“For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.”
There are some that use this verse to teach that before the cross, we were to come to God through the law, or through our works, and that it wasn’t until 31AD that we could come to God through the merits of our savior Jesus Christ and his work in atoning for our sins through his blood. Was the “better hope” available to the patriarchs and prophets? Were they able to “draw nigh unto God” (Heb 7:19)?
Mount Sinai – The Law Made Nothing Perfect
Almost fifteen centuries before Jesus was made in the likeness of men and suffered on the cross, the law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai. In Exodus 20:1-17 the ten commandments were given to Moses, and then following this, were the people then able to “draw nigh unto God” (Heb 7:19)? We are told that after the commandments were given “all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.” (Exo 20:18)
The law obviously had made nothing perfect here. The people were afraid of God. The bible tells us “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18) So what then were they failing to see when the law was given? They failed to see Love.
1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
They only saw the requirements of the law, but had yet to see the gospel of love. “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor 4:4)
God wanted to show them more. He wanted to show them his glorious gospel, and his love. “The law made nothing perfect.” God had only begun to give them his law, and they answered “Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us.” (Exo 20:19)
They did not want to hear the word of God.
Mount Sinai – Drawing Nigh unto God by the Better Hope
We see that the Israelites were unable to “draw nigh unto God.” They had failed to see the “better hope” which we will look into more shortly. They saw only a mountain quaking and burning with fire and heard only a voice which made them afraid. But we are told in verse 21 of Exodus 20 that “the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.”
How did God express His love? He gave his only begotten son (Joh 3:16) to pay the penalty for breaking His perfect law. (Psalms 19:7)
The Better Hope by Which we Draw Nigh – The Blood of Jesus
Eph 2:12, 13 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having NO HOPE, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were FAR OFF are MADE NIGH by the BLOOD OF CHRIST.
Our only “hope” is “the blood of Christ” by which we “draw nigh” or are “made nigh”. Like the Israelites we stood “afar off”, we like them could not be “made perfect” by “the law” because “the law made nothing perfect”, but the love of God in giving his only begotten son is “perfect love” and “perfect love casteth out all fear”. Therefore it is only by the love of God and the blood shed on calvary by which we can “draw nigh unto God”. (Eph 2:12, 13, Heb 7:19, 1 Joh 4:19) Look and live.
What does this love do? “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom 2:4)
Israel – Without Hope, Far Off, Strangers from the Covenants
The Israelites had made rash promises at Mount Sinai saying “All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.” (Exo 19:8, 24:3, 7), but yet had failed to see the gospel as revealed in the sacrificial system. This had not yet been given to them. (Exodus 25-31) In Exodus 32 the Israelites had built a golden calf and their promises and covenant to keep the Law were rendered meaningless. The law given earlier and their promises had made nothing perfect. They needed to see the gospel which was revealed in the sacrificial service and pointed to the “blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13)
In Exodus 32 Moses recognizing Israel “having NO HOPE and without God” (Eph 2:12) that they were strangers to God’s covenant of promise, in the wilderness, aliens from the land of promise, they did more than stand afar off, they could not be “made nigh” or “draw nigh” except by the blood of Christ. Moses pleading for mercy saying “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.” (Exo 32:13)
He drew nigh unto God, talked with God, pleaded with God, and finally said to His Father “Shew me thy GLORY” (Exo 33:18) Where does the Father dwell? “Praise God in his sanctuary:” (Psa 150:1) His throne is in the most holy place “after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;” (Heb 9:3) Therein dwells the Shekinah Glory. Moses asking God to “Shew me thy glory” (Exo 33:18) God answered:
Exodus 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
The only way by which mercy can be had is by the blood of Jesus. Therefore, the glory of God and his lovely character is seen only through the blood. Moses beholding the glory and mercy, and grace in the cross. Was being changed into the same image:
In Exodus 34 Moses finally comes down to the Israelites with his face lit up reflecting the glory. After this, not only could they not “draw nigh unto God” (Hebrews 7:19) but they had become afraid of Moses and could not even draw nigh unto Moses.
Exo 34:30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
Many when their sin is exposed do not like the light so that they might see. The law is a glorious light that exposes that darkness which is sometimes in the corner of the heart.
Pro_6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
Jesus was a “walking epistle known and read of all men” the law being “written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” (2 Cor 3:2,3) “We beheld… the glory… as of the only begotten Son” (John 1:18) And by beholding we are “changed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18)
But we are told that the Israelites had a problem. In 2 Corinthians 3, they couldn’t see something. They were blinded.
2 Cor 3:13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
What did Christ “abolish” and what did he “bring to light”? We are told that Christ “who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to LIGHT through the GOSPEL:” (2 Tim 1:10)
Ephesians 2:13-17 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were FAR OFF are MADE NIGH BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. … Having ABOLISHED in his flesh the enmity… BY THE CROSS, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were AFAR OFF, and to them that were NIGH.
Christ abolished the penalty for breaking the law through the cross. The Israelites failed to see this, and their minds were blinded to seeing that “light through the gospel” (2 Tim 1:10)
If they were blinded to seeing that gospel, what state are they in? And who blinded them?
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid(VEILED) to them that are LOST; In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest THE LIGHT of the GLORIOUS GOSPEL of Christ, who is the image of God, should SHINE unto them.
The only way by which this glory can shine unto us, is that we must see beyond the veil, beyond the shadows. Not only were the Israelites blinded to seeing this glorious gospel, but even today when many read the writings of Moses, their minds fail to see the glorious gospel and behold Christ crucified in those writings.
2 Corinthians 3:14-15 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
If all we see in the writings of Moses or the law is shadows, then we are left in darkness, we are left behind the veil. If we see the reality, the glory, the gospel, the cross, the blood of Jesus, then we are seeing and becoming changed into the same image. Many today when reading these writings see nothing but rules and fail to see that the law was given “for our good always” (Deu 6:24) that it might be well with us.
Beholding the Glory – Seeing Past the Veil
The veil casts a shadow, and if we are behind the veil, we will fail to behold the glory. (2 Cor 3:18). The bible tells us that the sacrificial system was but a shadow of the real sacrifice and priesthood. (Heb 10:1) That the work of the levitical priest in the sanctuary was but a small sample of the reality of the heavenly priesthood of Christ. (Heb 8:1-5)
Christ was not made a priest like the Levites who were temporary priests, mortal, but the priesthood of Christ was to be “a priest for ever” one that was “after the power of an endless life.” (Heb 7:21, 16)
The priesthood of Christ was a kingly priesthood, and this priesthood was offered to Israel at Mount Sinai. “ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” (Exo 19:6). The fact is that only one tribe became a priesthood and not the entire nation or kingdom, and none of the Levites were made King. This priesthood of Melchisidec was rejected.
The bulls, the goats, the priesthood of Levi could make nothing perfect. Something “BETTER” was needed. How might we “draw nigh”?
Hebrews 10:19-22 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us DRAW NEAR with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
This is the blood by which we “draw nigh” unto God, just as Moses. It is the only priesthood, and it is the only blood that can make us “perfect” (Heb 7:19). The Levitical priesthood “made nothing perfect” (Heb 7:1-19) The law with the sacrifices which were shadowy types pointing to the reality ”can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” (Heb 10:1) But the blood of the lamb can cleanse of all unrighteousness, (1 John 1:7) and thus makes perfect.
Therefore since even Abel, son of Adam was righteous by faith (Heb 11:4) four thousand years before the cross, he could not have been cleansed of unrighteousness by the shadowy sacrifice. (Heb 10:1) and therefore must have been able to claim the power that was in the blood of Jesus to make him a new creature even before Christ came into the world.
The Better Hope – The Better Covenant
This blood is our “hope”. And this hope is what we have today, hope in the promise of God that He will do in us what He promised, the same hope that Abraham had by which he was able to “draw nigh”.
This is a long passage, but take care in reading it as it has precious words in it that will help in understanding the next passage:
Hebrews 6:13-20 For when God made promise to Abraham, .. God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the HOPE set before us: Which HOPE we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Which HOPE do we enter within the veil by? The blood of Jesus. (Heb 10:19, 20) The promise of God to Abraham included the promise of giving His only begotten son to Him. It was from a God who cannot lie. Therefore Abraham could have complete faith that the resurrection was done, and that Abraham would be redeemed and resurrected through the blood of Christ at the second coming.
Abraham did not say “except I see the print in the hands, I will not believe” (John 20:25) That would have been the same doubt in the promise of God that Thomas manifested. That is not the faith of Abraham, and if you have ever heard that it was, then you are hearing a false gospel. The just shall live by faith, and the faith we are to have is the faith of Abraham. “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
Galatians 3:5-6, 9 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness…So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
So therefore this is “the better HOPE by which we DRAW NIGH unto God” the “HOPE we have as an anchor of the soul, both SURE and STEADFAST, and which entereth into that within the veil” (Heb 7:19, 6:19). And the blessing is only to those who believe the promise of God without having to see the nail prints in the hand. Who believed that the resurrection was sure even before it came to pass.
We were told that “when God made promise to Abraham… he confirmed it by an oath” (Heb 6:13) Let me briefly examine this “oath” which was made to Abraham. In chapter 7 of Hebrews we read again that this promise and oath made with Abraham is the “better hope” (Heb 7:19), but also the “better testament” (Heb 7:22) The word “testament” is the same word “covenant”. This is the oath or covenant made with Abraham. The New Covenant.
Hebrews 7:20-22 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (21) (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) (22) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
Heb 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
This is the same covenant that was given to Abraham, Abel, Moses, and was offered to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, the one by which it was said “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:” (Hebrews 8:8) The only covenant that had any power in it, the only covenant that was confirmed by the blood of Jesus. The only covenant by which we can “draw nigh unto God” (Heb 7:19)
This covenant is established on “better promises” a “better hope”, is a “better” or “more excellent ministry”, it offers a “better country” (Heb 8:8, 7:19, 11:16). This ministry is the only ministry that ever offered eternal life, and the blood of this covenant is the same blood by which Moses was able to draw nigh unto God. (Heb 10:19-22). This priesthood was offered to them as well as unto us. God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb 13:8)
I will close with one last passage from the book of Hebrews. Considering that it is the blood of the lamb by which we are made perfect. Let us behold the cross seeing the everlasting gospel that does not change from dispensation of time to dispensation of time.
Hebrews 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.