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Hebrews 13:7-15 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 52 secs

Hebrews Lesson 214
October 7, 2010

NKJ Psalm 119:9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.

Open your Bibles to Hebrews 13. We are beginning in verse 7. 

This is a final summary exhortation or challenge to the readers that are being addressed here. Normally we've seen the general outline of a section of instruction followed by a section of challenge or exhortation, and imbedded within the challenge was a warning. Sometimes the warning especially in the early parts, the warning was pretty much the whole exhortation. But now as we come to the end, the final instructional section was the 11th chapter followed by an exhortation that grew out of the 11th chapter and that covered the 12th chapter. Then chapter 13 is the final concluding exhortation; or challenge or in modern terminology this is the application. 

As I pointed out last time, contrary to the way modern man wants to constantly have his food pre-masticated for him and put him on his plate where he doesn't have to chew it or cook it or do anything, he constantly has fast food philosophy applied to spiritual life and spiritual things. He doesn't want to think. We don't want to go home and go to the store and buy all the raw ingredients for food and then come home and prepare a meal that may take an hour or two hours. We would rather call and get it to go or go to fast food line and not have to go through the process of thought and spiritual preparation. You just can't do that in the Christian life, in the spiritual life. It takes time; it takes thought. It takes effort. So  an application as we see in the Scriptures usually comes in much smaller sections than what we have in terms of the modern mindset - give 5 points on how to be successful in life or 6 points on how to be happy. 

The Bible just isn't structured that way. It is designed to teach us to think differently than the culture around us and not to have that kind of an approach to life. So often what we find is lengthy sections that are explaining who we are as Christians, what we have in terms of our salvation in Jesus Christ, our new identity in Christ as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and all that that means. So you find in for example the first part of Colossians, the first part of Ephesians; you find this emphasis unpacking everything that God did for us in salvation. 

The more we understand what God did for us at salvation, the more it should impact us in terms of gratitude, in terms of grace orientation and in terms of the desire to live for God and serve God. So here we come to the final chapter in Hebrews and we just get these this series of one shot commands and prohibitions in the first 8 or 9 verses. But then starting in verse 9 there is an extended application that covers verses 9 down through verse 16. It's all based on understanding what took place on the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament. So once again the writer of Hebrews is taking us back into the Old Testament looking at the picture that God provided for Israel in the Old Testament so that they would have a concrete example of what would transpire when God finally brought about atonement for the sins of the nation and for the sins of mankind. That is described in Leviticus 16, which we will go back to examine before we are done this evening. 

As I pointed out last time, we had a series of commands and prohibitions in the first 6 verses. Then there is a shift in verse 7 to talk about the attitude and the response of the congregation to the spiritual leaders. This actually frames this final section of instruction.

NKJ Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

So the 17th verse comes back to this theme of the orientation of the congregation to the leadership of the local church. Verse 7 introduces this so this whole section is framed by these two mandates related to leadership. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.

Now the New King James translation here is a little difficult to understand. It doesn't really reflect or it's not the best way of reflecting what the Greek text says. You actually have two commands, two imperative verbs in this verse. Remember is the first one. The verse here uses the word 'follow', which is the second. Both of these are given as present imperatives. Remember is the present active imperative of the Greek verb mnemoneuo and imitate is the Greek verb mimeomai. Both are present imperatives indicating that this should be normal standard operating procedure that should characterize every day aspects of the believer's spiritual life. 

Initially the believer is commanded to remember those who rule over you although the verb here that is translated rule is the verb hegeomai, which is the same word, which in other places is translated to consider, to count, to think, to regard. But here in this context it has the idea that's related to leadership. It's not a word that indicates the ruling as much as leadership. It should be translated "to remember your leaders." Remember the leaders of you, literally.  Or, remember your leaders. It is thinking about those who were not their current leaders in their local assembly but those who initially taught them, those who initially perhaps brought them to an understanding of the gospel that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament and that He died on the cross as a substitute for their sins in fulfillment of all of the Old Testament prophecies, promises and pictures embedded in the sacrificial system. 

So what the command is doing here is to say, "Look. Think back on those leaders who initially brought you from being an unbeliever to a believer." 

Now we're right there's no hard, hard evidence of who the recipients are. I've said a number of times that these were Jewish believers in Jesus as Messiah.  Most likely they came out of a priestly or Levitical background. The reason that is inferred is because there's so much in Hebrews that assumes a complete and thorough knowledge of the Levitical system and the sacrificial system in the Old Testament. So from that it's inferred that for anyone to have that kind of knowledge of the sacrificial system they would have had to have been a priest or a Levite functioning within the various procedures of the Second Temple.

So the writer of Hebrews is saying, "Now I want you to remember or to think about those who were your leaders who led you into Christianity at the very beginning."

Now we're told in Acts 4 that there was a huge number of priests just after the day of Pentecost in AD 33. A very large number of priests became believers. Some of those could be these individuals to whom this is being written. This is written about 62, 63 AD. So this has only been 30 years. Some of you have been Christians for 30 years.

I found it interesting this last week. The reason we did not have Bible class on Tuesday night was because I was attending the Free Grace Alliance Conference in Dallas. That began on Monday and went through noon yesterday. They had a number of different speakers. A couple people asked me about the conference. As far as I was concerned the speaker than I was most interested in hearing, and that I think did to the best job, was Joseph Dillow. He goes by Jody Dillow. Dr. Dillow, I first met him I think back when I was a student at Dallas. He was in the doctoral program. He wrote the book Reign of the Servant Kings. Some of you have read that and are familiar with that book. I think Jody just waded her way through it. Well Jody, I want you to know that as a reward for all of your work the second edition (a completely revised edition) is twice as long and is due out within the next year. It's about 600 pages as it stands now. So I just thought I'd give her a bit of a hard time. It's hard enough for many of us to work through the whole thing to begin with, but it is very well done. In my opinion (although there are areas and passages I'm not in agreement with him on), generally speaking he does the best job of putting together a systematic theology of the free grace gospel dealing with the whole range of issues that come into play in understanding the grace of God, the free grace offer of salvation, and that do we do nothing to earn of deserve it. So he spoke two times Tuesday morning and did an excellent job dealing with some issues related to the kingdom of God. That was very good. 

Then they also had a number of breakout sessions with panel discussions which weren't in my opinion quite as profitable as it is to hear someone who has really devoted themselves to an in depth study and analysis of the topic or issue and then present that. So anyway I was there for that conference and just thinking about a lot of these issues. I went down that rabbit trail and now I don't remember what the rabbit looked like that I was hunting. That happens every now and then.

The point of this passage is to remember those who rule over you. The word that is translated "rule" should really be translated as a leader, those who led you, who have spoken. It's an aorist tense verb there: 'who spoke the Word of God to you'. So it's clearly speaking of the events in the past.

NKJ Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.

Then the next section is a little bit convoluted here in the English but the attempt in the New King James was to pull what's later in the verse in the Greek up to the front so that we are commanded to imitate the faith of those leaders. They are in some cases gone by this time and they're no longer around. Some have died; some have moved to other areas. But these believers here in Hebrews 13 are to remember them and to imitate them.

Then the other word that is used there (the word 'considering') is actually a participle and it emphasizes the idea of thinking, the idea of thinking and reflecting upon the outcome of their conduct. That word that is translated outcome should be understood to be the end result or the ultimate or final achievement in their life. So think about those leaders and how they gave their life to the service of the Lord and how they were involved in evangelism, in teaching the Word, the impact they had on you. Think about the end result of their whole life as a ministry and focus upon that. 

In other words it's another reminder: don't give up the ship; don't quit now in the middle of your spiritual life or don't quit after 20 or 30 or 40 years of your spiritual life, but follow in the footsteps or imitate those who went before you.

Then in the next verse we have a well-known verse that many of you have memorized simply because you heard it many times, and it's not a very difficult verse.

NKJ Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The word "is" is placed in there to make it read more smoothly in the English, but it loses the impact. By dropping the verb (known as an ellipsis) it hits with a certain force. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Now this verse is typically taken out of context and used to support the immutability of Jesus Christ – immutability meaning that He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That is certainly part of the meaning of this verse. But the writer of this verse is not jumping from a challenge to remember the rulers (the leaders) and imitate them to suddenly change to a completely different topic and throw in a one liner on the immutability of Christ.  It doesn't fit the context. It's there. I'm not saying that this verse doesn't imply that; it does, but he's not writing a discourse here on the immutability of Christ. 

What the writer is saying is: remember that Jesus Christ who was sufficient for those leaders who taught you about Jesus as the Messiah, the Jesus who was sufficient for them in the trials and persecution that they went through in their spiritual life, is the same Jesus Christ today. He was sufficient for them; He is just as sufficient for you; and He will be just as sufficient in the future no matter what you may face in life. No matter what the temptations maybe, no matter what the challenges may be, Jesus Christ is sufficient throughout for whatever the circumstances may be that you are facing. 

He is not really talking directly to the doctrine of the immutability of Jesus Christ, but what he's really reminding the readers of is that just as the previous generation had gone through difficult times and had faced adversity and persecution and they too were tempted to perhaps just give up their Christianity, they recognized that Jesus Christ was sufficient for them, and just as Jesus was sufficient for them this writer is saying He's the same today and He will be the same tomorrow, no matter what you face. We all face challenges. 

Think back on in your life. You have been exposed to a lot of different pastors and Christian leaders, and two or three different churches at least. Some of you have been involved in other kinds of ministries. I've been involved in camping ministries and when I go back 40 years, 50 years ago when I was a teenager and when I was in my twenties and I think about some of the men who were influential in my life at that time, many of whom have gone to be with the Lord for many, many decades. It's the same sufficient gospel. It's the same sufficient Lord. It's the same sufficient grace that they taught, that they experienced, that was real in their life that we have today. You can think back to those who led before in a previous generation and remember their example, and that is an encouragement to us to stay the course.

Verse 8 is emphasizing the sufficiency of Christ as much so if not more than His immutability. Now what's interesting is this verse, just taking it out of context, has often been used and was used in the great debates over the nature of the deity of Jesus in the debates that occurred in the early 5th century AD,  or early 4th century. If you recall from church history in 325 the Council of Nicaea met where the big debate was: is Jesus fully equal to the Father? This was one of the verses that Athanasius used. Athanasius was the bishop. Earlier he was the presbyter of Alexandria in Egypt. He came to the council to contest the teaching of a man named Arius. Arius taught that Jesus was finite. He had a beginning, that only the Father was eternal; but that the Son had a beginning. His little mantra was that there was a time when Christ was not. Athanasius challenged that. It had become a very popular heresy throughout the Roman Empire.  

It's the same teaching that has resurrected itself today in the teaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Their Jesus is a Jesus who becomes God in time, not a Jesus that is eternally God and eternally the same. 

This verse was used by Athanasius, and then in the next generation as the debates continue you had three theologians in the area of what we now refer to as Turkey, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nanzianzus and also Basil. These were three men to clearly taught the deity of Christ. Gregory of Nanzianzus argued that the yesterday and the forever (the past and the future) refer to the deity of Christ and the "today" referred to the humanity of Christ. 

Now that's the kind of exegesis that reads a lot of stuff into a passage that really isn't there. It's trying to get this passage to say things it's not talking about all. You can't derive something like that from a verse of this nature. We always have to remember the context. When you take the text out of the context you are always left with the con job, so we have to be careful to always keep the verse in context. What the writer of Hebrews is talking about is encouraging these believers to persevere, to stay the course. Those first two verses talk about remember, imitate and think about or reflect upon or meditate on the outcome of those who have gone before and that Jesus Christ today is the same who sustained them and will sustain us in the future.

Then verse 9 begins a slightly different section. If you notice there's not a new paragraph starting there because each of these little sections seem like another commandment. So it's usually not broken down here. But as I've studied this, it seems to me like verses 9 through at least 15 and probably 16 all fit together. All of these have something to do with the Day of Atonement; and that's really the background for understanding these verses. 

Let me just read the first 4 verses here; and then we'll go to Leviticus 16. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.

We have to ask the question: what are these strange doctrines that seem to be enticing them away from the truth? 


The "for" there tells you that this is an explanation. The prohibition was "don't get carried about, don't get sucked into these strange doctrines." He says:

it is good that the heart be established by grace,

So we have this term "heart" which reflects the soul and the mentality of the soul that the soul is established. That's something positive that strengthens the soul. The soul is established by grace. The contrast is:

not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

What establishes the heart is understanding something, and receiving that understanding of grace. The reason I make that point is there've been many who have taken this as some sort of a verse to emphasize fasting and some sort of acetic response towards food. But that just misses the whole point. 

It's talking about just as the heart receives grace to be strengthened. For the analogy to work, this is talking about receiving food that would bring spiritual profit. It's the idea of eating something that is thought to provide spiritual benefit; in other words, an emphasis on certain foods that have been used in some sort of ritual preparation. 

Now what would that be? Well, the context of Hebrews is clearly focused on Jewish ritual in understanding the shift from the Old Testament (the old covenant ritual) to the superiority of the New Covenant and what is provided in Christ. We'll see there are some foods that were eaten exclusively by the priesthood or in one case by the worshipper. So it's apparently that there has entered into Judaism in this period of the 1st century some emphasis on the spiritual value of the food that was eaten or partaken of as part of the sacrifices. That's the idea there.

NKJ Hebrews 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.

NKJ Hebrews 13:11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.

Now when does the high priest bring the bodies or the blood from certain animals into the sanctuary? On the Day of Atonement. 

So finally we get this clear indication we're talking about the Day of Atonement. Then it's applied to Jesus in verse 12. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify

Or set apart. 

the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

Then verse 13 begins with a "therefore" so there were going to get a conclusion and an application. So 9 through 12, those 4 verses, really have a background in the Old Testament. 

What I want you to do now is turn to Leviticus 1 for a little review. It's been probably a year or two since we went through that lengthy study we were engaged in the middle of Hebrews in Hebrews 7 and 8 dealing with all of these different sacrifices and all the different offerings. In Leviticus 1 we have the burnt offering. Different animals could be brought for a burnt offering depending on the economic situation, the prosperity of the one who was bringing the offering. But in the burnt offering everything was to be consumed by fire, and everything was to be offered up for God. So there's no eating of the animals that are offered in the sacrifice.

In chapter 2 we have the grain offering. This was a meal that was prepared and was eaten. Some of it was offered up to God, and some was eaten by the worshipers. It's a picture of fellowship. In verse 4 and in verse 10 we're told that Aaron and his sons would eat what remained of the grain offering. The grain offering provided a food for the priests. Then we have the peace offering in chapter 3, and the sin offering and the guilt offering in chapters 4 and 5. 

Then in chapter 7 there is further development of the law of the peace offerings. There is the mention that as part of the peace offerings this could also be eaten by the priests. So more of the food is available for the priests. Some of the parts of the animal were also eaten by the priests. This would indicate a food that had been ritually prepared, ritually offered and was eaten by the priest. That's the only thing that would make sense in light of what the writer is saying in verse 9.

NKJ Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.


That's the explanation.

it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

What is it that confirms or strengthens the heart? That's the idea of the word there. It is grace. We grow by means of grace. 

"We grow by the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ," Peter says in 2 Peter 3:18. 

NKJ 2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

Grace is a means of growth. It is not a power. It is understanding the grace of God. The more we understand the grace of God and all that He freely provided for us, the stronger we become as a Christian; the more we understand all that He has given us. That's clear in Romans 6. Three of the great chapters on sanctification I did a study of this about 10 or 12 years ago that's out on the Web site. It's a good survey series about 15 or 20 lessons on Romans 6, 7, and 8. Those are the key chapters on the spiritual life and sanctification. 

What is interesting is in the course of church history, there had been up probably 8 or 9 different key models or patterns that have been discerned for how a Christian grows. You have the Roman Catholic model of the spiritual life. You have the reformed or the Presbyterian-Calvinistic model of the spiritual life.  You have the Wesleyan or Methodist model of spiritual life, the holiness model, the Keswick model, the Pentecostal model, the Chaferian model named after Louis Sperry Chafer. There's about 90% agreement in all of these models. It's the 10% difference (in some cases only 2% difference) that is where the real issues are. But it's just like a gallon of water is really good for you. A gallon of water with a couple of drops a cyanide in it isn't a whole lot different. But it's not good for you. It's important to focus on those. 

This is why people say: "Oh theology. You're just picking at little things."

They may be little things to some people but they're very important. We have to understand these differences and these distinctions. So that's what we're going to be focusing on. It's going to be a great conference. We're going to look at the whole topic of biblically, theologically in terms of historical theology and basically answering a couple of different questions: what does the Bible teach in terms of the pattern in the past for the spiritual life? What is it? What isn't it? What's part of it? What's not part of it? What are some of the problems, so the icks, acks and spasms that are out there that distract people such as mysticism and things that need to be part of the pattern and things that are not necessarily integral to the pattern. So that's going to be the focus of this year's Chafer conference.

I think it's going to be really, really good. I mean all the guys are working really hard on their papers. I'll be speaking in the evening on abiding in Christ out of John 15 on some work I did several years ago but updating it quite a bit.  

Then Charlie Clough will be talking about sanctification in the Old Testament. Mark Perkins will be talking about mysticism and the spiritual life. We have several men who are going to be focusing on key passages in Scripture: Romans 6, Romans 7, Romans 8, 1 John. David Dunn is going to do a great paper on the purpose of 1 John and understanding 1 John. Is it talking about fellowship or salvation?

I'm really pushing these guys to write really good papers and when they get done and they're going to rewrite them and make them even better because I have the idea that we ought to publish this as a book sort of a festschrift. That's sort of a fancy term of a type of book that usually published in honor of a theologian after fifty years of his service. It seems so far away – 2018. In 8 years will be the 100th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Sperry Chafer's He That is Spiritual. I have two or three other men who are going to be working on other papers as well that can't come this year because their wives are having babies. I mean what kind of spiritual commitment is that? Your wife's due date is the 6th of March so you're not going to come and give a paper?  Some people just don't understand commitment! So there some other papers that are going to be done and they aren't going to be included because these guys can't come into conference. So who'd have thought two guys would work out such creative excuses? 

Anyhow, that's sort of my ambition is that we will be able to put together a really good a publication that we can then take a couple publishers and see if we can bring out a volume on the spiritual life in the tradition of Louis Sperry Chafer's He That is Spiritual that will honor him. That's the idea. That's going to be a good conference. 

The issue in all of this is: how is a person really sanctified? That's where the writer of Hebrews is going in this little section.  So he goes back here and he looks at these this reference to these this heretical doctrine here, that there are those who are saying instead of their being established by grace, the spiritual life is not on the basis of grace but on the basis of foods. That is, somehow if you eat certain foods specifically those that are part of the sacrificial Levitical system that this will move you into a higher spiritual life. 

They had that in the Old Testament just as much as we do today. You always have people that say, "I've got the key to the victorious Christian life," or the higher spiritual life or whatever it is that came out of the holiness and Keswick movements in the 19th century. But there's no such special thing that if you just get the right formula that somehow that's going to elevate you above the struggle of spiritual warfare and the struggle with sin. It just isn't going on happen. 

The warning here in verse 9 is not to be distracted by these false claims of spirituality basically. In this instance it was food, but we've seen so many different kinds of aberrations down through the centuries—whether it's asceticism; today we have of resurrection of medieval asceticism and contemplative spirituality. You go to a Protestant bookstore and you will find as many books on by the medieval mystics (St. John of Damascus, Theresa of Avila, Thomas a Kempis) than you find at a Roman Catholic bookstore. This has permeated late 20th century, early 21st century evangelicalism. We have to be warned against that. But there's always somebody who's not satisfied with their spiritual life, and they get the secret. They say, "I have a secret. I figured out the secret. I figured out the magic formula." They've got the clue to the spiritual life. So in the 1st century apparently there were those focusing on food. 

In contrast to that, the writer of Hebrews says in verse 10:

NKJ Hebrews 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.

The word altar here is used in a different sense. The altar is where the sacrifice took place. The altar for the Christian is the cross of Christ. That's where the sacrifice took place. So he's using the word altar here in a metaphorical way. Now that takes us back to the Gospel of John and the bread of life discourse when Jesus says, "He who eats my flesh and drinks My blood shall be saved." He's using the term "eating and drinking" there as a metaphor for accepting Him or believing in Him. The eating and drinking of Christ isn't literal which is what you have in the Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation, that the bread and wine literally change into the literal body and literal blood of Christ.

I read a survey the other day that 40% of Roman Catholics didn't know that that's what the Roman Catholic Church taught about the mass. Forty percent did not understand that what was going up there when the priest said "hocus pocus" over the elements. Now you think I'm making fun of them. When the priest says hocus mais corpus (This is My body)… In medieval England nobody knew Latin. They thought he was saying hocus pocus. That's where you get the word hocus pocus. Hocus mais corpus – see, hocus pocus. When the priest says, "This is my body. This is my blood", in Roman Catholic theology it literally changes into the body and the blood of Christ. So they feed on that spiritual food. They misunderstood the metaphor. The metaphor for eating and drinking is that anybody can do it and to eat something or to drink something we accepted it into ourselves. That is the picture of acceptance or belief. So the writer of Hebrews says:

NKJ Hebrews 13:10 We as Christians

have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.

…because they don't understand that everything that's happening ritually in the temple or tabernacle service is a picture (a depiction) of what would happen when God finally resolved the sin problem. It pointed forward to what would happen with Jesus Christ. They don't have a right to eat at the table we do. We are eating spiritual food, which is Jesus Christ by faith and trust in Him. They don't have a right to that table because they've never accepted Christ as their Savior. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.

Now he's going to make an issue of the fact that those bodies are burned outside the camp. To understand that we have to understand what went on in the instructions in Leviticus 16 for Yom Kippur. Leviticus 16 gives all the descriptions and we've gone through this in detail of what the high priests was to do on the day of Atonement. 

The first thing that would have to happen is that the high priest as a sinner would have to be cleansed of sin. He and his family have to be cleansed of sin first. Initially (verse 3) Aaron was to come into the holy place with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering and the blood of ram as a burnt offering. So there is a sin offering and a burnt offering from a young bull and ram. This is related to his personal cleansing, his ritual cleansing, and the cleansing of his family. 

He is to dress a certain way. 

NKJ Leviticus 16:4 "He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body; he shall be girded with a linen sash, and with the linen turban he shall be attired…

This was all white. What is interesting is today if you go to a Jewish synagogue on Yom Kippur the rabbis will be dressed in white linen robes. That derives from this passage. The white linen robes depict something that is done. The linen comes from the flax plant. It's not a basis of the human work. It's not like a manmade fiber or something of that nature. The whiteness reflects purity. So this is a physical, literal, visual picture of his sanctification. 

He washes his body in the water, and then he puts on these new clothes. Then he performs these sacrifices for himself and for his family. 

NKJ Leviticus 16:6 " Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house.

Atonement has the idea of cleansing or purification for sin. I've talked about this before that the Hebrew word for atonement is kaphar. That had a nice little sound, memory device. Kaphar means to cover. There is one Hebrew word kaphar that is the word that is used when Noah covered the Ark with pitch. 

For many, many, many years it has been thought that kaphar means to cover. But recent scholarship suggests that there are these two homonyms: two words that are spelled the same, sound the same but they have a different etymology or background; and kaphar 1 means to cover. That's like covering something with pitch. But kaphar 2 has the idea of cleansing from sin or sanctification or purification. So what's interesting is when the rabbis who translated the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament in the 2nd century or so BC, many times the word they used to translate kaphar is katharizo, the Greek word for cleansing. They also translated it with the Greek word hilasterion, which means propitiation. So what we really have in the word kaphar is a multifaceted term that can summarize all of the different aspects of what takes place to resolve the sin problem. In some places it's cleansing, some places it's propitiation. But it's both man-ward and Godward. 

The English word atonement was coined. It is literally at-one-ment, to summarize the word. There is really no such word like atonement in Hebrew or in the Greek.

So the offering is designed to create cleansing purification from sin. 

The next things that Aaron brings is two goats. One goat is destined to be killed and one goat is destined to be let lose in the wilderness. They cast lots to determine which will be which. The one that is destined for sacrifice will be taken as a sin offering. The goat that is a scapegoat is taken and will be released in the wilderness. The high priest sits down and puts his hand on the head of both goats. This indicates an identification of the priest with the goat and identification, substitution and the sin of the nation by virtue of the representation of the high priest is imputed to the goats. The one goat is taken and killed because a death is required to pay the penalty for sin. 

The other goat, which has also received the imputation of sin, depicts something different. He is taken out so far out into the wilderness that he can't find his way back; and he is released to depict the fact that the sin problem is dealt with so completely that these sins are not going to be brought up again. They are completely dealt with. So that is the picture that is there with the two goats. 

Then the sin offering is taken. The high priest will take the goat of the sin offering and takes its blood inside the veil. When we discussed this in Hebrews, I pointed out that there's some debate over whether the altar of the incense is outside the veil or inside the veil. I took the position based on a number of translations that it was probably was just inside the veil, not outside the veil. The high priest could light the incense and burn it from outside the veil without necessarily going inside. This was in the Holy of Holies, and you have the Altar of Incense here and then the Ark of the Covenant here, which is the main piece of furniture inside the Holy of Holies. The Ark of the Covenant looked like this with the box, which is made of acacia wood covered with gold. The lid was pure gold. This is called in the Greek hilasterion, which is also translated propitiation, the place of propitiation or the Mercy Seat. 

Inside the box were the symbols of Israel's sin: the broken Ten Commandments, Aaron's rod that budded and the manna. Then the high priest would splatter blood on the Mercy Seat. He doesn't just place it there. He would be splattered it there. So it was a pretty bloody looking mess after awhile. The picture is the cherubs looking down upon the Mercy Seat where the blood is, represents God's holiness and righteousness are satisfied by the shedding of blood or by the death – the shedding of blood being a metaphor for death. 

Now when that was over with the bodies of the animals that were used in the sacrifice that was not burned up in a burnt offering. The bodies were then taken outside of the camp in an unsanctified area, and then they were of burned up. 

NKJ Leviticus 16:27 "The bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. And they shall burn in the fire their skins, their flesh, and their offal.

NKJ Leviticus 16:28 "Then he who burns them shall wash

… because he's been out now in unsanctified ground. 

his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.

So outside the camp is the place where it is unsanctified. 

NKJ Hebrews 13:11 For the bodies of those animals,

That's the bull and the goat that are used on the day of Atonement.

whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin,

That is for a substitute or atonement for sin.

are burned outside the camp.

"Outside the camp" is now going to be picked up as an important illustration.

NKJ Hebrews 13:12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people

There is that word which means to be set apart to God. Here it's talking about positional sanctification, not experiential sanctification. Positional sanctification is what happens when our sins are paid for; and that is first applied to the individual believer. He is positionally set apart by virtue of his identification with Christ and in His death, burial, and resurrection which brings in the baptism by the Holy Spirit.

with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

Here is a map of Jerusalem as it existed in the early part of the first century AD. The black dotted line here represents the gate, the wall of Jerusalem at the time of Christ. It comes down here from the north to the south and then makes the right-angled turn going this way and around the palace of Herod which is where the citadel of David and the Joppa Gate now stand. It heads south and around the southern part of the city and around the southern end of the Old city of David and then back north to the Temple Mount. Now Golgotha (the traditional location where the Church of the Holy Sepulture is) is located right here. This is the traditional location.

For years nobody knew about this wall. The wall that we knew about was this wall that was begun by Herod and was completed in the AD 40. The problem there was that Golgotha then would be inside the gate. But Hebrews says that He suffered outside to gate. Nevertheless this was the traditional site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where most people believe Jesus was crucified. This portion of the wall here is about maybe 75 yards to the east of the traditional site of Golgotha, which actually is a little more south in this area.  

They were excavating in the basement in the basement of the Russian Orthodox Church and they discovered a huge gate and part of the wall that existed there. It's a large gate. Then just to the right of it there is a very much smaller gate which is referred to as the eye of the needle so that after dark when they closed the big gate if you were just an individual instead of opening the big gate you would just come into the eye of the needle gate. That has nothing to do with that verse in the Scripture that says it's easier for a rich man to get into heaven than for somebody to go through the eye of a needle – different needle word. It is a different needle word. But what that did was it confirmed the fact that the traditional location of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was outside of the wall and that indeed up until 40 AD this was the western wall of the city that ran just to the east of the side of Golgotha which means Jesus was crucified outside of the camp as the writer of Hebrews indicates here in Hebrews 13:11. So He is outside the camp in unsanctified territory. 

that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

That is by means of His death. The concept of "with His blood" always indicates death.

Therefore in verse 13 he draws an application.

NKJ Hebrews 13:13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.

…not inside which is dominated by the Judaism of the Pharisees which is what these Jewish background believers former priests wanted to do. But he is saying:

go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.

…being identified with Jesus and therefore becoming a reproach to the Jews who had rejected Him and those who were inside the city. 

Then he makes an interesting application in verse 14.

NKJ Hebrews 13:14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.

As Christians we don't focus on the city of Jerusalem. Our focus is on the New Jerusalem that is in the future. This is the city that is built without hands that Abraham looked forward to. This is the New Jerusalem that is related to the heavenly Mount Zion, not the earthly Mount Sinai which was the focal point of the illustration at the end of Hebrews 12.

Next time we'll come back and pick up at verse 15 and work our way toward the end of Hebrews.

Now what I wanted to do when we finish this up is we will complete our study of Hebrews probably next time or come very close to it going from Hebrews 13:15 down to verse 25. We will probably complete that next time. That will be the next to last lesson. Then the last lesson will be a final review, a flyover summarizing what we've gone over in Hebrews covering it again in one lesson. So that covers the next two Thursday nights. Remember next Thursday night 7:30. Then the next Thursday night we'll finish up. Then the next Thursday night we'll start Romans – God willing.

Let's bow our heads in closing prayer.