Hebrews 10:1 the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things
Since the Israelites were not worthy to see God (Ex. 33), the Light of the World was only visible to them as a shadow cast by the lesser law. While some could see the form of the Son of God in the shadow, others could only walk in darkness-oblivious to the divine form that was cast. The schoolmaster (Gal. 3:24) could not bring all to Christ because, in the end, so many tutored by the lesser law failed to graduate. Besides, 'those sacrifices which they offered year by year' were not able to 'make the comers thereunto perfect.'
"Long accustomed to types and shadows, to sprinklings, washings, sacrifices, and the observance of a law, that could never make the comers thereunto perfect, they understood not, and could not appreciate that more 'excellent sacrifice,' and the 'better covenant,' when it was revealed. They had long been 'under a schoolmaster,' and he had not taught them the glories of a celestial law:-the riches, glory, fulness and blessings of the gospel of peace, nor the freedom of the 'sons of God;' consequently when the 'true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world,' made his appearance, 'He was in the world, and the world knew him not.' He came to his own, and his own received him not." ("Sons of God", Times and Seasons, vol. 4 (November 1842-November 1843), Vol. 4 No. 5 January 16, 1843, 73.)
We see the same shadowed symbolism in our day. Cast from the presence of the Almighty, the law of the gospel is for us 'a shadow of good things to come.' The sacrament is a shadow of the atoning sacrifice. Baptism is a shadow of our entrance into the kingdom and our commitment to discipleship. The celestial room is but a shadow of dwelling in the presence of God. In mortality, our vision is limited, seeing shadows as if looking 'through a glass darkly' (1 Cor. 13:12). But someday, we will see the Light of the World-not through a glass darkly, not as a shadow cast by the gospel of Christ-but 'then face to face' (1 Cor. 13:12).
Hebrews 10:4 it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins
"Although observing the Mosaic laws of sacrifice could not 'make the comers thereunto perfect' (Heb. 10:1), that system served the Lord's wise purpose of pointing his chosen people to the salvation and perfection found only in Christ, the 'end of the law ... to every one that believeth' (Rom. 10:4). Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that 'animal sacrifices, standing alone of themselves without more, were imperfect and neither remitted sins nor brought salvation; rather, they had efficacy and virtue only because of Christ's sacrifice.' Elder McConkie also taught that 'those of old who kept the law ... gained spiritual life through faith in Christ' and that 'the faithful compliance of ancient Israel with the laws of the Lord did sanctify them before him, because of the atonement which was to be.'
"A person who had learned from the law of Moses that sins were beyond his own power to atone for could certainly appreciate the inestimable value of Christ's matchless and infinite sacrifice. Having so learned through the laws of sacrifice the importance of rendering thanks to God and remaining pure, one would have been further prepared to embrace Jesus Christ's higher laws pertaining to these matters." (Stephen D. Ricks, "The Law of Sacrifice," Ensign, June 1998, 29)
"It was not the blood of the animals that saved them (Hebrews 10:4) but rather what the blood stood for-the precious blood of the Messiah that would be shed in the meridian of time. If the people brought their offering in the right spirit, presented it to the priests, and repented fully of their transgression, a remission of sins followed. In our day, the Aaronic priest likewise officiates at the holy altar. We go to church, present our offering-a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:20; D&C 59:8)-and the priest officiates in our behalf. It is not bread and water that save us but rather what the bread and water represent. If we can attend sacrament meeting with a broken heart and a contrite spirit (meaning that we are repentant and eager to rid ourselves of our sins), focus our thoughts and our feelings on the atoning offering of Christ our Savior, and covenant once again to keep the Lord's commandments and plead for his strength and goodness to enable us to do so, then healing and cleansing take place. It is as though we can enjoy a rebaptism every Sabbath. Participation in the ordinance of the sacrament is an occasion for meditation, introspection, self-analysis, and covenant renewal. It is an important reason for attending sacrament meeting." (Robert L. Millet, Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 142 - 143.)
Hebrews 10:19 Having...boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus
"The entrance of the high priest into the Holy of Holies and his passing through the sacred veil of the temple was a type for that future day when the Son of God would rend the veil to enter the heavenly temple and stand in the presence of God. Having satisfied the demands of justice through his atoning sacrifice, Christ could now commence his great work of mercy and mediation in behalf of all whose labors attested that they had accepted him. By virtue of his mercy and grace, the faithful of all ages could now also enter into the holiest place. 'So now, my friends,' Paul explained, 'the blood of Jesus makes us free to enter boldly into the sanctuary by the new, living way which he has opened for us through the curtain, the way of his flesh. We have, moreover, a great priest set over the household of God; so let us make our approach in sincerity of heart and full assurance of faith, our guilty hearts sprinkled clean, our bodies washed with pure water.' (Heb. 10:19-22, New English Bible.)
"The purpose of the atonement was to remove the effects of the Fall whereby men were cast out of the presence of God. Through his sacrifice, Christ opened the door through which we might return to the divine presence." (Joseph F. McConkie in Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation, ed. by Robert L. Millet, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 199 - 200.)
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith
Delbert L. Stapley
"Those souls who waver in faith are driven off course by listening to every doctrine dictated by the agents of evil. They lose the Spirit and drift into darkness of mind and often end up as apostates to truth and righteousness. All of us should strive to follow the counsel of Paul: 'Let us hold fast [to] the profession of our faith without wavering. . . .' (Heb. 10:23.)
"Our duty is to prepare our hearts in righteousness, forsake iniquity, cleanse our souls of evil, not become beguiled by enticing and flattering words or the vain deceits of designing men who would lead us down the paths of misery to destruction." (Conference Report, April 1970, Second Day-Morning Meeting 75.)
Hebrews 10:26 if we sin willfully...there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins
Sometimes we sin ignorantly. Sometimes we sin willfully. We need forgiveness for both kinds of sin. Some have taught that willful sin is unforgivable. Paul says that if we sin having 'received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins' (meaning that the atonement is no longer applicable). What if a member of the church sins willfully, knowing what they're doing is wrong? Can the atonement apply to such sins? The answer is yes, for 'All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men who receive me and repent: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.' (JST Matt. 12:31-32.)
When Paul is talking about willful sin, he is talking again about the sons of perdition not the average members of the church. These individuals obtain a perfect knowledge of God and then sin willfully against that perfect knowledge. For them to willfully rebel is akin to treading 'under foot the Son of God,' counting 'the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, and unholy thing' (v. 29). Hence, Elder McConkie notes, "There is no forgiveness for those who receive a perfect knowledge of the truth and who then sin wilfully and defy the truth. (D. & C. 76:31-49.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 192.)
"It is not consistent with divine truth and mercy for the atonement of Christ to pay the debt of wilful sin after an individual has been sealed to eternal life. There is such a thing as man placing himself beyond the reach of Christ's mercy and forgiveness.
"There is a difference between wilful sin and sin committed inadvertently as a result of the weaknesses of the flesh. It is in cases of wilful sin that those who make their calling and election sure are visited with judgments. Having sealed some brethren at Kirtland to eternal life in 1833, Joseph Smith warned that 'if any of them should sin wilfully after they were thus cleansed, and sealed up unto eternal life, they should be given over unto the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption.'" (Hyrum L. Andrus, Principles of Perfection [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970], 342 - 343.)
B. H. Roberts
"It follows as logical conclusion in such cases as are here enumerated that the matter stands with them as if no atonement of the Christ had been made, and they themselves must pay the penalty of their sins." (A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], 4: 128.)
Hebrews 10:29 of how much sorer punishment...shall he be thought worthy?
"...where much is given, much is expected and required. Joseph Smith taught: 'If men sin wilfully after they have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin.' In the words of a modern apostle: 'Suppose such persons become disaffected and the spirit of repentance leaves them-which is a seldom and almost unheard of eventuality-still, what then? The answer is-and the revelations and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith so recite!-they must then pay the penalty of their own sins, for the blood of Christ will not cleanse them.'
"When one is guilty of serious transgression and loses the right to the Spirit and the protective blessings of the priesthood, he is essentially 'delivered unto the buffetings of Satan' (D&C 132:26), such that 'Lucifer is free to torment, persecute, and afflict such a person without let or hindrance. When the bars are down, the cuffs and curses of Satan, both in this world and in the world to come, bring indescribable anguish typified by burning fire and brimstone' (cf. D&C 78:12; 82:20-21; 104:9-10; 1 Cor. 5:1-5)." (Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 520.)
Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God
Spencer W. Kimball
"An excommunicant has no Church privileges. He may not attend priesthood meetings (since he has no priesthood); he may not partake of the sacrament, serve in Church positions, offer public prayers, or speaks in meetings; he may not pay tithing except under certain conditions as determined by the bishop. He is 'cut off,' 'cast out,' and turned over to his Lord for the final judgment. 'It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God' (Heb. 10:31), and especially already branded as an apostate or transgressor.
"'Inasmuch as ye are cut off for transgression, ye cannot escape the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption. And I now give unto you power from this very hour, that if any man among you, of the order, is found a transgressor and repenteth not of the evil, that ye shall deliver him over unto the buffetings of Satan; and he shall not have power to bring evil upon you.' (D&C 104:9-10.)" (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], chap. 21.)
Hebrews 10:33 ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions
For a Jew to turn from his traditions and follow Jesus of Nazareth was considered to be a heinous act. Persecutions in the early days came most frequently from other Jews who just couldn't believe that anyone would leave the traditions of Moses for the promises of Jesus.
"Persecution was thus the frequent lot of early Christians from the time of Jesus, and such continued to the last great empire-wide pogrom begun under Diocletian in A.D. 303. Often, Christians would meet resistance as soon as they joined the church. For example, we read in Hebrews 10:32-33: 'Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.' From this, it is apparent that some, as soon as they joined the church, became a public spectacle, or 'gazingstock,' through public harassment." (S. Kent Brown in Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation, ed. by Robert L. Millet, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 279 - 280.)
Hebrews 10:34 ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance
"...we next proceed to treat of the knowledge which persons must have, that the course of life which they pursue is according to the will of God, in order that they may be enabled to exercise faith in him unto life and salvation.
"This knowledge supplies an important place in revealed religion; for it was by reason of it that the ancients were enabled to endure as seeing him who is invisible. An actual knowledge to any person, that the course of life which he pursues is according to the will of God, is essentially necessary to enable him to have that confidence in God without which no person can obtain eternal life. It was this that enabled the ancient saints to endure all their afflictions and persecutions, and to take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing (not believing merely) that they had a more enduring substance. (Heb. 10:34.)
"Having the assurance that they were pursuing a course which was agreeable to the will of God, they were enabled to take, not only the spoiling of their goods, and the wasting of their substance, joyfully, but also to suffer death in its most horrid forms; knowing (not merely believing) that when this earthly house of their tabernacle was dissolved, they had a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Cor. 5:1.)
"Such was, and always will be, the situation of the saints of God, that unless they have an actual knowledge that the course they are pursuing is according to the will of God they will grow weary in their minds, and faint." (Lectures on Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 6:1-4.)
Hebrews 10:36 For ye have need of patience...after ye have done the will of God
Neal A. Maxwell
"Paul, speaking to the Hebrews, brings us up short by writing that even after faithful disciples have 'done the will of God, ... ye have need of patience' (Heb. 10:36). How many times have good individuals done the right thing only to break, or wear away, under the subsequent stress, canceling out much of the value of what they have already so painstakingly done?
"Sometimes that which we are doing is correct enough but simply needs to be persisted in-patiently-not for a minute or a moment but sometimes for years. Paul speaks of the marathon of life and how we must 'run with patience the race that is set before us' (Heb. 12:1). Paul did not select the hundred-yard dash for his analogy!
"The Lord has twice said: 'And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life' (D&C 101:38, italics added; see also Luke 21:19). Could it be that only when our self-control has become total do we come into true possession of our own souls?" ("Patience," Ensign, Oct. 1980, 28)
Neal A. Maxwell
"How many times have good individuals done the right thing initially only to break under subsequent stress? ...When you and I are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we like our timetable better than God's." ("Endure It Well," Ensign, May 1990, 34)
Hebrews 10:36-37 ye have need of patience...For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come
Remarkably, Paul writes that Christ will come again in 'yet a little while.' While Paul knew that an apostasy must first come (2 Thes. 2:3), still it seems he thought the Second Coming would not be too far distant. Apparently, he was not given to know the length of the Apostasy nor the time it would take to gather Israel after the Restoration. Even the early apostles wondered if they would live to see the Second Coming (1 John 2:18). So did Joseph Smith (DC 130:14-15). So do we. But we err if we think that just because the Second Coming didn't happen in their day, that it won't happen in ours.
Spencer W. Kimball
"The ancients looked forward to the coming of the Lord and asked, 'When shall all these things be?' The pioneers thought it would be soon and watched for signs; our grandparents watched for the sprouting of the fig tree; our parents watched for the reddening of the sky; and we ourselves have heard all our lives that the Second Coming is near.
"Do we lose faith, do we lose patience, do we lose hope, do we get weary in waiting, because the day is long and the event delayed?
"The writer of Hebrews warns:
'Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.' (Hebrews 10:35-37.)
"I suspect that many people who five years ago had a rich larder, a full pantry, and a year's supply of basic necessities have let their stock dwindle. I suspect that many people have let their insurance lapse. Death seems in the future, for at the moment calamity is absent and hunger is not knocking at the door.
"It is difficult to be prepared for an event so long delayed. Many have found it too difficult and they slumber without due preparation. But the day approaches and will finally come. That is sure. It is only the 'when' that is unknown." (Faith Precedes the Miracle [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], 249.)