Boletim dos Obreiros

The superior style of life of believers

Hebrews 10:19-25

We, the believers, have two magnificent certainties:

1. A "high priest" (Hebrews 4:14) overseeing "the House of God" (Hebrews 3:1-6) so the Lord Jesus will manage the affairs of his people.

2. We have "boldness" to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus.

The word "boldness" in Greek conveys the more robust idea of "free access" and "transparency". The reason we have a bold or confident attitude is that we have superior access to the throne of grace of God (Hebrews 4:16). We don't need to be like the priests the Levites, that only approached the Holy of Holies once a year, in a spirit of timidity. Instead, our approach should be characterized by temerity, when we enter daily in the presence of God. This special access is something that the priests of Israel could only have dreamed of, a daily unlimited permission, intimate, always available to enjoy a personal audience with the Most High. This access became possible only "by the blood of Jesus".

This access is made by a new and living way opened for us by the Messiah. He himself directed His disciples in this concept, teaching that He is "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). This path leads directly through the veil of the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 9:3), identified here as His flesh. Such metaphorical or typological language is employed to clarify that, as only a thick curtain contained free access to God's presence in the Tabernacle, also in His incarnation the human body of Jesus served as a barrier to the presence of God. At the death of Jesus, the veil of the temple was torn and the access to the Holy of Holies was opened, temporarily (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45). The breakup of the body of Jesus, as the rip the veil, paved the way for the presence of God, permanently. Jesus revealed God to us.

In this text of Hebrews 10, we find three exhortations, which are linked to the three great Christian virtues: faith (v. 22), hope (v. 23) and love (v. 24).

1. Faith to enter the presence of God:

The first of three exhortations relate to faith (v. 22), calling the believers to get close to God. This is the same word and time used previously (Hebrews 4:16), in an invitation to approach the throne of grace. You can enter the presence of God with a sincere heart and in full assurance of faith. The phrase "having the heart purified of bad conscience" uses priestly ritual language, to indicate the grounds for justification and the positional sanctification that believers have through metaphorical application of the blood of Christ. "Having been purified", reflects the form in past tense of rhantizō, "to spray." This means that our salvation has occurred in the past, but is still in effect, that this cleaning process was done by another person and that we ourselves do not play any role in making it happen.

The phrase "the body washed with clean water" has generated a variety of interpretations, among which that it relates metaphorically with the priestly ritual of washing, and that it is a reference to baptism. As well as "sprinkled", mentioned just before, the word translated "washed" is also in the past tense, meaning first that washing occurred at an earlier time, but remains in effect, and that it was performed by another person without ourselves having played any role in it. It is more likely to be an allusion to one of the prophetic contributions of Ezekiel to the provisions of the new Covenant, specifically that of the spiritual regeneration. God promised through the Prophet "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols." (Ezekiel 36:25).

2. Hope in Jesus Christ:

The second is an exhortation regarding hope (v. 23), "retain unwavering confession of our hope" (Hebrews 3:6.14, 4:14). The content of our hope is, without doubt, our great high priest Jesus Christ, who purified us allowing access to God. The adjective aklinē, "unwavering", is not used anywhere else in the New Testament, appearing here to remind us to stand firm in our faith. When problems arise and faith begins to stagger, to avoid slippage it is necessary to maintain our spiritual focus on the Lord Jesus, "because faithful is he who made the promise.” We can hold on to our hope because the object of our hope, Jesus Christ will never leave us.

3. Love among the brethren:

The third of the three exhortations relates to love (v. 24). The author calls his readers to carefully consider how to stimulate one another to love and good works. This admonition is opposed to the casualty in the relationship between brothers so common in our days. Many of us are satisfied to simply drag our bodies (and those of our children) to the premises where the Church meets at the weekend, smiling pleasantly to our neighbours and bearing patiently with the service that follows. Our thoughts go away, and it costs us a lot of effort to concentrate on spiritual matters.

But we must find ways of encouraging the communion of believers to express love and commitment in good works. Here love is not an emotion, but an attitude of voluntary action. We are instructed to love, so it's something you can and should do. Love is the root of the plant from which the good works are the fruit. With our example and teaching, we must encourage each other in this activity.

We must persevere in meeting together, and not simply stop attending the local meetings frivolously for any reason, or even no reason at all, as some do. This can be considered as a general exhortation to all believers to be faithful in their church attendance. Without doubt, we find strength, comfort, food and joy in the service and collective worship. It can also be a special incentive for Christians when they undergo times of persecution. There is always the temptation to isolate ourselves to avoid arrest, censorship and suffering and, therefore, to be a secret disciple.

Basically, verse 25 is a warning against apostasy: "abandon our congregation" means stopping to meet with the other brothers in Christ. Some Jews were leaving Christianity to revert to Judaism when this book was written. We must exhort one another, especially given the proximity of the return of Christ. When He comes, the persecuted and despised believers, in ostracism, will be on the winning side. Until then, there is a need for firmness and perseverance.

The reference to "the day" has been understood in different ways. There are only three other absolute references in the New Testament where the word "day" is isolated, without qualification:

Romans 13:11, 12. "… our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” The present tense for every believer is like the end of a night of sin with the expectation the day of eternal glory.

1 Corinthians 3:13 ... "each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work...”. The "day" here refers to the time of the judgment seat of Christ, when all the works of each believer made for Him are reviewed.

1 Thessalonians 5:4. "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” It is important to note the change the pronoun "they" in the previous verses in this chapter to "you" here and in the following verses. The "day of the Lord" will be a time of wrath for the world that has not been saved, and will come as a thief in the night for them (v. 2). It will not surprise any believer, because none are in that darkness.

In each of these references, the meaning of "day" is clear in the context. But in this Hebrew text the word "day" seems, at first sight, to be without context. However, surely it is a set day, already known by the believers of that time. The "day of the Lord" was prophesied and announced from the Old Testament, with which the Hebrews to whom the book was initially directed would be quite familiar. In Jeremiah 46:10 it is written: “this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that He may avenge Himself on His adversaries” (Jeremiah 46:10).

The original readers of the book understood "the day" as an abbreviation of "day of Atonement", a term used in Jewish tradition. The rabbinic literature often refers to this holiday commanded in the law of Moses as simply "ha Yom", "the Day", the final day. The return of Jesus Christ at the dawn of the Messianic age to judge the world and save the remnant of His people Israel, is the ultimate fulfilment of the day of Atonement. We believe therefore that in Hebrews 10:25 reference is made to that same day, the day of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to the world, this time for its trial, putting an end to the great tribulation of Israel.