closely to this priestly action at the Throne? the answer is abundant, that the reality far transcends the type; for not only has the Throne been acting in power thus all along the road, but the Great High Priest, "having made by Himself purification of sins, He seated Himself" upon the Throne, "at the right hand of the Majesty on high." No blood is needed further to assure us that the Throne whereon He sits who shed it is a Throne of triumphant, glorious grace. Christ there is, as we are told in the epistle to the Romans (Rom. 3:25), "set forth a propitiatory" (or mercy-seat) "through faith, by His blood." Christ is HIMSELF, in heaven, the blood-sprinkled mercy-seat. The New Testament, while confirming and interpreting the Old, goes yet far beyond it; and this is an important principle for its interpretation. Where should we find this more than in the light which thus streams out through these opened heavens?

There is a parenthesis added here, in which the covenant of which Christ is Mediator is identified with a testament of which Christ is the Testator. The word in the Greek means both of these, "covenant" and "testament;" and the covenant has, in fact, come to us in the shape of a testament which His death has made good. We have been so accustomed to this view of it that it has almost obscured the thought of the covenant itself which is, however, what the apostle dwells upon most earnestly throughout, and here he returns immediately to the thought of it.

The first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. The book and all the people were sprinkled with the blood of sacrifice. This seems strange, because the covenant was the legal one, and we can only view it in this character as affirming, as the blood of atonement did in fact affirm, the righteous penalty of the law for those under it. Christ affirmed this decisively when, to redeem us, He took the curse of the law, magnified it, and made it honorable; but this blood of sacrifice showed therefore in itself what must be the necessary issue of that first covenant. But not only so, the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry were in like manner sprinkled with blood; and here the typical meaning is evident. Almost all things according to the law were purified with blood. For remission of sins there was no other way. Thus the mere figurative representations bore witness; but the heavenly things needed a better Sacrifice than anything the law could furnish.

3. Christ has entered into heaven itself, and with a Sacrifice which never needs to be repeated. If He were to offer again, notice, He would have to suffer again; but neither is possible. It is clear that here the Romish notion of an unbloody offering is absolutely set aside. "Once for all," at the completion of the ages of probation, when man's ungodliness and hopelessness of self-recovery had been perfectly demonstrated, He was manifested for the putting away of sin by the sacrifice of Himself. The consequence for faith is a complete deliverance by His work from the common portion of men in death and judgment. Death itself is for man judgment in this sense, that it is the sentence of God upon a fallen condition; and thus the law used it as the "ministration of death," as the second of Corinthians teaches us that it was. But while it was thus in itself the judgment of a fallen condition, there is for man as such a judgment afterwards which every awakened conscience prophesies to itself.

The necessary issue of this, also, is condemnation, if we personally enter into it, — that is, if we are to be judged according to such judgment as we find at the Great White Throne, every one receiving according to his works. The psalmist has already shown us that as to those even who are true servants of the Lord, they could not endure this. "Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord, for in Thy sight shall no flesh living be justified." From this personal judgment Christ has entirely delivered us. His own words are that "He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life." The appraisal of our works, when we give account of ourselves at the judgment-seat of Christ, is a wholly different matter. We are not delivered from this, because it would not be true blessing for us to be delivered from it; and grace will, after all, be most signally manifested with regard to this very judgment. From personally coming into judgment we are, by our Lord's explicit assurance, forever exempt. Our condition is already pronounced upon, the Word of Life has come to us, as it were, by the very sentence of the One who will be the Judge in that day; and He cannot repent of it. There is no confusion of the world with His people, such confusion as people often make. There is no picking out by judgment of those that are His own from the world around. We are, in fact, taken up from the world which lies under judgment, to Christ Himself, when He appears, taken up in one special company, and already changed into His likeness before even we see Him.

Thus judgment, in the sense in which the apostle speaks of it here, there can be none. Death there may be, but it does not come now as penalty, as before it did. Here the Lord's words again conic in to assure us that while he that believed on Him in the past, though he were dead, yet would live, he that now liveth and believeth in Him shall never die. Jordan is thus, for the Lord's people, dried to the bottom. Thus, out of the whole condition of man as under penalty, the Christian is delivered; and, in place of death and judgment, the Christ who "once was offered to bear the sins of many shall appear to those that look for Him the second time, apart from sin, for salvation." He comes apart from sin for our deliverance. He has nothing to do with sin then. He takes up no question of this kind when He comes for His people. His coming is simply deliverance: the full, realized salvation of the whole man, when we are delivered from the last remnant of evil and all that it implies, and changed into His own blessed likeness, to be with Him as the companions of His heart forever.

Our entrance already, in spirit, into all this is that which shows our perfect sanctification for worship in the holiest as the fruit of His glorious work. This, we are reminded, was impossible under the law. That was not even the image, the exact representation, of the good things it typified; and the repetition yearly of the day of atonement showed the inefficacy of these multiplied sacrifices: "For then," asks the apostle, "would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins."

We must remember, in order to realize the completeness of this, that even in Israel no sacrifice was offered twice for the same sins, and that in Christendom the putting away of sins as they arise is the common thought. For this, not, indeed, a fresh sacrifice, but a fresh application of the blood is thought a necessity; but that is just what the apostle would call having "conscience of sins," instead of the conscience being "once purged," purged once for all. One who needs a fresh offering or a fresh application of the blood to cleanse him is not purged once for all; but nothing else would satisfy God's heart for us or the need which, in fact, we have. How dreadful the presence of God would be for one who fully, accepted the thought of being left there an unpurged sinner, if only for a moment! No doubt, for the Christian, the thought of God's grace, however contradictory to his system, prevents him from clearly realizing what this would mean; but the apostle plainly says here that to need a repetition of such purging would mean never having been purged according to God; for He could not leave so great a need less than perfectly met. The blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins at all; and that was what the repetition, the taking away of sin again and again, meant. It was not true purging that was accomplished in this way at all.

Christ therefore comes to substitute for these inefficacious sacrifices His own perfect one. This was what these typical ones foreshadowed. "In the volume of the book" they were written of Him. This does not refer to eternal counsels, but to the book of the law. Coming into the world He says this, not in eternity; and it is properly "Lo, I am come," not "I come." He sees the offerings going on, but with no divine satisfaction in them, and He brings them to an end by the accomplishment of His own work. This is our need, then, as worshipers, and thus it is met. The heart is free from everything that would cloud it in the presence of God, everything that would prevent the free pouring forth of praise and thanksgiving. We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

"A body hast Thou prepared Me," which in this connection the apostle quotes from the Septuagint, shows how perfectly the offering had been cared for by God. The Hebrew original has, as is well known, "Ears hast Thou digged for Me;" which, no doubt, is, on the whole, equivalent in meaning. It does not, apparently, as it might seem at first, refer to the bored ear of the Hebrew servant, though it approaches so nearly to it as to make the distinguishing between them no great necessity. The bored ear was the token of perpetual service voluntarily assumed; the ears digged, of capacity and readiness for receiving the word of another. A body prepared implies the "form of a servant," a nature assumed which is not, in fact, to be given up again. It is the link with the lowest rank of intelligent creaturehood, though with what possibilities of future development He alone who created them could make manifest as to them. They are the advance rank of a system with which the thought of development (though in quite another than the evolutionist sense) seems connected throughout. But in this advance the lower links do not drop off, but are raised and incorporated with the higher — a prophetic witness to that Highest which has now been revealed to us.

But the "body prepared" intimates something besides creative advance. The Fall had taken place, and the body of man, in the seeds of mortality and various derangement now inherent in it, is the manifest evidence of this. The Son of Man must be true man in all that constitutes manhood; deriving it, also, from a human mother, one of the fallen race. Who, then, can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? The power of God must come in here, as in our Lord's case is expressly declared it did, and the very body of the blessed Doer of His Father's will must be prepared Him. Thus we can see why the version of the Septuagint is accepted by the inspired writer; the body that was to be offered being thus shown to have the character of a perfect offering: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

This is the sanctification of the epistle to the Hebrews. It is not practical sanctification by the Spirit, but by sacrifice. It is not the anointing of the priest with oil, but with the blood. The oil can be only upon the blood, which is the foundation of everything; and thus the priestly family is set apart to God. The offering is offered, never to be repeated. Christ is, therefore, not busy in offering continual sacrifices, as the legal priesthood. He has sat down at the right hand of God. Blessed thing for us to realize, love is at rest! He needs not to rise any more on this account. He sits perpetually there, until the time comes for His enemies to be put under His feet. There is no more to be done as regards offering. "By one offering He has perfected in perpetuity" (as the word is) "those that are sanctified;" that is, there is never a moment in which they are not in the full value of that work before God. For this the apostle can appeal again to the inspired writings in the hands of the Jews themselves, and thus brings the testimony of the Holy Spirit to confirm what he is saying.

What is said as to this is not a reference to the coming out of the Spirit after the ascent of Christ to the right hand of God, as some have made it, but, as should be evident, an appeal to what the Spirit had uttered long before. The words of the new covenant itself show fully the cessation of sacrifices for the putting away of sin, for God says in it: "Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more." But repetition of sacrifice for putting them away would be still a remembrance.

Now the point is reached to which the apostle has been so long in coming, and for which he has so carefully prepared the way. We have, therefore, now "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh."

There are things here which we need to consider attentively. First of all, let us notice that the word for "the holiest of all" is really "the holies," or "holy places." In our common translation it is "the holiest," supposing the need of supplying "holy of" before "holies." This has been done, also, in Heb. 9:8-12, Heb. 13:11, but "the holy of holies," or "holiest," is found once, and only once, in Hebrews 9:3. In Heb. 9:24, 25, it is "holy places," though the Revised Version translates here, as elsewhere, "holy place" without any marginal indication of the change that has been made. There is absolutely no necessity for any such alterations. Scripture is perfect as it is. In Heb. 9:3, where there is need to distinguish between  "the holy place" and "the holy of holies," the apostle uses the correct term for the latter; and where he has not done so, we may be sure that he had design in not distinguishing. Scripture is accurate here, as always.

In fact, to read here, as we should, that we have "boldness to enter into the holy places by the blood of Jesus," destroys at once two statements that have been made, to the confusion of the interpretation of the epistle: — the first, that there is no rending of the veil in Hebrews; the second, that the first tabernacle, the outer holy place, is now entirely removed in Christianity, and only the holiest of all remains. As a consequence of the latter, neither the lamp of the sanctuary, nor the table of showbread, nor the incense altar, has anything to do with us. These are wholly Jewish, and to apply them to Christianity, it is said, is a grave mistake. Notice how this is set aside by simply taking Scripture as it is undeniably given us. We have boldness, it says, "to enter into the holy places (both of them, though now made one) by the blood of Jesus;" and thus it is established that the outer sanctuary abides for us as well as the inner, not as outer, no doubt. The two become one.

It will be asked how this consists with Heb. 9:8, in which it is stated that the way into the holy places was not yet manifested as long as the first tabernacle had its standing: but this only leads us to the true statement as to the veil being rent; for the rending of the veil it is which makes both tabernacles one; so that, in fact, the first tabernacle has no standing, no existence as such. If we have come into the true tabernacle at all, we have come into the holiest. If the veil be not rent, then indeed we could go, on the contrary, into the outer sanctuary first, and worship afar off until we found our way, or were admitted into the holiest; but Hebrews knows nothing of this. There is but one entrance, "by the blood of Jesus," into the united sanctuaries; and this is the access which is given us in the grace of Christianity. The veil is not removed, — that is never said, — and the mistake has resulted from the confusion, as has been already stated, with another and different veil which we have in the second of Corinthians, the veil over Moses' face. That has been removed for us as Christians, and there is no veil over Christ's face. That is true; but in the way things are stated here in Hebrews, we go through the veil, which is the flesh of Jesus. We go through, because it is rent for us to go through. "The new and living way" made through it is the thing which enables us to go through. This brings it sufficiently near to what we have in the Gospels; where, as soon as the Lord Jesus died, the veil of the sanctuary was rent in the midst. And the reference to this is more complete, in fact, than perhaps any translation can easily convey; for the word "new" in this expression, though one used in the sense of "recent," has a fuller signification, which is its primary one. In the sense of "new" we should expect the word used in "new covenant" (kainos), scarcely "recent," a word used but once beside, adverbially, in the New Testament.* For what connection would there be between "recent" and "living"! and what force would there be in it if taken by itself? On the other hand, its full meaning of "newly slain" (prosphaton)** harmonizes contrastively with "and living," which completes the thought. By death and resurrection has the way been made for us into the heavenly sanctuary, through the flesh, the human nature, of Jesus; and here the doctrine of the epistle is plainly interpretative of the fact in the Gospels.

{*Acts 18:2, "lately arrived."

**This is by no means an original thought. Moll, in Lange's Commentary, says: "This entrance, which forms the gateway to the holiest of all, is in its nature an hodos prosphatos kai zosa, and as such has been consecrated for our use by Jesus. The epithet newly slaughtered ' points to the fact that, previously non-existent, it has been originated by the sacrificial death of Jesus (Theodoret with most) and not to its perpetual freshness (Ebrard)."}

The veil, therefore, is rent in Hebrews, and that is why, as has been said, it is not really having boldness to enter into the holiest, "but into the holy places;" because the two are thus united. Yet that does not mean, as it seems often to be taken to mean, that the veil is removed. It is by Jesus always that we draw near to God, and the veil has always its place. This very veil was in the type broidered with the emblems of the glory which is His as the result of His work accomplished. This is not removed, nor do we want it removed. Rent and removed are different things. By Him we draw near to God; but He had to die that it might be so. Look at the beautiful veil, and see what it implies.*

{*See Notes on Exodus.}

The drawing near has, of course, to be, with us, a spiritual realization. The ability to draw near is our privilege at all times. The conditions are given by the apostle. "Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." We have the way secured, and the living Person of the Great Priest over the house of God, Himself on the throne of God, One who in the tenderness of divine grace ministers to our infirmities, and lifts us up above ourselves. On our part, therefore, we are to approach "with a true heart, in full assurance of faith," — that is the proper answer to the grace that has thus provided for us; with the "heart sprinkled from an evil conscience," which is the Christian purification of the conscience previously insisted on as necessary for the practical opening of the sanctuary. The "body washed with pure water" refers to what was done at the consecration of the priests (Ex. 29:4), and which answers to "the washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5), the word of God bringing us out from a world in rampant insubjection to God, into whole-hearted allegiance to the Son of His love. This is the spiritual reality of which baptism is the expression outwardly; but "the washing of regeneration" is not baptism, which is the mere shadow, and not the substance.

Immediately, as we are brought to the question of responsibilities here, we recognize our weakness and the general need. We must hold fast unwaveringly the confession of our hope. We must "consider one another, to provoke to love and to good works." We must "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together." We must "encourage one another, and so much the more as we see the day approaching." Ah, is it not just the drawing near to God that exposes our essential weakness? The presence of God is the only refuge from ourselves, from the power of things around; it is the very sanctuary, the place of holiness. But how feeble are we in the enjoyment of it! And our feebleness, instead of making us draw together for mutual help, tends to disorganize and make us drift asunder; and, instead of awakening pity and longing over one another, makes us, even to each other, the subject of unsparing criticism. We need the ability to "provoke to love and to good works." If souls have got away from God, nothing but the power of the love of Christ can break down and restore.

It may seem strange to us at this time to think of Christians then seeing the day of Christ approaching; but the signs of the end, to observant eyes, soon began to show themselves. "The mystery of iniquity" was already at work; and when John writes his first epistle, many antichrists show it already to be the last time. Disheartening things these, but the apostle would tell us that we have not received the spirit of cowardice, but of power (2 Tim. 1:7), and we are not to be disheartened. Nothing more effectually cuts the nerve of activity than the loss of hope. The devil knows this well. Love itself will be reduced to idleness if assured there is no good in working. God is the God of all encouragement; and the moment we get to His side of things, we are on the winning side. Divine love invites us to draw on it without stint.

4. The warning which follows is one of those which in Hebrews are so frequent. The "wilful sin" here spoken of supposes, as in the sixth chapter, the knowledge of the truth, with the will in error. Sin is here, in the root-meaning of the word (hamartia), "missing the mark," "going astray." Here is a class whom he has to warn, as those before, against treading under foot the Son of God, going back to a Judaism all the impotence of which has been exposed, and which now, therefore, has manifestly "no more sacrifice for sins." The sacrifices were still going on at Jerusalem, but there was no reality any more in anything there. They are not failing saints, but adversaries, who, as such, must expect sorer judgment than under Moses' law, so much more as what they despised was greater. The blood of the covenant could not avail for one who had given it up as common, or having no virtue; and grace itself must fail those who insult the Spirit of grace. "Wherewith he was sanctified" is naturally a difficulty, though the reference to the day of atonement helps us to realize what is intended. The blood put before God then was the blood of the covenant as being that in virtue of which the relation between God and Israel was maintained: in God's sight, the type of what truly sanctifies. Thus it sanctified the people, every one among them abiding in the value of it. The Christian assembly now abides under the blood of a better covenant, and of this assembly the person spoken of had formed a part. If his profession had not been true, he still had the responsibility of it in giving it up, as all the blessing of it had been open to him to enjoy. He is thus credited with that which on God's part was never hindered being made good to him, and which he had claimed to be his own.

But again the apostle comforts those he is addressing with remembrance of what they had endured, and how the Lord's grace had upheld them under it, and wrought experience, in which what had been trial becomes in result abiding blessing. Still, they had need of endurance, and would in due time find the recompense; for He who cometh will at last come. Meanwhile, "the just shall live by faith;" and he who draws back God can have no pleasure in him. The principle always remains true, but these are marked out by the apostle here as being really distinct classes. "We are not of those," he says, "who draw back to perdition." We are not of that class of people at all, "but of those who believe to the saving of the soul."