THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT
By John C. Carpenter
 
The unknown author of the book of Hebrews was writing to believers in Christ who were not only wavering in their Christian walk, but were even considering apostatizing from their faith in Christ (Heb 2:1, 3:8, 3:12, 4:1, 4:11, 5:12, 6:1, 6:6, and 6:11-15). To encourage the Hebrews in their newfound Christian faith, the author wrote, Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people (Heb 10:19-30). The word "blood" is translated from the Greek word "haima," which means "blood, bloodshed, kindred, or the atoning blood of Christ." In the Holy Scriptures, the word "blood" is used in several different contexts and, therefore, can have different meanings. For example, blood can be symbolic of corruption (1 Cor 15:50), man (John 1:13, Eph 6:12), kindred (Acts 17:26), uncleanness (Acts 15:20, 20:26), the atonement of Christ (John 19:34), or death (Matt 23:30, Rom 5:9, Heb 12:4). In the context of the letter to the Hebrews, blood, or more accurately, bloodshed, specifically represents, and is symbolic of, the death of Christ. The word "covenant" is translated from the Greek word "diatheke," which means "a disposition, contract, devisory will, covenant, or testament." The author of the letter to the Hebrew believers clarifies and teaches that God the Father's second, or new, disposition, contract, devisory will, covenant, or testament, centers exclusively around the bloodshed, and resulting death, of His Son Jesus Christ.
 
HEIR OF ALL THINGS
 
In an effort to minister to their unbelief, the author wanted to reemphasize to these believers the significance, and magnificence, of Christ. The author reminded the believers that although God had originally spoken to them through the prophets, He Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir [inheritor, possessor] of all things, by whom also he made the worlds (Heb 1:2). Christ was described as the brightness of his [God the Father's] glory, and the express image of his person, who was upholding [bringing about] all things by the word of his power [by speaking with explosive power], and who, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high"(Heb 1:3). God the Father referred to Christ as His Son, something the Father had not done even with the angels (Heb 1:5). God the Father so loved His Son that he even instructed the angels in heaven to worship Christ (Heb 1:6). Speaking of Christ, God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, wrote, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They [the heavens] shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? (Heb 1:8-13). This "so great salvation" available only through faith in Christ was first spoken of by the Lord, was confirmed by those who heard Him, and born witness of by God the Father through signs and wonders, various miracles, and spiritual gifts given by the Holy Ghost (Heb 2:3-4). The Scriptures continue, thou [God the Father] hast put all things in subjection under his [Christ's] feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him [Christ], he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of [bloodshed and] death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him [God the Father], for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation [Christ] perfect [finished, fulfilled, completely consecrated to God] through sufferings (Heb 2:8-10). Continuing to refer to the unique ministry of Christ, the author went on to write,Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of [the sufferings of] flesh and blood, he [Christ] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through [bloodshed and] 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 [of attempting to keep the Old Covenant Law to obtain righteousness and eternal life]. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham [and became flesh].Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered [experienced the pain of] being tempted [as a human being], he is able to succour them that are tempted (Heb 2:14-18).
 
HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS
 
Despite the significance and magnificence of Jesus Christ, the fact remained that these believing Hebrews were tempted to depart from their faith in Christ. In an effort to encourage them to continue to be faithful to Christ, the author instructed them by using the faithfulnessof Christ as an example. The author wrote, Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence [in Christ] and the rejoicing of the hope [of eternal life available through Christ] firm unto the end (Heb 3:1-6). Speaking through the author of the letter, the Holy Ghost said to the believers in Christ, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest (Heb 3:8-11). Clearly addressing the believers' unbelief, the Holy Ghost sternly warned, Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end (Heb 3:12-14). God the Father was not grieved with the Israelites because they had sinned in the wilderness, but because they had refused to believe (Heb 3:15-19). Regarding the gospel word about Christ, the Holy Ghost added, Let us therefore fear [God's judgment on unbelief], lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest [from our own works of attempting to keep the Law to attain righteousness and salvation] (Heb 4:10), any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel [of Christ] preached, as well as unto them [who refused to believe]: but the [gospel] word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it (Heb 4:1-2). The author summarized, There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (Heb 4:9-11). The Hebrews were encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace so that they could obtain mercy and find grace in their time of need (Heb 4:16). Lastly, the author clearly addresses the spiritual immaturity of the believers by writing, For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and [ye] are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even [specifically] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb 5:12-14).
 
LET US GO ON TO PERFECTION
 
Because of their spiritual immaturity, the Hebrew believers were wanting to return to keeping the Old Covenant Law in pursuit of righteousness. The author of the letter not only warned them about the dangers of their unbelief, but, on a more positive note, encouraged them, as well, to move on to spiritual maturity in Christ. The author exhorted, Therefore leaving the [basic, elementary] principles of the doctrine [account, preaching, speaking] of Christ,let us go on unto perfection [completion]; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works [of trying to keep the Law], and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment (Heb 6:1-2). Among the Hebrews, unbelief was rampant. Regarding the dangers of their faltering faith in Christ, the author of the letter again sternly warned, ...it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away [to fall aside, to apostatize from Christ] to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame (Heb 6:4-6). However, with compassion for the Hebrews, the author continued to encourage the struggling believers by writing, God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises [of this New Covenant] (Heb 6:10-12).
 
THIS IS THE COVENANT
 
Because the Old Covenant Law made nothing perfect [complete], God found it necessary to change the priesthood from the tribe of Levi, from which the Old Covenant priesthood descended, to the tribe of Judah, from which the New Covenant priesthood of Jesus Christ descended. The author wrote, If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec [who was not of the Levitical order and priesthood], and not be called after the order of Aaron [who was a Levite]? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law [prescribed principles parceled out by God]. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe [and not the tribe of Levi], of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of [the tribe of] Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made [whose priesthood was manifested], not after the [not according to the Old Covenant] law of a carnal commandment [which was weak and unprofitable], but after the power of [explosive, miraculous power that brings] an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou [Jesus Christ] art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For there is verily a disannulling of the [Old Covenant] commandment going before for [because of] the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law [of the Old Covenant] made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope [through Christ] did; by the which we draw nigh unto God (Heb 7:11-19). After explaining that Jesus had been made a surety [one who has become legally liable for a debt] of a better testament Heb 7:22), and that Jesus needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself (Heb 7:27),the author added, But now hath he [Jesus Christ] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first [Covenant] old [obsolete] (Heb 8:6-13). After explaining that the Old Covenant had ordinances of divine service in a physical sanctuary (Heb 9:1), that the high priest went into the second tabernacle alone once every year with blood which he offered to God for himself and for the sins of the people (Heb 9:7), and that the activities of this Old Covenant were only a parable of things to come (Heb 9:9), the author added, But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth (Heb 9:11-17).
 
LET US HOLD FAST THE PROFESSION OF OUR FAITH
 
Again referring to the weaknesses of the Old Covenant Law, the author explained, For the [Old Covenant] law having a shadow [resemblance] of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect [complete]. For then would they [the Old Covenant sacrifices] not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood [bloodshed and death] of bulls and of goats should take away sins (Heb 10:1-4). Continuing to emphasize the exclusivity of the ministry of Christ, the author wrote, But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Heb 10:12-14). The author added, Now where [the one offering of Christ brings forever the] remission of these [sins and iniquities] is, there is no more [need for a continual] offering for sin(Heb 10:18), and Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood [bloodshed and death] of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together [because our faith in Christ is wavering], as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another [to continue in our Christian faith]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully [by intentionally rejecting Christ] after that we have received the knowledge [understanding and belief] of the truth [that Jesus is the Christ, Messiah, and Son of God], there remaineth no more[available, appropriate] sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Heb 10:19-29). The author further exhorted and instructed the Hebrews, Cast not away therefore your confidence [in salvation through faith in Christ], which hath great recompense of reward" and "the just shall live by faith [in Christ]: but if any man draw back [shrink, shun, or withdraw from Jesus Christ], my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back [from Christ] unto [resulting in] perdition [damnation, destruction]; but of them that [continue to] believe [in Christ] to the saving of the soul (Heb 10:35-39).
 
PERFECT IN EVERY GOOD WORK TO DO HIS WILL
 
Only continuing to have faith in the bloodshed and death of Jesus Christ could bring perfection and salvation. In a final instruction and exhortation to the struggling Hebrew believers, the author wrote, Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him [Jesus Christ] that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood [bloodshed and death], striving against sin [as Christ did] (Heb 12:1-4). God the Father clearly explained the significance of blood when He said, the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul (Lev 17:11). Christ explained to his disciples, this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Mat 26:28). Metaphorically speaking, because life is in the blood, when Christ shed His blood, He shed His life. For the believer in Christ, the death of Christ, as represented by His shedding of His blood, provides atonement [exchange] (Rom 5:11), redemption [pay ransom] (Eph 1:7; Acts 20:28), propitiation [to serve as an atoning victim] (Rom 3:24-25), justification [made just, innocent] (Rom 5:9),forgiveness [remission, pardoning] of sins, access [admission] to God (Col 1:14; Eph 1:7; 1 John 1:9; Eph 2:13), reconciliation [change mutually] in our relationship with God (Col 1:19-20), sanctification [made holy, set apart] (Heb 10:10, and cleansing [purge, purify] from all sin (1 John 1:7). Lastly, scriptures teach they [believers in Christ] overcame [got the victory over] him [the temptations of the Devil] by the blood [bloodshed and death] of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony... (Rev 12:11). Because of Christ's bloodshed and death, all believers in Christ shall also receive salvation [deliverance] from God's wrath (John 3:17), and, therefore, eternal life (John 6:54). The author summarized, But ye [Hebrew believers] are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator [reconciler, intercessor] of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven (Heb 12:22-25). The author concluded, Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect [complete] in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever (Heb 13:20-21).  AMEN.
 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"He that rejecteth me, and receiveth
not my words,
hath one that
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the word that I
have spoken,
the same shall
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the last day"
(John 12:48)



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