OUR HOPE DIRECTED TO CHRIST’S RETURN WITHOUT SIN—Hebrews 9:27, 28
Christ came to carry away our sins outside of the camp. He came to-carry away the sins of many. Thus Isaiah had foreseen Him in the prophetic word from afar. (Isaiah 53:12) Thus He is described as the Man of sorrows, as one who is acquainted with grief. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. But this He will do only “once.” He did this once at the consummation of the ages. And in this one act all things in heaven and on earth are united in Him. He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. (Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 4:10. Cf. Psalm 68:18)
Now Christ will return from heaven a “second time.” This time he will not return by being born from a woman, coming under law. (Galatians 4:4, 5) He will return as the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven and with great glory. He will return with the ten thousands of His angels and saints, His holy ones, to judge the quick and the dead. He will return, as the angels spoke to the apostles, “in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” That will be the pattern. It will be a glorious return in which the Son of God is on the clouds. And every eye shall see Him, even those who pierced Him! Such is the general testimony of the Scriptures.
The point which the writer singles out here in Hebrews concerning Christ’s return is the element that this return shall “be without sin.” That it will be without sin, means, as the context shows, that Christ shall not come the second time as he came the first time. Concerning the first coming of the Savior the writer had taught his readers in Hebrews 2:14 “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and: blood, he himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might, destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Thus was the first coming of Christ. But the second time the Lord Jesus will not need to come once more to destroy him that had the power of death. He will come the second time to take his people home and to fulfill the will of the Father, that not one of those given Him perish, but that He may raise them up in the last day.
Thus is the plan of God unfolded.
It is thus that Cross and crown are united!
Each must be in its own place in history. The Cross and the atonement in the end of the ages. And the return of Christ is the final period of history, when all is come to pass. We now live between the cross and the final return of Christ. That will be His Parousia, when the tabernacle of God shall be with man.
And this plan of God is depicted in the life of every man which is born from women.
It is as follows: It is appointed unto a man once to die and afterwards the judgment! That is the order. Whether this judgment be an acquittal at the judgment seat of God, or whether it be final and irrevocable condemnation, the truth is: It is appointed to a man once to die, and afterwards the judgment. Here there is no return to this life after the appointed time of dying is come. The life’s history of a man has then come to a close. There is not such a thing as a “second chance” as spoken of by the hypothetical universalist. This is also the death-blow to the Romish teaching concerning purgatory.
Thus also there is something very irrevocable in the order of the historical moments of Christ’s suffering. When he shall have given his soul an offering for sin, he shall see His seed. It is the relation of seed-time and harvest-time, each in its own order. The first time Christ came to bear the sins of many; the second time he comes without sin. The cross of Christ will be raised up nevermore.
That is our hope. It is the hope of Israel which gives rest to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in their grave of Machpelah. It is the hope of the coming of the Lord from heaven with the sound of the archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet! He will then come not to remove our sins, but he will come to perfect our salvation. Fact is, that he will be made visible, manifested in all the glory of the saving work of His first coming. This will be the revelation of Jesus Christ, and of the glory of God in all the saints in the New Jerusalem. It will be our entering into the true and heavenly tabernacle which was not made with hands. This will be the time when all tears shall be wiped from our eyes, and when all the firstborn Sons, the Israel of God, shall forever dwell with God; He shall be their God and they shall be His people. And God shall be all in all!
THE ALL-DETERMINING WILL OF GOD CONCERNING PERFECT SALVATION—Hebrews 10:1-10
The Old Testament Scriptures-have various names by which they are called. Sometimes they are called simply “the Law,” and then again “the Law and the Prophets.” Sometimes the Scriptures are identified with the Holy Ghost and we read “‘Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear His voice . . .” (Hebrews 3:7)
Whereas the books in old time were in the form of a roll or scroll, the Old Testament Scriptures are designated as the “Volume of the book,” and this refers then to the entire Old Testament Scriptures, thirty-nine books of the volume. These are the accepted canonical Scriptures. They are the rule of faith for the church of the time of the apostles and of Christ, and they are the last court of appeal for the church of God in the times of the writer of Hebrews and, therefore, the convincing testimony of the Holy Ghost for the believers, called the Hebrews.
Now it is the teaching here in this passage that two things are very evident. In the first place, we are told that the “law” has in it an innate inability to perfect those who came to sacrifice in the Old Testament Tabernacle. The writer to the Hebrews had pointed this out earlier in this book. The “law” was made after the pattern of the heavenly. It was not the very heavenly and the true temple itself. (Hebrews 8:5, 11; Hebrews 9:9) The deepest reason is not that “the law” is impotent due to sin. That too is true. (Romans 8:1-4) However, here the reason is that God did not “will” such a sacrifice to remove sins. This gospel-fait the writer had pointed out earlier in Hebrews 2:9, 10 in the well-known words, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Such is the deepest, the most profound theological reason why God disavowed the “law” as a means for perfecting (teleioosai). For this perfecting, although it includes our sanctification from the guilt and pollution of sin, refers to a different notion. It refers to the full development of God’s plan and purpose concerning his temple, His covenant with man. The covenant must not and cannot be perfected with man in the way of “the law.”
God did not will it!
The law could not bring about the perfection of the promised salvation!
It is God’s all-determining will as contained in the volume of the book!
THE LAW A MERE SHADOW OF GOOD THINGS TO COME—Hebrews 10:1-5
The writer to the Hebrews is here speaking of the yearly sacrifices which must be brought to the temple on the great day of atonement. The “law” concerning the offerings and sacrifices on the great day of atonement we find in Leviticus 16. This was the very epitome of all the sacrifices of the Old Testament law. But even this was not desired by the Lord, as we noticed above.
The law was a mere “shadow.” It was not the “body,” the image of the things itself. It was a mere shadow, a dim outline representing the things to come. Hence, they were merely parabolic, symbolical acts. The goat and the bullock died. But they did not die by their “will.” It was a death on the part of the victim, which did not understand the nature of its own death. And it died, too, with the unwillingness of the brute beast that struggles to live. The sacrificial victim did not really bring a sacrifice to God. It did not come to do the will of God, and to love God, His righteousness and justice. The victim did not bring about satisfaction for sin, and, therefore, could not expiate our guilt!
Christ came to do exactly that when her came to bear away the sins of many. He came to destroy sin, and He did. For His is not a mere shadow sacrifice, but it is the real sacrifice acceptable to God.
Had these sacrifices in the day of atonement in the Old Testament taken away of guilt and sin they would not have been repeated yearly.
But now their very repetition is of such a nature that we do not simply remember that we are sinners, but the very sacrifices remind us that we are still in sin. It reminded the one who brought the sacrifices under Aaron that their conscience was not purified. The worshipper was conscience-stricken by his sins, that is, he stood in judgment with God as one whose sins were not yet atoned. And so his conscience drove him to the temple. He did not yet stand in the liberty of the sons.
What a terrible plight to live under! Never could the “law” remove sin and guilt. They were all weak and beggarly elements. Yes, it was keeping of days, months, years, Sabbaths, new moons, etc., but these ordinances and the keeping of the same were all to no avail of themselves.
Small wonder that the cry arose: How long, O Lord, and let it repent Thee concerning Thy people!
But there is hope: Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for everyone that believeth, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For there is no difference. And this is evident from the law and the prophets which loudly proclaim a righteousness of God which is without law. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are not saved by works of law, nor by the sacrifices of bulls and goats: We are saved solely by Him who said: Behold, I am come to do thy will, O God!