************ Sermon on Hebrews 13:10-14 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 19, 2017
"Jesus, I Come"
How are the Hebrew Christians to live for a Jesus Who is better than anything seen in the Old Testament? How are they to live in glass houses before a watching world? Let me remind you of what we have been told so far:
-we are to love one another as brothers and sisters
-we are to have compassion for prisoners and others who are being mistreated
-we are to honor marriage and not commit adultery
-we are to keep our lives free from the love of money and be content with what God has given us
-we are not to be carried away by legalism and all kinds of strange doctrines; instead we are to remember what was taught by Jesus and the early leaders of the church
This evening, Hebrews calls its audience to come to Jesus and find in Him all they need. This is what we are to do as Christians who live for Jesus. This is what we are to do as believers who live in glass houses before a watching world.
I We Have an Altar
A Verse 10 begins with, "We have an altar ..." Let's listen to the entire verse:
(Heb 13:10-11) We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. (11) The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp.We have an altar. What altar do we have?
The Roman Catholics, the Lutherans, the Eastern Orthodox and some others says this refers to the physical altar from which they serve the bread and wine of the Lords Supper. That's why they all have altars in their church buildings. Notice what Hebrews says about this altar: "from which those ... have no right eat." So Hebrews cannot be talking about a physical altar here. How can you have the Lord's Supper from an altar from which you have no right to eat? That doesn't make sense.
"We have an altar ..." Others say the altar must refer to the heavenly altar of Revelation 6. But it can't be this altar either. Because the focus in Revelation 6 is the souls of the martyred dead under heaven's altar. Their lives have been poured out in the same way as the blood of a bull or a goat or a sheep has been poured out. How can this be our altar?
"We have an altar ..." Still others say the altar is the cross of Jesus. But we don't eat from the cross so this doesn't make sense either.
B "We have an altar ..." The problem is the word "we." The views I mentioned all assume that it means Christians including us today. But we need to consider the original audience: Hebrew Christians, Jewish Christians. They have an altar; or, better yet, they had an altar. Assuming the author is also a Hebrew Christian we begin to understand why he says "we have an altar." He is saying,
We who are Jews had an altar. Remember that altar? Remember its place in the Tabernacle and Temple? Remember the offerings and rituals? Remember the sacrifice, atonement, pardon and acceptance, the salvation that comes by way of the altar? Remember how on the Day of Atonement the priests who served have no right to eat from the altar?
Let me explain this last thing. You need to realize that all the other times the Jews made offerings, the priests and the worshipers were able to eat what was left. However, on the Day of Atonement neither the priest nor the people were allowed to eat from the offering. The blood of a bull and of a goat was carried into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled on the mercy-seat and smeared on the horns of the great altar outside; and the bodies of the slain animals were burned in a clean place outside of the camp or city. No eating of these animals. Not a single bite. Not a single mouthful.
"We have an altar ..." Hebrews is talking about a particular day and event in the Jewish calendar. Remember that day? Remember the Day of Atonement? Remember all the ritual and ceremony?
C What is the point of bringing this up? Why is Hebrews reminding its audience of the altar? Verse 12 give us the reason:
(Heb 13:12) And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.
As the carcass of the bull and goat were burned outside the camp of Israel so Jesus was killed outside the city of Jerusalem. Jesus was killed outside the walls of Jerusalem and perfectly fulfilled the picture of the Old Testament. You know, don't you, that the sin-offerings were pictures of Christ? So He suffered outside the city even as the bull and goat had been taken outside.
Nothing pretty about this Jesus. Nothing pretty about His suffering and pain. He was taken outside of the camp, like a bull or goat, and suffered unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul.
Why outside the city? This is a picture of the shame of sin, the disgrace of sin, the reproach of sin. Sin has no place in the camp of Israel, among the people of God. It must be removed, banished, expelled, banned. So the bull and goat, as a sacrifice for sin, were taken outside of the city. So Jesus, bearing our sins, was taken outside of the city.
There were differences, of course. The animals were dead before they were taken out of the city whereas Christ died outside. Jesus went willingly and knowingly whereas the beasts had no idea. Jesus was despised, rejected, hated, unwanted, betrayed, arrested, mocked, beaten, and killed like a common criminal; whereas the animals experienced none of this.
Do you know the result of the Day of Atonement -- the sacrifices, the blood, the sprinkling, the burning of the bodies outside the camp? The people were made holy: they were washed, cleansed, forgiven. Hebrews applies this concept to Jesus and His followers:
(Heb 13:12) And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.Jesus willingly underwent all His suffering and pain, He willingly shed His blood, He willingly died outside the camp, in order to make His people holy and pure and acceptable in the sight of God.
We all know, don't we, that this is the only way to make God's people holy? Remember what we were told earlier in Hebrews?
(Heb 9:22) In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.Did you catch that? "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." However, we also learned it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb 10:4). Jesus knew that. That's why Jesus shed His blood. He shed His blood for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus sustained in body and soul the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race. His suffering was an atoning sacrifice that sets us free from God's condemnation.
This happened "through his own blood." Not the blood of bulls and goats. Remember the rivers of blood that flowed through the streets of Jerusalem? This has all been replaced by the blood of Jesus. Don't forget the phrase "once for all" that is so important in the book of Hebrews (Heb 7:27; 9:12,26; 10:2,10). Once for all time. Once for all people. Once for all sin. Jesus' blood is once for all. So no other sacrifice is needed. No more altars are needed. No more Day of Atonement needs to be observed. Jesus' sacrifice and blood is once for all.
II Go to Him
A Now hear what the Hebrew Christians are supposed to do. Hear what we are supposed to do.
(Heb 13:13) Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.
There is a reference here to what happened when Israel made and worshiped the golden calf. God announced that He could not be in the camp of Israel because they are a stiff-necked people. "If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you" (Ex 33:5). So God moved outside the camp and showed His presence outside the camp. And Moses, he took his tent and set it up outside the camp. You might remember it was called "The Tent of Meeting." There God would meet with Moses. Anyone who wanted to approach God had to do so outside the camp. Why? Here is a reminder that the people were sinful. Here is a reminder that the people rejected God. Here is a reminder that the people deserved punishment at the hands of God.
Hebrews applies this whole sorry incident to the followers of Jesus. "Let us, then, go to him outside the camp." Just like Israel had to go outside of the camp to meet with God, so we go outside the camp to meet with Jesus. Here is a statement that we, too, are sinners, that our natural inclination is to reject and hate God, that we deserve punishment at the hands of God. We come to Jesus as sinners.
Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of my shameful failure and loss ...
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross ...
Out of earth’s sorrows, into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of unrest and arrogant pride ...
Out of despair, into raptures above ...
Out of the fear and dread of the tomb ...
Out of the depths of ruin untold ...
Jesus, I come to Thee.
"Let us, then, go to him outside the camp." Let us go to Him as sinners.
"Let us, then, go to him outside the camp." I hope you all recognize we need to go to Him. We need to go to Jesus Who suffered and died. We need to go to Jesus as the only atoning sacrifice for sins. We need to go to Jesus because nothing else works, because no one else can save, because it is Jesus or nothing.
"Let us, then, go to him outside the camp." All true Christians must go out to Him, to the place of reproach and rejection and suffering.
B "Let us, then, go to him outside the camp." Think of what this meant to the Hebrew Christians. By going to Jesus they were leaving the Jewish faith. By going to Jesus they were rejecting the legalism, the sacrifices, the Temple, the priests, the rivers of blood, the Day of Atonement, the old covenant. By going to Jesus they were leaving everything they knew and loved about the Jewish faith. By going to Jesus they were saying Jesus is what they needed for the forgiveness of sins.
C Now notice what is added to this: "bearing the disgrace he bore." Think of what this meant to the Hebrew Christians. By going to Jesus they were rejected and despised by their Jewish family and friends. By going to Jesus they too endured suffering and pain: persecution, imprisonment, the confiscation of property, jeers, flogging, chained, stoned, sawed in two, put to death by the sword. None of this was pretty; in fact, it was very gruesome what they endured because they came to Jesus. "Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come. Jesus, I come to Thee!"
"Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore." I cannot help but observe that to go to Jesus in our land is becoming more and more costly and more and more dangerous. You stand up for Jesus and you find our world hates you for being intolerant of anyway other than Jesus. You stand up for Jesus and you get sued and lose your business because of your stance on gay marriage or abortion. You stand up for Jesus and some nut-job comes into church and starts shooting. You stand up for Jesus and you find our culture believes in freedom from religion rather than freedom of religion. You stand up for Jesus and you are despised and rejected even as He was despised and rejected.
"Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore." Of course we have to suffer for going to Jesus.
(Jn 16:33) "In this world you will have trouble."
(2 Tim 3:12) In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted ...
"Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore."
Yes, it is costly to come to Jesus. "Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come. Jesus, I come to Thee!" We come knowing the world may hate us. We come knowing we may be despised and rejected. But this is not the end of the story. Listen to the last verse of our Bible reading this evening:
(Heb 13:14) For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.Did you catch that? Our life on this earth and in this body is not enduring. Here we do not have an enduring city. But we are looking for the city that is to come.
The Jews were proud of the city of Jerusalem. The Jews could point to the Temple, the ceremonies, the furnishings, the sacrifices. But just a few years later all of this was gone, finished, even destroyed. The Christian who comes to Jesus can point to something far, far better: an enduring city, the city that is to come.
(Heb 13:14) For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
We come to Jesus knowing something better awaits us. Something better than everything and anything in the Jewish faith. Something better than everything and anything the world has to offer. Let me end with the description of this city in Revelation 21:
(Rev 21:2-4) I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (4) He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.This is what awaits those who come to Jesus. "Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come. Jesus, I come to Thee!"
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