“But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.” 2 Cor. 3:14.
God’s promise to bless his people cannot be broken: it has stood since the time of Abraham, and is fulfilled in Christ. His one sacrifice of himself supersedes the old order with its many priests and sacrifices. His high priesthood can be compared only with that of the mysterious Melchizedek. His sacrifice establishes the new covenant between God and his people, of which Jeremiah spoke. The heart of that sacrifice is Christ’s perfect submission to the will of God; its result is God’s forgiveness of our sins.
Paul Ellingworth, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC)/The Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 297.
As noted within the previous post, the Writer began his epistle with exposition regarding Jesus the Son and His coronation as King, he then alluded to Jesus’ Great High Priesthood, and then he turned his attention to rest. Unbelief, he taught, is the barrier to [rest from works and, concomitantly, eternal (Sabbath)] rest. Upon returning to the central theme of Jesus’ (Melchizedekian) Great High Priesthood, the Writer – with urgency – reveals his (God’s) disdain for self-satisfaction with “milk” and exhorts pursuit of “solid food” [please see Preliminary Matters (1/23 post)]. Immediately thereafter, those who “… have tasted the word of God …” are warned that “… it is impossible to restore [them] again to repentance … if they then fall away … .” Hebrews 6:4, 5.
We’re working toward understanding this ominous portion of Scripture. As Ellingworth put it, Jesus’ “sacrifice establishes the new covenant between God and his people, of which Jeremiah spoke” (at Jer. 31:31). Presuppostions about ethnic/national Israel result in effective — sometimes express — denial of the New Covenant by system-driven theologies. We cannot expect to understand this ominous portion of Scripture until we understand the New Covenant. Deo volente, our study of these chapters of the Book of Hebrews will effectuate/enhance such understanding.
Jesus’ “being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:10) is key to such understanding; “[a]bout this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain” (v. 11). The explanation doesn’t begin until v. 7:1, as, the Writer laments (at v. 5:13): “You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness”.
Although there are alternative interpretations of this phrase [‘the word of righteousness’], this is probably a reference to the Hebrews’ failure to view the Scriptures through New Covenant eyes. * * * It does indeed require skill to unearth the full Christology of the Old Testament. Some Messianic passages are obvious to all, but to apply a consistent and uniform Christological interpretation to the Old Testament is a significant challenge to the best of us. * * * Using the methodology of the New Testament, and instructed by the Spirit of God (who takes the things of Christ and reveals them to us – John 16:14), believers today can exercise such skill. They are enabled to discern “good and evil” [Heb. 5:14], that is, truth and error concerning the doctrine of Christ. * * * That is why Hebrews has such value for us today. It will teach us these basic principles of Christ-centered thinking.
Edgar Andrews, A Glorious High Throne: Hebrews Simply Explained, pp. 158 – 9.
F. F. Bruce, in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews at pp, 108 – 9, observed that, for those on whom “that same veil remains unlifted” (2 Cor. 3:14), “the exposition of the high-priestly service of Christ, with the corollary that the old order of priesthood and sacrifice had been abolished once for all, might well have been unacceptable.” Such impediment doesn’t result from the system-driven theological presuppositions of our time; nonetheless, the “dreadful prospect of apostasy for those who have no interest in spiritual growth” (Andrews at p. 159) remains. “Those who fail to move beyond the basic principles are in danger of forsaking even these. Whatever spiritual experiences they may have, their erstwhile profession of faith will be revealed as false. They will fall away (become apostate) from Christ and cannot be restored.” (Andrews at p. 164) Hebrews 6:3, though, as paraphrased by Ellingworth (at p. 317), offers hope for some: “We will go on to maturity [perfection/completeness], if God permits.”