Basic Facts from Hebrews (Part 12)

Basic Facts from Hebrews (Part 12)

Christians enjoy a blessing no Jew ever experienced, according to Hebrews 10:19-25. We are permitted to directly enter God’s presence – to “go beyond the veil” (a reference to the veil of the temple, that separated everyone except the High Priest from the “Most Holy Place” where the ark of the covenant represented the presence of God). Under the law of Moses, even the High Priest was allowed to “enter” God’s presence only one day per year, on the day of atonement (Leviticus 16:2, cf. 29-30); ordinary priests never entered this part of the temple at all! Christians, however, because we have fellowship with the Father through the sacrificial blood of Jesus the Son, do have the privileges of fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3), and of entering His presence through prayer (Philippians 4:6). We are “qualified” to enter the Father’s presence (where even faithful Jews were not, during their lifetimes) because we have been perfectly cleansed of sin by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:22, cf. Revelation 1:5).

The practical point in these verses is that the Jewish Christians who originally read them should not forfeit the blessings they had obtained in becoming Christians, by returning to the practice of Judaism. Instead, they should “hold fast” (be faithful, “cling to”) what they had originally confessed in becoming Christians, verse 23. To promote and reinforce that faithfulness, the Holy Spirit instructs them (and us) to incite each other in good works, and to not “abandon” the gathering together of the saints (vv. 24-25). The common “thread” that unites all the thoughts in verses 19-25 is fellowship (both with God through Christ, vv. 19-22, and with each other, vv. 23-25). Fellowship is not possible when we are separated – disconnected – from one another!

A note is perhaps in order, with respect to verse 25 and the context of that phrase “forsaking the assembling….” This verse does not speak of missing a bible class or a worship period because one was ill or in transit to a destination, was unexpectedly called in to work, or was in some way “providentially hindered” from attending a gathering of the saints together. Hebrews 10:25 has sometimes been used condemn Christians whose employment hours conflict with bible classes or worship services as being somehow less “faithful” than those who are able to maintain a “perfect attendance” record. As noted above, the word that is translated as “forsaking” (KJV) means to abandon or desert, rather than “miss a single worship assembly.” Without doubt the context of this entire section of Hebrews 10 is intended to encourage Christians to be together and not “skip out” or turn back from such opportunities for fellowship, but we misuse this verse if we lift it out of its larger context to make it say something it does not actually address.


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