Soteriology 45, Hebrews 10:26-39
January 22, 2017
Let’s go ahead and open with a word of prayer. Father, we’re grateful for today and we’re grateful for a lot of things, I’m grateful for the cool weather, and I ask that You’ll be with us during this time of study as we try to understand an issue that’s kind of complicated. So I ask that You’ll be with us, I ask that You’ll be with us during our worship service, and I do pray for, plead for the illuminating ministry of the Spirit and if there’s anything not right in us right now, Father, that may be inhibiting our fellowship with you we’re just going to take a couple of moments and privately confess that to you. We’re thankful, Lord, for the promise of 1 John 1:9, that “if we confess our sins You are faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness” and we thank You for the fellowship that we have with You, and we claim the promise of the Spirit’s illumination which we need today and every day. We lift these things up in Jesus name, Amen.
It’s good to see everybody. If you could take your Bibles and open them to Hebrews 10, beginning at verse 26. If you’re visiting for the first time let me let you know what we’re doing; we’re doing a study of the passages that seem to deny eternal security. So we’ve sort of laid out the positive arguments for eternal security, but then we say what about all those difficult passages that seem to go the opposite direction. And there are a ton of them, at least five, in the book of Hebrews. Do you all remember what the book of Hebrews is about? Hebrews. And by the way, if you want your husband to make coffee in the morning quote the book of Hebrews because it says Hebrews and not Shebrews. I’ve acquired these jokes over a great career and I’ve just got them ready to unleash at any time. So that’s your biblical authority.
A.D. 70 is around the corner which the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple and so the nation of Israel at this time is under the judgment of God, it just hasn’t been meted out yet. The discipline of God might be a better term. As the church is born, Acts 2, Peter is trying to get, under God’s power, Jews to come out of Judaism and into the new church. So that’s why he says repent, which means change your mind, and save yourself from this perverse generation. And when you did that you went through a ritual called baptism, which the book of Hebrews refers to as their confession because what is baptism but an outward symbol of an inward reality. So baptism doesn’t save anybody but baptism is the confession to the world that you now are identifying with the message of Christ. And the unbelieving Jews didn’t like Jesus doing that so they were always trying to put them under pressure to return to the institutions of Judaism.
And the audience had been under this persecution from these unbelieving Jews, these Hebrew Christians, for a long time, several decades and they’re being worn down. At the bottom of the screen I’ve got several verses that indicate the temple was still standing. [Hebrews 8:4, 13; 9:6; 10:1-2; 13:10] So the temptation to return to the temple is very, very real. So the whole book of Hebrews is really an encouragement not to lapse back into Judaism. And the point of it is what you possess now in Christ is the highest revelation. And the author skillfully weaves that together, that point, by showing how Christ is higher than everything Old Testament Jews, or Hebrews revered. So Christ is higher than the angels, Christ is higher than Moses, Christ is even higher than Aaron. And so he’s shown that Jesus is the highest form of revelation because the Jews in the Old Testament received their revelations from angels, God used angels quite a bit in the Old Testament. Christ is higher than Moses so therefore Christ is higher than the what? The Law, which was very revered in Judaism. And then number three, Christ is higher than Aaron, and who did the priesthood come from? Aaron, so in so doing the writer shows that Christ is higher than Aaron.
And in the process of making his point many times he’ll interrupt his train of thought and he’ll issue a severe warning. These are what are called the warning passages and this happens five times. So he interrupts his train of thought, he gives a severe warning, if you lapse back into Judaism something bad is going to happen to you, and then when he’s finished with his warning he just goes right back on his point, developing his point.
So the warning passages, there’s five of them, are the ones that are hotly debated; those are the ones that people use to argue over and over again that you could lose your salvation. We’ve gone through the four major ways of interpreting these warning passages and the view that I’m an advocate of is view number 4, which is the loss of blessings view. And what I think he’s saying is if you go back into the institutions of Judaism he’s not saying you’re going to hell, he’s not saying you’ve lost your salvation. What he’s saying is you’re depriving yourself of blessings, the key one being maturity, because the Old Testament can’t bring you to maturity, only the New Testament can. So you’re depriving yourselves of blessings you could have had in your Christian life if you had not drifted backwards.
And the paradigm of the whole book is, as we’ve talked about, the Kadesh-barnea incident where the Jews came out of Egypt, they had been there for 400 years, and they got to the southern border of the land of Israel and what did they see in the land? Giants, and they fell into fear. So that whole generation, and I’ve tried to document this, so I’m not trying to prove anything right now I’m just summarizing where we’ve been, that whole generation did not go to hell or else you’d have to say Moses went to hell. That doesn’t make any real sense because Moses is with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. So they did not go to hell, they lost a blessing they could have had, which was the Promised Land, that generation. And that’s why back in Hebrews 3:7-11 you’ll see the writer, towards the beginning of the book, making reference to that generation. God was angry with that generation.
[Hebrews 3:7-11, Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,  DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,  WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS.  THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’;  AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’”]
So that becomes the paradigm through which to filter the book of Hebrews and to interpret the warning passages. So he’s building a deliberate relationship parallel between the Kadesh-barnea generation and the predicament that the Hebrews are in and he’s saying in both cases if you drift back you forfeit something major, although it doesn’t refer to hell or loss of salvation. So that’s just sort of review and we’ve been looking very carefully at these warning passages and I’ve been trying to show you how to understand these warning passages in light of what I just said.
We looked last week at the warning against drifting, and then we looked last week at the warning against disobedience, that’s the second warning, I have the Scriptures there where all the warning passages appear, [Hebrews 2:1-4, Hebrews 3:7-4:13, Hebrews 5:10-5:20; Hebrews 10:26-39, Hebrews 12:25-29]
And even before we got into this we spent three classes or Sundays looking at the warning against immaturity. We spent some time on that because I believe chapter 6, verses 4-6 of Hebrews is probably the most controversial passage, maybe in the whole Bible. So we spent a lot of time there and we just have two other warning passages to cover, but don’t celebrate yet because they’re not that easy. Chapter 10 is the difficult one.
So let’s go to Hebrews 10:26-39, let’s take a look at that. I’m just going to read the whole things, there’s about 13-14 verses and then I’ll come back and comment on it. He says, “If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, then there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.  but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.  Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.”  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings,  partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.  For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.  Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.  FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.  BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.  But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”
So the Arminians, someone who thinks you can lose your salvation, believes that these verses teach, and you can see why they think this because it talks about a fiery indignation, it talks about it’s a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of a living God. So the Arminian basically says these are people who were saved but if they lapsed backward they lost their salvation.
The Reformed view comes along and basically says the book of Hebrews was written to Christians, that’s true, but in this case the writer targets unbelievers. So there’s some unbelievers in the flock and what he’s saying is it’s a warning that if the unbelievers don’t become believers like the rest of the flock that they’re on their way to hell.
And I want to show you another possibility that for whatever reason doesn’t get a lot of air time but I think there’s something very different going on here than threats of hell, loss of salvation, or you never had salvation. The first thing to understand, and we’ve already talked about this, is the audience is believers and as you go through this you’ll see very clearly that the audience clearly has salvation because if you look at verse 26 it says, “For if” what? “we go on sinning willfully,” so the author, by using the pronoun “we” is identifying with the status of his audience. So the author would be saved, right? Would you agree with that. So if the author is saved then the audience must be saved because he keeps saying we, we, we, over and over again.
And then as you drop down to verses 19-25 he says, verse 22, “Let us”, verse 24, “Let us”, if you look at verse 19 he uses the word brethren, “therefore brethren,” these are all terms that are applicable to Christians.
[Hebrews 10:19-25, “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;  and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,  not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”]
He indicates, down in verse 29, that these people have already been sanctified. You’ll see that at the end of verse 29, they’ve already been sanctified. [Hebrews 10:29, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?”]
Verse 32 indicates they’ve already been enlightened and enlightened here is salvation, because he goes on and he talks about how they have lasting possessions there in verse 34. And he basically indicates in verse 35 that they’re on track for a great reward in heaven so even though they’re being tempted to lapse backward they haven’t lapsed backward yet. [“Hebrews 10:32, “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings… For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.”  “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.”]
So if you just look at this at face value the basic terms he uses seems to be descriptive of believers. And these believers are being tempted to lapse back into the institutions of Judaism for the simple purpose of escaping persecution. That’s what’s going on here.
Well if all of that is true, then how in the world would I interpret verse 26; look at verse 26, “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” Let me give you my shot at this, what I think this is talking about. When Jesus died on the cross, remember the veil in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place? And by the way, it wasn’t a shower curtain; Josephus, a first century Jewish historian tells us it was actually close to a foot, maybe more, thick. So it was a beautifully embroidered veil, and that veil was in existence for 1,500 years, going back to Mosaic tabernacle days. So what happened to that veil the instant Jesus died? It was torn. And you see that in Matthew 27:50-51, you probably know that but it’s always good to read God’s Word, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.” The King James says He gave up the ghost, in other words, He died. And then the very next verse says, “And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.”
So the moment Christ died is this Mosaic system lost its power. This system, the reason God gave it is because it postponed the note of indebtedness for another year, is what it did. It kicked the can down the road for another year. And so Yom Kippur was a very solemn time, when Aaron would enter the Holy of Holies after the sacrifice had been offered, first of all for him, and he would sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat, and it’s called the Day of Covering, Yom meaning day, Kippur meaning covering, because it never really alleviated the sin problem, the great debt that separates man from God; it just kicked the can down the road another year. So that’s why the next year they had to do the whole thing all over again. If it permanently solved the problem they wouldn’t have to do it the next year.
So the moment Jesus died is the moment this system was no longer needed because Christ took care of what? The whole thing and that’s the significance of the miraculous ripping of that veil; the veil was no longer needed. Man, through the shed blood of Christ could now approach God anytime they wanted, as long as they came through Christ, because this system was a good system but it had served its purpose. And what you have to understand about this system is even though it was theologically and spiritually impotent at this point it was still in existence. The Jews continued, the unbelieving Jews continued to offer up sacrifices in the temple right up to the point of time when the temple was destroyed. When was the temple destroyed? 70 A.D. Now when was the veil ripped? Probably A.D. 33. So from A.D. 33 to A.D. 70 you’ve got the temple system still functioning, it just didn’t have any power. See that?
So this, I think, is the meaning of verse 26. He says if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” you’re going back to something that has no power to do anything for you, it’s just an empty husk if you will, just a ritual, it has no power, its days are over and even the power that it had in Old Testament times to kick the can down the road, even that power is now gone. So I think that’s the right way to understand verse 26, “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” The background I just gave you is what usually isn’t factored in when people interpret this verse. So that would be verse 26.
Now look at verse 27, this is another difficult one, “but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.” See that word “fire” and people automatically think hell. And then drop down to verses 30-31 of Hebrews 10, “For we know Him who said, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY. And again, ‘THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.’  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” And people automatically, when they see this, interpret it as hell.
Let me give you another option here if I could. I think the meaning is not hell but if you go back to the institutions of Judaism you’re going to be swept away in the fiery ordeal of A.D. 70. We know that Titus of Rome came in A.D. 70 and he set the temple on fire. In fact, the gold, Josephus tells us, melted and oozed down in between the bricks and dried there, and the greedy Roman soldiers, to get their hands on the gold, what did they do to the temple? They took it apart brick by brick, kind of something Jesus said would happen, over in Matthew 24:1-2. [Matthew 24:21, “Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.  And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.’”]
And what you have to understand about A.D. 70, it was a horrific event; over a million Jews died in A.D. 70. That’s one-sixth of the holocaust that Adolf Hitler introduced. And what Titus did when he came is he built an embankment around the city so that you could not get out, even if you wanted to get out you couldn’t get out, it was too late, and you were going to be killed. And the Roman soldiers, this is Sanctity of Life Sunday so it’s a good time to talk about the unborn, the Roman soldiers, Josephus tells us, tore open the wombs of pregnant Jewish women and strangled the child inside of them. And so it was a terrible thing.
And so what he is saying is if you go back to the temple you’re going to be locked into this and maybe you’re going to die and go to heaven but you’re going to be one of the million or so that’s going to be killed, and it’s going to be a fiery indignation and God is using A.D. 70, just like He used the Assyrians in the Old Testament, to scatter the northern kingdom, just like He used the Babylonians in the Old Testament to take into captivity the remaining two tribes in the southern kingdom. Those were terrible, terrible times, and difficult times and many people lost their lives but it’s not necessarily a statement about heaven or hell. You can be stuck in this time of intense discipline, die at the hands of Titus but still go to heaven. Follow what I’m getting at.
Now take a look at the predictions of Jesus; go over to Luke 19 if you could; this was on Palm Sunday, Jesus is riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. I believe He’s riding into Jerusalem on the exact day that Daniel predicted He’d ride into Jerusalem; Daniel 9:25 gives us that. [Daniel 9:25, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”]
But if you look at Luke 19 and if you take a look at verses 41-43 of Luke 19, “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,” and that’s kind of strange, why would He look at Jerusalem and weep? Because He understands what’s happening here. He understands that they are going to reject His Messianic credentials and He understands what Daniel predicted in Daniel 9:26, that He Himself would be cut off and inherit nothing. [Daniel 9:26, “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.”] He would not receive His kingdom, which He should have received back in the first century, and Daniel 9:26 says, “the people of the prince who is to come” this is Daniel predicting this all the way back in the sixth century, “the people of the prince will come and destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Daniel is predicting A.D. 70. Jesus, obviously familiar with Daniel’s prophecies is riding into Jerusalem and He knows what Daniel predicted, he knows they are going to reject Him, He knows what’s going to happen as a covenant penalty for their rejection of the Messiah, and He sees A.D. 70 happening almost four decades before it transpired. So He’s weeping; that’s why He’s weeping.
And then as you continue to move on in Luke 19 He begins to describe prophetically A.D. 70. He said,  “If you had known in this day,” now what day? The day that Daniel predicted He’d ride into Jerusalem on a donkey and proclaim His Messianic credentials, “If you had known even you, the things which make for peace!” You could have had the kingdom, “But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” And see, that’s the penalty that Israel is now under because of the rejection of her Messiah. And this is developed many places in the New Testament, Paul, Romans 11, 2 Corinthians 3 and 4, there’s literally a veil, a spiritual veil over the eyes of the Hebrew nation. I’m not saying that Jews can’t get saved today, many do, but that’s not the majority. The majority of people in the church today are not Hebrews (the majority of people in the church today are Gentiles) because a judicial blinding has been placed over their eyes.
And then He says in verse 43, “For the days will come upon you when your enemies” that would be Rome, “will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side,” when you study Josephus, this first century historian who documents how these events happened, that’s exactly what Titus did. He put a barricade around the city of Jerusalem. So once he laid siege to it everybody in the region was going to die. There literally was no way out; there was no escape.  “and they will level you to the ground” look at this, “and your” what? “children within you,” that’s talking about what that grizzly practice I mentioned earlier is about, the tearing open of the wombs of the pregnant Jewish women.
By the way, you notice what it says here, “your children within you.” Shall I say that again, “your children within you,” so that means that what’s happening in the womb of the mother is a child. So if you assign any credibility to the Bible, and I think you all do or you wouldn’t be here, your political position automatically becomes prolife. You know, God doesn’t give us an option to choose what political position we want; God has revealed information on this. And I know that’s frustrating because sometimes it’s hard to find candidates that think the way we do. But does that not make sense, if the child within the womb of the mother is a child, doesn’t is stand to reason that there ought to be laws protecting that child? I mean, this is kind of a no-brainer, right; we’ve been debating this in this country for what… thirty, forty, fifty, however long it’s been, years. And this is why, I don’t mean to get into politics, I’ll try to control myself, this is why the left hates the Bible. See that? Because the Bible reveals… that’s why I did that series, The Bible and Voting, not to make you one party or this party or that party, I just wanted people to see that God has spoken on a lot of different subjects. So when Marxists take over societies the first thing they want to do is they want to persecute pastors, they want to push the Bible out of school and these are the things that we’re seeing today.
We’re to the point now where in a public school a teacher puts their Bible on a desk and that’s illegal in some places. So they’ve taken the establishment clause and perverted it and they’ve perverted it so greatly that it’s destroyed the other side of the First Amendment, the free exercise clause. But there’s a reason why they’re always trying to get rid of the Bible, trash the Bible, illegalize the Bible, because if you think biblically you can’t agree with the left on so many things. All right, end of political sermon. [Luke 19:44] “and they will level you to the ground and your children within you,” and look at this, “and they will not leave in you one stone upon another,” I’ve been to Jerusalem, I’ll give you the pictures sometime, I’ve used them before, that this is literally what happened, the stones were taken apart brick by brick because the Roman soldiers wanted to get their hands on the dry gold that had dried in between the stones. Why, “because you” that’s Israel, “did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
So when Hebrews 10 is talking about the fiery indignation of God and “It’s a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” [Hebrews 10:31] it’s talking about the events of A.D. 70. which was a fiery indignation. It never even mentions hell; it never even says hell, it doesn’t use the words for hell all the way through Hebrews 10.
Now something very interesting happened in church history about this time, just prior to the events of A.D. 70, and we don’t know this from the Scripture, we know it from the writings of Eusebius; Eusebius wrote what’s called ecclesiastical history, and he is considered one of the greatest church historians of the early church. And you can see when he wrote there in the third century and a prophecy of some sort came to the Hebrews Christians that were living in the Jerusalem area and it was a prophecy given to tell them to get out, “get out of Dodge,” you’re going to have to escape to a place called Pella, I’ll show you Pella in just a second, and the reason this prophecy was given is because the Holy Spirit… if you believe what I’m saying here what Eusebius says the idea is the prophecy indicates Titus is coming, he’s going to build a barricade, you’re not going to be able to escape, if you go back to the temple you probably are going to die in a fiery indignation, although your soul is still in the book of life, you’re going to heaven.
So a prophecy was given to the Hebrew Christians to leave Jerusalem. So here’s what Eusebius writes and in this day of the internet you can easily find this. He says, “But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approve men” in other words, people that the early church acknowledged this as prophets, “there before the war.” What war? A. D. 70. Actually A.D. 70 and the events of A.D. 70 started as early as A.D. 66, so it’s generally referred to as the war of A.D. 66-70. So sometime before Rome really began to escalate against the nation of Israel this prophecy was given, before the war to do what? To leave the city. What city? Jerusalem. “… and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella,” which is east of the Jordan River, from the point of view of Israel. “And when those that had believed in Christ had come tither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men” in other words, when God’s people got out, “the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrageous against Christ and His apostles” speaking of judgment there on unbelieving Israel for their rejection of the Messiah, which is part of the penalties of the Mosaic Covenant, you might remember that we’ve studied, “and totally destroyed the generation of impious men.”
So this is mentioned by Eusebius and also Epiphanes records the flight of the Christians to Pella. So this prophecy came and said you need to leave because Titus of Rome is coming, he’s going to build this embankment and if you go back to the temple you’re stuck in the fiery indignation of A.D. 70. Where is Pella? Pella was a town situated beyond the Jordan, in the north of Perea, within the dominions of Herod Agrippa II. The surrounding population was chiefly Gentile” And then you see the sources where I got this from, Pliny, Josephus talks a lot about Pella. [See Pliny V. 18, and Josephus, B. J. III. 3. 3, and I. 4. 8.]
So what I’m trying to say is that’s how I’m understanding Hebrews 10. Hebrews 10 is a warning of A.D. 70 and I’m connecting the dots with this prophecy that was given around this time telling the Hebrew Christians to leave. And so this whole book is don’t go back to the temple, don’t go back to the temple, don’t go back to the temple because what you have in Christ is superior. But here’s warning after warning after warning telling them what will happen to them if they do go back to the temple, not speaking of hell but loss of some kind of temporal blessing. And right in the mix he adds, by the way, if you go back to the temple you’re going to be locked in and there’s going to be a fiery indignation and I think he is making a prediction here about the events of A.D. 70. It’s not a statement that oh no, you’re going to lose your salvation and go to hell. So it’s talking about the temporal discipline of God which in some cases can cause one to forfeit their life, although the soul is still saved.
And then as you go down to verse 28and 29 he says, “Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has” and he names some sins here, “trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
Now do you remember the argument that’s being used here all the way through Hebrews? It’s called a what in Latin? A fortiori argument which is an argument from the lesser to the greater, and he uses that style of argumentation all the way through the book. And what he’s saying is if violating the Mosaic Code brought death, and someone saw you committing a capital crime you could be put to death on the authority of two to three witnesses. By the way, that’s Deuteronomy 17:4-7 if you’re interested.
[Deuteronomy 17:4-7, “and if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. Behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel,  then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death.  On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.  The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”]
How much more could the Hebrews expect to be swept away in A.D. 70 for departing from, not the incomplete revelation of Christ but the full revelation. In other words, if God punished people for violating His revelation in the Old Testament, which was incomplete, now that you have the complete package how do you think you can escape the disciplinary hand of God if you apostacize from the complete revelation, or the full revelation of Christ. So you’re going to be stuck, A.D. 70 is going to happen, and you could forfeit your life, which is very severe, but the “hell” does not necessarily refer to the fires of hell. A person can die in A.D. 70 and their soul can still go to heaven.
And by the way, if you capitulate to persecution and reject your baptism and go back to Judaism what, in essence, have you done? You have, number 1, trampled underfoot the Son of God. You have, number 2, regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which you’ve already been sanctified. And you have, number 3, insulted the spirit of grace.
So the very act of publicly going backwards into Judaism is akin to number 1, trampling the Son of God underfoot. Number 2, treating the blood of the New Covenant as a common thing, just acting like it’s no big deal. And number 3, insulting the spirit of grace. Now why the harsh terminology? Because you are publicly identifying with the nation that rejected Jesus. See that? Your baptism, you’re saved by faith but your baptism was a public statement that Israel was wrong for rejecting Christ and the church is right. Now you’re being persecuted to come back to Judaism; you’re being tempted to do it. And when you do that you’re making a public statement, whether you recognize it or not. This is why the unbelieving Jews pressured these people to come back. You’re publicly saying that Israel was right in what they did and the church was wrong.
The greatest sham of justice judicially in the history of the legal system, in my opinion, we talk about sham trials today, kangaroo courts, I mean, the whole trials, particularly the Jewish trials of Jesus were a total joke. They broke every rule in the book. And if they didn’t break what was in the Old Testament, which they did, they broke all their traditions. And I’ve been teaching on that here.
And so if you go back into that system you may be saved and you may be going to heaven but you are making a public statement that Israel had it right and the church has it wrong. And is it not possible for the New Testament Christians to grieve the Spirit? I mean, we’re told not to do that, right, in Ephesians 4. [Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”]
So if a Christian can grieve the Spirit a Christian, through his public actions or her public actions can insult the Spirit and you’re just treating the precious blood of Christ as if it’s just some common things. That’s what your actions… what’s the saying, “actions are louder than words.” That’s what your actions communicate. So he reminds them that they don’t have to do this because he says you’ve been under persecution before and you’ve stayed with the truth, verses 32-36, and also verse 29.
And then he gives an exhortation from the book of Habakkuk. Do you guys know there’s a prophet in your Bible called Habakkuk? How many of you did your devotional reading this morning out of Habakkuk? Richard did, his hand was up. He quotes here Habakkuk which says, “For in a very little while He who is coming will come and will not delay,  but my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back my soul has no pleasure in him.” So Habakkuk is a prophet that prophesied just prior to the Babylonian deportation. It was a done deal, Israel was going to go into captivity and so God raised up Habakkuk to tell the Hebrews that are going through this difficult time that the just, as it says, shall be saved by faith? It doesn’t say that does it, “shall live by faith.” It’s a done deal, you’re going through troubled times so you’ve got to just keep trusting Me on this. This is what God is saying. And that’s why Habakkuk is quoted here, because you’re being pressured to go back to Judaism but you need to just trust the Lord and not do it, so that you don’t forfeit blessings and you’re not swept away through the events of AD 70.
Just so you people don’t think I’m completely insane I want to show you, I won’t read the whole thing, there’s three slides here, but Arnold Fruchtenbaum holds the exact same view. I wouldn’t say he holds my view but I think I hold his view. But you can read through these quotes on your own, it’s from his Israelology, but he says: “The nature of the judgment is threefold: physical death (10:28–29);” look at this, “the A.D. 70 judgment being the time of death (10:25, 27); and the loss of rewards.” So he’s not interpreting this the way a Calvinist would interpret it, these are unsaved people. He’s not interpreting it the way an Arminian would interpret it, these are people that lost their salvation. He’s interpreting it as a temporal judgment which doesn’t send a soul to hell but it can be very severe, and I’ve already described the severity of A.D. 70. So all of this to say this is not a loss of salvation passage, Hebrews 10, although it’s typically interpreted that way.
Now let me show you one more baby passage, little passage, and I can do this fast and then we’ll stop. Look at the last warning passage, Hebrews 12:25-29 this is the last warning so we’ve gone through every warning passage. This is the warning against denying the truth. It says: “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.  And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.”  This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;  for our God is a consuming fire.”
In verse 25 you see again the a fortiori argument from the lesser to the greater, when he says, “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape” so if those that had the Mosaic earthly voice did not escape judgment… in the Old Testament did not God deal very severely with those who heard His earthly voice? You’ve got Aaron there building the golden calf, in fact, he claimed he never built it, I just threw all this metal in the fire and this calf popped out you know… [Andy laughs] kind of like these kids, I used to be an associate teacher and I watched this kid, on a field trip take a Frisbee and throw it in a lake, I was an eyewitness, I saw it happen but he didn’t see me looking at him, and I went and confronted this kid, I said hey, what happened to the Frisbee and honest to God, this is what this kid said, he says “the lake took it.” I mean, that’s kind of how we are, we never want to take responsibility for our actions. So I threw this metal into the fire and this golden calf popped out kind of thing.
And God almost wiped out everybody in the nation because of that, except for Moses. And had it not been for Moses interceding the whole nation would have been destroyed, other than Moses and God would have just started all over again, which God is pretty good at doing, isn’t He? He’s good at getting rid of one generation and starting over with just some faithful people. So if those that had the Mosaic earthly voice did not escape his judgment, how much more would the Hebrews escape the discipline hand of God. This has to be divine discipline because what does Hebrews 12:5-13 say? “Whom the Lord loves the Lord” what? “chastens.” This is not a hell context, this is a discipline context.
[Hebrews 12:5-13, “and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;  FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”  It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.  All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,  and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.”]
So if the Hebrews never escaped God’s disciplinary hand by rebelling against a partial revelation, if you reject the full revelation how in the world do you think, as a Hebrew Christian that you’re going to escape the disciplinary hand of God.
Now you go down to verses 26, 27, 29 and this is where people think again this is talking about hell. It says, “And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.”  This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. And then down in verse 29, “for our God is a consuming fire.”
I’m interpreting those verses the same way I interpreted Hebrews 10. I believe this is not speaking of hell; I believe this is speaking of A.D. 70 and what he is saying is the very thing that you are retreating back into, which is the temple. And what you have to understand about the Jewish mind is they never thought the temple would ever be destroyed. Even the first temple that Solomon built they never envisioned a day that it would be destroyed, and it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. And then under the days of Ezra, when they returned into the land and rebuilt the temple and it became beautified, they never thought it would be destroyed, and yet what is being predicted here is the very thing that you think is your good luck charm, the very thing that you think is your security blanket, is about to be wiped out. And I think he’s alluding to the prophecies that Jesus made, where the temple is going to be torn apart brick by brick in a fiery indignation. And that’s why he quotes Deuteronomy 4:25 and Haggai 2:6, he’s applying those verses that really speak of end time judgment to the shaking that God is going to allow to happen with the destruction of the temple.
By contrast what are the Hebrews going to receive? “Therefore since we receive a kingdom which cannot be” what? “shaken.” Why are you going back to that old system that’s first of all defunct and can’t do anything for you, and secondly it’s about to be destroyed. Don’t you understand that you are an inheritors of a coming kingdom that Daniel spoke of, with “the stone cut without human hands,” remember Daniel 2, which strikes the feet of the statue and destroys the kingdoms of man, and grows and grows and grows to fulfill the earth? Why are you going back to this system that’s about to be wiped out within your lifetime? Why don’t you live for what you have, which is the fact that you are inheritors of a coming kingdom.
So once again I’ve just given you an interpretation of this, it has nothing to do with loss of salvation or hell. And you know, people are like this, they have their good luck charms. I remember when I used to be a courier, one time I got in a guy’s car for whatever reason, he had to take me somewhere, and he had, at the front of the car, those fuzzy gambling dice from Vegas, he had them hanging from his front mirror. And then I looked in the back of the car and he had a statue of the virgin Mary, and I finally said to this guy, do these two contradict or what? You’ve got gambling under the mirror and you’ve got the virgin Mary in the back. And he said well, I just want to have both ends covered, I’ve got the gambling side covered and if I need religion I’ve got that covered too.
So people are like that, they have these good luck charms and that’s what Israel was with the temple, it’s like a good luck charm. And so the Jews were always tempted to go back to it and the author of Hebrews is saying the whole thing is about ready to be wiped out. Isn’t it foolish to build your hope on these silly good luck charms in the car when you have an unshakeable kingdom that you’re an inheritor of? So he’s just trying to get them to see the foolishness of their decisions.
So, we finished Hebrews, the warning passages, and I’ve tried to show you that that book does not deny eternal security and we’ll be finishing this series I think, pretty quick. Of course I said that three months ago, but we just have a few more verses to cover in the general epistles. Okay, I’ll stop talking at this point.