Hebrews 10:1-9 (NLT)
Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All
1 The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. 2 If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. 3 But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. 4 For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer. 6 You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. 7 Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—as is written about me in the Scriptures.’” 8 First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). 9 Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect.
V1, The law was only a shadow of the good things that were to come. It pointed forward to the Person and work of Christ but it was a poor substitute for reality. To prefer the law to Christ is like preferring a picture to the person represented. It is an insult to His majesty!
The weakness of the legal system is seen in the fact that its sacrifices had to be constantly repeated. This repetition proved their total inability to meet the claims of a holy God. Notice the expressions used to capture this idea of repetitiveness: the same sacrifices; offer continually; year by year.
The sacrifices were utterly unable to perfect the worshipers, that is, they never gave the people a perfect conscience as far as sin was concerned. The Israelites never enjoyed the consciousness of being cleared forever from the guilt of sin. They never had complete rest of conscience.
V4, “Not possible . . . to take away sins.” These animal sacrifices symbolized the payment for sin, but they did not accomplish it. No animal was worthy of paying the price for a human being’s sin before a holy God. The law assumes that atonement and forgiveness occur by means of the legislated sacrifices; however, last year’s sacrifice does not cover this year’s sins, thus leaving guilty consciences and a remaining sinful condition. A permanent sacrifice is needed to deal permanently with sin
V5, In contrast to the weakness of the Levitical offerings, we come now to the strength of the superlative sacrifice of Christ. By way of introduction, we are permitted to hear the Saviour’s soliloquy at the time of His incarnation. Quoting from Psalm 40, He noted God’s dissatisfaction with the sacrifices and offerings of the Old Covenant. God had instituted these sacrifices, yet they were never His ultimate intention. They were never designed to put away sins but rather to point forward to the Lamb of God who would bear away the sin of the world. Could God be pleased with rivers of animal blood or with heaps of animal carcasses?
Another reason for God’s dissatisfaction is that the people thought they were pleasing Him by going through ceremonies, while their inward lives were sinful and corrupt. Many of them went through the dreary round of sacrifices with no repentance or contrition. They thought that God could be appeased with their animal sacrifices whereas He was looking for the sacrifice of a broken heart. They did not realize that God is not a ritualist!
Dissatisfied with the former sacrifices, God prepared a human body for His Son which was an integral part of His human life and nature. This, of course, refers to the unfathomable wonder of the Incarnation when the eternal Word became flesh so that, as Man, He might die for men.
V5–7, The quotation is from Ps. 40:6–8, a Davidic psalm applied here to the Davidic Messiah. This shows David’s awareness, as seen elsewhere in the OT, that God desired faithful hearts and lives more than mere performance of sacrificial rituals (Hos. 6:6). It also prophesies the coming of one who will do God’s will, and God’s preparation of a body for that person. a body have you prepared for me.
The ESV translates the corresponding phrase in Ps. 40:6 as, “you have given me an open ear.” Literally, the Masoretic (Hb.) text reads, “ears you have dug for me” (Ps. 40:7–9 mt). The Hebrew metaphor has been understood by the Septuagint translators (Ps. 39:7–9 lxx) and by the writer of Hebrews to indicate the physical creation of a person’s body. (NT quotations of OT texts are not always precise; NT authors often reword them or adapt them to suit their own purposes, yet always in a way that is compatible with their original meaning.)
God is more concerned with a live lived on purpose for His glory, than repeated rituals or prayers prayed with no commitment to Christ or desire to follow His will and ways. Where are you at?