THE ESCHATOLOGICAL MOTIF OF FELLOWSHIP
There was ample reason given for considering one another to provoke unto love and good works in the text. It was the motif of being fruitful in the Lord with OF SAINTS (Hebrews 10:25b) the fruits of thankfulness for the great redemption wherewith we have been saved from sin and death!
However, now the writer adds one more reason, and that a very prepondering one. It is that of the reward or judgment which shall be the lot of God’s people in the day of Christ. The Lord will judge His people righteously according to their works. And, therefore, it is imperative that we consider one another unto love and to good works in view of the coming of the Day. The writer says “and that so much the more.” In view of this coming day, when God shall punish the wicked and reward the righteous—we ought the more to give heed unto each other unto love and good works, and not forsake the coming together under the ministry of the Word of reconciliation.
We ought to notice that the writer does not define the “Day” here by any such addition or description as “the day of the Lord,” the “day of Christ,” the day “of judgment.” He simply writes “the Day.” He presupposes that the readers will know what Day this is. This is the Divinely appointed Day which will be the end of the history of the world. That will be the Day when God shall judge the world through one man, Jesus Christ. (Acts 17:31) All must then appear before the judgment seat of Christ, in the day of the resurrection, some unto the resurrection of damnation and some unto the resurrection of life. That will be the Day of the final manifestation of the perfection of the Son of Man, crowned with honor and glory. Of this Day of the Lord the Scriptures are replete, both in the Old and in the New Testament. That will be the End of the world and the Parousia of Christ with all His own!
Implied here is, that in view of this Day, the church should live in watchfulness unto prayer. This need for watchfulness is emphatically taught by Jesus in the parable of the Ten Virgins. And in all the accounts of Jesus’ eschatological discourses we learn that we are to be watchful unto prayer. No one knows the hour or the day when the Lord shall return. This is withheld from us by our heavenly Father. Our Lord tells us that we must have our treasure in that day and the great blessedness which shall be ours then. It is a blessedness for all who love His appearance in glory. In that day the little flock will receive the Kingdom, and looking for that day with earnest hope and joyful expectation. we need not fear. Says our Lord “Sell all that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags that wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth, for where your treasure is there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. . . .”
What a glorious and blessed prospect!
In view of that great blessedness we must not forsake the gathering together of the saints.
Fact is, that the writer speaks of the church seeing this Day drawing nigh. There is a difference of interpretation of this. Some refer this to the drawing nigh of the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. It was very evident that the earthly Jerusalem and the temple were about to be destroyed. This would spell the end of the bid Testament shadows and types forever. The temple would be destroyed, never to be rebuilt. In view of this destruction, the believing Hebrews must not look back to the Old Testament types, but press forward unto perfection in the glory to come. Others feel that this refers to the coming of the Lord in the Last Day. Personally, we believe that these two cannot be separated. The Old is removed forever to bring in the New and immovable inheritance. That will be the perfection of all God’s works in the New Heaven and New Earth where righteousness shall dwell. Then shall the church enter into the perfected and finished work off God in Christ, and shall enjoy the Sabbath which remaineth for the children of God, the tabernacle of God with man!
THE WILFUL SIN OF APOSTASY AND ITS VENGEFUL CONSEQUENCES. (Hebrews 10:26-31)
I must confess that there was a time when I could only read this passage of Scriptures with a “certain fearful expectation of judgment!” Now I see that I was so very wrong in those days when reading this passage of Scripture, and I praise and thank the Lord forever. I was wrong in that I did not see that the writer here is not speaking of mere conscious sins of weakness of the flesh, doing that which we would not, sin taking us captive, sold under sin, as averred by the Apostle Paul in Romans 7, but that the writer is here speaking of Reprobate unbelievers, who fall away from the living God. Such was the lot of those many in the desert, who could not enter into the promised land because of their unbelief. Of these God swore in his wrath that they should not enter into His rest.
It is of the sin of willful apostasy from the truth in Christ and from the living God in Christ that the writer is here speaking. And we would notice the following elements which the writer points out as being the component parts of this willful sin.
1. This is a sin which can only be committed by those who have received a thorough knowledge of the truth. The “truth” here must be the reality of the Gospel of God; the salvation which God has wrought in Christ Jesus, in which it is evident that Christ is made higher than the angels at God’s right hand after He has brought about the purification of our sins. This “truth” is the reality of the heavenly gift in Christ, to be made a partaker of the Holy Ghost, the power of the coming age as this reveals itself in giving repentance from sin unto life eternal! The writer speaks of those “after they have received the knowledge of the truth.” To receive the knowledge of the truth indicates that those who sin willfully are such as have a thorough intellectual understanding of the Gospel and of the doctrine of salvation in Christ. They have been enlightened naturally, and have tasted with their natural understanding the good Word of God and the power of the coming age. With these apostasy is stubborn unbelief.
2. For these sin the sin of “having trodden underfoot the Son of God.” This is the sin of the unbelieving Jews at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, when they say: he made himself the Son of God, and therefore He must die. They deny the Sonship of the Christ, and are not unchristian merely, but they are antichrists? The expression to “trod under foot” means to reject publicly, before God and man. Furthermore, such “count the blood of the covenant a common thing.” The blood of the Son of God is denied to be a propitiation for the sins of the people. It is made as the blood of a cow or a goat. And it denied that Christ has once and for all paid for our sins on the Cross, shedding His blood to make reconciliation for the people. And they do this, even though once they acknowledged that with this blood they were set apart to the service of the living God, having their consciences purified from dead works to serve the living God. Yes, once they acknowledged that they had free access to draw nigh by this blood and the new and living way unto the living God Himself in His Sanctuary where angels cover their faces. And, finally, such are these that they have a deep attitude of despising the Spirit of grace. They sin against the Holy Ghost, and ascribe the newness of life wrought by the Spirit working grace unto evil agencies, even to Satan himself. And when this is done they are thoroughly reprobate in all their heart and thoughts.
But now they sin willfully after having received the knowledge of the truth! And this is held before the eyes of the believers as a threat and warning. And when the Spirit thus applies this warning to the hearts of the believers and to us, then He works grace in our hearts. And to God be all the glory both for the means and the fruit. (Canons, II, IV, 17)
For such apostates there is nothing left but the vengeful wrath of the living God.
1. Negatively, the text says that there remains for such no offering for their sins. This might mean to say that whereas they reject the only offering made for sin, by the blood of the covenant (the New Testament in Christ’s blood) it is vain to seek for any other. All that is left is a Jewish wall of wailing. For the law made nothing perfect, and a return to the law and the shadows is of no avail. It is interpreted by some as meaning that the sin of such is that theirs is pure unbelief and now the once proffered salvation is forever taken from them. From them is taken even what they think to have. They are put out of the fellowship forever of the church, driven away from before the face of the Lord forever! It seems to me that both of these elements are here included.
2. What is left? Nothing else than a certain fearful expectation of judgment. This expression indicates something terrifyingly horrible. It is the constant waiting for judgment while here on earth, because of the gnawing conscience of sin. Instead~ of glad assurance of forgiveness and full assurance of faith, there is nothing but a waiting for judgment just as the devils in hell are in pits of darkness waiting their judgment. O, the anguish of the man who does not have a sacrifice for sins! These have this anguish because they have full knowledge of the truth. For this judgment is eternal condemnation from. the presence of the Lord. It is a “certain fiery judgment which consumes the enemy.” This we must clearly see is the doom of those who sin willfully as “covenant-breakers;” it is the lot of those who hate God. To drive this point home the writer cites the cases from the Old Testament who set the law of Moses aside, despising it and trampling it under foot. These perished without mercy. The cases here cited are those “who sinned presumptuously.” These were in opposition to those who sinned ignorantly, who stumbled in many sins and came with heartfelt sorrow to confess them. These who sinned ignorantly took refuge in the blood as it pointed to the great sacrifice which would be brought by the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. Now if such who sinned willfully died without mercy, how much more will not those die without mercy who tread under foot the blood of the eternal covenant?
For God judges His people. He makes a separation between the believers and the unbelievers, between the sheep and the goats, and He does so righteously and inherently. He removes the chaff from the threshing floor and brings the wheat into the garner.