LIFE IN THE HOLIEST PLACE Hebrews 10:19-25
Certain places are considered ‘holy’ by people. “The Holy Lands” Monuments / Famous Tombs, etc. These places inspire awe for various reasons. Have you ever wondered where the holiest place in the universe might be?
In the wilderness Israel was to construct Tabernacle. Within was the Holy Place, the Holy of Holies. No ordinary person could enter God’s Dwelling Place. Within was the Ark of the Covenant. A curtain/veil separated the Holy of Holies from Holy Place. It was a “veil” -a screen, divider or separator. Anyone except the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies would die.
Hebrews 9:7 But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.
When Jesus died, the curtain in the Jerusalem temple was torn in half, from the top to the bottom. The Jerusalem temple curtain was about 60 feet in height, 30 feet in width and four inches thick. The veil was torn, the Holy of Holies exposed. God’s presence was now accessible to all.
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…
We have the privilege of entering the holiest place in the universe: we live in the very presence of God. Once distant and shielded, now open and receiving us because of the blood of Jesus. Author gives three instructions of life in the holiest place in the universe.
1. Draw Near to God in Faith
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Draw Near With Sincere hearts. Not just going through the motions – use emotions! We draw near to God in prayer, worship, service.
Hebrews 11:6b Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Ray Stedman: As the wick of a lamp continually draws oil for the light, so let us continually draw from God the strength and grace we need to function.
Draw Near With Full Assurance. We grow in faith as we grow in Scripture. We grow in faith as we operate according to Scripture. When we grow in faith, we grow in assurance.
Draw Near to God as Cleansed People. The sprinkling of blood from a sacrifice is pictured here – passing along guilt away from the sinner. (Exodus 29:21; Lev 8:30). Washing with pure water is baptism.
Acts 22:16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away,calling on his name.
Ephesians 5:26 …to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…
The full assurance of faith comes from seeking God in repentance and baptism, finding relief from guilt and cleansing of sin.
2. Hold on to Hope
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
AMP: Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering
Hebrews 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
Hebrews 19-20 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever…
We have to hold on to hope as it can slip away… When we listen to mocking, skeptical world. When we fall into temptation and sin and lose hope. When we forget the promises of God (He is faithful!).
3. Love and Help Others Love
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Living in the holiest place in the universe does not turn us inward, but outward! Love God and Love Others – 2 Greatest Commands. Love and then help spur one another toward love. “Spur” – ‘incite’ ‘stir up’ ‘provoke’.
HCSB: And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works…
“The word ‘provoke’ has an edge of intrusion in it. If we are to provoke one another to good deeds, then we will certainly have to be involved deeply in one another’s lives.” – Elizabeth B. Forney
One of our greatest Christian duties is to do all we can to encourage others toward serving and loving.
About Verse 25:
*Don’t give up meeting together – bad habit!
*Love for others cannot be shown in separation.
*Not just meet – but encourage!
Ray Stedman: Corporate worship is not an option for a Christian; it is a necessity. It certainly includes regular attendance at church meetings, but means more than that. It means a willingness to help struggling faith whenever Christians meet.
What is your attitude when attending? I’m here – serve me! I’m here – God is happy I made it. I’m here – who can I encourage? You have a great purpose in being here today – you are the ONLY one who will bless SOME one! This is what makes choosing to miss for some lesser purpose so sad.
Life in the holiest place in the universe – in the presence of God – is characterized by Sincere Faith, Unswerving Hope, Encouraging Love. These three remain! Hint of urgency: The Day is Approaching!
1. A striking statement in today’s text has to do with the developing habit of neglect among some of the Hebrew’s readers. You miss a lot when you miss church. Share with the group something funny or embarrassing that happened while you were at church.
2. Life in the Holiest Place in the Universe is a big concept, but easily forgotten. What are some basic ways you can remind yourself DAILY (hourly?) that your day is spent in the presence of our Heavenly Father?
3. The Assurance of Faith often plagues us because we know that we fall short of God’s glory. How can sinners be assured! But God never meant for Christianity to be built upon a giant ‘maybe’. What are some ‘maybes’ that have kept you from being assured of your salvation? Here are a few examples, but feel free to come up with your own:
– Maybe We’re doing this worship thing right.
– Maybe I can one day be what I should be
– Maybe God won’t send me to hell
– Maybe I have a place to serve in the church
– Maybe it’ll be worth the trouble I’ve experienced
– Maybe God really cares about me
– Maybe I’m going to go to heaven.
4. Some were evidently neglecting the assembly – a really bad habit. We are not told why. Lightfoot offered the following thoughts:
– Perhaps some were quitting the services because they felt that the Christian gatherings were generally uninspiring and unattractive, especially when set beside the extravagance of the Jewish ritual.
– It may be that some had become Christians thinking to obtain magical favor, just as they might patronize the mystery cults; and having obtained the favor, they withdrew.
– It is slightly possible that some, with visions of their own intellectual grandeur discounted even the need of common worship; disdaining the ties and responsibilities of brotherhood fellowship.
– More probably, however, is that some had begun to give in to pressure from the outside.
Can you think of some other reasons why the Hebrews were failing to gather for worship? In what ways are these some of the reasons people may give for falling into the habit of neglect today?
5. Brainstorm some specific ways you can seek to be an encourager – spurring others to love and good works – every Sunday.
6. All of this is in the context of an approaching Day. Not everyone agrees what this day is. Lightfoot gives some possibilities:
-The day of Christian worship – elsewhere called “the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) and “the Lords day” (Rev 1:10)
-The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. A number of older commentators held this view.
– The day – the ‘Day of the Lord’ – the final judgment when Christ comes again.
Which of these possibilities might motivate you the most?
7. Spiritual Practice: Revisit the list of ways one can be an encourager when the Family gathers for worship. Pray through that list and ask God to give you wisdom and courage to implement some of those items each week.
Sermon Remnants that Didn’t Make the Cut!
His congregation is basically tired and discouraged – tired of trying to live the christian life in a culture that offers no support for it and discouraged about the way evil still seems to persist in the world. As a result, the congregation has begun to question the value of being followers of Christ. attendance at worship has begun to falter (10:25), zeal for mission has waned, and the kind of congregational life that is rich with love and compassion has begun to dissipate (10:24). – Thomas G. Long, Feasting on the Word
“A chief function of public worship, according to Paul, is the edification of all who come together (1 Cor 14:26ff). But how can men be edified when they absent themselves from the assembly?” – Lightfoot
What Christian does not have a friend whom they have invited to church, only to be told that the person does not need a community of worship? They are content with solitude and personal devotion. If Chris has already died for their sins, then what reasons do they have for going to church? Paul might respond that the community has need of them – for offering encouragement and for bringing fresh ideas for collaboration in the kingdom of God. As far back as Ecclesiastes 4:9 we hear that “two are better than one,” for strength, healing, and support. we also read in acts 2;44 how the early Christian community not only survived but grew strong by holding all things in common and meeting regularly for fellowship, encouragement, prayer, and study. – Elizabeth B. Forney, Feasting on the Word
It is now apparent as we look back over the centuries that it has been the will of God to have each generation feel that it is living in the very last days of civilization. Each century has found the church fearing the cataclysms of its own time as the last to come. Yet, inexorably, each passing century has moved the world nearer the final end. This sense of imminence is God’s device to keep believers expectant and full of hope in the midst of the world’s darkness. – Ray Stedman
Jesus Christ Today: A commentary on the book of Hebrews by Neil R. Lightfoot
Feasting on the Word, Year B Volume 4
Hebrews: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series by Ray C. Stedman