"Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence (boldness) 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 high priest over the house of God,
let us draw near with a sincere (true) heart
in full assurance of faith,
having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
and our bodies washed with pure water."
I envision a crowd of the dispersed Jewish Christians standing, not in a temple court any longer, but perhaps gathered together by a river as was Lydia that day, listening to the reading of this letter to them. What could have sent them away from their homes, away from their temple? Persecution, yes. But if they denied their faith, they would have been left to be comfortable where they were. Instead, they had stepped out in faith, with confidence into the unknown. Here the writer is telling them to go with that confidence, boldness into the holy of holies, sacrilege in their previous lives. But because of the blood of Jesus, it is a new and living way.
Adam Clarke says, "This is an allusion to the case of the high priest going into the holy of holies. He went with fear and trembling, because, if he had neglected the smallest item prescribed by the law, he could expect nothing but death. Genuine believers can come even to the throne of God with confidence, as they carry into the Divine presence the infinitely meritorious blood of the great atonement; and being justified through that blood, they have a righto all the blessings of the new kingdom."
"A new and living way"
He goes on to say, "It is a new way; no human being had ever before entered into the heaven of heavens; Jesus in human nature was the first, and thus He has opened the way to heaven to mankind, His own resurrection and ascension to glory being the proof and pledge of ours.
Here's temple talk that the Hebrews understood better than us: "'fresh and living' This is evidently an allusion to the blood of the victim newly shed, uncoagulated, and consequently proper to be used for sprinkling. The blood of the Jewish victims was fit for sacrificial purposes only so long as it was warm and fluid, and might be considered as yet possessing its vitality; but when it grew cold, it coagulated, lost its vitality, and was no longer proper to be used sacrificially. Christ is here, in the allusion, represent as newly slain, and yet living; the blood ever considered as flowing and giving life to the world...but Christ is living and ever liveth to make intercession for us; therefore He is a new and living way."
"through the veil, that is to say, His flesh"
There was not only the veil in the temple torn from top to bottom when Christ died on the cross proving that we now had access where never before had been allowed. But in a way I had not considered before, not only was His flesh while hanging dying on a cross our invitation to enter, but we too must face the demands of faith as was Thomas challenged with.
"But Thomas, one of the twelve...was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples were saying to him, 'We have seen the Lord!'
But he said to the, 'Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails,
and put my hand into His side, I will not believe...
After eight days His disciples were again inside and Thomas with them.
Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst,
and said 'Peace be with you.'
and said 'Peace be with you.'
Then He said to Thomas, 'Reach here with your finger, and see My hands;
and reach here with your hand and put it into My side,
and do not be unbelieving but believing."
His very body, His wounded side, was the torn veil, His flesh, the "new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us." We too have been told "do not be unbelieving but believing."
Adam Clarke says, "His pierced side is the way to the holiest. Here the veil--His humanity, is rent, and the kingdom of heaven opened to all believers."
When we get to heaven are we going to want proof like Thomas,
feeling the need to put our hand in His side? Nah, I don't think so.
Andrew Murray says, "For fifteen centuries Israel had a sanctuary with a Holiest of All into which, under pain of death, no one might enter. Its one witness was: man cannot dwell in God's presence, cannot abide in His fellowship. And now, how changed is all! As then the warning sounded: Enter not! so now the call goes forth: Enter in! the veil is rent ; the Holiest is open; God waits to become you to His bosom. Henceforth you are to live with Him...Oh will you not this day believe that that blood gives you, sinful and feeble as you are, liberty, confidence, boldness to draw nigh, to enter the very Holiest? Yes, believe it, that the blood and the blood alone, brings you into the very presence, into the living and abiding fellowship of the everlasting God."And that blood, such is its heavenly cleansing power, can keep the soul clean."
"If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin."
"Nothing but the fullness of the Spirit in daily life, making Jesus present within us, abiding continually, can keep us in the presence of God as full experience."
"And having a high priest over the house of God"
As the writer is talking to the Hebrews Christians, it is bigger than them. This house, this high priest is over the entire Gentile world as well. Adam Clarke says, "The house or family of God is the Christian Church, or all true believers in the Lord Jesus. Over this Church, house, or family,
Christ is the High Priest...He instructs, protects, guides, feeds, defends, and saves the flock.
"With a true heart"
Andrew Murray says, "In man's nature the heart is the central power. As the heart is so is the man. The desire and the choice, the love and the hatred of the heart prove what.. a man is already, and decides what he is to become...'the hidden man of the heart' is what God looks to. God has in Christ given us access to the secret place of His dwelling, to the inner sanctuary of His presence and His heart; no wonder that the first thing He asks, as He calls us unto Him, is the heart--a true heart; our inmost being must in truth be yielded to Him, true to Him...the whole heart seeking for God, giving its love and finding its joy in God."
"In full assurance of faith"
Andrew Murray says, "Faith ever deals with impossibilities...Soul! the God who redeemed thee, when an enemy, with the blood of His Son--what thinkest thou? would He not be willing thus to take thee to His heart? He who raised Jesus, when He had died under the curse of thy sins, from the death of the grave to the throne of His glory, would He not be able to take thee, too, and give thee a place within the veil?...He longs to do it; He is able to do it...His heart has room for thee even now...What God is about to do to you is supernatural, above what you can think."
"Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience"
Andrew Murray says, "God can do nothing for us from without, only by what He can put into the heart...The whole work of the Holy Spirit is in the heart. Let us draw nigh with a true heart, a sprinkled heart, our inmost being entirely and unceasingly under the heavenly power of the blood."
Adam Clarke says, "'From an evil conscience' Having that deep sense of guilt which our conscience felt taken all away, and the peace and love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given to us."
"Our bodies washed with pure water."
Andrew Murray: "He that believeth with the heart, came with the body to be baptized...John wrote: 'There are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and the water and the blood.'" Then again, "'Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His Holy Place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.' A heart sprinkled with the blood, a body washed with pure water from every stain."
I think one of the highest privileges of a grandmother is when one of the little grandchildren--even the teenagers--come over to sit on my lap. It is sweet when they don't have to be coaxed, but they just come with expectancy because in their pureness of heart realize we belong by blood as family. This is the kind of drawing night God has made possible for us.