In the first half of chapter 10 the author explains why Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient and why Israel’s sacrificial system was not. The author quotes Psalm 40 – attributing the words to Jesus Himself – saying: “Sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but a body have You prepared for Me…” Notice how the Hebrew Scriptures are treated: as though they always intended to attest to the advent and work of Jesus.
Midway through this chapter the focus switches over to the topic of faith. Even though this is building to a climax – more about that later – don’t miss the author’s intentions. Speaking in the first-person plural, he assures them of the confidence “we” have… let “us” hold fast to the confession of our hope… For if “we” go on sinning deliberately… and “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
This sets the stage for chapter 11, the climax to which Hebrews has been building. I wish you could go back and read it all again to see how the letter swells to this moment. The chapter is a surprise, and yet it is not. It feels like the completion of a winter sunrise: the burst of light that finally arrives over the rim of the earth after hours of diffused color.
The author's pen explodes with names and stories of faith: Abel, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah; Isaac, Jacob and Joseph; Moses, Rahab, and “the people who crossed the sea;” Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. An outsized amount of ink is devoted to Abraham, who “…was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Each of them – “of whom the world was not worthy” – were commended not for their adherence to the Law, but “through their faith.”
As we read the inscriptions on this monument to faith, I want to remind you that the author wasn’t fabricating connections between the old and new covenants, but was citing the Hebrew Scriptures themselves. As Genesis 15 explains: “And [the LORD] brought [Abram] outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness.
Our verse for this week is Psalm 71:3: Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I continually come; You have given the command to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.
Hebrews 10 and 11. Now let’s read it!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.