THE WAY INTO THE HOLIEST
by Clarence Lunden
A SKETCH OF HEBREWS (N.T. = J.N. Darby's New Translation)
Fragmentary communications by signs and wonders, given in various manners to the fathers, have now been eclipsed by the full revelation given by God to all men in Son.
In becoming Man, this glorious Being, who is the Creator God, is the display of the very brightness and shining forth of God's glory.
Having made purification of sins, the Son of God, in His own right, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Because of Jewish veneration for angels, attention is given at the start of this epistle to the superiority of the Man Christ Jesus to angels and to all created beings.
The writer hides himself because Christ replaces all that have gone before or those who have come after Him so that there might be only one Object upon whom the eye of faith might focus.
The eye is directed into the heavens and "better" things upon which faith can rest.
The Priest is now sitting there performing His mediatorial work for His people.
Because of weakness on the part of Jewish believers, brought about through traditions and partial revelations or communications as to God's mind, couples with lack of faith, to which Gentiles, as well, are prone, the foundations must first be secured.
Since this epistle shows the eternal, permanent character of Christian blessings, it would follow that these must have a firm foundation. Is the eternal future for God's people to be one of shifting sands, of resting upon an immutable Rock?
The personal glories of the Lord Jesus are immediately set before the people in order that the heart might have a sure foundation upon which to rest before the offices of the Priest and King can find a positive ready acceptance.
Jesus is the Son of God (Heb. 1:2)
Jesus is God (Heb. 1:8)
Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament (Heb. 1:10)
Chapters 1 and 2 have much in common and give the subject and general character of the epistle. The contrast with angels begins with verse 4 of chapter 1 and ends with verse 16 of chapter 2. In chapter 1 the superiority of the Son of God to angels is seen in three ways:
First, both angels and men were spoken of as the sons of God in the Old Testament, but never, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee"--also. "I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son."
Second, in the day when God will bring the Firstbegotten into the world again, "He saith, And let all the angels of God worship him"--also, "Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire."
Third, "But to which of the angels said he at any time, sit at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?"
When God brings the Firstbegotten into the world again, it will be as the Melchisedec King and Priest. Then it will be said, "A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom." His throne is eternal.
In verse 9 God speaks of His Son as having companions or fellows. The bride, or the subject of the mystery, Christ and the church, is no the teaching of this epistle. The writer does not take the place of one who has a new revelation from God to man, but as a teacher who is given grace to expound the Old Testament types, especially in regard to the tabernacle in the light that the New Testament sheds, chiefly as to the Priest and His present mediatorial office.
This is to the Jew who was well acquainted with the details of an earthly religion and its workings as well as its benefits. He is not seen as in need of salvation, but as one who, having a new life, needs to be led on to the substance of which the types speak--or "better" things.
Although the Spirit of God writes these things directly to the Jew, there is only one blessing--for Jew and Gentile alike, but it comes to the Jew first. The company of believers were first Jews, later the Gentiles were brought into the very same blessings in connection with heavenly things.
Because of the reluctance of the Jewish remnant to give up a decaying earthly religion, the Spirit of God sets before them these glorious truths, richer and "better," so that a renewed heart, dropping off all that went before, might attach itself to a heavenly Christ, now in the glory.
Taking heed to the teaching of the book of Hebrews should deliver souls from current ecclesiastical error that holds the spirit captive in ordinances and traditions.
Verses 1-4 of this chapter are an exhortation based of truths
set forth in the preceding chapter, namely, the personal
glories of Jesus as being the Son of God, as God, and as
being Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Creator, also His
superiority to angels and all created beings.
The scope of Hebrews embraces the period from the first
advent of Christ to earth until Pentecost, with the
accompanying signs and wonders supplied in power by the Holy
Spirit of God. This includes the resurrection of Christ and
His promise of return to set up eternal rest after having had
His enemies put down and made His footstool. The teachings
hardly go beyond what has been stated. They are connected
with approach to God and the being maintained in a state as
worshippers. It does, in addition, make provision for the
hope of Israel in a coming day when "it shall turn to the
Lord", showing the Priest and King at that time to be after
the order of Melchisedec. Union with Christ and being seated
in the heavenly places are not contemplated, although the
writer would seem to write from the consciousness of the
entire scope of God's purpose.
The Jewish believers are seen as no longer following an
earthly leader, as Moses or Aaron, to an earthly Canaan, but
companions of a heavenly Christ, although they are themselves
still in a wilderness, spiritually, going on to a heavenly rest.
In verses 1-4 warning is given to an apostate before be let
the words spoken from heaven by God's Son slip from his
heart. From such a state there can be no recovery. The
despising of the Word spoken by angels led to judgment.
Christ appeared to man in angelic form in the Old Testament.
angels comprise the highest form of being next to God.
In the following verses, Christ is seen as Man replacing
angels, having been given as Man the place of authority with
nothing that is not put under Him (Ps. 8, Luke 9:26). This
is the glory that He has earned as Son of Man besides His
title over all things as Creator and Son of God.
In this chapter are found four reasons why Christ died:
First, the counsels of God must be fulfilled. These
could only be fulfilled in Man through death.
Second, the one who carried the power of death must be
destroyed and those held by him delivered.
Third, propitiation must be made in order that Abraham's
seed might be fit for companionship with the heavenly Man of
God's counsels. "He took not ahold of angels" (N.T.). He took
on our nature, sin apart.
Fourth, it behooved Christ to be in all things made like
unto His brethren that He might be a faithful and merciful
High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation
for the sins of the people. "For in that he himself hath
suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are
tempted." This last reason is chiefly the subject of this
epistle. We do not find the subject of quickening in Hebrews.
There are three aspects of the priesthood of Christ:
The first might be typified be Phinehas, Numbers 25:10-
13. Having made propitiation, or giving complete satisfaction
to as holy God in regard to sin, by a sacrifice that He
offered, He now has an everlasting priesthood.
Second is after the type of Aaron, either be comparison
or contrast. Having experienced as a Man on earth the
vicissitudes of life, apart from sin, He can sympathize with
the Christian because He is human as well as divine.
Intercession is the character of priesthood in Hebrews.
Third, after the type of Melchisedec, without father or
mother, beginning or end, He abideth a Priest forever and at
the same time is King of righteousness and King of peace on
an eternal throne. This carries an earthly character for His
The type set forth by Phinehas has been completed by His
death. The type given us as to Melchisedec cannot take place
until He puts His enemies down and sits on His own throne on
earth as King and Priest. The type of Aaron must then be the
chief one taken up in Hebrews.
It is said in chapter 8:3, "For every high priest is ordained
to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity
that this man have somewhat also to offer." In chapter 7:27
it says, "For this he did once, when he offered up himself."
As a result of this sacrifice He has been given an
everlasting priesthood. All of God's counsels build upon this
The carrying out of the office of priest after the order of
Melchisedec is still future. Although He is now Priest after
that order, He cannot take the office until this present
period of calling out believers for heaven is past.
The comparison with the priesthood of Aaron begins in chapter
4:14 and continues until chapter 10.
Some may feel that it is too much to say that the Melchisedec
office of Christ is not the subject of Hebrews. If this be
the case, the reader will notice that although the new order
of priesthood is spoken of often as after the order of
Melchisedec, nothing is said pertaining to that office except
its character and what is yet future. In chapter 7:1-21 He
will take office as King and Priest in the millennial day. It
will be on earth and there will be peace then. (See Ps. 10.)
In chapter 2 we read, "We see Jesus, who was made a little
lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned
with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should
taste death for every man (everything, N.T.)."
It is on this basis that God now displays His character--"It
became him." In verses 9-11 we see the eternal Heart of love
to which we will be attaches as sons forever. Does not this
lead us to praise in the holiest?
God is known as "God" in Hebrews. The "Father" or the subject
of that relationship is not found here. The means of our
approach is through a Mediator.
We are now brought to "the Apostle and High Priest of our
confession." (N.T.) Christ Jesus.
The glory of the Son over His own house sets aside Moses who
was merely a servant faithful in all his house.
The Son's house, of which the professing Jew is a part, is
seen in a wide character, including those who in the end may
fall away because of unbelief. Thus, warning is given again,
as in chapter 2:1-3, to any who might think of turning back
to the ordinances and traditions that were now being replaced
by a Person. The new order of things is now visible only to
faith (Heb. 11:27).
Three steps of decline are given in this warning:
"Harden not your hearts," v. 8.
"They do always err in their heart," v. 10.
"An evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living
God," v. 12.
It was not ignorance. "For some, when they had heard, did
provoke." The unbeliever "should not enter into his rest."
This chapter goes on to apply the ancient example to present
Faith is the reception of divine testimony.
The Word, mixed with faith, brings the soul into immediate
association with God. The record of the history of unbelief
among God's people remains a somber example of warning to
present generations. Only believers enter into God's rest.
The "rest" in Hebrews, which now has become the subject for
consideration, is spoken of as yet future, after our works
here on earth are finished. We shall have entered into rest
only when the wilderness and the works of faith are a matter
of history with us.
Reference is made to God's works of creation. After six days
of work, He rested of the seventh.
Joshua spoke of another day, showing that although the people
had entered Canaan, they did not have rest. They still had
enemies and they still had work.
Even in the days of David, much later, no rest had been
There can be no rest where sin is. (See Micah 2:10.)
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
We have seen that the subject of Hebrews is the Christian
making his way to heaven and to the rest that remains for the
people of God, rather than the subject of rest for the
conscience or heart. It is supposed that there is rest of
heart if the truth concerning the immutable character of the
foundations is believed, and purification of sins has been
made. What a rest for the heart to know that One who loves us
and died for us in now our great High Priest of the right
side of the throne of God as our Mediator.
Because the Christian is in a waste howling wilderness where
there is no visible way except by faith, the exhortation is
that we therefore use diligence to enter into that rest, that
no one may fall after the same example of unbelief in not
hearkening to the Word.
It was a mixed company who set out from Egypt, but only those
among them who had faith entered the land (Jude 5).
Today there is a mixed company as then. To the unbelieving
professor the Word of God is not his guide, but reason is his
guide. Reason begins in the heart. Such do not feel the need
for a mediator and are not found in dependence but are quite
self-sufficient. This results in the building again of
ordinances and traditions to supply the answer for a
religious heart that has made a profession of Christ, not
knowing that the shadows are all past, and the true light is
Two things are necessary for the believer in order to enter
the rest at the end of the road. The first of these is the
Word of God. Here we have a revelation of God to the soul
that makes us wise unto salvation, throws a light upon our
path, and is a lamp for the feet (Ps. 119:105).
The Word of God penetrates man's being even to the "dividing
asunder of soul and spirit."
The soul is the seat of the affections and desires. This is
where reason could start and does, in unbelief. The spirit is
that part of our being which reaches unto God if there is
faith, also the means by which God communicates to man's
conscience. It is by this channel that the soul realizes its
responsibility to God.
The Word of God reaches the joints and marrow. These are the
dark, hidden recesses of the heart that we cannot see, also
the very beginnings of life (marrow). "The heart is deceitful
above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I
the LORD search the heart, I try the reins" (Jer. 17:9-10).
Thus, through the exercise of a purged conscience, subject to
the Word, the soul gives evidence of a divine life, pressing
on to the rest that remains for the people of God.
But to have the Word is not enough, for we are compassed with
infirmities. We need divine power for the long trek through
"Having therefore a great high priest who has passed through
the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast the
confession" (Heb. 4:14 N.T.).
Faith arises and goes to the throne for seasonable help.
The subject of the priesthood of Christ is now pursued as
having either a contrast or an analogy to that of Aaron.
Aaron, as priest, could have compassion on the ignorant, and
on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is
encompassed with infirmity. (See also Mal. 2:4-7).
When in this world, "in the days of his flesh," the Lord
Jesus felt need, testings, temptations, weariness, being
alone, being misunderstood, having His life threatened.
He learned obedience "by the things which he suffered; and
being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation
unto all them that obey him: (Heb. 5:8-9).
In Hebrews 5:6 the 110th Psalm is applied to Christ. He is "a
priest forever after the order of Melchisedec" by divine
CHAPTER 5:11-14, CHAPTER 6
In this portion, exhortation and instructions are based upon
the new position of the Christian as companion of a heavenly
Christ who is our Mediator for approach to God.
The Spirit of God rebukes dullness of hearing, showing how
the heart tends toward lethargy. Those who should be teachers
of heavenly things are shill occupied with the first
principles concerning the Christ as known on earth.
There has not been sufficient thought given to the Word of
God -- the dividing asunder between soul and spirit--nor to
the throne of grace for seasonable help. The result is lack
of shill in the Word of righteousness, no senses exercised
between good and evil, still in need of milk, which is for
What really belongs to those who are gainfully occupied is
The blessed Spirit of God must lead on into "better" things
that accompany salvation, regardless of those who lag behind.
Verses 4,5,6,8 do not speak of the true believer, but of a
privileged person who lacks genuine conversion to God and
sees the old wine (Judaism) to be better, although he has
tasted the new.
The blessing of refreshment from heaven has fallen on the
heart of just and unjust alike. This, indeed, is grace. Where
grace is despised, God has nothing more to offer--impossible
to renew to repentance.
Full assurance of the hope is witnessed in souls where the
diligence of a new nature causes works and labour of love to
be expended upon the needy. This God does not forget.
The exhortation to the believer is that he might continue to
the end and notice those who have gone before as examples of
faith and patience. The promise will be fulfilled at the end.
God, that cannot lie, gives strong consolation by two
immutable things--His Word and a Forerunner, even Jesus, who
has personally entered the heavens for the Christian, thus
making his hope sure. This rests upon the High Priest after
the order of Melchisedec.
Melchisedec was king of righteousness and king of peace. The
new millennial order will be a throne upon which One will sit
who is both King and Priest.
He had no beginning and He will have no end. His priesthood
and throne are eternal.
His having received tithes of Abraham, who was father of
Levi, shows who was the greater.
Israel's priests, who have died, received tithes, but this
Priest liveth forever.
Thus the priesthood and all of the order formed around it
have been replaced by a new order.
Like Melchisedec, this Priest had no pedigree. He sprang from
Judah and came not by carnal commandment but after the power
of endless life.
Therefore, there is the setting aside of the commandment and
the bringing in of a better hope by which we draw nigh to
"Jesus became the surety of a better covenant" (Heb. 7:22,
Since this Man has an unchangeable priesthood, He can save to
the uttermost all who come to God by Him, "seeing He ever
liveth to make intercession for them."
He who is make High Priest by an oath became us, who is holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and make higher
than the heavens. This High Priest is God's Son, consecrated
We have such an High Priest in heaven, a "minister of the
sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord
If Priest, He must have something to offer. He offered
The pattern given to Moses on the mount was typical of
heavenly things. This is the tabernacle, not the temple which
prefigures earthly glory.
The calling for a better covenant must of necessity void the
old. The new will be written in the mind and heart. It will
also include an inherent knowledge of God. The old must
God will be merciful to Israel unrighteousness, and their
sins and iniquities will He remember no more.
Ordinances characterized the divine service in the earthly
sanctuary--visible objects such as the candlestick, table,
and shewbread in the holy place. In the most holy place,
after the second veil, were the golden censer and the ark of
the covenant overlaid round about with gold. In this last
were concealed the golden pot that had manna and Aaron's rod
that budded, together with the tables of the covenant. Over
this the cherubim spread their wings as they looked inward
and down upon the mercyseat.
Daily rituals were the lot of the priests of the earthly
tabernacle. Not so the most holy place, for into this place
the priest entered once every year, not without blood, both
for his own and the people's errors.
In the old order the way into the holiest was not yet
manifest. These rites and ceremonies had no power to cleanse
the conscience of the worshippers, yet were imposed upon them
until the time of Christ.
The old order took in only the errors of the people. The work
of Christ affects the whole man.
The purifying of the flesh or outward man was the only result
of ordinances and the offering of the blood of beasts.
The blood of Christ, having now been offered without spot
through the eternal Spirit, has purged the conscience of the
believer to serve the living God.
The provisionary and figurative sacrifices and ordinances of
the Old Testament, connected with an earthly tabernacle,
could not give access into the holiest, the worshipper having
no title. Now Christ is his title because of His presence on
The believer can enter in because he has a purged conscience,
not innocent, as Adam, but cleansed. The believer is without
spot before God because Christ has gone into the holy place,
having obtained eternal redemption for us by His own blood.
Christ is the Mediator of a new covenant, but it could not
take effect until the death of the testator.
"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and
without shedding of blood is no remission."
Heavenly things must be purified with better sacrifices.
Christ does not go in to offer Himself often. Once in the end
of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the
sacrifice of Himself.
Those that look for Him refers to their expectation of His
return to earth, not the rapture. His return will be
salvation. Never does He need to undertake a work of
redemption again. The work is finished forever.
The perfection of the believer is brought about through the
offering of Christ's body. He could say, "A body hast thou
Christ's complete submission to God's will places the
believer in the position of perfection before God, there
being only one will--the will of God.
In that long eternal day there will be only one will-God's.
When the Lord Jesus came into this world, it was to do God's
will, even unto death. This was costly for Him, yet it was
(1) "By the which will we are sanctified through the
offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." After
offering one sacrifice for sins, He forever sat down on the
right hand of God.
(2) "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that
(3) "Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us."
The position in which the believer now is, as a result of the
finished work of Christ, is one of perfection before God, all
sins forgotten forever and the Holy Ghost making it all good
to us in order that we might be at complete peace by
believing the testimony.
We are sanctified.
We are perfected.
We are intelligent as to it all.
We have no more conscience of sins.
There is no more offering for sin.
We have liberty to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus.
There is a new and living way opened to us.
We have an High Priest.
We are invited to draw near in full assurance of faith.
This closes the direct teaching or doctrine of the epistle,
the remainder being mainly an exhortation based upon the
doctrine given, using examples of faith for our
In the old order of the tabernacle, the priest washed in the
laver before entering the holy place.
Applying this truth, the believer now sees not only his sins
gone by the application of the blood, thus having a purged
conscience, but by faith he applies the truth of the offering
up of the body of Christ, to himself, by the washing of the
body with pure water. By this is meant the complete setting
aside of the old order and by faith entering into the new by
a new and living way, no more conscience of sins--and the
entire man cleansed and in a new place before God. This is
regeneration, of which baptism might be a figure.
The day of apostasy is at hand. Believers should find
themselves more and more assembled together as the moment of
our complete salvation nears.
To sin wilfully is to insult the Spirit of grace by turning
back to ordinances after having the full testimony of a
risen, glorified Christ as presented by Stephen. (Acts 7).
Vengeance belongs to God. The time is coming when God will
judge His people, separating the precious from the vile (Mal.
The believers are reminded of their first reception of the
gospel and the zeal manifested in which they were partners
with the apostles in testimony and suffering. As we near the
end of the road there is an increasing need for patience.
The Saviour will come for the salvation of His own. The just
live by faith.
To the soul of man, "Faith is the substantiating of things
hopes for." How can we be sure of our destiny? God hath
spoken. Our Forerunner has entered our eternal abode for us.
Faith is the conviction of things not seen. Confidence in the
Person who has wrought for us, and in His work has taken care
of our every exigency, brings this conviction to us by the
persuasion of the Spirit of God.
"The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all
the inward parts of the belly" (Prov. 20:27.)
In the first part of this chapter we are given the way of
approach to God and the heavenly and earthly blessing
connected with God's purpose or counsels.
"Without faith it is impossible to please him."
Abel offered a sacrifice and obtained witness that he was
Enoch, a type of one in the heavenly department of the
kingdom, was translated. Noah prepared an ark in order to be
preserved through judgment, so as to be placed upon a renewed
The remainder of the chapter divides into two classes--those
who displayed the patience of faith, as Abraham, and those
who showed the energy of faith, as Moses.
The chapter ends with all having obtained a good report
through faith, yet not having received the promise. They will
have to wait until the heavenly blessings are given before
they can receive the promise.
After the examples of the patience and energy of faith of
chapter 11, they are also set aside in order for us to view
one perfect Example who endured, not only a rigorous path for
the glory of God, but suffered death. He now is "set down at
the right hand of the throne of God."
It was the joy that was set before Him at the end of the road
which stayed His spirit.
The exhortation for us is to lay aside every impediment and
sin, looking unto this perfect Example.
Chastening is a part of the path of faith. It is a sign that
we are children.
Through exercise, discipline yields the peaceable fruits of
By lifting up the hands of others, in our prayers, and making
straight paths for our feet, we follow the example that the
Lord Jesus left us and become a blessing here.
Following peace and practical holiness, we display the
evidences of the place in which we are now, through the work
and sacrifice of Christ for us.
Esau despised his birthright. We are not come to the judgment
seen at Sinai, but to better things, which lead into a full
millenial blessing, not to speak of what will eternally be
The full millennial blessing:
First, the earthly Zion
Second, the heavenly Jerusalem
Third, the host of angels
Fourth, the church of the Firstborn
Fifth, God, the Judge of all
Sixth, the spirits of just men made perfect
Seventh, Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant
Eighth, the blood of sprinkling
The believer receives a kingdom that cannot be moved.
The one who rejects the Voice which speaks from heaven has
nothing stable to rest upon when God shakes everything that
can be shaken.
"Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with
reverence and godly fear."
This chapter completes a series of exhortations which begin
in chapter 10.
Brotherly love is inherent in the believer. Carelessness may
hinder the outflow.
The original institutions such as marriage must not be
violated, although there is a new order of blessing for us.
One who has the companionship of Christ surely should not
covet, for He has said, "I will never leave thee."
Those who have gone before, leaving an example and setting
before the believer the Word of God, are worthy to be
followed as to their faith.
Not strange doctrines, but grace, should characterize the
We may not have visible objects connected with our approach
to God, but we do have an altar. Jesus suffered without the
gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp.
Here we have no continuing city. We are to do good and give.
his pleases a giving God.
Obedience to those over us as guides is the very path which
the Lord Jesus took.
One who has a good conscience can ask for the prayers of the
The Great Shepherd will lead His sheep into the rest which
remains for the people of God.
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