Purification of Sins

Having achieved the purification of sins, Jesus “sat down” at the right hand of God where he intercedes for his people

Clean water - Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
The key point of the opening paragraph is the accomplishment of the Son on behalf of the saints and his consequent appointment before God. Unlike his predecessors, Jesus did, in fact, “
achieve the purification of sins,” and then he “sat down” in the presence of God in the “true and greater tabernacle” - [Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash].

The logic is clear. The “Son” now sits before the divine throne BECAUSE he accomplished the “purification of sins,” and because he dealt definitively with the stain of sin. He was appointed “high priest forever” due to his victory over sin.

HIGH PRIEST

The opening declaration anticipates the later discussions about his priesthood and superior sacrifice. While the image of him sitting “at God’s right hand” is drawn from the second Psalm, the letter’s focus is not on his exaltation to rule, but on his appointment to the priesthood. As theirhigh priest,” he now intercedes unhindered for the saints: the church.
  • Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near to God through him, seeing he lives forevermore to make intercession for them” – (Hebrews 7:25).
It is no accident that the passage refers to the “purification of sins” rather than the forgiveness of sin. The language reflects the Levitical system with its sacrifices designed to remove ritual impurity and the image of a priestly figure who “sat down” at God’s right-hand echoes the annual Day of Atonement but with a distinct difference.

Under the ancient system, the high priest entered the sanctuary only on the Day of Atonement, and he neversat down or remained long in the Holy of Holies.

In contrast, Jesus entered the true sanctuary “once for all” and “sat down,” where he now intercedes for his people. This modified picture emphasizes the finality of his priestly act. And, according to the letter, he will remain in his Father’s presence until He again “introduces the first-begotten into the habitable earth.

HE SAT DOWN

The term “sat down” also alludes to another key passage, once again from the Psalms, the text that prophetically summons the Messiah and “high priest after the order of Melchizedek” to do this very thing:
  • Yahweh said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool” - (Psalm 110:1. Compare Hebrews 12:1-2).
  • We have such a high priest who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched not man” - (Hebrews 8:1-2).
  • And every priest indeed stands day by day ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, the which can never remove sins. but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins once-for-all, sat down on the right hand of God - (Hebrews 10:11-12).
The last passage contrasts the positions of the Levitical priests with that of the Son, the new and final “high priest forever.” The ancient priests “stood” in the sanctuary while performing their duties but Jesus “sat down” in the greater tabernacle, the one “not made with hands” in the highest of the heavens.

Moreover, the repeated animal sacrifices of the Levitical priests were incapable of “removing” the stain of sin, but the one-time sacrifice of the Son did exactly that and “once for all.” And again, Jesus thereafter “sat down” at the “right hand of God” having achieved the “purification of sin.”

In later chapters, Hebrews will demonstrate that the vastly superior sacrifice and the priesthood of the Son not only removed the stain of sin but also purged the conscience of sinners and reconciled them to God. It is especially for this reason that the “word of the Son” is supreme above all others.



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