Yesterday we came to the conclusion of the main doctrinal portion of Hebrews. The original audience, in the face of persecution, needed to be reminded of the vast superiority of Christ. Today we too need to be reminded of these things. The first four chapters tell us that Christ is superior to the angels and to Moses because of His divine nature and because He will give final rest to the people of God. Chapters five and six call us to persevere in our faith because of this superiority. Finally, 7:1–10:18 reminded us that Jesus’ superior priesthood inaugurated the new covenant by means of His perfect, once-for-all offering up of Himself on behalf of His people.
Though this large portion of doctrinal content is very important, we must remember that this letter was not written only to convey the teaching and then leave us to figure out what to do with it. Rather, this letter was composed as an exhortation to persevere, and now the author will tell us what to do with his doctrine. John Owen tells us that content is not given just for content’s sake but rather so that we will live in a certain way. “The rest of this letter is to propose to and press on the Hebrews the various duties the truths he has explained insist on.” The audience was not reminded of the doctrine of Christ’s priesthood as an end in and of itself, but rather so that they would press on in faith. If doctrine does not inspire us to worship God and hold onto Jesus in faith, then it has done us no good.
In today’s passage, the author begins this exhortation. We are told that “we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh” (vv. 19–20). The end result of Christ’s priestly sacrifice is that we now have a privilege that none of the old covenant saints had. For we can enter into the Most Holy Place, that is, heaven, with confidence because Christ has done the work to make us clean. Moreover, we enter through the curtain of Christ’s flesh. Under the old covenant, a physical curtain kept all but the high priest out of the innermost sanctuary of the temple. However, in the new covenant this curtain is replaced by the curtain of Christ’s body, which, because it has been once broken for us, does not keep us out but rather draws us in.
Most of the old covenant saints could never enter into the Holy of Holies. Even the high priest who could enter could do so only once a year. But through Christ, we can enter God’s presence daily in our worship and prayer. Rejoice in this privilege, and remember that by Christ you stand in the presence of God.