The Law Was a Shadow of Christ (Hebrews 10:1-2)

Hebrews 10:1-2“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins” ( Hebrews 10:1-2 )

This is a good question. For the time period this was written this would have made them stop and think. If the sacrifices, repeated endlessly, could have cleared the conscience and cleansed once for all, wouldn’t they stop being offered? While we don’t offer animal sacrifices today, this truth remains, as believers we spend a lot of time and energy wrapped up in traditions and doctrines of men instead of focusing on the person of Jesus Christ and in the finished work of the cross. While in reality, many of those things are realized in Christ and we are merely paying attention to a type and shadow of what has already come.

Here’s the contrast. If I were to come around a building with the sun to my back, you would be able to see my shadow coming. You would be able to ascertain certain things about me. You could see if I was tall or short, fat or thin, if I had long hair or short hair, there would be many things that you could get a glimpse of by the shadow that was arriving around the building before me.  However, once I appeared, you wouldn’t need my shadow to determine how I look, you would have the real thing standing in front of you. The same is true for Christ. The Law gave an outline of what Christ would be, but it merely served as a shadow to the real thing. Once Christ came, there is no need for the shadow. It is ridiculous to pay more attention to the shadow than the person.

This passage states this very clearly, “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves” To bring the point home, the writer draws attention to the fact that if they could have worked, they would have only needed to make the offering once, instead of time and time again. Pointing out that the one sacrifice would have cleared the conscience and absolved them from the guilt associated with sin. But this was not the case. This proves that the Law wasn’t the means to an end, the reality of it could only be found in Christ.

Which is exactly the point made in Hebrews chapter 10. The writer contrasts the endless sacrifices dictated by the Law with the one sacrifice made by Jesus and stresses many times that it was all that was needed to forgive sins and cleanse those who draw near, by faith, without any guilt or shame associated with sin.

“First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin” ( Hebrews 10:8-18 ).

It is an incredible thing to grasp. The Law was a rude outline expressing what was coming. Christ is the reality of it. And since He has come, there is no need to continue in the things that were a type and shadow. Paul confirms this in Colossians, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” ( Colossians 2:16-17 ).

This is an amazing truth with which to renew our minds. Through Christ Jesus, we have been forgiven and cleansed of all guilt associated with sin ( Hebrews 10:18 ). We have been freed from the sin nature that previously held us captive ( Romans 6:6  ). And we have been given the Holy Spirit to assure our hearts before God ( I John 3:19-20 ). Resting in the person of Jesus Christ is far better - in every way imaginable - than being wrapped up in the type and shadow of what has already come.

It’s Impossible For the Blood of Bulls and Goats To Take Away Sins (Hebrews 10:3-4)

Hebrews 10:3-4“But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” ( Hebrews 10:3-4 )

One thing about the law was that it was great about building anticipation to the time of Christ. I imagine that every time a bull or goat was brought as a sacrifice, the people would stop and think about the promised Messiah, longing for Him to come; knowing that when He came there would no longer be the need for these endless sacrifices.

The previous verses state the entire sacrificial system was a foreshadowing to the good things that were coming ( Hebrews 10:1-2 ). They couldn’t clear the conscience of the worshipper but rather served as a reminder of sin. This is why these sacrifices were brought time and time again. The blood of these animals only served as a covering for the body and could never cleanse the entire person. In other words, the blood of bulls and goats were powerless to take away sin.

The Messiah on the other hand would be able to cleanse the entirety of mankind by the sacrifice of Himself. This is why the endless sacrifices served to bring a fresh remembrance of sin. It would prepare the people for Christ. In contrast to the blood of bulls and goats, His blood would take away sin.

When Jesus appeared, He did away with sin by the sacrifice of himself ( Hebrews 9:26 ). His blood was more than enough to cleanse the worshipper and bring each one into perfect fellowship with God the Father ( Hebrews 10:19-22 ). This was what the sacrificial system under the law portrayed and looked forward to in Christ. Now that it is here, there is no longer a need for any other type of atonement. Jesus’ blood worked to cleanse us of sin, the first and only time it was given.

Just as the Israelites looked forward to Christ in anticipation, we can look to Christ, trusting in the perfect redemption He provided. We can rest assured that we are forgiven and accepted through Him alone and that His blood was more than enough to justify us in God’s eyes. Just as the blood of bulls and goats was an annual reminder of sin, the blood of Jesus reminds us that we are forgiven and free through faith in Him. What an amazing truth!

Jesus’ Body Was Prepared To Be Our Sacrifice (Hebrews 10:5-7)

Hebrews 10:5-7“Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, O God’” ( Hebrews 10:5-7 )

The plan from the foundation of the world was for God to provide redemption for His people. The Bible tells us that Jesus was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world ( I Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8 ). The redemption of mankind was never “plan B”, it was intentional and thought out long before the world even existed.

As described in the previous verses, the sacrificial system was merely a type and shadow looking forward to the time when Christ would present His body as a perfect and holy offering. He came in the flesh with a human body that was prepared for this very purpose.

Looking back at the account of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 gives us incredible insight into this. God told Abraham to take Isaac and sacrifice him on the mountain. So they set off, arrived and prepared for the sacrifice. When Isaac asked Abraham about the offering, Abraham’s reply was that God would provide the lamb. Then he bound Isaac and placed him on the altar.

Hebrews 11 gives us insight into Abraham’s faith in God’s provision, “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death” ( Hebrews 11:17-19 ). God had promised Abraham that Isaac was the promise, so many times, that he was fully convinced that God would raise him from the dead to fulfill the promise that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and his Seed would bless every nation ( Genesis 12:2-3, 13:6, 22:18, 26:4, 28:14; Acts 3:25-26, Galatians 3:16 ). God saw his faith while testing him, knowing he would do what God instructed even at the cost of his one and only son, the promise. So God intervened and provided a lamb.

This is an amazing story, but it gets so much better, because it really wasn’t about Abraham and Isaac, it was about Jesus. The example of Abraham and Isaac is another example of type and shadow; just as Abraham was faithful to God and willing to sacrifice his one and only son, God himself was faithful to his promise and actually did sacrifice His one and only Son, Jesus. “The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time And said, I have sworn by Myself, says the Lord, that since you have done this and have not withheld [from Me] or begrudged [giving Me] your son, your only son, In blessing I will bless you and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore. And your Seed (Heir) will possess the gate of His enemies, And in your Seed [Christ] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed and [by Him] bless themselves, because you have heard and obeyed My voice” ( Genesis 22:15-18 Amp ). God tested Abraham to see if he would withhold his son and because he didn’t all nations are blessed because the Messiah was given through Abraham’s seed.

In the place where Abraham received back Isaac and was provided a lamb in his place, he named the spot Jehovah-jireh, the ‘Lord will Provide’. And so the Lord has provided, He prepared a body for His one and only Son as a sacrifice for all mankind for all times. Jesus was the lamb chosen before the foundation of the world and it was God’s will that He provide redemption through the sacrifice of His body.

God provided the sacrifice; He equipped our Savior with a body that was necessary to make atonement. Like Abraham He did not withhold His one and only Son but freely gave Him so that we could be made whole and brought into fellowship with God.

Made Holy Through The Sacrifice of Christ Once For All (Hebrews 10:8-10)

Hebrews 10:8-10“First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” ( Hebrews 10:8-10 )

God was never pleased with nor desired continual sacrifices and offerings. The law required them to be made, however the law’s purpose was to be the catalyst which would point people to Christ ( Galatians 3:24 ). In other words, the sacrifices were more for mankind’s benefit, than God’s. They were a type and shadow of the perfect sacrificial lamb and merely served as a reminder to look forward in faith to the Messiah ( Hebrews 10:1 ).

Jesus, who was the Messiah, came to put God’s will of the New Covenant into effect. By His perfect sacrifice, He fulfilled and completed all the requirements of the first Covenant, including the sacrifices of blood for the forgiveness of sins. “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear” ( Hebrews 8:13 ).

God’s will (as in; Last Will and Testament) was activated with the death of Jesus. Hebrews 9 testifies to this fact, “In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood” ( Hebrews 9:16-18 ). Since a death has taken place, the will is currently in effect and the will is that we have been made holy by Jesus’ sacrifice once for all.

This is an amazing truth! Through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, which paid the price for the forgiveness of sins, God considers us holy as result. It is not something we must work at or try to be. Holiness was purchased and given to us by the precious blood of the Lamb. It is a done-deal because unlike the animal sacrifices, which happened over and over, Jesus’ sacrifice only happened once for all time. Therefore we are made holy by the body of Jesus.  

The Greek word used for holy in Hebrews 10:10 is hagiazō, which is also translated sanctified in many translations. The verb tense signifies “expressing the definiteness and completeness of the Divine act” (Vines Dictionary of New Testament Words). The Strong’s Concordance gives these definitions:

1. to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow
2. to separate from profane things and dedicate to God

a. consecrate things to God
b. dedicate people to God

3. to purify

a. to cleanse externally
b. to purify by expiation: free from the guilt of sin
c. to purify internally by renewing of the soul

In the context of Hebrews 10:10, we see its effect on the believer in the death of Christ; we have been made holy and we are sanctified by His blood. By definition this happens both externally and internally. Externally, because Christ’s blood purifies us from the effects of sin. And, Internally, because we are free from the guilt of sin. This purification has a renewing effect on our soul realm as well. So we learn an important truth, Christ put the New Covenant into effect by His blood and this blood has made us holy and accepted by God forever.

Renewing your mind to this amazing truth will keep you from striving to achieve what you already have through Christ. You don’t need to work at holiness; you have been made holy by His blood. You are sanctified through His body and God completely accepts you on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice. Through faith in Christ you are the righteousness of God and have been fashioned after Jesus Christ in true righteousness and holiness ( Ephesians 4:24 ). May this powerful truth change the way you live as a believer.

Jesus Sat Down At the Right Hand of God (Hebrews 10:11-14)

Hebrews 10:11-14“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” ( Hebrews 10:11-14 )

Pointing out the  contrast between the continuous and repetitive acts of the priests compared with the one act of Jesus’ sacrifice is the main theme of Hebrews chapter 10. What the priests did over and over, Jesus did only once. And since that time He has been seated at the right hand of God the Father because the work He was sent to do is finished and complete.

We see the same thing with creation. On the seventh day God rested from all  His work ( Genesis 2:2 ). Not because he was tired, but because He was done ( Hebrews 4:10 ). He saw all He had made, declared it good, gave it the ability to reproduce and so He entered into rest. In fact Adam and Eve were created in that Sabbath Rest. There was no sin, it was a paradise and they fellowshipped with God in perfect unity, then came the fall of mankind.

After Jesus completed His restoration work on the cross, like God He sat down because everything was done. Redemption had been accomplished. Sins had been forgiven. The Sabbath Rest that God originally instated in the garden had been restored ( Hebrews 4:1-11 ). In other words, Jesus rested because there was nothing left to do. Now He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool.

The book of Hebrews opens with this very idea, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” ( Hebrews 1:3 ). Evidence that this is currently the case is that the universe is held into place by His powerful Word. Jesus is the glue that is holding everything together and this testifies to the fact that Jesus is seated in heaven at the Fathers right hand.

This is good news for us because it means that His one sacrifice, in contrast to the law’s many sacrifices, worked. We, by this single offering are completely cleansed, perfected, consecrated and made holy once for all. Just like Jesus, we can enter into the rest that God desires for His people. This Sabbath Rest is in the person of Jesus Christ and comes through trusting in Him ( Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 4:3; 9-10 ).

By His one sacrifice we have been made holy and the law has been fulfilled in our lives. “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” ( Romans 8:3-4 ). All of this is guaranteed by witness that Jesus is currently in heaven occupying the seated position of right hand to God the Father. Everything has been done and His work is completed. In the same way, our job is to believe in the One that God has sent ( John 6:29 ) when this happens our work is also finished and complete and we enter into the very rest that God promised His people right from the start.

Juli Camarin

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