Purification of Sins

Having achieved the purification of sins, Jesus sat down at the right hand of God where he intercedes for his people as their faithful high priest

Clean water 2 - Photo by Robert Anderson on Unsplash
The key point of the opening paragraph is the accomplishment of the Son on behalf of the saints, and his consequent appointment to reign at God’s “right hand.” Unlike his predecessors, through his death, Jesus did “achieve the purification of sins,” and then he “sat down” in the presence of God in the “
true and greater tabernacle” - [Photo by Robert Anderson 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 sin’s stain. He has been appointed “high priest forever” due to his victory over sin.

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 the Davidic throne, but on his appointment to the priesthood.

HIGH PRIEST


As their “high priest,” he now intercedes unhindered for 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 and its sacrifices designed to remove ritual impurity.

Moreover, 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 NEVER “sat 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, which can never remove sinsbut 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.

And the repeated animal sacrifices performed by 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, thereafter Jesus “sat down” at the “right hand of God” having achieved the “purification of sins,” and he remains to this day in the heavenly Tabernacle where he intercedes for his “brethren.”

In the letter’s later chapters, Hebrews will demonstrate that the vastly superior sacrifice and the priestly intervention of the Son not only remove the stain of sin but also purges the conscience of sinners and reconciles them to God.

And it is especially for these reasons, the removal of sin’s stain and his intercession for his church, that the “word of the Son” is supreme above all others.



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