Letter to Hebrews: part 2 -
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Now the first agreement had its rules of worship, and a holy order.
For the first Tent was made ready, having in it the vessels for the lights and the table and the ordering of the bread; and this is named the holy place.
And inside the second veil was the place which is named the Holy of holies;
Having a vessel of gold in it for burning perfumes, and the ark of the agreement, which was covered with gold and which had in it a pot made of gold for the manna, and Aaron’s rod which put out buds, and the stones with the writing of the agreement;
And over it were the winged ones of glory with their wings covering the mercy-seat; about which it is not possible now to say anything in detail.
Now while these things were in existence, the priests went into the first Tent at all times, for prayer and the making of offerings.
But only the high priest went into the second, once a year, not without making an offering of blood for himself and for the errors of the people:
The Holy Spirit witnessing by this that the way into the holy place had not at that time been made open, while the first Tent was still in being;
And this is an image of the present time; when the offerings which are given are not able to make the heart of the worshipper completely clean,
Because they are only rules of the flesh, of meats and drinks and washings, which have their place till the time comes when things will be put right.
But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things of the future, through this greater and better Tent, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this world,
And has gone once and for ever into the holy place, having got eternal salvation, not through the blood of goats and young oxen, but through his blood.
For if the blood of goats and oxen, and the dust from the burning of a young cow, being put on the unclean, make the flesh clean:
How much more will the blood of Christ, who, being without sin, made an offering of himself to God through the Holy Spirit, make your hearts clean from dead works to be servants of the living God?
And for this cause it is through him that a new agreement has come into being, so that after the errors under the first agreement had been taken away by his death, the word of God might have effect for those who were marked out for an eternal heritage.
Because where there is a testament, there has to be the death of the man who made it.
For a testament has effect after death; for what power has it while the man who made it is living?
So that even the first agreement was not made without blood.
For when Moses had given all the rules of the law to the people, he took the blood of goats and young oxen, with water and red wool and hyssop, and put it on the book itself and on all the people,
Saying, This blood is the sign of the agreement which God has made with you.
And the blood was put on the Tent and all the holy vessels in the same way.
And by the law almost all things are made clean with blood, and without blood there is no forgiveness.
For this cause it was necessary to make the copies of the things in heaven clean with these offerings; but the things themselves are made clean with better offerings than these.
For Christ did not go into a holy place which had been made by men’s hands as the copy of the true one; but he went into heaven itself, and now takes his place before the face of God for us.
And he did not have to make an offering of himself again and again, as the high priest goes into the holy place every year with blood which is not his;
For then he would have undergone a number of deaths from the time of the making of the world: but now he has come to us at the end of the old order, to put away sin by the offering of himself.
And because by God’s law death comes to men once, and after that they are judged;
So Christ, having at his first coming taken on himself the sins of men, will be seen a second time, without sin, by those who are waiting for him, for their salvation.
For the law, being only a poor copy of the future good things, and not the true image of those things, is never able to make the people who come to the altar every year with the same offerings completely clean.
For if this had been possible, would there not have been an end of those offerings, because the worshippers would have been made completely clean and would have been no longer conscious of sins?
But year by year there is a memory of sins in those offerings.
Because it is not possible for the blood of oxen and goats to take away sins.
So that when he comes into the world, he says, You had no desire for offerings, but you made a body ready for me;
You had no joy in burned offerings or in offerings for sin.
Then I said, See, I have come to do your pleasure, O God (as it is said of me in the roll of the book).
After saying, You had no desire for offerings, for burned offerings or offerings for sin (which are made by the law) and you had no pleasure in them,
Then he said, See, I have come to do your pleasure. He took away the old order, so that he might put the new order in its place.
By that pleasure we have been made holy, by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for ever.
And every priest takes his place at the altar day by day, doing what is necessary, and making again and again the same offerings which are never able to take away sins.
But when Jesus had made one offering for sins for ever, he took his place at the right hand of God;
And has been waiting there from that time, till all who are against him are made a foot-rest for his feet.
Because by one offering he has made complete for ever those who are made holy.
And the Holy Spirit is a witness for us: for after he had said,
This is the agreement which I will make with them after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws in their hearts, writing them in their minds; he said,
And I will keep no more memory of their sins and of their evil-doings.
Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no more offering for sin.
So then, my brothers, being able to go into the holy place without fear, because of the blood of Jesus,
By the new and living way which he made open for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
And having a great priest over the house of God,
Let us go in with true hearts, in certain faith, having our hearts made free from the sense of sin and our bodies washed with clean water:
Let us keep the witness of our hope strong and unshaking, for he is true who has given his word:
And let us be moving one another at all times to love and good works;
Not giving up our meetings, as is the way of some, but keeping one another strong in faith; and all the more because you see the day coming near.
For if we do evil on purpose after we have had the knowledge of what is true, there is no more offering for sins,
But only a great fear of being judged, and of the fire of wrath which will be the destruction of the haters of God.
A man who has gone against the law of Moses is put to death without pity on the word of two or three witnesses:
But will not the man by whom the Son of God has been crushed under foot, and the blood of the agreement with which he was washed clean has been taken as an unholy thing, and who has had no respect for the Spirit of grace, be judged bad enough for a very much worse punishment?
For we have had experience of him who says, Punishment is mine, I will give reward. And again, The Lord will be judge of his people.
We may well go in fear of falling into the hands of the living God.
But give thought to the days after you had seen the light, when you went through a great war of troubles;
In part, in being attacked by angry words and cruel acts, before the eyes of everyone, and in part, in being united with those who were attacked in this way.
For you had pity on those who were in prison, and had joy in the loss of your property, in the knowledge that you still had a better property and one which you would keep for ever.
So do not give up your hope which will be greatly rewarded.
For, having done what was right in God’s eyes, you have need of waiting before his word has effect for you.
In a very little time he who is coming will come; he will not be slow.
But the upright man will be living by his faith; and if he goes back, my soul will have no pleasure in him.
But we are not of those who go back to destruction; but of those who have faith even to the salvation of the soul.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the sign that the things not seen are true.
For by it our fathers had God’s approval.
By faith it is clear to us that the order of events was fixed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made from things which only seem to be.
By faith Abel made a better offering to God than Cain, and he had witness through it of his righteousness, God giving his approval of his offering: and his voice still comes to us through it though he is dead.
By faith Enoch was taken up to heaven so that he did not see death; he was seen no longer, for God took him away: for before he was taken, witness had been given that he was well-pleasing to God:
And without faith it is not possible to be well-pleasing to him, for it is necessary for anyone who comes to God to have the belief that God is, and that he is a rewarder of all those who make a serious search for him.
By faith Noah, being moved by the fear of God, made ready an ark for the salvation of his family, because God had given him news of things which were not seen at the time; and through it the world was judged by him, and he got for his heritage the righteousness which is by faith.
By faith Abraham did as God said when he was ordered to go out into a place which was to be given to him as a heritage, and went out without knowledge of where he was going.
By faith he was a wanderer in the land of the agreement, as in a strange land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who had a part with him in the same heritage:
For he was looking for the strong town, whose builder and maker is God.
And by faith Sarah herself had power to give birth, when she was very old, because she had faith in him who gave his word;
So that from one man, who was near to death, came children in number as the stars in heaven, or as the sand by the seaside, which may not be numbered.
All these came to their end in faith, not having had the heritage; but having seen it with delight far away, they gave witness that they were wanderers and not of the earth.
For those who say such things make it clear that they are searching for a country for themselves.
And truly if they had kept in mind the country from which they went out, they would have had chances of turning back.
But now their desire is for a better country, that is to say, for one in heaven; and so it is no shame to God to be named their God; for he has made ready a town for them.
By faith Abraham made an offering of Isaac, when he was tested: and he with whom the agreement had been made gave up as an offering the only son of his body,
Of whom it had been said, From Isaac will your seed take their name:
Judging that God was able to give life even to the dead; and because of this he did get him back as if from death.
By faith Isaac, blessing Jacob and Esau, gave news of things to come.
By faith Jacob gave a blessing to the two sons of Joseph, when he was near to death; and gave God worship, supported by his stick.
By faith Joseph, when his end was near, said that the children of Israel would go out of Egypt; and gave orders about his bones.
By faith Moses was kept secretly by his father and mother for three months after his birth, because they saw that he was a fair child; and they had no fear of the king’s orders.
By faith Moses, when he became a man, had no desire to be named the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
Feeling that it was better to undergo pain with the people of God, than for a short time to have a taste of the pleasures of sin;
Judging a part in the shame of Christ to be better than all the wealth of Egypt; for he was looking forward to his reward.
By faith he went out of Egypt, not being turned from his purpose by fear of the wrath of the king; for he kept on his way, as seeing him who is unseen.
By faith he kept the Passover, and put the sign of the blood on the houses, so that the angel of destruction might not put their oldest sons to death.
By faith they went through the Red Sea as if it had been dry land, though the Egyptians were overcome by the water when they made an attempt to do the same.
By faith the walls of Jericho came down, after they had been circled for seven days.
By faith Rahab, the loose woman, was not put to death with those who had gone against God’s orders, because she had taken into her house in peace those sent to see the land.
What more am I to say? For there would not be time to give the stories of Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets:
Who through faith overcame kingdoms, did righteousness, got their reward, kept the mouths of lions shut,
Put out the power of fire, got safely away from the edge of the sword, were made strong when they had been feeble, became full of power in war, and put to flight the armies of the nations.
Women had their dead given back to them living; others let themselves be cruelly attacked, having no desire to go free, so that they might have a better life to come;
And others were tested by being laughed at or by blows, and even with chains and prisons:
They were stoned, they were cut up with knives, they were tested, they were put to death with the sword, they went about in sheepskins and in goatskins; being poor and in pain and cruelly attacked,
Wandering in waste places and in mountains and in holes in the rocks; for whom the world was not good enough.
And not one of these got the good things of the agreement, though they all had a good record through faith,
Because God had kept some better thing for us, so that it was not possible for them to become complete without us.
For this reason, as we are circled by so great a cloud of witnesses, putting off every weight, and the sin into which we come so readily, let us keep on running in the way which is marked out for us,
Having our eyes fixed on Jesus, the guide and end of our faith, who went through the pains of the cross, not caring for the shame, because of the joy which was before him, and who has now taken his place at the right hand of God’s seat of power.
Give thought to him who has undergone so much of the hate of sinners against himself, so that you may not be tired and feeble of purpose.
Till now you have not given your blood in your fight against sin:
And you have not kept in mind the word which says to you as to sons, My son, do not make little of the Lord’s punishment, and do not give up hope when you are judged by him;
For the Lord sends punishment on his loved ones; everyone whom he takes as his son has experience of his rod.
It is for your training that you undergo these things; God is acting to you as a father does to his sons; for what son does not have punishment from his father?
But if you have not that punishment of which we all have our part, then you are not true sons, but children of shame.
And again, if the fathers of our flesh gave us punishment and had our respect, how much more will we be under the authority of the Father of spirits, and have life?
For they truly gave us punishment for a short time, as it seemed good to them; but he does it for our profit, so that we may become holy as he is.
At the time all punishment seems to be pain and not joy: but after, those who have been trained by it get from it the peace-giving fruit of righteousness.
For this cause let the hands which are hanging down be lifted up, and let the feeble knees be made strong,
And make straight roads for your feet, so that the feeble may not be turned out of the way, but may be made strong.
Let your desire be for peace with all men, and to be made holy, without which no man may see the Lord;
Looking with care to see that no man among you in his behaviour comes short of the grace of God; for fear that some bitter root may come up to be a trouble to you, and that some of you may be made unclean by it;
And that there may not be any evil liver, or any man without respect for God, like Esau, who let his birthright go for a plate of food.
For you have knowledge that even long after, when he was desiring the blessing for his heritage, he was turned away, though he made his request frequently and with weeping; because the past might not be changed.
You have not come to a mountain which may be touched, and is burning with fire, and to a black cloud, and a dark smoke, and a violent wind,
And to the sound of a horn, and the voice of words, the hearers of which made request that not a word more might be said to them:
For the order which said, If the mountain is touched even by a beast, the beast is to be stoned, seemed hard to them;
And the vision was so overpowering that even Moses said, I am shaking and full of fear.
But you have come to the mountain of Zion, to the place of the living God, to the Jerusalem which is in heaven, and to an army of angels which may not be numbered,
To the great meeting and church of the first of those who are named in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of good men made complete,
And to Jesus by whom the new agreement has been made between God and man, and to the sign of the blood which says better things than Abel’s blood.
See that you give ear to his voice which comes to you. For if those whose ears were shut to the voice which came to them on earth did not go free from punishment, what chance have we of going free if we give no attention to him whose voice comes from heaven?
Whose voice was the cause of the shaking of the earth; but now he has made an oath, saying, There will be still one more shaking, not only of the earth, but of heaven.
And the words, Still one more, make it clear that there will be a taking away of those things which are shaking, as of things which are made, so that there may be only those things of which no shaking is possible.
If then, we have a kingdom which will never be moved, let us have grace, so that we may give God such worship as is pleasing to him with fear and respect:
For our God is an all-burning fire.
Go on loving your brothers in the faith.
Take care to keep open house: because in this way some have had angels as their guests, without being conscious of it.
Keep in mind those who are in chains, as if you were chained with them, and those who are in trouble, as being yourselves in the body.
Let married life be honoured among all of you and not made unclean; for men untrue in married life will be judged by God.
Be free from the love of money and pleased with the things which you have; for he himself has said, I will be with you at all times.
So that we say with a good heart, The Lord is my helper; I will have no fear: what is man able to do to me?
Keep in mind those who were over you, and who gave you the word of God; seeing the outcome of their way of life, let your faith be like theirs.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.
Do not be turned away by different strange teachings, because it is good for your hearts to be made strong by grace, and not by meats, which were of no profit to those who took so much trouble over them.
We have an altar from which those priests who are servants in the Tent may not take food.
For the bodies of the beasts whose blood is taken into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin are burned outside the circle of the tents.
For this reason Jesus was put to death outside the walls, so that he might make the people holy by his blood.
Let us then go out to him outside the circle of the tents, taking his shame on ourselves.
For here we have no fixed resting-place, but our search is for the one which is to come.
Let us then make offerings of praise to God at all times through him, that is to say, the fruit of lips giving witness to his name.
But go on doing good and giving to others, because God is well-pleased with such offerings.
Give ear to those who are rulers over you, and do as they say: for they keep watch over your souls, ready to give an account of them; let them be able to do this with joy and not with grief, because that would be of no profit to you.
Make prayers for us, for we are certain that our hearts are free from the sense of sin, desiring the right way of life in all things.
I make this request more strongly, in the hope of coming back to you more quickly.
Now may the God of peace, who made that great keeper of his flock, even our Lord Jesus, come back from the dead through the blood of the eternal agreement,
Make you full of every good work and ready to do all his desires, working in us whatever is pleasing in his eyes through Jesus Christ; and may the glory be given to him for ever and ever. So be it.
But, brothers, take kindly the words which I have said for your profit; for I have not sent you a long letter.
Our brother Timothy has been let out of prison; and if he comes here in a short time, he and I will come to you together.
Give words of love from me to those who are rulers over you, and to all the saints. Those who are in Italy send you their love.
May grace be with you all.