THE PERFECT RESPONSE OF THE MESSIAH TO THE DIVINE GOOD-PLEASURE (Hebrews 10:7-9)
The writer to the Hebrews is now laying the final stone in his argument that in Christ Jesus we indeed have the fulfillment of all the promises of God. All things are in Him “Amen” to the glory of God the Father. In this Servant the Father is glorified in all the beauty of His glorious praises. In this Son is the perfect answer to the Father’s will.
There is only one acceptable sacrifice before the living God. And that sacrifice is brought by the Christ of God when he says “I come to do thy will, O God.”
We are dealing here with the deep things of God. We are dealing here with the “heavenly things” of which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus when the latter came to him by night. It was then, when Nicodemus showed that he did not understand the simple rudiments of the things of God’s Kingdom, that Christ said to him: “If you do not understand earthly things, how shall ye believe if I would tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:12). These heavenly things are the eternal background, the deepest Divine motif for our salvation in Christ. Only in the light of these heavenly things can we begin to see the greatness of and the manner of our salvation in Christ. We must see the Divine “must” of our salvation and Christ, and the only manner in which it can be accomplished. Only thus will we truly understand that Zion is redeemed in righteousness; so shall we understand that the rejected cornerstone is made the head of the corner.
It ought to be quite obvious that this mystery of which our text speaks here is not merely something which took place in a definite point in our chronological time. In a sense what we have here is a word which comes down to us out of the depths of God’s eternal counsel, reaches across our time in the unfolding of this counsel in both the Old Testament and New Testament dispensations, and will be finished in the sitting of Christ at the right hand of God. The force of the particle “then” (tote in Greek) is not to a certain calendar date. Its reference point is to the speaking of God, in which speech the Lord makes clear his “thoughts,” which are higher than our thoughts. And when those thoughts of God, the embodiment of the Divine good-pleasure in reference to the justice of God were expressed by God, then it was that the Son responded and spoke from Messianic joy and obedience! He is the Son in whom all God’s good-pleasure is! It is the perfect response of the Messiah to the Divine will, the eternal good-pleasure of God!
First of all, to be sure, this perfect response of the Son was spoken by Him in the counsel of peace. Of this there can be little or no doubt in Scripture. And this is also the clear teaching of the text. I know that the text speaks of Christ “coming into the world” to say this. And that is indeed true, as we shall see presently. However, let it not be forgotten that this of which our text speaks suggests something deeper and more profound than what merely happened in the stage of history during the time that Christ suffered and died on earth. This was, as we also saw, the case already in Psalm 40, which speaks of the “thoughts” of God. And, therefore, we hold that this speech of the Son is a reality, first of all, in the counsel of peace. In this counsel of peace Christ is the Head of the church, and not simply the second person in the Trinity. The speaking Christ in this counsel is the one who is the eternal Word, made flesh. He is filled with the great delight to do the will of the Father, the Triune God. And so when in the counsel of God, Christ is to be the one in whom all the fulness should dwell, it is the delight to do the will of God, which is the reason for the Christ to come into this world. This seems to be the force of the Greek infinitive in verse 8. There the Greek text has “I come to do” (Heekoo tou poieesai to theleema sou). Now this “to do” expresses more than mere purpose in this sentence. It is an anarthrous infinite in the genitive case. It is, therefore, basically an infinitive which is a noun. If this be the case, then it follows that the genitive case here, too, must be viewed correctly. It is, no doubt, a genitive of description. It defines the “I Come.” It is not merely true, that since Christ came into the world, and now is here, he, too, desires to do the will of God. Of course, that is true of the Christ that, once having come into the world, he delights to do the will of God. But that is not the point here. The simple teaching here is that Christ would not have come into the world to do the will of God were it not for the nature of this “I delight to do thy will, O God.” This desire to do the will of God is antecedent to, and the Messianic motif for, coming into the world. Such are the “heavenly things” here spoken of. Because the Son would give the perfect response to the “will” of God, He comes. Here we sound the depths of the anthem of the angels: Glory to God in the Highest, and peace among men in the Divine good-pleasure.
This also explains why we have here the verb “heekoo.” The verb is one with the effect of the perfect tense. It is not the present “I come,” but it is the perfect “I am come, I am here present.” The Son is come in completed state, as this spans time and eternity. For the use of this verb we refer the interested reader to John 8:42 and I John 5:20. In both of these instances it is clearly the perfected state that is referred to. It is the work of the Son in our flesh, the wonder of grace never to be undone. Now, as far as the Son Himself is concerned, he came with the deep and humble delight to do the will of God. That is the reason for his coming “in carne,” in the flesh.
He came to do the will of God. However, the text ushers in the Christ as He stands and speaks not simply concerning God, but addressing God. It is the Great High Priest who speaks here, uttering the perfect obedience and bringing the perfect sacrifice of obedience through which he will atone for all of our sins. This is language of the sacrificial priest on the great Day of Atonement. He offers this in the better temple, the heavens itself, as this is begun on the Cross, and through this sacrificial blood of obedience he enters into the Holy place for us, removing all our sins forever.
It is the will of God with which this “one coming into the world” is concerned. This will “theleema” of God did not delight in sacrifices, offerings, whole burnt-offerings. None of these pleased him; they were not acceptable to the Divine justice as a payment for sin. This is very strong in the Hebrew text in Psalm 40. There the text does not merely speak of what is decided, but rather what was God’s delight; what was a sweet savor in His holy nostrils. The picture we have here is of the Son as he must be busy in the things of His Father. We find him in the temple. There he begins his work. It is cleansing of the temple. Only it is such a cleansing which amounts to “removal” of the temple. Break down this temple and I will rebuild it in three days. Christ had great, mercy on the people. He saw that God was not pleased with the entire law of the ceremonies. Nay, these meant nothing in themselves. They could not cleanse the conscience from the guilt of sin. And then he sees all his own people, and he came to save them from their sins. Back of all of these shadows stands the Son. It is His shadow of which he is the reality and fulfillment. And in every shadow and type he is coming into the world and saying, Behold, I come to do thy will, O God. He is the high priest of good things to come; He is the image of the things themselves.
Thus he performed the will of God. For in ail of Christ’s preaching and teaching he ever speaks of the “will of Him who sent me.” Thus we read in John 4:34 “. . . for my meat (food) is that I may do the will of Him that sent me and perfect His work.” And when Christ further enlarges upon this great fulfillment of the will of God in John 5:30 then we read “I am able to do nothing from myself; even as I hear I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.” And, furthermore, we read in John 6:37-39 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and he that cometh to me I shall in no wise cast out, because I am come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me.” And then Christ continues in the meaningful words, “Now this is the will of Him that sent me, that of all that He hath given me there be none that perish, but that I should raise them up in the last day. . . .”
Here we see the great Messianic consciousness of Him who came into this world to save sinners. He is the only sin-bearer. The Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. He has borne the sins of many, once and for all. And he will save to the uttermost. In the last day he will raise all his own from the grave!
Yes, this is all written in the “volume of the book.” There may be some difficulty in unraveling the sense of the expression “head of the book,” but there can be no doubt that the entire expression refers to the canonical Scriptures of the Old Testament. That was the Volume of the Book. And the subject of this entire volume is really Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crucified. He who does not read this in the Old Testament, cannot read it in the New Testament. For all the Scriptures, Law, Psalms and Prophets speak concerning this Christ as He comes to do God’s will. And He will so perfectly do this will, that the last jot and tittle will be fulfilled.
Christ read the pages, one by one on earth. And each time he saw all the Scriptures, in their deepest sense. And he fulfilled them all. Yes, he took away the former, the types and shadows, and established the “second,” the better, sacrifice of His own body on the Cross.
He did this only once. It is finished in him. It needs no repeating. He does not need to stand daily, but having brought about his sacrifice it is finished. It is the perfect response to the Divine will. Nothing is lacking. Besides, this is also the end of all the types and shadows forever! That which God never desired is removed, in order that the acceptable sacrifice may be brought.
Now the worshippers may come and be perfected in Him.
What the law could not do, in that it was weak through sin, God did in the sending of His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, that sin might be condemned in the flesh, and that the righteous demand of God might be fulfilled in us.