Hebrews 9:27-28 (NIV)
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.
Our Verse of the Day has been studied before, but I always like to take a closer look at it for both the message and the hope that it brings to light for us. The writer of the Book of Hebrews (some scholars think it was Paul, others believe it might have been either Apollos or Luke) broadly discusses the Old Testament scriptural support and theological implications for the NEW COVENANT which is fulfilled in Christ Jesus. The entire book is a fascinating composition that helped Jewish believers (and us today) better comprehend the mission for which Father God sent His One and Only Son, Jesus, into this world. The ultimate purpose is found in one word: SALVATION. And understanding how Jesus secured our salvation through His life, His death, and His resurrection, should encourage us to keep the New Covenant which God has ordained for those who love Him. I strongly encourage you to read the entire book when you have the opportunity….
Although, there is a great deal of commentary that can arise from a study of the Book of Hebrews, I promise to keep it narrow and focused on the verse at hand. As usual, I reprinted our verse in the surrounding context for emphasis:
Hebrews 9:11-15; 23-28 (NIV)
But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts (useless rituals) that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!For this reason Christ is the mediator of a New Covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again; the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But He has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.
What I want to emphasize for us is the declaration of writer regarding the Second Coming of Jesus. Jesus’ first Advent was to fulfill, once-and-for-all time, the sacrificial atonement God has required for the forgiveness of our sin … to blot out our transgressions … to establish the justification for His mercy and grace. Then what does the text say? “He will appear a SECOND time, NOT TO BEAR SIN, but the bring salvation to THOSE WHO ARE WAITING FOR HIM.” My question is this: Are YOU one of those who are waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus? The implication here is there are people who are NOT waiting for Him? What does “waiting for Him” mean? Is it not a perpetual state of anticipation … that joyful angst of personal longing to see a loved one who has been gone? An active yearning for Jesus appears to be a natural manifestation of faith because the text indicates that Jesus will bring salvation to those who are awaiting His return. So, I want us to get laser-locked on the meaning of what has been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
I believe Verse 27 sets up the context in which Verse 28 should be interpreted. “JUST AS people are destined to die once….” By means of comparison, what is getting ready to be said will be “very similar to,” or perhaps, even “exactly like” what has been stated. We could possibly apply the following interpretation: “Just as people are destined to die once, so Christ was destined to be sacrificed once (i.e., to die once) to take away the sins of many….” Now, let’s look at the remainder of Verse 27, which asserts: “And after their death, all people will face their final judgement….” This assertion is supported by other Scripture in that all will be resurrected and stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Cf. Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10; Hebrews 6:2; Revelation 20:12-13) Now, should the remainder of Verse 28, also follow the “JUST AS” pattern established in Verse 27? If so,we could possibly render the following interpretation: “And after His death, Christ was resurrected, and He will appear a second time for the judgment to come … and bring the reward of eternal life to those who are waiting for Him”. Again, my intent is not to over amplify what is written. I simply want us to see the pattern as it is written, and to consider theological conclusions regarding its application to the practice of our faith.
The application that I see is another affirmation of the certitude that our Lord Jesus Christ will return. I believe it indicates the purpose of His Second Advent to the earth will be different than the purpose of His First Advent. His first coming was to redeem us from judgment … to obtain our justification … and to bright us the light of God. His second coming is to bring salvation … to bring the reward of eternal life to those who have believed in Him … to those who are looking for His coming … who are waiting for Him … to those who love Him … to those who are living in obedience … to those who are not in fear (dread) of His return but who are in fear (reverence) of Him. These are the ones who will receive the reward of salvation (eternal life) Jesus is bringing with Him. But again, the reward is for “those who are waiting for Him.” I believe the question is whether we are living in anticipation of His return out of love for Him or living with indifference:
2 Peter 3:1-12a (NIV)
Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ He promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you wait eagerly for the day of God to come….
I will conclude with this reminder:
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (NIV)
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! ~ Revelation 22:20