"We have an altar of which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle" does not identify a specific tangible implement or structure upon which a particular sacrifice was burned. Rather, it identifies a specific kind of sacrifice. The priests we re forbidden to eat of one certain type of sin offering, but of all other kinds they must eat. (Lev. 10:16-18) Heb. 13:10,11 notes the definition commanded in Lev. 6:30. "No sin offering whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congr egation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten."
The bullock and the goat taken annually for the sin offering (Lev. 16:14,15, Heb. 7:27, 9:7,12,13,23,26) were the only animals which answered to that description. From this can be seen the meaning of Heb. 13:10. "We have an altar..." means "we have a s acrifice..." Here, by a usual metonymy ("use of one word for another that it suggests"-- Webster) the 'altar' is put for the 'sacrifice', as is plain from the added statement, "of which they have no right to eat." That addition defines the sacrifice the H ebrews' author was referring to--the sin offering sacrifice of Jesus. The statement, "we have an altar," that is, a sacrifice, does not define a sacrifice waiting for us to present or make. Rather, it assures believers concerning the sacrifice which Jesus Himself had already made, one unspeakably more excellent than the typical sacrifices in which some of the Hebrews were trusting. The passage affirms that "we have" by faith all the benefits and privileges open to us which the sacrifice of Jesus authorize s to all those who believe into it. "It is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods." (Heb. 13:9 RSV) By faith we are cleansed from all sin and made acceptable with God.
The blood of two animals was used in the annual typical atonement. The blood of the bullock atoned for the sins of the high priest and his sons, "his house." This atonement reconciled them to "the priest's office," and usually the oldest son became hig h priest upon his father's death. He was thereby qualified to fill the immediate daily responsibilities of the priest.< 1> The blood of the Lord's goat atoned for the sins of the people.--Lev. 16:14,15
Some Bible students think there are two parts to the antitypical sin offering, each of which makes atonement for a separate segment of the human race. Those who hold this view should observe: a) that no atonement for the antitypical high priest was req uired; b) that no reference to atonement for "his house" appears in Lev. 8 or 9; c) that atonement for the "house" or "household" of the high priest is mentioned only in Lev. 16, where such atonement served its purpose, assuring the eligibility of a pries t to succeed immediately into that office upon the death of the high priest; and d) that the New Testament is silent pertaining to that typical atonement "for his house" commanded in Lev. 16, presenting no antitypical lesson based upon it. Every time the Hebrews' writer touched a reference to atonement for the typical high priest, he stopped at "himself" and elaborated that Christ Jesus needed no atonement.
Apparently it was the divine intention that after the atoning sacrifice of Jesus was once typified in the annual Atonement Day service, never again would atonement be pictured as being effected without shed blood being typically presented in his typica l presence for satisfaction.< 2> But that would have been what happened, had Lev. 9 been observed again, for in Lev. 9 no blood was taken into the Most Holy, yet atonement was made for the high priest, his sons, and all of Israe l by the two sin-offering sacrifices defined in, and handled as prescribed in, that chapter. And everyone not iniquitous continued in an atoned relationship with God for about six months.--Lev. 9:7
As noted foregoing, no mention appears in Lev. 8 or 9 about atonement being made "for his house." It is therefore evident that when Moses and Aaron "came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people" (Lev. 9:23), Aaron's house, his household, that is, his sons, were among those who were blessed and to whom the LORD's glory appeared.
Consider now the following accounts which indicate that the two animals offered for atonement were counted as effecting one typical atonement.
In the antitype there is but one sacrifice and one offering: "but now once for all in the completion of the ages hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." "Who needeth not daily [that is, each day he did it] as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once for all, when he offered up himself."--Heb. 7:27, 9:26
Jesus suffered on Calvary "without the gate." His flesh was there destroyed, consumed. Antitypically, that answered to the burning of the typical two-animal sin offering "without the camp." "The camp" contained the entire Jewish arrangement during Isra el's journey through the wilderness: the tabernacle, the priests, and all the surrounding people. Eventually this was replaced by Jerusalem, which contained the temple, its priests, and the people, outside the wall and gate of which Jesus was crucified. T he epistle encouraged Hebrew believers to become separate from what Paul described in Galatians as "Jerusalem which is now." That religious arrangement was destined for destruction; it was not to be a continuing city or arrangement. The Hebrews should hon or Jesus, own His name, and bear whatever reproaches faith in Christ Jesus might bring upon them. And this the faithful did, in response to the admonition of Heb. 13:13,14. They considered Jerusalem as "the camp" and kept without its spiritually legalisti c arrangements, that they might continue to receive favor and blessing from Christ Jesus. They withdrew from the "worldly sanctuary" (Heb. 9:1), and from the earthly Jerusalem and from the world in general of which it is representative. Believers must lea ve all sacerdotal ritualism to offer spiritual sacrifices at the spiritual altar.--Ezek. 11:18-21, 1 Pet. 2:5
The author of Hebrews must have been well acquainted with Jewish history, and may have had in mind Exod. 33:7 when he wrote Heb. 13:11- 13. From the former passage it is seen that Moses took what was probably his own large tent, "and pitched it withou t the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp." Those who, in obedience to Moses , went "without the camp," did not go there to offer sacrifice, nor to eat. They went to "seek the LORD." They went to seek his face of favor and have their hearts and prayers for forgiveness accepted. This was similar to a previous arrangement. In prepar ation for the making of the typical covenant, "Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God." (Exod. 19:17) These instances were typical of what the Hebrews to whom the epistle was written should do: come out of the carnal worship of ea rthly Jerusalem and worship God through Christ in the spirit. (2 Cor. 3:17) In fact, the next verse alludes to the temporary nature of the carnal ordinance and its supporters, destined to meet a sudden end. "For here [Greek, ode, meaning, as an adverb, "i n this place," in the carnal world, and in that Jerusalem which represented that world] we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come." (Heb. 13:14) Those who maintained the earthly sanctuary and its service were unworthy of fellowship in "Jerusalem which is above, which is our mother."--Gal. 4:26
What next would that author have those do who had disassociated themselves from "Jerusalem which is now" and who had gone forth "unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach"? The following two verses contain his exhortation: offer sacrifice! But he surely does not suggest a sin-offering sacrifice! This would have been farthest from the mind of the Hebrews' author. Foregoing he had emphasized that Jesus bore, suffered, and offered for "the sins of the people." (Heb. 2:17, 5:3, 7:27, 9:28, 10:12, 13: 12) Note how clearly the writer now describes the sacrifice which he urges believers to offer. "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. But to do good and to commu nicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." (Heb. 13:15,16) We are privileged to offer to God praise, thanksgiving, hymns, and this we should do continually. "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most Hi gh. He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors Me; to him who orders his way aright I will show the salvation of God!" "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs." (Psa. 50:14,23, 69:30,31 RSV) See also Psa. 107:22, 116:17.
"I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off [Gentiles?], and to him that is near [natural Israelites?], saith the LORD; and I will heal him." "Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips." (Isa. 57:19, Hos. 14:2) See also Psa. 51:15-19.
But the sacrifice of praise with our lips is not enough. We must also do good and 'communicate' to the needy, for the Greek word used here and in Gal. 6:6 means 'sharing.'--Heb. 13:16
How readest thou? It is probable that additional readings of the foregoing discussion with careful consideration of every Bible passage cited will bring a deeper understanding of the thoughts presented. Only when the viewpoints are fully understood is one in a position to properly evaluate whether or not they be true.
Go To: Faithbuilders Articles Menu