The Abrahamic Covenant: Part 15

Have Confidence and Stick with the Program!

John Plunkett
September 5, 2015

Last time, in Part 14, we looked some more at the Sinai Covenant, the tabernacle, the temples and its furnishings, the priesthood, the sacrificial offerings, and how it all came together and symbolized their heavenly and New Covenant counterparts.

We are going to continue with that same sub-topic today.

Hebrews 10:
10:  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11:  And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
12:  But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
13:  From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made his footstool.

The first question about this is: When is this going to happen?

Obviously it is going to start happening at the return of Jesus Christ.

The use of the word “expecting” in the King James English is really not the best in this particular context.  It is translated from the Greek verb ‘ekdechomai’ (Strong’s 1551) and is better rendered elsewhere in the New Testament as to wait for, to look for, or to tarry. 

In this context, from the day that Jesus resumed His place in the magnificent throne room He shares with His Father, Jesus has been looking forward to the next phase of their wonderful plan. 

We cry out “Thy Kingdom Come” – just as Jesus taught us to in our prayers.  And just like us, actually definitely even more so, no doubt, Jesus has been crying to His Father, “Thy Kingdom Come!  Let’s finish what we started!” 

He is yearning so very, very much for the day of His own return, because that is when the beginning of the solution to all of these enmities that exist against Himself and His Father.

14:  For by one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified.

This verse is something of a repetition of what was said in verse 10, telling us that Jesus’ offering makes possible our sanctification.  

But this verse promises something else in addition: perfection!

The grammatical tense is very intriguing: "He has perfected forever." 

If you think about this phrase, it has past aspects and it has future aspects. 

Yes, Jesus has done it (past tense).  His single, one-time, New Covenant offering enabled (past tense) all of His brothers and sisters, past, present and future, to come to perfection.   This was totally impossible under the Sinai Covenant. 

By His sacrifice, Jesus made this New Covenant promise of perfection available to every single repentant sinner.  Forever!  Forever in the past, in the present and in the future. 

This does not mean that it is impossible for us to fall away.  We can fall away.  We can fall away if we disqualify ourselves from attaining sanctification.  

How do we disqualify ourselves?  We can disqualify ourselves by our permanent refusal to repent of our sins.  In a nutshell, that is what the infamous "unpardonable sin" is.  If we refuse to repent – and if we don’t repent of not repenting – then we will have committed the unpardonable sin.  It doesn’t bear thinking about!

Every Christian who has not disqualified himself or herself has been given this astonishing gift.

Right back at the beginning of Hebrews 10, in verse 1, we read that the Sinai Covenant, its priesthood, its somewhat complex laws and its millions of sacrifices that were repeated for about four hundred years or so were totally unable to bring the Israelites to perfection.  But the one, single sacrifice of our Melchizedek High Priest, Jesus Christ, was able to do so. 

Going even further back, way back to the beginning of our Abrahamic Covenant study, we read back in Genesis 17 that, as part of His covenant with Abram, the LORD (YHVH), the Almighty God (El Shaddai) commanded Abram to walk before Him and to be blameless.  

The Hebrew word translated "blameless" is ‘tamim,’ which can also mean "perfect"!

Jesus later repeated this and expanded on it when He commanded His disciples, and us too, to become perfect as His Father in heaven in perfect (Matthew 5:48).  This is a tall order!  A big commandment!

15:  Whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us: for after that He {Jesus/YHVH} had said before,

I just want to hold that there, just to explain that the "He" who "said" this "before" was the LORD, not the Holy Spirit.  The LORD said this before – i.e. in Old Testament times. 

What had the LORD said before?  This:

16:  "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days," said the Lord, "I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
17:  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

So here the Hebrews author again gives a partial quotation of the relevant portions of God’s New Covenant promises from Jeremiah 31.  

Please note the future tense over and over again: I will, I will, I will, I will!

Who do the “them” and “there” refer to in this verse? 

Again, it is quoted from Jeremiah 31; and the original in Jeremiah tells us that these terms refer specifically to the physical houses of Israel and Judah.  And again, the tense is future

As a whole – as a group (or groups, if you like), the physical houses of Israel and Judah have not yet had the New Covenant applied to them.  

We have!  But they have not.  Not yet!  They are not yet part of – or included with – the sanctified ones, the ones who have been perfected forever, as we just read in verse 14. 

18: Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

This is present tense!  “…there is no more offering for sin.” 

We talked about the word “remission” last time as part of our study into the sub-topic of Jesus’ blood.  But let’s ask the question again: “Is Jesus’ blood relevant to the New Covenant?” 

Yes, it most certainly is!  In this very regard, let’s look at the very next verse that speaks of the fulfillment of the Sinai Covenant Day of Atonement offering:

19:  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest {the Holiest of All the temple's Most Holy Place} by the blood of Jesus,

Back in Hebrews 8:3, we read that "every High Priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices wherefore it is of necessity that this man, this ultimate High Priest, have somewhat also to offer."

So I ask again: “Was Jesus’ sacrifice a blood offering?”  

Yes, it most certainly was:

20:  By a new and living way, which He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;
21:  And having an High Priest over the house of God;

A couple of weeks ago, when we studied into the flesh and the blood, we saw that, just as the Sinai Covenant High Priest offered the flesh of a yearling lamb on the Wave Sheaf Offering day every year, and just as he offered a young goat on the Day of Atonement every year, and just as he took the blood of the newly sacrificed bull and goat into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement and sprinkled it on the mercy seat, so we see Jesus, "doubling" now as our New Covenant High Priest; but also as the blood offering itself.  He is the High Priest and He is also the blood offering of the New Covenant. 

He went to the Father’s Heavenly Throne Room on the Wave Sheaf Offering Day on the morning after He was resurrected in order to present to His Father the sacrifice of His own flesh as well as His own shed blood.

Was this perhaps the reason why Jesus could not allow Mary to touch Him on the morning after His resurrection, until after He had made that brief trip to His Father’s Throne Room? 

John 20:17:
Jesus said unto her, "Touch me not for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say unto them, 'I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, to My God and to your God.'"

I don’t know whether I read it, or heard it somewhere – the possibility that Jesus’ resurrection was in two parts: the first part when the Father brought Him back to life in the tomb; the second part at the time of that brief ascension to His Father’s Throne.  

I'm not sure or dogmatic about this.  I just see it as an interesting possibility. 

We know that something very special did happen during that very short trip; but we don’t know all of the details of what it was.  Why would He not allow Mary to touch Him before He went to His father, and yet when He came back He allowed His disciples to touch Him?

This is just my own speculation; but perhaps it was necessary for Jesus to take His physical human flesh as well as His blood to His Father as His offering on that day. 

Returning to verse 20 of Hebrews 10, please consider the phrase “through the veil, that is to say His flesh.” 

The rending or tearing of the flesh of all sacrificial offerings – especially that of Jesus – was symbolic in a two-way, reciprocal kind of manner. 

It was symbolic of the rending of the veil that separated the Holy Place in the temple from the Most Holy Place.

Jesus’ death was the result of His flesh being repeatedly and cruelly rent or torn by the flagellum, by the crown of thorns, by the nails, and by the spear. 

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us that the veil in the temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom, at the instant of Jesus’ death.

When Jesus made that brief visit to God the Father on the Wavesheaf Offering Day which we   know to have been some time on the Sunday – "the morrow after the Sabbath" (Leviticus 23:11-15).

By doing this, not only did Jesus open up access to God the Father for His spiritual brothers and sisters (us spiritual Israelites), He also passed through the vast veil that separates the physical flesh and the spiritual body – as a Forerunner for us:

Hebrews 6:
19: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil;
20a:  Where the forerunner has entered for us…

Who is that "hope" that is mentioned there?  Who is that "anchor of the soul"?  Who is that "forerunner" who entered the room within the veil?  The answer is in the second part of verse 20:

20b: … even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Let’s go back again to Hebrews 10:

22a:  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience… 

Please note the words “sprinkled” and “conscience” here. 

Just as the animal blood of the Sinai Covenant sacrifices was to be sprinkled on the Mercy Seat and on the altar, so in the New Covenant, we see that our hearts must be figuratively sprinkled with Jesus’ cleansing blood – ‘sprinkled from an evil conscience.’

The Greek word for “conscience” is suneidesis which has some interesting meanings.  It can mean distinguishing between what is morally good and what is morally bad.  It can mean prompting to do the good, and to shun the bad.  It can also mean the commending of the good, and the condemning of the bad.

If we use conscience in the right way, using it along with the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, under the authority of God’s Holy Word, then all is well. 

However, thinking about the world’s misinterpretation of what conscience is, without these things, suneidesis can also mean taking the authority to oneself to choose what is right and wrong, and to choose what is good and what is evil. 

So, if we use it in the wrong way and if we are not guided by God’s Holy Spirit, then having an evil conscience could be thought of as the same as taking to ourselves the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The big factor in the difference between the right and wrong kinds of conscience and uses of conscience, is the sprinkling of Jesus’ cleansing blood on our hearts – plus, as mentioned earlier, something else, which we find in the second part of verse 22:

22b: … and our bodies washed with pure water.

We are all. of course, familiar with of water being a symbol for the Holy Spirit.  I believe that that is what it means here – that the author is referring to spiritual water.  But it is very interesting to me that this mention of the washing with pure water is coupled with the mention of the sprinkling with blood. 

Water and blood are associated and mentioned together quite frequently throughout the scriptures.  Here are four different areas where they are mentioned together:

First of all, please think back to the tabernacle and the temples, which had huge lavers – great big basins – where the bloody sacrifices and the priests who offered those sacrifices had to be thoroughly washed with physical water, because during those daily sacrificial offerings, they got pretty messed up.  Just as these frequent washings were commanded for the Aaronic priests, so we trainee priests of the Melchizedek order are commanded to be washed with pure spiritual water. 

The second mention of water and blood in association with one another reminds me of the account of the woman anointing Jesus’ head and washing His feet with the water of her tears in advance of His bloody death and burial. It is all the more interesting because she did this in advance of His death.  This seems to have been something of a miracle that she did this in advance because the onset of the sunset that began the First Day of Unleavened Bread on that year of His death made it impossible for His bloody, dirty body to be properly washed and anointed.  And, of course, when the women returned on the first day of the week to complete the task, Jesus was already risen – never needing to be washed again!– 

The third mention is a somewhat obvious one – that of Jesus’ example of and command for the Passover foot-washing service, which is held just a few minutes prior to the serving of the Passover bread (which is symbolic of Jesus’ flesh) and the serving of the Passover wine (which is symbolic of Jesus’ shed blood).

The final example is the one that took place at the conclusion of Jesus’ actual sacrifice.  The two verses following are probably the most significant to this subject; and yet both of them are uniquely highlighted only by the apostle John amongst all four of the gospel writers.

John 19:34:
But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.

I John 5:6:
This is He who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood… 

Human babies – and this would, of course, include Jesus when He was a human baby – come into the world, if they are born normally, if everything goes well, with just a little blood and relatively quite a lot of water from their mothers’ amniotic sacs when their waters break. 

Jesus, the firstborn from the dead was "begotten again" by the water of His baptism; but also, as we just read in I John 5:6, by the water and the blood that emanated from His torn flesh.  We don’t have the time today to get into the details of what that water actually was; but that is an interesting study in itself.

Let's go back now to the narrative in Hebrews 10:

Hebrews 10: 23:
Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Whenever we see or hear the words promised, faith, and faithful, we often tend to think about Abraham.  But please note the double reference to faith and faithful here.  The covenant promises initially came to God’s people through the "father of the faithful" – Abraham – and they were later repeated by Jeremiah. 

The grace portion of the Abrahamic Covenant, which we know to be the same as the New Covenant, is based on faith, just as the Sinai Covenant was based on the works and deeds of the sacrificial law – the ‘ergon nomos’ in Greek. 

But again, does this mean that no works are required are required of us under the terms of the New Covenant?  The crystal clear answer is given in the very next verse:

24: And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works {Greek: kalos ergon}.

So, good works are very much an obligation under the New Covenant, along with faith, and along with love too, of course.  This requirement is solidified in many, many scriptures, from Romans all of the way to Revelation, and probably most specifically, in the second chapter of James. 

But what is included in those required “good works”?

25:  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.

So, as we all draw closer to the last days – and that would include our own personal last days – we need regular frequent fellowship and friendship with like-minded brethren.  God furnishes us with many opportunities for love and good works – what we might refer to as "Christian service."  

But our fellowship , friendship and service it should not just be limited to our own individual Church of God groups or organizations.  The more we fellowship with our brethren in various groups other than "our own," not forgetting individual, "non-aligned" Church of God brethren, the more opportunities for love and good works and exhortation become available to us.

These are all part of our responsibilities on our human side of the New Covenant.

But conversely, the more we reject fellowship with our brethren, again, including others than those in our own groups, the more we are squelching the opportunities for love, good works and exhortation. And this is not a light thing, this is a serious matter, as we see in the subsequent verses.

Let me repeat verse 25, and and then roll right into verse 26.  Please note that the first word in verse 26 is “For” and that connects it with the subject of verse 25:

25:  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.
26:  For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

This gives the logical implication that such forsaking of Christian fellowship might even be considered not just a personal preference; but sin!  

This would mean that the wilful sin that is mentioned in verse 26 would include the wilful failure of those who have received the section of the knowledge of the truth which admonishes us to assemble together with our brethren, the wilful failure to exhort one another, and the wilful failure to provoke one another to love and good works!

Then comes a warning of the dire consequences of such wilful failures.  Unlike the Sinai Covenant in which there were many, many sacrifices throughout the years of an Israelite's lifetime, under the New Covenant, as we have been repeatedly told, there is only one sacrifice.  And that, of course, is Jesus’ sacrifice.  If we "blow" that one, then what?  If we blow that one, He warns us that there remains no more sacrifice for sins. 

This makes good sense.  Thankfully, it is true that, as long as we draw breath we can repent.   But any truly called and converted Christian who willfully cuts himself off from his spiritual brothers and sisters is, in effect, cutting himself from the Body of Jesus Christ.  If he cuts himself off from the Body of Christ, he is also cutting himself off from the sacrifice of Christ and all of the benefits that come from it.  

Is there anything else in those dire consequences?  Yes; but it gets even worse!

27: But a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

This is a truly terrifying concept.  Do any of us want to be considered as adversaries of Jesus Christ?  Or adversaries of the Body of Jesus Christ?”

The word “adversaries” in verse 27 comes from the Greek word ‘hupenantios’ (Strong’s 5227).  It is translated elsewhere as contrary; and its extended Greek meanings include opposite too and opposed to. 

What is another very well known Hebrew and Greek term for adversary? 

Satan! Yes, Satan, whose ways are evil mirror-image counterfeits that are contrary and opposed to Jesus and His Father and all that they stand for. 

Do any of us want to side with that adversary?  

As verse 27 tells us, on the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, that adversary will be devoured – in the Lake of Fire, along with his supporters, both demonic and human.

Do any of us want to be counted among the human supporters of that adversary, Satan the devil?  Do any of us want to be devoured there along with them?  Of course we don’t!

I know that I seem to be straying away from the Covenant topic here; but I really am not, as we will see in the very next verse.

28:  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

Some people jump on this verse and claim that all the Old Testament laws were merely the laws of the human Moses. 

But they were not!  They were God’s laws!  He just chose to give and to document those laws through His faithful servant, Moses, for the benefit of His Old and New Testament peoples.

The laws mentioned here in verse 28 were given by God, through Moses, as part of the Sinai Covenant.

29:  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden underfoot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

The law mentioned in verse 28 was obviously referring to that of the Sinai Covenant; but which covenant is being referred here to in verse 29? 

It is talking about the New Covenant and the grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant. 

In the same context, God told us through Paul, back in Galatians 3:16, that the Son of God that is mentioned here is obviously Jesus Christ. – the singular seed of the Abrahamic Covenant, which we read about back in the Book of Genesis.

The blood of the covenant by which we are all sanctified was not the blood of all those millions of animals that were sacrificed according to the Sinai Covenant.  Nor was it that of Abraham’s symbolic covenant sacrifice, which we read about in Genesis 15.  Rather it was – and is – referring to Jesus’ blood – the blood of the New Covenant. 

34:  For you had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods {Greek 'huparchonta'}, knowing in yourselves that you have in heaven a better and an enduring substance {related Greek word 'huparxis'}.

The reference to "in heaven" here does not mean, of course, that we will be enjoying the enduring substance of our reward in heaven for all eternity.  It just means that the enduring substance of our reward is being stored for us in heaven.

This “better and enduring substance” is our wages.  It is our reward – the reward that was promised by God to Abraham and to all of the human parties of the New Covenant.  We will see this in the subsequent verses, coming up now:

35:  Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompence of reward.

Here we are being told that confidence is something that is really worth having.

The phrase “recompense of reward” comes from the single Greek word misthapodosia (Strong’s 3405), which means payment of wages due

That doesn’t mean to say that we can earn our salvation.  We all know that salvation is God’s gift to us:

Ephesians 2:
5:  Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;)...
8:  For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

All we did was to give the right answer when God the Father called us:

John 6:44:
No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Yes, we promised to strive to live His way of life to the very best of our ability; but even that through the enabling strength of His Holy Spirit, which is yet another wonderful gift that He gave us.

I am going to pick on Fred here!  God figuratively said, “Fred come here!  I have a gift for you.  I have a wonderful reward for you that is beyond your wildest dreams.  Do you want it?”  And Fred answered, “Yes Lord.”  And ever since that day, Fred has been striving to live God’s way of life, along with the comforting knowledge that whenever He slipped up, as we all do, not willfully, of course; but  Fred knows that, when he repents, his sin is covered by Jesus’ New Covenant sacrifice. 

But please remember that Jesus said twice, “He that endures to the end shall be saved.”  If we want salvation, we have to endure to the end. 

This means that, even though salvation certainly is a free gift from God, if we don’t endure to the end – if we don’t stick with the program – if we give it up and fall away, we won’t receive that gift. 

So, in that sense, just enduring to the end is part of a righteous "work" for which we, to a certain extent, "earn" the gift of salvation.  Please don’t misunderstand what I said there. 

Is it right to refer to the Christian life as "work"?  I believe that it is.  All of you who have been in the church for a long time know that it takes effort.  Is not a Christian continually resisting the pulls and the pushes of the world, the flesh and the devil?  Of course we are!

But even our enduring to the end is empowered and made possible by yet another of God’s gifts to those who have accepted His invitation and His calling – one that we have already mentioned – the gift of the Holy Spirit that He has put within us.

Another detail from verse 35 is the implication that we can receive a small part of our wages (our reward) now, in this human lifetime, in the form of the great confidence that can only come through the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit.  We can have the confidence that all that God has promised us in His Word will come to pass.  And actually is coming to pass!

This is very much like Abraham’s confidence and faith that it was an absolute certainty that he would receive all that God had promised him in the covenant between them.  Not all of it to be received in his physical lifetime, he knew; but still definitely according to God’s perfect timing.

Our Saviour is telling us here in verse 35, "Hey Fred!  Hey Lily!  Hey Shane!  Hey brothers and sisters!  Don’t throw your wages away!  I have them safely stored for you in my heavenly bank."

36:  For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.

In addition to this wonderful confidence, patience is another gift, which is advised here as another key ingredient to help us endure to the end.  We need patience so that we may be absolutely sure of receiving the Covenant promises – so that we may be sure of receiving salvation.

In addition to maintaining our confidence and patience, we must continue to strive to use God Holy Spirit within us to do our part in doing His will.  Why?  Because only part of the promised New Covenant rewards have been given to us so far. 

Yes, the Holy-Spirit-inspired confidence, as just mentioned, and more importantly, the biggest part – that of Jesus’ human life, death and resurrection, have already been given.

But the ultimate part of the promised reward has not yet been given; but it soon will be, beginning at Jesus’ Second Coming.  And that is mentioned in the very next verse:

37: For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

Despite the assurances of some self-proclaimed prophets out there, none of us know when!  We still do not know how long this remaining little while is going to be.  What we do know is, that Jesus’ Second Coming is still in the future – at the beginning of what many of us have come to refer to as "the World Tomorrow."  That very phrase tells us that it is in the future. 

So, with faith, with patience and with confidence, we must endure to the end of this age, to the return of Jesus Christ, and to the beginning of the wonderful World Tomorrow!