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ST. PAUL in this Scripture seeks to show the Hebrews that the sacrifices of bulls and goats enjoined for a time have come to an end; and that the Jewish Priesthood has been supplanted by a higher one—Christ and his members, a "Royal Priesthood." He pictures our Lord as addressing the Father in respect to the matter, saying, "Sacrifices and offerings of bulls and of goats Thou wouldst not (these do not satisfy the demands of Thy Law as the redemption price of sinners), but a body hast thou prepared me....Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." There, says the Apostle, he taketh away (or pusheth aside) the first or typical sacrifices of the Law Covenant (bulls and goats) that he may establish or bring into place the second—the antitypes of those sacrifices.
As the Father prepared a special body for our Lord Jesus, that was holy, harmless and undefiled and suitable as our sin-offering, so he has provided also a Body of Christ in the flesh, on a larger scale, for sacrifice; by providing for our justification through his blood. As the Apostle says, "Being justified freely by his grace we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." And then he adds, "By which also we have access into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."—Rom. 5:1.
We get into this grace—into this sharing in the glory of Christ in his Kingdom, in his nature, by reason of the opportunity which our justification gives us of becoming members of the High Priest, sharers in his sacrifice. St. Paul refers to this elsewhere, saying to the justified ones, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God (your justification), that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, and your reasonable service." (Rom. 12:1.) Here we have the declaration that we are participants in this sacrifice and that our sacrifice is acceptable to God and counted of him holy because of our faith in and relationship to the Great High Priest who has adopted us as his members and is sacrificing us as members or parts of himself. In harmony with this we read with our text, "By the which will we are [R4390 : page 140] sanctified (set apart as holy and consecrated joint-sacrificers with our Lord) through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ."
The Apostle's argument is that by one offering Christ has perfected forever them that are sanctified. Through his merit there is naught against us now and nothing to hinder us from accepting the gracious invitation to suffer with him as his members, presenting our bodies as living sacrifices through the merit of his sacrifice.
Under the New Covenant God will remove the sins of Israel and Judah and all that come into relationship with him under that Covenant and when that remission of sins shall come it will be an evidence that the sin-offerings of the Atonement Day are at an end, as the Apostle stated in verse eighteen. The remission of sins has not yet come for Israel and the world, because the offering for sins is not completed—Christ is still offering up himself. The great Day of Atonement is not yet closed, though nearly so.
In this connection let us note the Apostle's words that, having confidence in the merit of Christ's sacrifice for us, "we may have boldness (courage) to enter into the holiest." Who entered the holiest in the type? The high priest alone, once every year on the Day of Atonement. Who in the antitype will enter the Most Holy in the end of the antitypical Day of Atonement? The antitypical High Priest—Jesus the Head and the Church his Body. It is because of our faith and obedience along this line that we are accepted as members of the High Priest's Body, whom he is sacrificing, that we have hope to enter in ultimately into the Most Holy as his members; and thither we are already entered by faith.
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"O Blessed Lord, how much I long
To do some noble work for thee!
To lift thee up before the world
Till every eye thy grace shall see;
But not to me didst thou intrust
The talents five or talents two,
Yet, in my round of daily tasks,
Lord, make me faithful over few.
"I may not stand and break the bread
To those who hunger for thy Word,
And 'midst the throngs that sing thy praise
My feeble voice may ne'er be heard;
And, still, for me thou hast a place—
Some little corner I may fill,
Where I can pray, 'Thy Kingdom Come!'
And seek to do thy blessed will.
"A cup of water, in thy name,
May prove a comfort to the faint:
For thou wilt own each effort made
To soothe a child or aid a saint;
And thou wilt not despise, dear Lord,
My day of small things, if I try
To do the little I can do,
Nor pass the least endeavor by.
"To teach the wise and mighty ones
The weak and foolish thou dost choose,
And even things despised and base
For thy great glory thou canst use;
So, Lord, tho' humble be my sphere,
In faith I bring to thee my all;
For thine own glory bless and break
My barley loaves and fishes small."
—F. G. Burroughs.