Heb 1:3b (MEV): When He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
When He had by Himself purged our sins.
This sentence has a significant meaning. Most times we might just pass by it. Continuing from the previous post, we find the writer of Hebrews is giving us a brief outline of what he is going to say. Much of this will be elaborated on later in the epistle (Chapters 9 and 10.) What is offered here, is the Son is performing a multi-faceted dual role.
The first portion of that role is as Priest.
In Leviticus 1 and on, we see the role of the priest in doing the work of making an offering for sin. This priest was the one who slaughtered the offerings after laying hands on its head. Those who laid hands on the offering were the ones responsible for the party who sinned. If an individual, it was the individual, if a congregation, it was the elders. This act of laying hands on the head was an imputation or transfer from one party to another. It is still practiced today in churches when people are ordained. This is patterned for us, in like manner the sacrifice became the substitute of the sinning party. The sin guilt was transferred to the sacrifice. I would also extend, that given the practice outlined in Leviticus 16, the sin was confessed while hands were laid.
Nevertheless, It was always the priest who was present. It was the priest that performed the ceremony. It was the priest who slaughtered the sacrifice. It was the priest who went before the presence of God with the blood as an intermediary between the one who sinned and God. It was the priest who prepared and burned the offering. It was the priest who lit the fire. It was the priest who arranged the wood on the altar. It was the priest who did the work as intermediary in the atonement.
The second portion of that role is as High Priest.
The Day of Atonement was for the entire congregation. It was a day for making atonement of all the sin of the people. It is established in Leviticus 16.
There was an inner sanctum behind the veil. Entering the presence of God was a certain death sentence.
Leviticus 16:2 (MEV): The LORD said to Moses: Speak to Aaron your brother so that he does not come at any time into the Holy Place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is on the ark, so that he will not die, for I will appear in the cloud on the mercy seat.
The priest could only go in once a year. It wasn’t just any priest, but the High Priest.
He couldn’t just go in, either. There was much preparation to the ceremony. Rituals of purification, washing and changing garments.
Leviticus 16:3–8 (MEV): Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and he shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and shall be girded with a linen sash, and shall be wearing the linen turban. These are holy garments. Therefore he shall wash his body in water and then put them on. He shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering.
Aaron shall offer his bull for the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house. Then he shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat.
It was the privilege of the High Priest to enter the presence of God on behalf of the entire congregation. He did it with blood, to purge sins.
The third portion of that role is as that Sin Offering.
In the case of the High Priest, his role is to select the offerings for the people. What is alluded to here is that the Son gave Himself as that offering. Blood is needed to purge sins.
Leviticus 16:9 (MEV): Aaron shall bring the goat on which the lot of the LORD falls and offer him for a sin offering.
Sin offerings are treated a bit differently. The priest would not take a portion of the sin offering whose blood was sprinkled in the Holy Place, but it would be completely consumed in the fire on the altar.
Leviticus 6:30 (MEV): Any sin offering where blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy place shall not be eaten. It shall be burned up in the fire.
As seen previously, the offerings for specific sin always involved a laying on of hands. There was an imputation from the sinning party to the sacrifice. But this one day, this one offering was different.
Leviticus 16:15–17 (MEV):Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, and bring its blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it over and in front of the mercy seat. And he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel and because of their transgressions in all their sins, and so he shall do for the tent of meeting that remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. There shall be no man in the tent of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Holy Place, until he comes out and has made atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.
This offering is for all the people and all their sin. It is comprehensive in scope, meaning that there isn’t a limit to it. I know folks may object, as it was for the congregation of Israel, and in that context it was comprehensive. There was nothing left out. In Israel’s calling, they were to be a light to the Gentiles, to show that salvation reaches everywhere.
Isaiah 49:6 (MEV): He says, “It is a light thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make you a light to the nations so that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
I do know that this verse of Scripture has a dual purpose and is fulfilled in the Son. It suffices to show the entire scope of the sin offering here as comprehensive, and for the benefit to the people of the whole world; Israel being a light to the nations.
This idea will also be elaborated upon in later portions of the epistle.
Hebrews 9:6-8 (MEV): Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests would regularly go into the first part, conducting the services of God. But only the high priest went into the second part once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins of the people, committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was signifying through this that the way into the Most Holy Place was not yet revealed, because the first part of the tabernacle was still standing.
We see that the roles are clearly established. Priests do the daily ministering; the High Priest has an established role to do once for the people into the very presence of God. And not without the blood of the sin offering.
The fourth portion of that role is as that Scapegoat.
It is in this offering that sin is confessed. It is also significant that the sin is transferred and taken away forever.
Leviticus 16:20–22 (MEV): When he has made an end of atonement for the Holy Place, and the tent of meeting, and the altar, then he shall bring the live goat. And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away by the hand of a designated man into the wilderness. And the goat shall bear on it all their iniquities to a desolate land, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.
For the studious, in Leviticus, we see the ordinance of sacrifice for unintentional sin. But what of the intentional?
The writer of Hebrews shows the sin offering is for sin committed in ignorance. Here is where the High Priest would lean onto the head of that goat confessing all the iniquities and all transgression in their sins. These are transferred to that sacrifice, but it isn’t killed. It’s led away, into the wilderness… To never come back. Effectually carrying away all sin.
This is the exact thing being told to us in a small number of words. “When He Himself had purged our sins.” All of the work to purge sins is accomplished in Him alone.
He sat down.
This ought to be the thing that we rejoice over most!
All the work is done. He knew it when He selected and gave Himself. He cried “Tetellisti!” (It’s finished.)
The work in the tabernacle was never done. It was a perpetual thing. The fire had to be constant, it needed fuel. Ashes needed to be carted away. There was always a priest on duty never sitting down.
Leviticus 6:8–13 (MEV): The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Command Aaron and his sons, saying: This is the law for the burnt offering. The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it. The priest shall put on his linen robe, and his linen undergarments on his body. Then he shall remove the ashes from the fire of the burnt offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar. Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments, and he shall bring the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it. It shall not go out. The priest shall feed it with wood every morning. He will arrange the burnt offering on it, and he shall burn the fat of the peace offerings on it. A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar. It shall never go out.
He sat down. There is no more perpetual work.
At the right hand of the Majesty on high
This is the place of honor. The author of the epistle will go into greater detail
Hebrews 1:4 (MEV): He was made so much better than the angels as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
It’s not that Jesus is made or created. This is stating His position of honor. His is detailed in the portions immediately following.
In this introduction to the epistle, many things are established in such few words. My hope is that as you read further, you understand what is being said in the entire epistle. It is one of my favorite books in all of the Bible.