Tuesday, 22 January 2019
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me. Hebrews 10:5
The word, “Therefore,” is given to introduce an evaluation of what Christ’s coming means based on what has been presented. The author has said that the law was a mere shadow of what was coming in Christ, and that the sacrifices of the law could never make those who approach perfect (10:1). He then asked a rhetorical question based on that. If those sacrifices could have perfected those who approached, wouldn’t they have ceased being offered? (10:2). He then noted that in the sacrifices themselves, there was actually a yearly reminder of sin (10:3). And then he explicitly stated that it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins (10:4).
With these things stated, he shows that all of these points demonstrated the necessity of Christ to come, and that the Old Covenant was only given as a stepping stone on the way to the giving of the New Covenant. This will be revealed over the next few verses. For now, he goes directly to the coming of Christ by saying, “when He came into the world, He said.” This takes us back to Chapter 9 where it said that “Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands” (9:24).
He was the subject of that verse, and everything said after that, until the end of the chapter. The author now returns to the coming of Christ by quoting what is said of Him in Scripture. In other words, Christ, as anticipated in the Old Testament, is the fulfillment of the prophetic word of God. The author cites Psalm 40:6-8, a psalm written by David, and he attributes the words there to Christ. It is as if He was speaking out those words, even before His incarnation.
As this is so, then Christ is, in fact, the fulfillment of what is stated in that prophetic word. This is certain because there is no other record in the New Testament where Christ actually said this. The author takes it as an axiom that what is stated there in the Psalm is referring to Christ Jesus. Further, it cannot be said that this was David merely referring to himself. This will be seen as the citation of the verses continue. For now, and with this understanding, he then begins the citation with, “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire.”
The words here are quoted in relation to Christ, and thus “You” is God. In other words, “Sacrifice and offering You (God) did not desire.” This begins to explain the purpose of the “Therefore.” The author showed (as noted above) that the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant was incapable of removing sin in man. But removing sin in man is the only way for man to be restored to God. As this is so, then it cannot be that God desired sacrifice and offering, meaning of those things mandated under the Old Covenant. And yet, He mandated them in the covenant. This again shows us that those things were only given as types and shadows of what God Himself would do in Christ Jesus. Understanding this, the author continues the citation of the psalm with, “But a body You have prepared for Me.”
The author of Hebrews uses the Greek translation of the psalm, but the Hebrew reads, “My ears you have opened.” Though that is a remarkable change from the Hebrew to the Greek, the difference is explained in the fact that hearing the command leads to obedience. In obedience, the person then submits his body to the will of God. Having ears implies having a body to which the ears are attached. In preparing a body, ears are likewise prepared. Hence, “a body You have prepared for Me,” is not a large difference from the original, and it carries the sense of the Hebrew.
It is the incarnate body of Christ Jesus which is spoken of here. Again, think of it! The author of the psalms is writing, under the covenant in which he existed, that God did not desire the very sacrifices and offerings that he participated in year after year. If this psalm were not understood to be a prophecy of Christ, the psalmist (David) would have been taken out and stoned for blasphemy! But David (meaning God speaking through him) completely dismisses the effectual nature of the Old Covenant sacrificial system, and he cites words that could only be speaking of a human – “But a body You have prepared for Me.”
The psalmist is showing, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that a HUMAN BEING would replace the Old Covenant system of sacrifices and offerings. If Israel today just stopped and considered this, as the author did two thousand years ago, then they would never reintroduce the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. They would say, “According to our own Scriptures, these have no merit.”
Life application: The statement, “He came into the world,” is one of the most profound statements that we could ever contemplate. God united with human flesh. No other event in the stream of time will ever compare to what happened at that moment. As the world turns, as the earth moves through the hugely vast solar system, and that in turn moves through an even more vast galaxy – in the midst of billions of galaxies – and all of them moving through the continuum of time and space, no other thing which has ever occurred compares to the coming Christ. Christ Jesus came – perfectly pure and holy – to redeem man. And man is the one part of creation that is said to bear God’s image. But despite this, man can also deny the very Creator whose image he bears. Imagine the immensity of that thought. And yet, even more, it is not just a few of us, but every one of us since creation, who has denied or shunned Him at one time or another. We have all put our desires above the obligation to glorify Him. Instead of releasing His sustaining hand and returning us to nothing, God sent Christ into the world to reconcile us to the Father, showing us His immense love for us in the process. But it also reveals the truth that no sacrifice, no offering, and no payment from us is acceptable to God apart from Jesus. Instead, a body was prepared, a Man came, and a life was given. Don’t be so utterly foolish as to accept less than God’s offer of Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, if it were up to us… if it were up to us, we would lose our salvation ten seconds after we received it by faith in Christ. But how wonderful it is to know that it’s not up to us at all! Your power to save is far greater than our inadequacy to obey. All glory, honor, majesty, and praise belongs to You alone! Amen.