10 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ”
8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
As I was reading through N.T. Wright’s commentary on this passage he had a unique analogy that has stuck with me. He wrote, “If I have to take my car back to the mechanic every week with the same problem, that’s a fair indication that he hasn’t succeeded in fixing it.”
That’s an apt description of the point that Hebrews is making here in this passage. Hebrews has gone to great lengths to explain how the Temple sacrifices pointed to the true and ultimate forgiveness of sins accomplished through Jesus' perfect atoning sacrifice on the cross.
The temple sacrifices had to be repeated over and over, never fully dealing with our sin, but Jesus’ atoning sacrifice was done once for all (verse 10) establishing a new covenant in His blood.
What’s amazing is that the Old Testament constantly points to the reality that is fully and finally achieved through Jesus. We see that in such passages from 1. Samuel 15.22, Isaiah 1.10-17, and Hosea 6.6 (actually quoted by Jesus in Matthew 9.13 and 12.7). Hebrews has also made it perfectly clear in previous quotes from Psalm 95 (Hebrews chapters 3 and 4), Psalm 110 (Hebrews chapters 5-8), Jeremiah 31 (Hebrews 8), and Psalm 40.6-8 here in this passage.
There is a crimson thread that weaves its way through the Old Testament that leads us to Jesus.
The Old Testament system proclaims itself to be temporary as it looks forward to what will be accomplished fully, once for all, in Jesus the Messiah.
The joy and delight that you and I have as we entrust our lives to Jesus is that our sins are fully and finally forgiven. However, the challenge for us, as the French Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin noted, is to trust in the slow work of God to do its good work of transformation within us.
As soon as we entrust our lives to Jesus, there is an immediate change that takes place as we are adopted into God’s family and are transferred into the kingdom of God (Colossians 1.13).
And at the same time, a slow work begins in us as we, transforming us to be who we are created to be in Christ (2 Corinthians 3.18).
That slow work is often challenging for us in a culture that expects immediate results—we want it now.
But, just as it takes time to cook a good meal (and you really shouldn’t rush through it or you’ll spoil the outcome), the slow work of God will produce tremendous fruit in our lives, through our good times, through our struggles, and through our hardships. God is at work within you.
So what does it mean for you to trust in the slow work of God today?
God bless you and know that I am praying for you constantly.