Hebrews 10:1 For the law having a shadow 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.
2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
It is important to remember that God is the Author of the Bible. When He mentions the shadow of things to come, He is not discrediting the things that came before. They were important and they had their place. We will never fully understand how God does things, but we can know that He knows what He is doing and His way is always right.
Rather than waste time trying to second-guess God we are wise to trust Him and enjoy His blessings. The Bible often talks of the importance of child-like faith. Young children do not know what their parents are doing all the time. However, the young child is wise to simply trust Daddy and Mommy to feed them and clothe them and provide for the things that they need. Children discover that as they trust their parents, they find them to be good to them. Of course that pertains to godly parents.
Trust in God is never a blind trust. God has given us His Word and we can see over and over again how God blesses those who trust in Him. We can also see the trouble that people get into when they do not trust God but prefer to go their own way.
In verse 1 God reminds us again that the former things which were a shadow of the good things to come, can never make the comers thereunto perfect. The word translated as “perfect” has the meaning of “complete”. The Old Testament saints were not made perfect through the sacrifices they brought. They were made perfect by placing their faith in the promises of God. Because they did that, when Jesus Christ came, He provided the means by which those Old Testament saints could be forgiven. They did not need to die in fear, hoping they had done right. God’s way is so much different than that of Catholicism which teaches that their people need to follow certain rituals. However, they also teach that even if they are faithful to their Catholic teaching, they still need to go to purgatory and they are not guaranteed that they will come out of there and go to heaven. They hope they will, and the people are lied to in that they are told to give money to the priest to pray for their loved one so they could make it through purgatory. That is all a lie and Catholics miss out on heaven because they put their trust in a lie, rather than the truth.
The Old Testament Saints listened to the teaching of God as given to Moses and Aaron and others. God sent them prophets to declare the Word of God to them as well. Those who were saints believed in the Word of God and because they trusted in God those “shadows” would become reality one day. They did not need their living family members to give money to the priest to get them through some fictitious holding place. The Bible describes the resting place of the Old Testament saints to us best in Luke 16. They went to rest in Abraham’s bosom. The lost went straight into hell, and they would never come out of there.
When Jesus Christ died and shed His blood, He made the way possible for the souls of those Old Testament saints to be taken from Abraham’s bosom and brought into heaven. They were not disappointed. They were made complete by faith in God’s promise of a Messiah, just as New Testament saints are made complete by faith in God’s promise of a Messiah. The Old Testament saints looked forward to the fulfilment of God’s promise. New Testament saints look back to that promise that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The shadow is gone!
I remember as a young married man, attending the church my wife grew up in and saying to her after the service: “there is something missing here.” I was saved but did not know what was missing, however I knew something was missing. I believe God, the Holy Spirit, was showing me that through His Word. We eventually left that church and went searching for that which was missing. It took us a number of years to come to see what was missing. In New Evangelicalism, they explain away the Bible. They do not teach the Bible faithfully. That is what was missing. We were not growing because we were not being fed. Eventually I was introduced to some preachers who were teaching the Word of God. I said to my wife, this is what has been missing. To me it was a breath of fresh air to have a God-fearing man preaching the truth. When I read the Bible, and I listened to those men, there was not that conflict that had been there previously. I wanted to believe the Bible, but the New Evangelical preachers kept insisting that you cannot believe everything the Bible says. It has to be “interpreted”. What they teach is that we need to put our “spin” on what the Bible says. That will never work, but the devil has been very good at convincing most people who want to have a form of godliness to buy his lies, rather than follow the truth.
God showed me the importance of His Authority. No one needs to doubt God’s Word. God showed me that He does not lie. There are no contradictions in His Word. There are things in His Word that are hard to be understood.
II Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
The solution is not to twist God’s Word to suit our imaginations. The solution is to humbly submit to God’s truth and ask Him to give us the understanding we need to have. Where things are not clear, we accept them by faith because we know God cannot lie.
Trusting God’s Word and seeking to obey it, is what helped me to grow and become what I am today. God is not finished with me yet. He has more for me to learn and I need to become more obedient to Him. However, He has showed me that I have the real thing. I do not have a shadow that I need to try to keep track of. I am not searching for the truth. I know where the truth is and I need to study God’s Word faithfully and He will reveal more and more truth to me as I follow Him faithfully and obediently. Of course the foundational truth here is that I needed to be saved. Those who want to treat the Bible as a text book and debate it, but not know the Author, will never be complete.
In verse 2 we see that if the Levitical system was the real thing, then the priests would not need to keep offering the same offerings year after year. It is obvious that that system was not able to satisfy the faithful and obedient participant. The Old Testament saints did not die empty and searching. They trusted in the promises of God just like New Testament saints do. They knew God had more in mind than the sacrifices of bulls and goats.
Verse 3 tells us that those who brought the sacrifices were constantly reminded of the sins they committed. Every year the high priest needed to make an offering of atonement in the Holiest place. As He prepared to make that offering, he needed to confess the sins of the people on the one goat and then that goat needed to be taken out into the wilderness and released. That goat needed to be taken far enough away from the camp so that it never came back. That goat was a picture of the forgiveness of sins that God would provide through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The other goat needed to be sacrificed and the blood of it taken into the Holiest place and sprinkled upon the mercy seat. Even the most faithful saint in the Old Testament needed to participate in that Day of Atonement every year.
In verse 4 we are reminded that the blood of bulls and of goats cannot take away sins. Their blood could make an atonement. An atonement is a covering. However, they cannot remove the sin.
God has more to say on this and we will look at that in the future. Suffice it to say that Jesus Christ is better in that He is the real and final sacrifice for sin. Those who trust in Him have their sins forgiven. It is important to understand Biblical forgiveness. It is much different than what most people practice. We will look at that further.
Let me encourage you to prepare yourself to attend a good Bible-believing church today. If you are not able to do that in person, find a good local Bible-believing church in your area to listen to via the internet. It is important to get to know the pastor of a true local Bible-believing church. You need his help more than we sometimes realize. He is not a self-made man. He is being obedient to God’s call and as mentioned, if he is a truly god-fearing man, he will teach you the truth. That is God’s design for this present age.