Hebrews 13:10 (NIV) 10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.
On verse 10: “Those who minister at the tabernacle” refers to priests who served under the old covenant and who would sacrifice bulls and goats according to the law of Moses. Here the writer of Hebrews is saying that we as believers in Christ living under the new covenant have an altar – that is, we have access to God through the shed blood of Jesus – which the old covenant priests could not access by merely sacrificing the bulls and goats. As Hebrews 10:20 says, “a new and living way [to God] opened for us” when Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Once again it’s the theme that through Jesus Christ we have something incredibly special that people under the old covenant did not have.
Hebrews 13:11-14 (NIV) 11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
On verses 11-14: According to the law of Moses, when a bull and goat were sacrificed to make atonement for sin, the priest would take the animals’ blood into the Most Holy Place, but the animals’ carcasses were taken outside the camp into the wilderness and burned (see Leviticus 16:27). The writer of Hebrews compares this to how Jesus the lamb of God was taken outside of Jerusalem into the wilderness of Mount Golgotha to be crucified and left to die. It was there in that unholy wilderness that Jesus made us holy by shedding his blood.
When verse 13 says, “let us, then go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore” (v13), it means that just as Jesus was not ashamed or afraid to suffer for his faith, we should not be ashamed or afraid to suffer for our faith either. The reason is because this earth is not our final home, but heaven – “an enduring city…the city that is to come” (v14) – is waiting for us. Like Jesus, may we not put all our stock in this life on earth, but may we live for the kingdom that is to come.
Hebrews 13:15 (NIV) 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name.
On verses 15-17: Since Jesus Christ has already sacrificed Himself for us, is there any need to give God more sacrifices? While there is no more need to sacrifice bulls and goats, in these next 3 verses we learn 3 sacrifices that God wants us to give Him.
First, give God a sacrifice of praise. We love God with our words. As verse 15 says, “let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name”. How often do you speak out loud words of praise to God? As I like to say, you create your world with your words. If you speak out praise to God and encouragement to others in your home, your home will be joy, peace, hope and God’s presence. But if you speak more complaining, critical, and negative words, your home will be a stressful and depressing place to be. When you choose to speak out loud words of praise often, it changes how you think and feel, how those around you think and feel, and you give God glory in the process.
Second, give God a sacrifice of service. We love God with our actions. As verse 16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” God does not just want a sacrifice from our lips (v15), but from our hands as well. As 1 John 3:18 says, let us not love with our words alone but with our actions too. During our God Loves Vancouver campaign, it has been great to see people at Thrive Church showing love to people in our community in practical ways: serving meals at the food bank, distributing Thrive-branded water at Sky Train stations, and there are many more events to come. Have you signed up for 3 GLV initiatives this month by which you can love our city? When you do some practical good by serving others in our city, you’re giving God a pleasing sacrifice.
Third, give God a sacrifice of submission. We love God with the way we love our church leaders. As verse 17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Just as the way you use your words (v15) and the way you serve others (v16) reflect the way you love God, the way you love the spiritual leaders God has placed in your life reflects the way you love God as well. If you say you love God, but you are unkind, cold, apathetic, ungrateful or unsubmissive to the leaders God has placed in your life, then you don’t love God nearly as much as you think. Love for God and love for the leaders God has placed in your life go hand in hand.
By the way, notice that we are called to give all these sacrifices “through Jesus” (v15). Whenever you see the words “through Jesus” (v15), may it be a reminder that Jesus is the only channel by which we have access to God. It’s as if Jesus is like a tube connecting heaven to earth, and every sacrifice we make and every blessing we receive is all delivered through that tube. Jesus is our way to God. Hebrews 13:18-25 (NIV) 18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.
Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV) 20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
On verses 18-25: Earlier in verse 12 we learned that it is through Jesus’ blood that we are made holy (v12). Now in verse 20 we learn that it is through Jesus’ blood that the Father brought Jesus back from the dead. How did the Father bring Jesus back from the dead through Jesus’ own blood? I believe it’s this: in every place where the Father sees His Son’s blood, the Father will bring life to that place. When the Father saw His dead Son covered in blood, the sight of His Son’s blood awoke the Father to action and compelled the Father to bring life to His Son’s dead body once again. That’s why though we were dead in our sins, when we placed our trust in Jesus and became covered in Jesus’ blood (see Ephesians 2:1, 4-5), God brought us back to life again. It’s like the blood of Jesus is a magnet that attracts God’s life giving, resurrection power.
Praise God that it is through Jesus’ blood that we have access to God’s resurrection power in every situation we face. With that hope in Jesus’ blood and the resurrection power that His blood attracts, the writer of Hebrews prays to be restored to his readers soon (v19). Similarly, it’s with that same hope in Jesus’ blood that you can face any difficult situation that may be in front of you today. Praise God for the power in Jesus’ blood.
A Final Word on Hebrews
This ends our look at the incredibly rich book of Hebrews. I’ve enjoyed studying this book with you. To further deepen your appreciation and understanding of this book, I encourage you to take half an hour to go back and review what you learned from the book of Hebrews. Journal to God about the most important lessons you received from this book. Also, try memorizing some of your favourite verses from this book. Feel free to share what you learned with me too.
Lord Jesus, thank You that it is through Your blood that we are made holy and that You were made alive again. Thank You for the hope that we have through Your blood. Today may I offer You a sacrifice of praise from my lips, service from my hands, and submission from my heart. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!