Because man is sinful there is a separation between him and God. God cannot look upon sin. Isaiah 59:1,2 says that God is able to save and able to hear our pleas, but sins and iniquities have created a separation. Because God is holy, the unholy may not come before Him.
God is a loving God, but He is also Just and He cannot deny that part of His nature. The loving God is also the God of wrath. Even though we are His children, and created in His image, He holds us accountable for our trespasses and sins. “There is wrath and indignation for everyone that does evil” (Rom. 2:8). This a man’s number one problem.
The Scriptures from the earliest times have pointed out man’s disobedience and need for atonement. Atonement is connected to God justice and can only be obtained in the manner in which God prescribes. When Abel offered a better sacrifice, the idea to offer an animal sacrifice was a matter of faith (Heb. 11:4). From the earliest time in human history, we see the idea of a substitutionary sacrifice. When the Jews were guilty of idolatry and making sacrifices to the goat gods, God said “No more!” in Leviticus 17. God told the Israelites where they were to sacrifice, what they were to sacrifice, and that they could only sacrifice to Him. By following God’s instructions, the sinful people and priests would fine atonement for their sins. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” (Lev. 17:11).
These instructions to offer at the Tabernacle, and later at Solomon’s Temple, were satisfactory for the time but ultimately they were only shadows of something better and more perfect. The Hebrews writer said,
“13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:13,14).
This highlights a major problem with all other sacrifices besides Jesus Christ: they were inferior.
Because we are sinful and because God is holy, we need the atonement that comes through Jesus blood. Jesus is “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” People of faith believe in Jesus and receiving the cleansing and sanctification that God provides by His grace.
Another issue addressed by the Hebrews writer is the access Christians have to the throne of grace. Those who are washed and sanctified can confidently approach the throne of God. We are the new priests, the “holy priesthood” of Believers (1 Pt. 2:5,9), who have the right to come before our Holy God because we are made clean by the blood of Christ.
“19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,” (Heb. 10:19,20).
Jesus is the High Priest “after the order of Melchizedek” and we approach the Holy of Holies where He ministers on our behalf only because we are have been made clean, atone for, by the redemption of the Cross.
This is Good News indeed. The Hebrews writer is informing many Jews who have not yet received the message that a new and better way has been inaugurated through the blood of Christ. Up until the reading of this important treatise, they were still trusting in Abraham, dietary laws and circumcision, the temple and the sacrifices and the Law of Moses. Hebrews takes down the veil from their eyes to see the glory that is in Jesus Christ. Now by putting their faith in Jesus Christ, they may approach their God is full assurance. Only in Christ is this kind of confident access to Jehovah even possible.
“16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16).