Hebrews 13:11

Thursday, 16 May 2019

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

The verbs are in the present tense, indicating that the temple was still standing, and that the sacrifices mentioned here were ongoing. Further, as Hebrews is also directed toward the Jews of the end times (as seen in earlier commentaries), it is an indication that a temple will again be built, and that these sacrifices will again be conducted. As they are already being accomplished in practice runs, it is merely a matter of time before this comes about. Concerning these sacrifices, the author says, “For the bodies of those animals.”

This is speaking of the sacrificial system of Israel, not merely animals slaughtered for consumption throughout the land. The sacrificial system is detailed particularly in Leviticus, but it is referred to in other books as well. Now to explain that he is talking about specific sacrifices, he continues with, “whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest.”

The translation, if consistent with Old Testament usage, would say, “whose blood is brought into the tabernacle.” The “sanctuary” is the entire compound of the Lord’s dwelling. The Tent of Meeting is the main edifice within the compound, and the tabernacle is within the Tent of Meeting. It is a specific place within the tabernacle – meaning the Holy Place or the Most Holy Place – that is being referred to.

Many types of sacrifices and offerings were brought to the sanctuary, but only a very select number of them were brought into the Holy Place. An even smaller number were brought into the Most Holy Place. Each was for a very specific reason, and each and every reason pointed to the cleansing power of Christ to come. These were mere shadows and types which looked forward to what He would do for His people. To understand this sacrificial system, and to understand the particular rituals now being described, please take time to read or watch all of the Superior Word sermons from the book of Leviticus.

The author continues with the thought that the blood of these animals, which were brought forth by the high priest, was “for sin.” As noted, different sacrifices had different things done with the blood, with the parts of the animal, and so on. Some blood was splashed upon the altar, some blood was carried into the tabernacle to be sprinkled, etc. Each was for a specific purpose. Those that were “for sin,” were handled according to “who” sinned and the surrounding circumstances of the sin offering. However, when the blood was carried into the tabernacle by the high priest, those animals were not eaten by the priests. Rather, they were “burned outside the camp.”

It must be explained here that not all sin offerings were wholly burnt outside the camp. Those whose blood was not taken inside the tabernacle had certain parts of the animal burnt on the brazen altar, but the meat of the animal was consumed by the priests. That was because, in this, the priests typified Christ. They became the “sin eaters.” The animal, representing the sin, was consumed by the priests and eliminated. This is seen, for example, in Leviticus 10:16-18.

However, the sin offerings where the blood was taken into the tabernacle included the sin of the priests, therefore, the entire animal was burnt outside the camp. This signified that the priests could not remove their own sin. If they did eat the sacrifice, it would symbolize taking their sin back into themselves. The burning of the animal looked forward to the only possible cleansing for their sin, which is the perfect sinlessness of Jesus Christ. Only He can remove such sin. Israel’s rejection of Christ was the reason for its destruction and exile.

They had rejected their only true means of atonement, and they were thus defiled and excluded from their previous rights and privileges before God. Until the leaders of Israel acknowledge Christ as their only true sin-offering, they cannot be forgiven, as a collective whole, of their national sin. Only those individuals who come to Christ – apart from the collective whole – will receive His forgiveness. This will continue to be explained in the verses ahead.

Life application: Anytime something was taken “outside the camp,” it was for reasons of impurity. People with diseases were kept there, blasphemers were taken there and stoned, those who died were taken there, etc. In the case of the sin offering mentioned above, sin was transferred to the animal. The blood proved the death of the animal which indicated that the transfer had taken place and that a life was forfeit. Then the dead animal’s carcass was taken outside the camp to remove the taint of the sin which had been transferred, thus keeping it from defiling people or implements.

The question for you is, “How will your sin be removed?” People have devised a thousand times ten thousand different religions, trying to develop the perfect way of removing their sin, and all of them have failed. Why? It is because they fail to see that sin already exists in all human beings. Only a sinless human being could be acceptable to take away the sin of man. The sacrificial system of Israel, which looks forward to Jesus Christ, clearly shows the truth of “inherited sin.” Offering a baby for one’s sin doesn’t remove sin. Instead, it only commits another sin. Think on what the Bible is revealing, and come to Christ who alone can remove sin from your stained soul.

Heavenly Father, the book of Hebrews is such a gift! It helps us to understand more clearly the purpose of many Old Testament books, and it shows us how they pointed to Jesus. Thank you for giving us such beautiful insights into what was, what is, and what is coming because of His grand and glorious work! Amen.

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