Draw Near to God: Hebrews 10:19-25: Part I
What It Is and What It Looks Like in a Believer’s Life

Introduction: This four-part series: Draw Near to God: Hebrews 10:19-25 explains what it means to draw near to God and what it looks like in the believer’s life. It addressees what it means to draw near to God as He has drawn near to the believer in Christ by the Holy Spirit.

v.19: Therefore since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,
v.20: by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body,
v.21: and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
v22: let us draw near to God with a sincere heart, full of assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
v.23: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.
v.24: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
v.25: Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let encourage one another – and the all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:19-25)

The book of Hebrews was written to motivate members of the congregation to remain faithful in the midst of hard times. They were to draw near to God. At least initially, hard times were coming from their own people that would widen into persecutions. As a result, some members of the congregation were considering a return to Judaism. The author of the book encouraged his people to remain faithful and to endure. They would do that if they would draw near to God. The question was how. He accomplished that task by presenting Jesus and His ministry as better than. Jesus is superior to angels (1:4-14); He is the greater Moses (3:1-6); He is the greater High Priest (Heb. 4:14-7:28). He is superior to the high priest, the sacrifice, and the entire Levitical sacrificial system (7:1-10:18). Jesus ushered in the new exodus with His bodily resurrection and fulfilled the new covenant (10:5-10). The author painted such a picture in order to woo his people to draw near to God.

The author moved from arguments for Christ’s superiority (given above) to earnest exhortations on the basis of facts presented: Christ’s eternal priesthood and perfect Sacrifice and His kingly, priestly ministry on earth (10:19-25). The structure of Hebrews10:19-25 is reminisced of the truth presented in Hebrews 4:14-16 and Hebrews 8:1-6 which emphasized the Person and the priestly work of Christ – His beauty and splendor. The author has no qualms with repetition!

Verses19-21 of Hebrews 10 give two summary statements which lead to the conclusion as given in verse 22. The author used the conjunction to tie together Christ and His work with the believer’s response. The conjunction is translated as therefore or since (10:19, 21). The author’s point: there are facts for the believer to consider and to direct his activity in order for him to draw to near God.

First, the Hebrew congregation had a confidence and boldness that is not found in unbelievers. Christ and His work is the reason that believers have confidence or boldness to enter into God’s presence (10:19). Boldness is one theme of the letter (3:6; 4:16; 10:19, 35). Boldness was diametrically opposed to drifting, leaving, forsaking, or quitting. To leave and return to Judaism would mean not entering into God’s presence and the blessings that flow from it. It would deny the Triune God’s eternal, redemptive plan of salvation, Christ’s function in that plan, and the activity of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the believer. It would place the person in the frightful position of judgment because as the back-turner and rejecter of the Triune God he would “fall into the hands of the living God” (10:26-31).

Second, believers have the great High Priest. Verse 21 of Hebrews 10 focuses on the second statement: the broken body of Christ and its effect. Jesus was the Perfect Sacrifice and the perfect High Priest. The focus of the Gospels is on the veil that separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place and presence with God (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38). At Christ’s death the veil was torn asunder which ushered the believer into the heavenly sanctuary because that is where the resurrected Jesus is now, the better sanctuary (Hebrews 6:18-20; 9:1-12). Jesus entered into the better sanctuary because He was the perfect Priest and Sacrifice (Hebrews 9:13-10:18).

A true understanding of these facts motivated Jesus to stay the course of pleasing God all the way to the cross and beyond (Hebrews 12:1-3). The author hoped to motivate his people to do the same. Because the congregation was in Christ, believers had no other logical choice than to follow in Jesus’ footsteps (Romans 12:1-2). They were to draw near to God following His pattern – He drew near to them!

The two summary statements (v.19, 21) led to a conclusion – let us come close to God – draw near to God. Suffice it to say that God says what He means and brings it to pass. The Triune God promised intimacy with believers in terms of salvation in Genesis 3:15. The author of Hebrews is calling his people to remember God’s covenantal faithfulness, His power, His promises and purposes. If the believer has unfettered access to God through Christ by the Holy Spirit, and he does (Ephesians 2:18; 3:12), then the believer will be motivated by biblical truths. He will think, desire, and action accordingly (see Romans 6:9-11 for a similar call to holy living based on the doctrine of justification).

Staying the course means growing in Christlikeness in the situation. As a result, God will be glorified and the believer will be blessed. The believer has true freedom. He can approach God and desire to be in His presence without fear and apprehension; but there is more: he has the full assurance that Christ has opened the way when He presented Himself the better and perfect sacrifice to a perfect God (Romans 8:35-39). The author exhorts his people to remember Truth – a Person, who He is and what He has done. By it, they will draw near to God.

1. The presence of God: what is your view of being in the presence of God and is it possible to see God face to face? Read Psalm 34:8 and Philippians 3:7-11 and write out how they help you answer?
2. What hinders your from entering into God’s presence? Is the believer ever out of God’s presence? Is the unbeliever out of God’s presence? Favor and presence are not synonymous.
3. What two truths about Jesus did the author present (v.19, 21) and what did he expect from the people?

Draw Near to God: Hebrews 10:19-25: Part II
What It Is and What It Looks Like in a Believer’s Life

This is the second part of the series: Draw Near to God: Hebrews 10:19-25In Hebrews 10:22-25 the author gives conditions and exhortations that result from Jesus’ Messianic ministry. He is Priest then, now, and forever always in session. The exhortations flow from the conditions that are based on those Jesus secured in His earthly ministry. In verse 22-24, the author gives three positive exhortations (do this) and in verse 25 he gives a positive command in a negative manner (don’t stop doing this).

In verse 22, the author of Hebrews called the congregation to draw near to God – run to Him and not from Him. The call is reminiscent of the gospel call of John the Baptist and Jesus (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15). The Kingdom of God was near – present – and the Kingdom is in fact Jesus Christ (Luke 17:21). He is the restored Son Israel, the new temple, the greater David – the New Jerusalem and greater Zion. The author told his flock why and how to come and draw near to God by citing three facts. Christ drew near to God during His life on earth and now in eternity. As the Godman, He was forsaken once on behalf of believers but he was not forsaken as God (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). In Christ, the believer has a sincere heart, fullness of faith, and whole-body cleansing. The believer is to follow Christ’s example of drawing near to God which is possible for the believer only as a result of union with Christ. What Christ did redemptively, the believer will do non-redemptively. The facts for the believer are:

• He has a sincere heart; the believer is characterized by a desire and even a yearning to please God as a loyal child and servant. The growing believer has an undivided heart such that he dies to sin, self, and Satan and lives more for God. In this way he imitates Christ’s sole purpose on earth: pleasing His Father (John 4:31-34). The pure in heart – Matthew. 5:8 – are those like Christ because He is in them by the Spirit and He has union with them. Only He is truly and wholly devoted to God and finishing the Triune God’s work. Only He is truly pure in heart.

• He has full assurance of faith or he has the fullness of faith – saving faith is informed, intelligent, active, and seeks truth and realty. Faith is seeking truth in order to understand. Saving faith and reason are linked and never in competition. Faith seeks understanding and understanding seeks saving faith.

• The believer is a whole person (inner and outer man). His inner man (heart and conscience) and His outer man (physical body) has been cleansed by sprinkling of blood, in the Old Tabernacle (9:18-22) and now by the shedding of Christ’s blood (10:1-4). Their bodies have been washed by water. There are new persons in all aspects (2 Corinthians 3:18; 5:17). A new reality has been inaugurated.

These truths must have been remarkable, maybe unbelievable to the Jew who had been stepped in ritual sacrificial system. He may have missed the full impact: the Old pointed to the New. Old Testament believers were saved by the blood of the Lamb and not a four-legged lamb (Leviticus 4:21, 26, 31, 35; 5:10, 13, 16, 18; 6:7). The sacrificial system pointed to the one great once-for-all Sacrifice which had come in Christ never to be repeated. It was the only sacrifice the people needed. They should not, must not, go back to trusting in their own lawkeeping. Also, the reference may have reminded the people of John the Baptist – he baptized with water but Christ would come and baptize with blood and the Spirit (Matthew 3:11). One feature of this truth is the unmitigated excitement of being in God’s presence. As a result of Christ’s work and God’s acceptance of it, the believer does not approach God as guilty and condemned (Romans 8:1). He is a forgiven son never to be forsaken.

In verse 23, the author continues to pile truth upon truth: he tells the believer to hold fast, to hold tightly in contrast to jettisoning himself from God. Christ did not jettison Himself from the Father or from the believer. The tense of the verb, to hold tightly, indicates an ongoing activity. The confession is one of true hope, not a hope-so or despair. The author linked faith and hope (Hebrews 11:1, 6). Holding fast will never cease – on earth or in heaven because God in Christ by the Spirit never detaches Himself from the believer. As Christ and the Father are one in being and in function, so too, is Christ united with the believer (Romans 6:3-8). The believer is in Christ because Christ is united to him by the Holy Spirit. It is as if the believer become a new unit, a new creation (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Believers persevere because God perseveres – He has you! The Son did not come only to make it possible for salvation and for the person to continue as a child of God. As a result of the cross, crucifixion, and resurrection, Christ is the author and Perfector of saving faith and will witness and draw His people to Him as they enter the heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 6:18-20; 12:1-3).

In verse 24, the author moves to specific action: he told the people to be a “good” burr under the saddle of the brethren. The burr’s purpose is to stimulate, provoke, and incite the brethren for fruit bearing – love and good works. Paul gave a similar stirring- up call to the Corinthians by using the example of the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8:1-7). The call is more powerful than simply an encouragement or exhortation. The author knew that focusing on Christ, what they are in Christ, and their resources in Christ would motivate the believers to a true Christ-focus, other-focus rather than their present me-focus.

In verses 22-23, he gave conditions or statements of fact for drawing near that was based on the two truths giving in verses 19 and 21: they had the new Covenant and a perfect High Priest who had been at work from them during his earthly ministry and continues in His session (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). As believers, the congregation had the characteristics discussed above. The people were called to remember who they were in Christ and where they were in Christ and function like it (Colossians 3:1-3; 1 John 3:1-3)! The author turned the people to Christ and away from self. The author prefaced his exhortations by highlighting Jesus and His work (v.19-21).

In verse 25, the author of Hebrews gave a two-part or flip-side command: Don’t forsake each other – don’t desert your brethren or leave them in the lurch (2 Tim. 4:10). Rather they are to gather together. There are to be no go-it-alone Christians. Sadly, Christians were forsaking being in God’s house together to honor God, to fellowship with God and the saints as a foretaste of heaven, and to be blessed individually. Corporate as well as individual privileges and responsibilities are to be used and cultivated because the Judge is coming, life is simplified and glorified by experiencing the joys of heaven now (Matthew 12:33-36; 25:31-46; Romans 5:10; 13:11-14; 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10, 12; Ephesians 5:8-14; James 5:7-10).

1. The call to near to God – enter His presence – is based on what in verse 23 (Hebrews)?
2. What does verse 24 of the book of Hebrews say about hope?
3. What does verse teach should flow from Christ’s work as Priest?
4. Christ is the crucified Lord but also what kind as given verse 25?

Draw Near to God: Hebrews 10:19-25: Part III

I continue the series: Draw Near to God: Hebrews 10:19-25. We read the call to the congregation to draw near to God in Hebrews 10:22. They were to seek God’s presence and delight in His fellowship. The author emphasized confidence much as Paul did in his letters to the Romans and to the Ephesians (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18-3:12). The term access or confidence to enter was to ring a note of hope and certainty. It signified the only way, the only approach, and the only means into God’s presence and it was both Jew and Gentile.

Both the Old and New Testaments teach a way, the way into God’s presence but the New Testament brings it to a fully understanding (see John the Baptist and Isaiah 40:1-3). Old Testament people knew the reality of coming face to face with the living God – death (Genesis 16:13; 32:30, 33; 33:23; Exodus 24:10; Lev. 10: 1-3; Numbers 12:8; Judges 6:22; 13:22; Isaiah 6;5; Ezekiel 1:28). A prone position was only the only logical position.

New Testament believers have the certainty of the presence of God which was promised in Genesis 3:15. God had answered the gate-liturgy dilemma posed in Psalm 15:1-3 and Psalm 24:3-5 – who was worthy of the presence of God, let alone being in it? Adam and Eve had been exiled from the presence of God as unclean. Would mankind ever be in God’s presence and if so how? Christ is the answer and the only answer! He ascended into the heavenly of heavens. He accomplished and is continuing to accomplish His work as the crucified and resurrected Savior (John 19:38; Hebrews 12:18-24).

Earlier, God had opened the way into His presence via the sacrificial system mediated by a privileged high priest and only once per year (Leviticus 16-17). Now Christ, the ultimate High Priest and Sacrifice came and solidified and affirmed the truth that God is here – with His people (Immanuel)! His life and death – sacrifice – will never be repeated. It has accomplished all that God had ordained. Fellowship is sweet, continual, and eventually eternal.

As a result, New Testament believers do not and did not have to wait once a year to enter God’s presence by a substitute. They are not to fear death as a result of Christ’s intercession at the right hand of God. He is seated in the heavens – in God’s presence (Colossians 3:1-3). Please notice that presence, glory, and fellowship are linked. Understanding the significance and seriousness of God’s holiness and man’s un-holiness was one lesson taught in the book of Leviticus (10:10-11). Israel rejected Christ as God and Messiah. They saw God and not die right away. They thought they could take or leave God as they knew Him. The author of the book of Hebrews was concerned that the people had failed to grasp fundamental truths. Because of Christ, the way was clear into the presence of the living God for the believer. The author intended these truths to motivate his congregation to remain firm and not lose heart.

The believer’s confidence for approaching God is twofold: Christ has gone before and the believer in Christ is with Him. The key for the believer is union with Christ. In Christ the believer is something (1 Corinthians 1:30). Out of Christ, the person is destined for misery on this earth and destruction in the next. Therefore because of the believer’s union in Christ, the conditions for safe and joyful entrance into God’s presence have been met. That union was a reality because Jesus finished the race and entered into the Holy of Holiness and the very presence of God in heaven (Hebrews 6:18-20; 9:11-14; 10:12-13; 12:1-3).

The author desired his people to be motivated to stay the course given who Christ is, what He has done, and who they are in Christ as believers. He had a pastor’s heart! He vividly painted the picture that there was no reason for them to turn back and every reason for them to press following Christ’s patterned living and entry into heaven (Hebrews 12:1-3; 6:13-20). Failure to endure was due to a high view of self; a low view of God and their relationship with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit.

In previous chapters, the author had established the sufficiency and glory of Christ in contrast to the Old Covenant, its ways and its mentality. A return to Judaism was associated with a wrong view of both the Old and New Covenants. As glorious as the Old Covenant was (and it was glorious!), its glory and sufficiency paled in comparison to Christ, Who ushered in the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6-18). The New Covenant was the essence of the Old Covenant revealed. The unity of God’s redemptive plan is shown in both the Old and New Testaments. His plan and the means of salvation and life after salvation culminated with the new Covenant.

The Jews knew God as a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. As they did in the wilderness, they tested God and asked Moses and themselves if God kept promises. They wanted to know for their sake and not God’s glory if God could be trusted. Should they go back to what they considered was their roots – Egypt (see Exodus 15:24; 16:1-4; 17:1-3; Numbers 11:1-5; 14:1-4; 21:4-5). The author of the book of Hebrews singled out God’s covenantal faithfulness in Christ as a major motivating theme for the people to remain firm. What was a blessing for them then is a blessing for all believers today.

The author continued to motivate his people by the answer to the gate-liturgy dilemma (Psalms 15:1-3; 24:3-5). Since the exile of Adam and Eve from the Garden (the Garden was a type of Holy of Holiness), the most pressing question for mankind in general and each individual is the possibility of entrance into God’s presence for fellowship and worship. Is it yes or no and on what basis? In Genesis 3:15 God gave His answer: yes through the seed of the woman which was to be Christ (Romans 16:20; Galatians 3:16). Given the answer that there was a way into God’s presence and that way is Jesus, the author was excited to emphasize this truth to his congregation (Hebrews 6:18-20). He was bringing the Old and the New together. He was excited about His and Israel’s God. God is who He said He is and He is trustworthy. The author-pastor warned the people sternly: if the people moved away they could not comeback (Hebrews 6:4-6)!

1. Being in God’s presence worshipping and enjoying fellowship was previewed in the ritual sacrificial system headed by the high priest. The Jews needed a lasting sacrifice and One who had entered into God’s presence as their agent.
a. Compare Leviticus 10:1-3, 10-11 and chapter 16 with Hebrews 6:18-20, 10:11-14, 19-22. What do you learn and how will you apply it?
b. What was the author’s confidence?
2. All believers, Jew and Gentile, require a sacrifice for salvation.
a. Ephesians 2:11-15 that Jew and Gentile have become one in Christ. How is the possible? See Romans 2:28-29 as you answer.
b. There is one way into God’s presence for Jew and Gentile. What is it?
3. How would drawing near to God be a blessing to the congregation and to you? What will it look in your life and I the life of the congregation?

What Drawing Near Is and Looks Like in a Believer’s Life: Part IV

The last in the series: Draw Near to God: Hebrews 10:19-25. The author of the book of Hebrews encouraged his people to draw near to God. Specifically, what does it mean to draw near to God? Drawing near refers to closeness. In this case, it refers to pleasant intimacy and fellowship with God. In the context of the particular situation, the people were tempted to give up Christ, not simply give up on Christ. The author’s concern was not simply to prevent the people from giving up. Endurance was an issue and he addresses that issue (see my book: Endurance: What It is and How It looks in a believer’s life). His concern was their willingness to jettison Christ. Instead of more of Christ, they wanted less of Him! Paul faced the same situation with the Galatians as given in Galatians 3:1-5.

Both groups of people wanted something more than Christ and more than faith alone by grace alone through the Spirit alone. Rather, both Paul and the author of the book of Hebrews motivated the people to desire more of the something – that something being Christ. Both congregations were willing to jettison Christ, the gospel, and grace for the false gospel of works and what they considered safety and comfort. Each group of people had begun well but now were tempted to return to darkness, deadness, and defiance. They were willing to stand before God and entering into His presence based on something other than Christ and His work. Both authors knew that truth and reality applied by the Spirit would set the people free.

A return to Judaism meant rejecting Christ and throwing off His redemptive work. A return to Judaism meant relying on their efforts and logic. The people needed boldness and drawing near to God which was a dominant theme of the epistle (3:6; 4:16; 10:19, 35). Boldness and endurance are linked and are informed by a proper understanding of Christ and His work. In a sense, they had boldness but were not bold toward Christ. Their boldness was not linked by the reality of full access into heaven, into God’s presence, without dying. Rather, it was linked to their efforts and their assumed goodness.

We also encounter the phrase let us draw near in Hebrews 4:16 (approach the throne of grace). In a sense the author is asking the people to experience God – to taste and see that God is good as did the Psalmist and Paul (Psalms 34:8; Philippians 3:7-11). It is a longing and a desire to have and to delight in God for Who He is. It must include being satisfied with God. It in involves knowledge of God and self. The author encourages the people to never tire of God – His person, presence, promises, providence, plan, provisions, and power to remain faithful to himself and to His people. James also exhorted his people to come near to God through faith and repentance with the promise that God will come near to them (James 4:8).

Drawing near to God includes physical movement such as attending worship services and keeping the Sabbath (Hebrews 10:25). However, it is more than duty and ritual and it has a deeper motivation than simply a desire to get from God. At its core, drawing near requires a proper understanding of the distance between God and man and between man and God AND God’s solution. With a proper understanding Christ’s perfect lawkeeping before and after the cross, His Resurrection and Ascension, and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling the Church, the believer views God and self in an entirely light. He begins to understand and relish God’s answer for the chasm between God and man – Jesus. Jesus the ultimate and perfect High Priest entered into God’s presence into the Holy of Holies once and for all as the believer’s representative and He awaits His people (Heb. 6:18-20). Christ paid the price to God in order to regain presence with God.

Drawing near to God and being in His presence is a reality only through reliance upon Christ’s active obedience and perfect lawkeeping AND His perfect death. Christ’s active obedience is in stark contrast to man’s feeble and rebellious attempts to be in control and to be his own savior. Believers draw near to God, fellowship with Him and are intimate with Him, because God has made them His children. He has created a relationship between Himself and believers who were formerly His enemies. The great divide and alienation between God and mankind has been removed (Colossians 1:13, 21-22). Therefore, it is only logical for the believer to want more of what He already has in Christ by the Holy Spirit.

The author repeated Jesus’ invitation given in Matthew 11:28-30. Both Jesus and the author of Hebrews bid the people who were burdened and blind to come close to Christ to seek intimacy and fellowship with Him. The call was based on Christ’s work which united Himself to the believer. As a result believers are united to Him via saving faith through the Spirit.

Christ’s work on the cross is given in terms of the New Covenant in Hebrews 10:16-17: sins are forgiven and the law which is in their hearts is now more fully Holy Spirit-birthed and Holy Spirit-directed (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Spirit indwelt the Church and individually those that were believers (Hebrews 12:18-24). The author was piling up resource after resource, blessing after blessing, to encourage his people to remain faithful believers. Drawing near to God is relational. It is dependent on a correct view of one’s relationship with Christ and Christ’s lawkeeping in contrast to one’s own lawmaking and lawkeeping.

1. Where are you in your relationship to Christ?
2. What kind of High Priest is He and what kind of priest are you?
3. How have you drawn near and tasted God’s goodness? What is keeping you from it?