28 January 2022

Purification of Sins Achieved

Having accomplished the purification of sin, the Son “sat down” at the right hand of God and has interceded for his people ever sinceHebrews 1:1-4

Church under Stars - Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash
compares what God achieved in Jesus to the partial provisions under the old system, especially its sacrificial rituals. Its contrasts the finality of the “word” spoken in Jesus with the incomplete revelations made in the “prophets.” What was preparatory under the old legislation is now superseded and surpassed by the “word in the son” - [Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash].

A key point in the opening paragraph is the accomplishment of the Son and his subsequent exaltation. Unlike his predecessors, Jesus “achieved the purification of sins and sat down on the right hand” of God, “having become so much better than the angels, as he has inherited a more excellent name than they” - (Hebrews 1:1-3).

The logic of the statement is clear. The “Son” now holds his supreme position and honor BECAUSE he accomplished the “purification of sins.” That he “become” better than the angels and “inherited” a superior name demonstrates that his exaltation resulted from what he did, not because of anything intrinsic to his nature or even his position as God’s Son. He was appointed sovereign over all things because he dealt definitively with sin.

This declaration anticipates the later discussions about his priesthood and superior sacrifice, and especially their permanent results. It is no accident that the Author refers to the “purification of sins” rather than to the forgiveness of sin. The language reflects the Levitical system with its sacrifices that were intended to deal with ritual impurity. The fact that the Son “sat down” at God’s right hand invokes the image of the ancient Day of Atonement but with a very distinct difference.

Under the Levitical system, the high priest entered the sanctuary only on the Day of Atonement, and he neversat down,” nor did he remain long within the Holy of Holies.

In contrast, Jesus entered the true sanctuary “once for all” and then “sat down,” and there he now intercedes for his people. This emphasizes the completeness of his priestly act. And he will remain at his Father’s “right hand” until He again “introduces the first-begotten into the habitable earth.

The term “sat down” also points to his sovereignty, his overlordship over all things. It is derived from the Psalms when, prophetically, God summoned the Messiah to do this very thing. The same words are used several times later in the letter to link his exalted position to his priestly achievement and to locate his present “seat” in the “real tabernacle”:
  • 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 explicitly contrasts the positions of the Levitical priests with that of the Son. They “stood” in the sanctuary while performing their duties but Jesus “sat down” in the greater Tabernacle “not made with hands” in the highest of the heavens.

Moreover, the multiple sacrifices offered 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, Jesus then “sat down” at the “right hand of God” after he had achieved the “purification of sin.”

In later chapters, Hebrews will demonstrate the vastly superior sacrifice and the priesthood of the Son that 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 and final.

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