Amplified: Hence, when He [Christ] entered into the world, He said, Sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but instead You have made ready a body for Me [to offer]; (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: That is why he says as he enters the world: “You did not desire sacrifice and offering; it is a body you have prepared for me. (Westminster Press)
NLT: That is why Christ, when he came into the world, said, "You did not want animal sacrifices and grain offerings. But you have given me a body so that I may obey you. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Therefore, when Christ enters the world, he says: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you have prepared for me. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Wherefore, when coming into the world He says, Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: Wherefore, coming into the world, he saith, 'Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not will, and a body Thou didst prepare for me,
THEREFORE WHEN HE COMES INTO THE WORLD HE SAYS SACRIFICE AND OFFERING HE SAYS THOU HAST NOT DESIRED: dio eiserchomenos (PMPMSN) eis ton kosmon legei (3SPAI) thusian kai prosphoran ouk ethelesas (2SAAI): (He 10:7; 1:6; Mt 11:3; Lk 7:19;) (Ps 40:6, 7, 8; Isa 50:8-23; Isa 1:11; Je 6:20; Am 5:21,22)
Therefore (1352) (dio) hearkens back to the truths just recorded regarding the impotency and inadequacy of animal sacrifices to make the worshiper perfect and give them a clean conscience. A greater sacrifice was necessary. See importance of pausing to prayerfully ponder terms of conclusion.
Wuest - The contents of this verse confirm the statement of Heb 10:4. In view of the fact that the blood of sacrificial animals cannot take away sin, the Messiah, when He became incarnate in humanity to perform His priestly work of offering a sacrifice that would pay for sin, did not offer animal sacrifices, but instead, Himself in His physical body gotten through virgin birth from Mary. (Hebrews Commentary online)
Wuest - The contents of this verse confirm the statement of Heb 10:4. In view of the fact that the blood of sacrificial animals cannot take away sin, the Messiah, when He became incarnate in humanity to perform His priestly work of offering a sacrifice that would pay for sin, did not offer animal sacrifices, but instead, Himself in His physical body gotten through virgin birth from Mary. The reference is to Psalm 40:7–9, the theme of which is that deliverance from sin is not obtained by animal sacrifices, but by fulfilling God’s will. Vincent says, “The course of thought in the Psalm is as follows: ‘Thou, O God, desirest not the sacrifice of beasts, but thou hast prepared my body as a single sacrifice, and so I come to do thy will, as was predicted of me, by the sacrifice of myself.’ Christ did not yield to God’s will as authoritative constraint. The constraint lay in His eternal spirit. His sacrifice was no less His own will than God’s will.” This reminds one of the words in 9:14, “who through eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.” Expositor’s says; “In the Psalm, indeed, sacrifice is contrasted with obedience to the will of God. A body is prepared for Christ that in it He may obey God. But it is the offering of this body as a sacrifice in contrast to the animal sacrifices of the law, which the writer emphasizes … The passage in the epistle is far from saying that the essence or worth of Christ’s offering of Himself lies simply in obedience to the will of God. It does not refer to the point wherein lies the intrinsic worth of the Son’s offering, or whether it may be resolved into obedience unto God. Its point is quite different. It argues that the Son’s offering of Himself is the true and final offering for sin, because it is the sacrifice, which according to prophecy, God desired to be made” (Davidson).
Barnes adds… This word (therefore) shows that the apostle means to sustain what he had said by a reference to the Old Testament itself. Nothing could be more opposite to the prevailing Jewish opinions about the efficacy of sacrifice than what he had just said. It was, therefore, of the highest importance to defend the position which he had laid down by authority which they would not presume to call in question, and he therefore makes his appeal to their own Scriptures.
Phil Newton… The "therefore" has potent force! After explaining that the repetition of the sacrificial system demonstrated its impotency and reinforcing this by explaining that the bloody sacrifices could never take away sin, he sets forth the whole rationale for Jesus Christ entering the world to be our redeemer. The statement has an intentional ring of the preexistence of Christ, for "He comes into the world" as one who created the world (He 1:2, 3), and as one who has a specific purpose (He 10:9). Our writer once again finds refuge in the Old Testament Scriptures to prove his point. He was not coming up with a new idea of religion but simply amplifying what the prophets before him had spoken many times over. The sacrificial system was not the end-all for a right relationship with God.
When David sought the Lord for forgiveness in regard to his sin with Bathsheba, he prayed,
When He comes into the world - The incarnation of Christ (Jn 1:1, 14)
Vine notes that… the writer now appeals to the Old Testament Scriptures, which would help to counteract any mere prejudice that he was merely belittling the Levitical sacrifices. Moreover, what he quotes from Psalm 40 is shown to be the language of Christ Himself.
Morris… His argument up till now has been the negative one that the animal sacrifices of the old covenant were unavailing. Now he says positively that Christ’s sacrifice, which established the new covenant, was effectual. It really put away sin. And it was foreshadowed in the same passage from Jeremiah.
Sacrifice and offering… not desired - At first glance this verse might seem confusing for was it not God Himself Who ordained the Levitical sacrificial system? Indeed, it was, but it was never intended to be a mere formality or external ritual without deeper meaning. And so we see the OT repeatedly warning Israel that sacrifices as an external formality without internal change were not pleasing to God (eg, God always called for an internal "circumcision" of their hearts = faith in the coming Messiah - see Dt 10:16, Je 4:4, Ro 2:29-note, How? Dt 30:6). God always desires obedience from a heart motivated by love not legalism.
Vincent… Confirming the assertion of Heb 10:4 by a citation, Ps. 40:7–9, the theme of which is that deliverance from sin is not obtained by animal sacrifices, but by fulfilling God’s will. The quotation does not agree with either the Hebrew or the LXX, and the Hebrew and LXX do not agree. The writer supposes the words to be spoken by Messiah when he enters the world as Saviour. The obedience to the divine will, which the Psalmist contrasts with sacrifices, our writer makes to consist in Christ’s offering once for all. According to him, the course of thought in the Psalm is as follows: “Thou, O God, desirest not the sacrifice of beasts, but thou hast prepared my body as a single sacrifice, and so I come to do thy will, as was predicted of me, by the sacrifice of myself.” Christ did not yield to God’s will as authoritative constraint. The constraint lay in his own eternal spirit. His sacrifice was no less his own will than God’s will.
Wuest - The reference is to Psalm 40:7–9, the theme of which is that deliverance from sin is not obtained by animal sacrifices, but by fulfilling God’s will. Vincent says, “The course of thought in the Psalm is as follows: ‘Thou, O God, desirest not the sacrifice of beasts, but thou hast prepared my body as a single sacrifice, and so I come to do thy will, as was predicted of me, by the sacrifice of myself.’ Christ did not yield to God’s will as authoritative constraint. The constraint lay in His eternal spirit. His sacrifice was no less His own will than God’s will.” This reminds one of the words in 9:14, “who through eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.” Expositor’s says; “In the Psalm, indeed, sacrifice is contrasted with obedience to the will of God. A body is prepared for Christ that in it He may obey God. But it is the offering of this body as a sacrifice in contrast to the animal sacrifices of the law, which the writer emphasizes … The passage in the epistle is far from saying that the essence or worth of Christ’s offering of Himself lies simply in obedience to the will of God. It does not refer to the point wherein lies the intrinsic worth of the Son’s offering, or whether it may be resolved into obedience unto God. Its point is quite different. It argues that the Son’s offering of Himself is the true and final offering for sin, because it is the sacrifice, which according to prophecy, God desired to be made” (Davidson). (Hebrews Commentary online)
A T Robertson… The text of the LXX is followed in the main which differs from the Hebrew chiefly in having soma (body) rather than otia (ears). The LXX translation has not altered the sense of the Psalm, “that there was a sacrifice which answered to the will of God as no animal sacrifice could” (Moffatt). So the writer of Hebrews “argues that the Son’s offering of himself is the true and final offering for sin, because it is the sacrifice, which, according to prophecy, God desired to be made” (Davidson).
Expositor's Greek Testament… In the Psalm, indeed, sacrifice is contrasted with obedience to the will of God. A body is prepared for Christ that in it He may obey God. But it is the offering of this body as a sacrifice in contrast to the animal sacrifices of the law, which the writer emphasizes … The passage in the epistle is far from saying that the essence or worth of Christ’s offering of Himself lies simply in in obedience to the will of God. It does not refer to the point wherein lies the intrinsic worth of the Son’s offering, or whether it may be resolved into obedience unto God. Its point is quite different. It argues that the Son’s offering of Himself is the true and final offering for sin, because it is the sacrifice, which according to prophecy, God desired to be made” (Davidson)
Spurgeon - When once the life is gone out of the best symbolism, the Lord abhors the carcass, and even a divinely ordained ritual becomes a species of idolatry. When the heart is gone out of the externals of worship, they are as shells without the kernel. Habitations without living tenants soon become desolations, and so do forms and ceremonies without their spiritual meaning. Toward the time of our Lord’s coming, the outward worship of Judaism became more and more dead; it was time that it was buried. It had decayed and waxed old, and was ready to vanish away. And vanish away it did, for our Lord set aside the first, or old, that He might establish the second, or new. What did God require of man? Obedience. He said by Samuel, “To obey is better than sacrifice; to give heed than the fat of rams” (1 Sam 15:22). He says in another place, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does Yahweh ask from you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic 6:8) The requirement of the law was love to God and love to men. This has always been God’s great requirement. He seeks spiritual worship, obedient thought, holy living, grateful praise, devout prayer—these are the requirements of the Creator and Benefactor of men.
Not (3756) (ou) indicates absolute negation of what follows.
In Isaiah we read…
God makes a similar declaration to rebellious Judah…
Jehovah speaking through Amos declares to His sinful people…
Guzik… More animal sacrifices, made under the law, would not please God.
Stedman observes that in Hebrews 10:5-7 the writer quotes…
William Cowper expressed this well in rhyme…
The Heart Healed and Changed by Mercy
Sin enslaved my many years,
And led me bound and blind;
Till at length a thousand fears
Came swarming o’er my mind.
“Where,” said I, in deep distress,
“Will these sinful pleasures end?
How shall I secure my peace,
And make the Lord my friend?”
Friends and ministers said much
The gospel to enforce;
But my blindness still was such,
I chose a legal course:
Much I fasted, watch’d and strove,
Scarce would shew my face abroad,
Fear’d almost to speak or move,
A stranger still to God.
Thus afraid to trust His grace,
Long time did I rebel;
Till despairing of my case,
Down at His feet I fell:
Then my stubborn heart He broke,
And subdued me to His sway;
By a simple word He spoke,
“Thy sins are done away.”
In Psalm 51 David declared…
In Isaiah 1:11ff, in strong terms God ask faithless, rebellious Israel…
Solomon puts proper sacrifice in perspective writing that…
Mark records that…
Through His prophet Amos God declared…
Samuel's words to disobedient King Saul (as God removes the kingdom from him) explain what God has always desired…
You may be wondering "But in the OT God ask for Israel to bring sacrifices, and now He changes His mind and says He doesn't desire them. Which is true?"
What God does not delight in is external acts or ritual of worship. In other words He looks at the person's heart (attitude, motivation, etc) behind the act. In short, God always inspects the giver, before He inspects the gift! How can one who is unclean offer a clean sacrifice? The constant urging of Scripture is that God’s servants give their hearts and their lives in contrition and brokenness of spirit, before they observe feasts, fasts, Sabbaths, sacrifices, etc. Rote religion is never a substitute for purity of heart. God is not condemning sacrifices but the unrepentant spirit of those who offer them, which defeats the whole purpose of the offering.
Max Alderman (Reference) offers the following explanation of why offerings were not desired by God…
BUT A BODY THOU HAST PREPARED FOR ME: soma de katertiso (2SAMI) moi: (He 10:10; 2:14; 8:3; Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Jeremiah 31:22; Matthew 1:20, 21, 22, 23; Luke 1:35; John 1:14; Galatians 4:4; 1Timothy 3:16; 1John 4:2,3; 2John 1:7)
But a body - Contrasts the sacrifices of the bodies of animals with the ultimate, perfect sacrificial body, the Lamb of God, the incarnation of Jesus the eternal Son, which John Wesley said was "contracted to the span of a virgin's womb." This body puts an end to need for any and all animal bodies for sacrifices
The original Hebrew of Psalm 40:6 reads as follows in the NAS…
The LXX writers translated this verse as follows substituting soma (body) for otia (ear)…
In Exodus 21:6 when the master pierced a servant's ear with an awl, the servant was to serve the master permanently. Thereafter the servant was in a sense to hear and obey only the voice of his master. This OT picture is a foreshadowing of Christ, Who willingly became a bondservant (Php 2:5, 6, 7, 8-see notes Phil 2:5-7; 2:8), even to the point of death, in perfect obedience to His Father's will. But before Jesus hear and obey, He had to have a human body, with human ears.
Rienecker explains that…
W E Vine offers this explanation of the OT quotation…
Prepared (2675) (katartizo [word study] from katá = with + artízo = to adjust, fit, finish, in turn from artios = fit, complete) conveys the fundamental idea of putting something into its appropriate condition so it will function well. It conveys the idea of making whole by fitting together, to order and arrange properly. When applied to that which is weak and defective, it denotes setting right what has gone wrong, to restore to a former condition, whether mending broken nets or setting broken bones. To make fitted or equipped for a duty or function. To make someone completely adequate or sufficient for something. To thoroughly prepare something to meet demands.
Katartizo - 13x in 13v - Mt 4:21; 21:16; Mk 1:19; Lk 6:40; Ro 9:22; 1Co 1:10; 2Co 13:11; Gal 6:1; 1Th 3:10; Heb 10:5; 11:3; 13:21; 1Pe 5:10
Wuest adds that katartizo "has in it the idea of equipping something or preparing it for future use." (Hebrews Commentary online)
Katartizo was used in secular Greek to describe a trainer who adjusts parts of the body, as a surgical term of the setting of a broken bone or putting a dislocated limb back in place or of the repairing and refitting of a damaged vessel (ship).
Hebrews 11:3 uses katartizo for preparing the world… By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared (katartizo) by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
In short, the writer is saying that God formed the human body of His Son with the same mighty power and wisdom with which He formed the universe. This can only mean that the body of Jesus, like that of Adam, was a special creation, not formed by the normal process of genetic inheritance.
In Hebrews 13 the writer uses katartizo praying that the… the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20, 21)
Spurgeon - The whole body of Christ was prepared for Him and for His great work. To begin with, it was a sinless body, without taint of original sin, else God could not have dwelt in it. It was a body made highly vital and sensitive, probably far beyond what ours are, for sin has a blunting and hardening effect even upon flesh. And His flesh, though it was in the “likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom 8:3), was not sinful flesh, but flesh that yielded prompt obedience to His spirit, even as His whole human nature was obedient to death, even the death of the cross. His body was capable of great endurance, so as to know the griefs and agonies and unspeakable sorrows of a delicate, holy, and tender kind, which it was necessary for Him to bear. The human nature of Christ was taken on Him in order that He might be able to do for us that which God desired and required. God desired to see an obedient man—a man who would keep His law to the full, and He sees Him in Christ. God desired to see one who would vindicate the eternal justice and show that sin is no trifle. Behold our Lord, the eternal Son of God, entering into that prepared body, was ready to do all this mighty work by rendering to the law a full recompense for our dishonor of it!
Jamieson writes… "Thou didst fit for Me a body." "In Thy counsels Thou didst determine to make for Me a body, to be given up to death as a sacrificial victim" [WAHL]. In the Hebrew, Ps 40:6, it is "mine ears hast thou opened," or "dug." Perhaps this alludes to the custom of boring the ear of a slave who volunteers to remain under his master when he might be free. Christ's assuming a human body, in obedience to the Father's will, in order to die the death of a slave (He 2:14), was virtually the same act of voluntary submission to service as that of a slave suffering his ear to be bored by his master. His willing obedience to the Father's will is what is dwelt on as giving special virtue to His sacrifice (He 10:7, 9, 10). The preparing, or fitting of a body for Him, is not with a view to His mere incarnation, but to His expiatory sacrifice (He 10:10), as the contrast to "sacrifice and offering" requires; compare also Ro 7:4; Ep 2:16; Col 1:22. More probably "opened mine ears" means opened mine inward ear, so as to be attentively obedient to what God wills me to do, namely, to assume the body He has prepared for me for my sacrifice, so Job 33:16, Margin; Job 36:10 (doubtless the boring of a slave's "ear" was the symbol of such willing obedience); Is 50:5, "The Lord God hath opened mine ear," that is, made me obediently attentive as a slave to his master. Others somewhat similarly explain, "Mine ears hast thou digged," or "fashioned," not with allusion to Ex 21:6, but to the true office of the ear--a willing, submissive attention to the voice of God (Isa 50:4, 5). The forming of the ear implies the preparation of the body, that is, the incarnation; this secondary idea, really in the Hebrew, though less prominent, is the one which Paul uses for his argument. In either explanation the idea of Christ taking on Him the form, and becoming obedient as a servant, is implied. As He assumed a body in which to make His self-sacrifice, so ought we present our bodies a living sacrifice (Ro 12:1).
GUIDELINES FOR INTERPRETING OT QUOTES IN NT
In Hebrews 10:5-9, the quotation follows the LXX, with a minor variation, instead of the Hebrew text, as do many of the several hundred quotations of the OT found in the N.T. Quotations are used in various ways:
(1) Invariably the authors attribute unqualified divine authority to the OT, in some instances basing their argument on one word (Mt 2:15; 22:43, 44, 45; Jn 10:34; 19:36,37; Ro 4:3; etc.).
(2) The Septuagint (LXX) is usually employed, as it is here in Hebrews, in the same way as an English translation may be quoted today (Mt 1:23; cp. Isa 7:14 in LXX).
(3) Variations in quotations may originate in the desire to translate the original Hebrew more accurately than the Septuagint (LXX) (1Cor 14:21; cp. Isa 28:11, 12 in LXX and Hebrew).
(4) Many quotations were not intended to be verbatim, but are paraphrases designed to bring out the meaning or particular application (Gal 4:30 cp. Ge 21:10).
(5) Some quotations are a summary of OT truth taken from several passages, giving the sense if not the exact words of the original (Ro 11:26,27 cp. Isa 59:20,21 27:9).
(6) In some cases the quotation is only an allusion and is not intended to be an exact quotation (Ro 9:27; cp. Isa 10:22,23).
(7) the Holy Spirit who inspired the OT was free to reword a quotation just as a human author may restate his own writings in other words without impugning the accuracy of the original statement (Mt 2:6; cp. Micah 5:2). The doctrine of plenary inspiration requires only that revelation be expressed without error.
A BODY DIDST THOU PREPARE FOR ME.
THE writer has reminded us of the utter insufficiency of the sacrifices of the law to do what was needed to take sin away, or to perfect the worshipper. In contrast to these he will now unfold to us the inner meaning, the real nature and worth of the sacrifice of Christ. In speaking of the blood in Hebrews 9. he has taught us what its infinite power and efficacy is. But what we need still to know is this: what gave it that infinite efficacy; what is its spiritual character, and what its essential nature, that it has availed so mightily to open for us the way to God. Even when we believe in Christ's death, we are in danger of resting content with what is not much better than its shadow, the mere doctrinal conception of what it has affected, without entering so into its divine significance, that the very image, the real likeness of what it means, enters into us in power.
Our writer here again finds what he wants to expound, in the Old Testament. He quotes from Psalm 40., where the Psalmist uses words which, though true of himself, could only have their full meaning revealed when the Messiah came. Our author makes special use of two significant expressions, A body thou didst prepare for Me, and, Lo, I am come to do Thy will O God. Speaking of the sacrifices of the Old Testament, the Psalmist had shown that he understood that they never were what God really willed: they were but the shadows pointing to something better, to a spiritual reality, a life in the body given up to the will of God, as a divine prophecy of what has now been revealed in Christ.
A body didst thou prepare for Me. Instead of the sacrifices, God prepared a body for Christ, which He so offered up or sacrificed that we have now been sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Christ's body was to Him just what any man's is to him--the dwelling and organ of the soul; the channel for intercourse with the outer world, susceptible of impressions of pleasure and of pain, and therefore liable to temptation. In Paradise, Satan's temptation appealed to the body. In the wilderness Satan appealed to the appetite of hunger, after Christ had been fasting. Christ conquered, maintaining the victory to its final completion, when He offered His body a sacrifice on the Cross. He was filled with one thought--God prepared Me this body; I have it for His disposal, for His service and glory; I hold it ready every moment to be a sacrifice to Him. The body comes from God; it belongs to Him; it has no object of existence but to please Him. The one value My body has is, that I can give it a sacrifice to God.
It was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices to waken this disposition in the worshipper. There was to be not only the thought--as specially in the sin offering--This sacrifice dies in my stead, so that I need not die. But the farther thought--this the burnt offering specially symbolised--The giving up of this lamb and its life in sacrifice to God, is the image and the pledge of my giving up my life to Him. I offer the sacrifice to God, in token of my offering myself to Him. Substitution and Consecration were equally symbolised in the altar.
This was the feeling of David in writing the Psalm. What he could only partly understand and fulfil has been realised in Christ. And what Christ accomplished for us, of that we become full partakers as it is wrought into us, in a life of fellowship with Him. The word comes to us, Present your bodies a living sacrifice unto God. The real essential nature of the sacrifice of Christ, what gives it worth and efficacy, is this: the body that God prepared for Him, He offered up to God. And just as David, before Christ, through the Spirit of Christ. said these words of himself, so every believer after Christ, in the Spirit and power of Christ, says them too: A body hast thou prepared for me. This is the new and living way that Christ has opened up, David walked in it by anticipation; Christ the Leader and Forerunner walked in it and fully opened it up; it is only as we, too, by participation with Him, walk in it, that we can find access into the Holiest.
Every believer who would be fully delivered from the Old Testament religion, the trust in something done outside of us, that leaves us unchanged, and would fully know what it means that we are sanctified and perfected by the one offering of the body of Christ, must study to appropriate fully this word as true of Christ and himself as a member of His body--A body didst thou prepare for Me. In paradise it was through the body sin entered; in the body it took up its abode and showed its power. In the lust for forbidden food, in the sense of nakedness and shame, in the turning to dust again, sin proved its triumph. In the body grace will reign and triumph. The body has been redeemed; it becomes a temple of the Spirit and a member of Christ's body; it will be made like His glorious body. A body didst thou prepare for Me: through the body lies, for Christ and all who are sanctified in Him, the path to perfection.
And yet how many believers there are to whom the body is the greatest hindrance in their Christian life. Simply because they have not learnt from Christ what the highest use of the body is--to offer it up to God. Instead of presenting their members unto God, of mortifying the deeds of the body through tie Spirit, of keeping under the body, they allow it to have its way, and are brought into bondage. Oh for an insight into the real nature of our actual redemption, through a body received from God, prepared by Him, and offered up to Him.
1. The soul dwells in the body. The body has been well compared to the walls of a city. In time of war, not only the city and its indwellers must be under the rule of the king, but specially the walls, Jesus, for whom God prepared a body, who offered His body, knows to keep the body too.
2. The mystery of the Incarnation is that Godhead dwelt in a body. The mystery of atonement, the one offering of the body of Christ. The mystery of full redemption, that the Holy Spirit dwells in and sanctifies wholly the body too.
3. "Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you? Glorify God, therefore, in your body." (1Co 6:19, 1Co 6:20) Did you ever know that the Holy Spirit is specially for the body to regulate Its functions and sanctify it wholly?
Andrew Murray. The Holiest of All
AN ANCIENT HEBREW CUSTOM
IN that old Hebrew world that lies now so far back in the dim twilight of the past, there were several customs, of more than transient interest, one of which claims our thought as it glistens for a moment beneath the touch of this Epistle, as a wave far out to sea, when smitten for a moment by the sunlight. It appears that if an Israelite, through the stress of bad seasons and disappointing harvests, were to fall into deep arrears to some rich neighboring creditor-so much so that he owed him even more than the land of his inheritance was worth-he was permitted not only to alienate his land till the year of jubilee, but to sell his own service so as to work out his debt. It must have been a very painful thing for the peasant proprietor to say farewell to his humble home and endeared possessions, in which his forefathers had lived and thriven, and to go forth into the service of another. Very affecting must have been the farewell walk around the tiny plot, which he and his might not live to revisit. And yet the bitterness of the separation must have been greatly mitigated and lessened by the instant freedom from anxiety which ensued. No more dark forebodings for the future; no eager questioning of how to keep the wolf from the door; no unequal struggle with the adverse seasons. All responsibility-for the payment of other creditors, for supplies of food and clothing for himself and his wife and children-from henceforth must rest on the shoulders of another. So the appointed six years passed away, and at their close the master would call the laborer into his presence, to give him his discharge. But at that moment he might, if he chose, bind himself to that master's service forever. If he shrank from facing the storms of poverty and difficulty; if he preferred the shelter and plenty of his master's home to the struggle for existence from which he had been so happily shielded; if, above all, he loved his master, and desired not to be separated from him again, he was at liberty to say so" I love my master, I will not go out free." Then, solemnly, and before the judges, that the choice was deliberately ratified, his master bored his ear through with an awl to the doorpost, leaving a permanent and indelible impression of the relationship into which they had entered. "And he shall serve him forever" (Ex 21:6). This custom was-
I. ALLUDED TO BY THE PSALMIST
(Psalm 40:6). Living amid the routine of daily, monthly, and yearly sacrifices, this saint felt deeply their inability to take away sin, and saw that the true offering to God must be of another kind. What could he do adequately to express his sense of the wonderful works and countless thoughts of God! Surely the offered sacrifice of flour or blood, the burnt-offering or sin offering could not be the highest expression of human love and devotion; and then he bethought him of a more excellent way. He will come to God, bearing in his hand the volume of the book of his will; his heart shall dote upon that holy transcript of his Father's character; yea, he will translate its precepts into prompt and loving obedience. "I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart." " This shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs." Nor is this all; recalling the ancient usage to which we have alluded, he imagines himself repeating the vow of the Hebrew bond-servant, and standing meekly and voluntarily at God's door, while his ear is bored to it forever. Henceforth he may almost cry with the Apostle, "From henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus." "Mine ears hast thou bored." "Truly I am thy servant, thou hast loosed my bonds." We need not wonder at the glad outburst which succeeds (Heb. 10:10). As with emphatic and repeated phrase the Psalmist avows his intention of telling the great congregation his discoveries of the love of God, we can well understand the reason of his exultation. There is no life so free as that which has escaped all other masters in becoming the bond-slave of Jesus. There is no nature so exuberant with joy and peace unspeakable as that which has felt the stab of the awl, has been tinged with the blood of self-sacrifice for his dear sake, and has passed through the open doorway to go out nevermore. There is no rest so unutterable as that which knows no further care; since all care has been once and forever laid on him who can alone bear the pressure of sorrow and sin, responsibility and need.
II. APPROPRIATED BY THE LORD JESUS
In his incarnation our blessed Lord has realized all the noblest aspirations and assertions which had ever been spoken by the lips of his most illustrious saints. The very words used by them can, therefore, be literally appropriated by him, without exaggeration, save where they falter with the broken confessions of sin and mortal weakness. Amongst others, when he came into the world, he could take up those olden words of the Fortieth Psalm, and, through them, fulfill the meaning of the ancient Hebrew custom. The sacrifices of Leviticus had served a very necessary purpose in familiarizing men with the thoughts of God as to the true aspect in which our Saviour's death was to be viewed; but it was evident that they could not exhaust his idea, or fill up the measure of his redeeming purpose. His will went far beyond them all, and, therefore, they could not be other than incomplete; and, on account of their very incompleteness, they needed incessant repetition; and even then, though repeated for centuries, they could not accomplish the purposes on which the divine nature was set. As well fill up the ocean with cartloads of soil, as accomplish the measure of God's will by the blood of bulls and goats. But when Jesus came into the world he at once set himself to accomplish that holy will. This was his constant cry: "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God! "And he not only essayed to do God's will in every minute particular and detail of his life, but especially where it touched the removal of sin, the redemption of men, the sanctification and perfecting of those who believe. It was to accomplish God's will in these respects that the Saviour died on the cross. And it is because he perfectly succeeded, cutting out the entire pattern of the divine mind in the cloth of his obedience, that the ineffective sacrifices of Judaism have been put an end to; whilst his own sacrifice has not required the addition of a single sigh or tear or hour of darkness or thrill of agony. By the offering of his body once for all we have been sanctified, i.e., our judicial standing before God is completely satisfactory. And by one offering he bath perfected forever them that are being sanctified, i.e., he has accomplished all the objective work of our redemption in such wise as that in him we stand before God as accepted saints, though much more has yet to be done in our subjective inward experience (Heb. 10:10-14). The entire submission of our Lord to his Father's will comes out very sweetly in a slight change here made in quoting the ancient Psalm. It may be that some older version, or various reading, is given, with the sanction of the divine Spirit. Instead of saying "Mine ear hast thou opened," the Lord is represented as saying, "A body hast thou prepared for me." In point of fact, though the ear carried the body with it, because it is notoriously difficult to move hand or foot so long as the ear is a captive, yet the Hebrew slave only gave his ear to the piercing awl in token of his surrender. But our Lord Jesus gave, not his ear only, but his whole body, in every faculty and power. He held nothing back, but yielded to God the Father the entirety of that body which was prepared for him by the Holy Ghost in the mystery of the holy incarnation. Ah! blessed is our lot, that God's holy redemptive purpose has been so utterly and so efficiently fulfilled, through the offering of that body once for all nailed, not to the doorpost, but to the cross.
III. APPLICABLE TO OURSELVES
There is a strong demand amongst God's people in the present day for that "more abundant life" which the Good Shepherd came to bestow. Out of this demand is springing a mighty movement, which if it obey the following rules and conditions, will surely be a blessing to the Church.
It must be natural. The saintliness that cannot romp and laugh with little children, and looks askance on the great movements in the world around, and shuts itself up in cloistered seclusion, is not the ideal of Jesus Christ, who watched the children playing in the market places, and called them to his arms, and mingled freely at the dinner-tables of the rich. It is easier, perhaps, than his, but it is a profound mistake to suppose that it will satisfy his heart. No; the saintliness of the true saint must find its home in the ordinary homes and haunts of men.
It must be humble. Directly a man begins to boast of what he has attained, you may be sure that he makes up in talk for what he lacks in vital experience. The tone with which some speak of perfection indicates how far they are from it. To brag of sinlessness is to yield to pride, the worst of sins. No face truly shines so long as its owner wists it. No heart is childlike which is conscious of itself.
It must lay stress on the objective side of Christ's work. There must be introspection for the detection and removal of anything that lies between the soul and God; just as there must be sometimes a discharge of gunpowder to dislodge the accumulated soot of a foul chimney. But when the necessary work of introspection and confession is over, there should be an instant return to God, with the devout outlook of the soul on the person and work of the Lord Jesus. We must never encourage the introspection, except with the view of a more uninterrupted vision of Jesus. If these three conditions are complied with, the movement now afoot cannot but be fraught with blessing to the universal Church; and it will probably have the effect of leading multitudes to pass through an experience like that indicated in the Psalm. Previously they may have acted merely from a sense of legalism and duty, giving sacrifices and offerings as appointed by the law. But from the glad hour that they realize all the claims of Jesus on their emancipated and surrendered natures, they will exclaim, "We love our Master; we will not go out free; bore our ears to his door, that we may serve him forever; we delight to do his will; his law is within our hearts; we are eager to do all things written in the roll of the book of his will." Have you ever uttered words like these? Has your life been only a monotonous round of unavoidable service, of which the key-word has been "must"? Alas! you have not as yet tasted how easy is his yoke, how light his burden. But if only from this moment you would open your whole heart to the work of the Holy Spirit, yielding fully to him, he would shed the love of God abroad within you, kindling your love to him; and, at once, you would do from love what you have done from law: you would be so knit to Christ that you would not be free from him, even though you could do without him; you would have forever the scar of the slavery of Jesus wrought into your very nature. There is nothing in the world that gives so much rest to the soul as to do the will of God; whether it speaks on the page of Scripture, or through the inspirations of the Holy Spirit within the shrine of the heart, or in the daily routine of ordinary or extraordinary Providence. If only we could always say, "I delight to do thy will; I come, I come!" if only we could offer up to God, as Jesus did, the bodies which he has prepared for us, though to the very bitterness of the cross, if only we were as intent on finishing the work given us to do by him, as men are in achieving the ends of personal ambition: then the spirit of heaven, where the will of God is done, would engird our barren, weary lives, as the Gulf Stream some wintry shore, dispelling the frost and mantling the soil with flowers of fairest texture and fruits of Paradise. Do not try to feel the will of God: will it, choose it, obey it; and as time goes on, what you commenced by choosing you will end by loving with ardent and even vehement affection.
F. B. Meyer. The Way Into the Holiest
Amplified: In burnt offerings and sin offerings You have taken no delight. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: You took no pleasure in whole burnt-offerings and in sin-offerings. (Westminster Press)
NLT: No, you were not pleased with animals burned on the altar or with other offerings for sin. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: In whole burnt offerings also for sin you took no pleasure. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: in burnt-offerings, and concerning sin-offerings, Thou didst not delight,
IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICES FOR SIN THOU HAST TAKEN NO PLEASURE: kai peri hamartias: holokautomata ouk eudokesas (2SAAI): (He 10:4; Leviticus 1:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) (Psalms 147:11; Malachi 1:10; Matthew 3:17; Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 4:18)
Whole burnt offering (3646) (holokautoma from hol- = whole + kaustos = burnt) describes a wholly-consumed sacrifice. This word gives rise to our English word "holocaust", which is defined by Webster as a sacrifice consumed by fire. The modern term refers of course to the mass slaughter of European Jews by the Nazis during World War II, many of whom were in fact burned to death.
The point is that the offerings and sacrifices could not satisfy (propitiate) God's demand for justice.
Holokautoma is found only 3x in the NT, twice in Hebrews 10 (He 10:6, 10:8) and once in Mark 12:22
Holokautoma - A major word in the OT - some 175x - Exod 10:25; 18:12; 20:24; 24:5; 29:18; 30:20, 28; 32:6; Lev 1:3, 6, 10; 3:2, 5; 4:7, 24f, 29f, 33, 35; 5:7, 10, 12; 6:25; 7:2, 8, 37; 8:18, 21, 28; 9:2, 7, 12ff, 16f, 22, 24; 10:19; 12:6, 8; 14:13, 19f, 22, 31; 15:15, 30; 16:3, 5; 17:4, 8; 22:18; 23:8, 12, 18, 25, 27, 36f; Num 6:11, 16; 7:15, 21, 27, 33, 39, 45, 51, 57, 63, 69, 75, 81; 8:12; 10:10; 15:3, 6, 8, 24; 23:6; 28:6, 10f, 14, 19, 23f, 27, 31; 29:2, 6, 8, 13, 36, 39; Deut 12:6, 11, 13f, 27; 27:6; Josh 8:30; 22:23; Judg 6:26; 11:31; 13:16, 23; 1 Sam 15:22; 2 Sam 6:17; 24:22, 24; 1 Kgs 18:29, 33f, 38; 2 Kgs 3:27; 5:17; 10:24; 1 Chr 6:49; 16:1f, 40; 21:26, 29; 23:31; 29:21; 2 Chr 2:4; 4:6; 7:1, 7; 8:12; 9:4; 13:11; 23:18; 24:14; 29:7; 30:15; 35:14, 16; Ezra 8:35; Neh 10:33; Ps 20:3; 40:6; 50:8; 51:16, 19; 66:13, 15; Isa 1:11; 56:7; Jer 6:20; 7:21f; 14:12; 17:26; Ezek 40:40, 42; 43:18, 24, 27; 44:11; 45:15, 17, 23, 25; 46:2, 4, 12f, 15; Hos 6:6; Amos 5:22; Mic 6:6
Sin (266) (hamartia) literally conveys the sense of missing the mark as when hunting with a bow and arrow (in Homer some hundred times of a warrior hurling his spear but missing his foe). Later hamartia came to mean missing or falling short of any goal, standard, or purpose. Ryrie adds that "this is not only a negative idea but includes the positive idea of hitting some wrong mark."
The only offering in Whom God took perfect pleasure was His only Son, Matthew recording God's testimony that… This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased (Mt 3:17)
Writing to the Ephesian saints Paul exhorted them… Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ep 5:1, 2-note)
Spurgeon - The Lord God had no desire for matters so trivial and unsatisfactory. They were good for the people, to instruct them, if they had been willing to learn. But they fulfilled no desire of the heart of God. He says, “Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?” (Psa 50:13) By the prophet Micah He asks, “Will Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriads of rivers of oil?” (Mic 6:7) A clean sweep has been made of all the ancient rites, from circumcision up to the garment with its fringe of blue. These were for the childhood of the Church, the pictures of her first schoolbooks. But we are no longer minors, and we have grace given us to read with opened eyes that everlasting classic of “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6) Now has the brightness of the former dispensation been quite eclipsed by the glory that excels.
Taken no pleasure - Apologetics Study Bible writes that… Some skeptics charge that, if these verses are true (including He 10:4, 11), then much of the OT is false. They need to remember, however, that the OT sacrifices, which prefigured Christ’s sacrifice, could “sanctify” and “purify” (He 9:13, 23), but they could never remove sin and its guilt; otherwise, they would not have been repeated. The OT sacrifices were able to make worshipers externally, ceremonially clean, but they could never perpetually and effectively cleanse from sin so as to establish right standing before God. Christ’s sacrifice, however, is better—it really does cleanse from sin; it takes away sin and its guilt; it is decisive and does not need to be repeated. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice who appeases God’s wrath toward our sin. He atones for our sin, taking it upon Himself so that we might be saved by this wonderful grace of God through faith.
Wuest - The point is not that God took no pleasure in the offering of the Levitical sacrifices. These offerings were according to His will, and He did take pleasure in the fact that they were offered, since the act of offering them was in obedience to His will. But when it came to the place where they failed to pay for sin, God took no pleasure in them. (Hebrews Commentary online)
T aken (no) pleasure (2106)(eudokeo from eu = well, good + dokeo = to think) means literally to think well of and so to be well pleased, to take pleasure or delight in. The idea is to find satisfaction in something or someone or to view with approval.
Wuest… The point is not that God took no pleasure in the offering of the Levitical sacrifices. These offerings were according to His will, and He did take pleasure in the fact that they were offered, since the act of offering them was in obedience to His will. But when it came to the place where they failed to pay for sin, God took no pleasure in them. (Hebrews Commentary online)
Albert Barnes has a slightly different take… The idea is, that God had no pleasure in them as compared with obedience. He preferred the latter (cp 1Sa 15:22), and they could not be made to come in the place of it, or to answer the same purpose. When they were performed with a pure heart, he was doubtless pleased with the offering. As used here in reference to the Messiah, the meaning is, that they would not be what was required of Him. Such offerings would not answer the end for which he was sent into the world, for that end was to be accomplished only by his being "obedient unto death." (Php 2:8-note)
Amplified: Then I said, Behold, here I am, coming to do Your will, O God—[to fulfill] what is written of Me in the volume of the Book. [Ps. 40:6-8.] (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: So then I said: ‘So then I come—in the roll of the book it is written of me—to do, O God, your will.’” (Westminster Press)
NLT: Then I said, 'Look, I have come to do your will, O God-- just as it is written about me in the Scriptures.'" (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Then I said, Behold, I have come - in the volume of books it is written of me - to do your will, O God'. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Then I said, Behold, I come, in the volume of the book it stands written concerning me, to do your will, O God. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: then I said, Lo, I come, (in a volume of the book it hath been written concerning me,) to do, O God, Thy will;'
THEN I SAID, 'BEHOLD I HAVE COME IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME TO DO THY WILL, O GOD: tote eipon (1SAAI) idou en kephalidi bibliou gegraptai (3SRPI) peri emou tou poiesai (AAN) o theos to thelema sou: (He 10:9,10; Proverbs 8:31; John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38)
Then I said - The Messiah (Christ) is speaking to His Father.
Then is an important time phrase (See expressions of time) - Spurgeon comments "Observe when he says this. It is in the time of failure. All the sacrifices had failed. The candle flickered and was dying out, and then the great light arose, even the eternal light, and like a trumpet the words rung out, “Behold, I have come.” All this has been of no avail; now I come. It is in the time of failure that Christ always does appear. The last of man is the first of God; and when we have come to the end of all our power and hope, then the eternal power and Godhead appears with its “Behold, I have come.” The infinite Ego appears: “Behold, I have come.” No mere man could talk thus and be sane. No servant or prophet of God would ever say, “Behold, I have come.” Saintly men do not talk so. God’s prophets and apostles have a modest sense of their true position. They never magnify themselves, though they magnify their office. It is for God to say, “Behold, I have come.” He who says it takes the body prepared for Him and comes in His own proper personality as the I AM. “In him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9). He comes forth from the ivory palaces to inhabit the tents of manhood. He takes upon Himself the body prepared for Him of the Lord God, and He stands forth in His matchless personality ready to do the will of God. “He was well pleased for all the fullness to dwell in him” (Col 1:19). Everything is stored up in His blessed person, and we are complete in Him."
Barnes notes that… The time here referred to by the word "then" is, when it was manifest that sacrifices and offerings for sin would not answer all the purposes desirable, or when in view of that fact the purpose of the Redeemer is conceived as formed to enter upon a work which would effect what they could not.
Wuest - he words “In the volume of the book it is written of Me,” speak of the fact that in the Old Testament are written instructions regarding the divine will for the Messiah (Hebrews Commentary online)
In the scroll of the book - This statement refers to the fact that "in the Old Testament are written instructions regarding the divine will for the Messiah." (Hebrews Commentary online)
Phillips observes that…
Vine adds that… not only did the Lord declare that He had come to do the Father’s will, He also showed how inseparable were His own person and work from the testimony of Old Testament Scripture. He had come to fulfill both the Law and the prophets (Mt 5:17). He was the one great subject of their testimony (John 5:39). What He taught His disciples before His death He repeated after His resurrection, “that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the Law of Moses, and the prophets, and the Psalms concerning Me” (Lk 24:44). So when He says, “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God,” He declares in the same breath, “In the roll of the Book it is written of Me.” (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Behold I have come - Into the world, His incarnation fulfilling the Father's will.
Scroll (2777) (kephalis from kephale = head) is literally a "little head" and was used to describe the round heads of wooden rod around which parchments were rolled. The name kephalis was a metonymy (figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated) that stood for the entire roll or volume. The word is used only here in the NT (Heb 10:7 quoted from Ps. 40:7).
Barnes adds that ancient…
Phil Newton comments on "Behold I have come… to do Thy will, O God"…
When was it written of Christ to do God's will. From the beginning it was written, Moses recording God's promise to Satan…
Henry Morris makes an interesting comment:
The Lord Jesus Christ frequently confirmed the fact that He had come into the world specifically to do the will of His Father (Jn 4:34 5:30 6:38)
Jamieson writes that…
In the roll - Jamieson writes… literally, "the roll": the parchment manuscript being wrapped around a cylinder headed with knobs. Here, the Scripture "volume" meant is the fortieth Psalm. "By this very passage 'written of Me,' I undertake to do Thy will [namely, that I should die for the sins of the world, in order that all who believe may be saved, not by animal sacrifices, Heb 10:6, but by My death]." This is the written contract of Messiah (cp Ne 9:38), whereby He engaged to be our surety. So complete is the inspiration of all that is written, so great the authority of the Psalms, that what David says is really what Christ then and there said.
Spurgeon - When our Lord comes, it is with the view of filling up the vacuum that had now been sorrowfully seen. God does not desire these things; God does not require these things. But He does desire and He does require something better, and behold, the Christ has come to bring that something. That awful gap that was seen in human hope when Moses had passed away, and the Aaronic priesthood and all the ordinances of it were gone, Christ was born to fill. It looked as if the light of ages had been quenched, and God’s glorious revelation had been forever withdrawn. Then, in the dark hour, Jesus cries, “Behold, I have come!” He fills the blank abyss; He gives to man in reality what he had lost in the shadow. His own will was absorbed in the divine will. It was His pleasure to say, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). It was His meat and His drink to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work. Though He was Lord and God, He became a lowly servant for our sakes. Though high as the highest, He stooped low as the lowest. The King of kings was the servant of servants that He might save His people. He took upon Himself the form of a servant, and girded Himself, and stood obediently at His Father’s call.
THERE is not any important truth contained in the New Testament, which was not before revealed in the Old. But we have an advantage over the Jews, in that the obscurity, which was cast over the language of prophecy, is removed by the interpretations of men divinely inspired to explain the sacred oracles. Hence we are enabled to see, what the Jews could never comprehend, though plainly and repeatedly declared to them, God’s determination to abrogate the Mosaic economy, in order to make way for the Christian dispensation. This was declared by David, while the law was yet in full force: and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews both quotes his words in proof of this point, and confirms them by additional declarations to the same effect.
We shall consider,
I. The quotation as explained by the Apostle—
In his comment on David’s words the Apostle throws great light upon,
1. What is expressed in them—
The Psalm beyond all doubt refers to Christ: for it was not possible that David should boast of his own obedience as superseding the law; since a compliance with the law constituted a very essential part of his duty. If it be thought that what is spoken in ver. 12. is adverse to this construction, it must be remembered that the sins of the whole world were Christ’s by imputation; and therefore they might justly draw from him that complaint.
In the Psalm David speaks in the person of Christ, whom he represents as addressing the Father to this effect: ‘Thou didst never design the legal sacrifices to take away sin; that office thou hast assigned to me: and I have most willingly undertaken it, nor will ever relinquish my services till I have completed all that I have undertaken.’
That the sacrifices were never ordained to take away sin is plain, from the contempt poured upon them by God himself in comparison of moral duties; yes, and absolutely too, if unaccompanied with suitable dispositions in the offerers.
That Christ was sent into the world for that end appears also from the very first promise made to man, that “the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head.”
That he willingly undertook the office is declared by David much more strongly than in the passage as quoted by the Apostle. In the passage as quoted in my text, it is merely said, “I come to do thy will, O God:” but in the Psalm it is written, “Lo, I come; I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea thy law is within my heart.” All which additional expressions shew the zeal with which Christ undertook our cause, and executed the arduous work that was assigned him.
That he would never relinquish it till it was accomplished was also strongly declared in those words, “Mine ears thou hast opened,” which refer to the custom of boring the ear of a servant who refused to be liberated at the day of release, and engaged to abide for ever in his master’s service. The Apostle, in citing the passage, varies it in words, though he adheres to it in sense. He says, “A body hast thou prepared me;” that is, It was necessary to the completion of my undertaking, that I should have somewhat to offer in sacrifice; and therefore thou hast prepared for me a body in the womb of a pure virgin, that being free from the taint and corruption transmitted to all the posterity of Adam, it might be fit to be offered in sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
But, to the inconceivable advantage of the Church, the Apostle brings forth from David’s words,]
2. What is implied in them—
[Here we see the benefit of having an inspired commentator on the Old Testament. No Jew could have conceived all that was designed to be revealed in these words: but we are informed by God himself, that “when it was said, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,” it was designed to intimate, that all the legal sacrifices should be swept away, and the whole Jewish economy be superseded by the Christian dispensation: “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” This was an explanation of God’s hidden purpose, an explanation, which no uninspired man could have dared to offer. But in several other parts of this epistle are similar explanations given, and not in a way of conjecture, but of authoritative declaration. Thus, from the mention of a new covenant which God would make with his people, the Apostle infers, “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” In another place, having cited God’s declaration that, to those who laid hold on that covenant, their sins and iniquities he would remember no more, he draws this inference; “Now where remission of sins is, there is no more offering for sin; and consequently all the Jewish sacrifices are swept away. Again, in another place having cited the words of the Prophet Haggai, “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven,” he says, “This word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things which are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”]
Thus we have obtained a deep insight into the recondite meaning of our text, and may with confidence proceed to consider,
II. His declaration founded upon it—
There are two important points which the Apostle deduces from these words of David; namely, that salvation flows,
1. From God’s will as the source—
[Sanctification imports a setting apart of any thing for God. Hence the tabernacle with all its vessels are said to have been sanctified; and Christ himself says, “For their sakes I sanctify myself:” and it is in this sense that the term “sanctified” is used in the text: it means a separation for God, in order to eternal salvation.
Now it is solely from the “will of God” thus made known to his Son, and thus fulfilled by him, that any of the children of men are made partakers of salvation. It was not possible for any such plan to have originated with any other than God himself. When God’s dealings with the fallen angels were considered, who would have imagined that man, partaking of their iniquity, should yet be rescued from their doom? Supposing that such a thought could have entered into the mind of man, who could have contrived such a way of maintaining the honour of the Divine government, and of making the discordant attributes of justice and mercy to harmonize in the salvation of man? If such an expedient as the substitution of God’s own Son in the place of sinners could have been devised, who could have dared to propose it to the Deity; or have prevailed upon him to acquiesce in it? The more this is considered, the more will the salvation of man appear to be totally independent of man himself (as far as respects the contriving or the meriting of it), and to be the fruit of infinite wisdom, sovereign grace, and unbounded love. From the first laying of the foundation to the bringing forth of the top-stone, we must cry, Grace, grace unto it.]
2. From Christ’s sacrifice as the means—
[It might seem that men, under the law, were accepted on account of the sacrifices, which were offered according to the Mosaic ritual. But, not to mention the impossibility that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin, the very repetition of those sacrifices shewed their insufficiency for the removal of guilt, or for the satisfying of men’s consciences. They had no effect but as they led the offerers to the Lord Jesus Christ, or expressed their faith in his all-atoning sacrifice. All who have ever found acceptance with God, whether before the law, or under it, or since its abolition, have been admitted to mercy purely “through the one offering of Jesus Christ.” Nothing but that could ever satisfy Divine justice; nothing but that could ever atone for one single sin: nor can any creature, to the end of the world, ever obtain favour with God, but in consideration of that sacrifice presented to God for us, and pleaded by us as the one ground of our hope. Here I cannot but call your attention to the minuteness and force of David’s statement, and to the redoubled force and energy expressed in the Apostle’s citation of it. David enumerates the different kinds of sacrifices, in order to shew, that none (whether those burnt without the camp, or those consumed on the altar, or those of which but a small part was burnt, and the rest was divided between the priest and the offerer) were of any avail to take away sin. And twice does the Apostle repeat this enumeration of them, in order the more abundantly to manifest the eternal purpose of God to liberate us from the Jewish yoke, and to establish throughout the world the purer dispensation of the Gospel; so that all, whether Jews or Gentiles, should henceforth “know nothing as a ground of hope, but Jesus Christ and him crucified.”]
1. How vain is men’s confidence in any services of their own!
[To have been baptized in our infancy, to have attended punctually the outward duties of the Sabbath, and to have waited occasionally upon the Lord at his table, are deemed in general satisfactory evidences of our conversion to God, and sufficient grounds for our hope towards him. But, if the whole multitude of legal institutions, framed by God’s own order, and according to a model shewn to Moses in the mount, were of no value as recommending men to God, how much less can the few services which we perform be sufficient to procure us acceptance with him? But it may be said, that moral services are more pleasing to God than ceremonial: true; but we are not told that God willed them, any more than the others, as means of effecting our reconciliation with him. It was the incarnation and death of Christ that God “willed;” and, in a remarkable correspondence with the text, he thrice, by an audible voice from heaven, said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Let every self-righteous hope then be banished; and let us learn to glory in Christ alone.]
2. What encouragement have all to devote themselves to God through Christ!
[We have the united testimony of Prophets and Apostles that God willeth the salvation of men through the sacrifice of his own Son, and that Christ as willingly offered himself a sacrifice in order to effect their salvation. What more can be wanted but that we go to God in that new and living way, which is so clearly pointed out to us? We can have no doubt of God’s willingness to save, or of the sufficiency of that salvation which he has provided for us. Let nothing then keep us back from God: but let us look to Christ as the propitiation for our sins, and plead the merit of his all-atoning blood. Thus, sanctifying ourselves in his name, we shall be perfected before God; being sanctified also by the Holy Ghost, we shall be acceptable in the sight of God and our Father for ever and ever.] (Horae Homileticae or, Discourses)