Online Bible Commentary
Draw Near to God
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV)
This passage marks a major subject change in the book of Hebrews. Until now the writer has proclaimed the superiority of Christ over all the tenants of Judaism. Now he moves to the second, and final, subject of this book which is to exhort the readers to obedient living. His first exhortation is to draw near to God.
We can all draw near to God. God has made a way. That way is through His Son, Jesus Christ. This was not always the case. Prior to Christ coming to earth worshipers could not directly approach God. They needed to go through a priest.
In the tabernacle, and later the temple, God was separated from His people. Only priests could enter the first room of the tabernacle, which was called the Holy Place. Only the high priest could enter the second room, which was called the Most Holy Place, or the Holy of Holies. God was said to be seated on the mercy seat, the ornate gold top of the chest called the ark of the covenant, which was the only furniture located in the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest could enter this room, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. The rooms were separated by a substantial curtain.
But Christ came and changed all of this. At the moment Christ died on the cross the great curtain was supernaturally torn in two. This symbolized that the path was now clear for all worshipers to be able to approach God directly. There was no longer a barrier between God and His people. Christ’s blood, and broken body, created a path to God. We now “have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” (v. 19), confidence to approach God directly.
“Which He consecrated for us a way new and living through the veil, this is, the flesh of him” (lit. Greek v. 20). Through His own broken flesh, Christ opened a way through the veil for us. This way was new, and it was living. It was new in that it replaced the need for worshipers to go through a priest. It was living in that it was a way to the living God, Jesus Christ.
“And (having) priest a great over the house of God, let us draw near” (lit. Greek vv. 21-22a). Since Christ opened the way to God, He is now our high priest. We are commanded to draw near to God. We are to come to Him “with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (lit. Greek v. 22b).
The “true heart” comes from “having been sprinkled the hearts from a conscience evil” (lit. Greek v. 22c). The sprinkling represents salvation. It is symbolic of the Passover, when the Israelites sprinkled the door posts of their homes with blood so that the angel of death would pass over their homes, saving the lives of their firstborn sons. Christians are symbolically sprinkled with the blood of Christ to save them from the penalty of sin, spiritual death, and the guilt of sin. When we accept Christ we are given salvation and a clear conscience.
The “full assurance of faith” comes from “and having been washed the body water in clean” (lit. Greek v. 22d). The washing of the body in clean water is symbolic of sanctification. Sanctification means to be set apart for God. It is a process of becoming holy through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works in us through church attendance, prayer, and reading the Bible. As we become more holy we are symbolically being washed in clean water.
This “true heart and full assurance of faith” which we have obtained through salvation and sanctification then produces three results which are identified in verses 23-25. These three results are to hold steadfast to our faith because of the faithfulness of God (v. 23), to encourage each other to love and perform good deeds (v. 24), and to encourage one another to meet together until the return of Christ (v. 25). These are results of salvation and sanctification. Salvation and beginning the process of sanctification must come first. Love is a choice, not a feeling. Love and good works are a natural result of becoming a Christian.
This passage exhorts us to draw near to God. God never moves. If we are away from God it is because we have moved away. Since we are the ones who have moved, we are the only ones who need to move back. Do not expect God to draw near. He only knocks at the door. He never walks right in. He is always knocking. It is up to us to open the door and walk out to Him. That is how we draw near to God. It starts with a baby step. We take that first step towards the door to open it. Once we open it, there He is. He is confronting us. We can either accept Him or close the door and deny Him. If we accept Him we keep walking, through attending church, prayer, and reading the Bible. That is how we draw near to God. It is something we must do ourselves, for ourselves. It is the key to living a life of peace and joy.