Once For All

In its eighth chapter, Hebrews highlights the incomparable benefits believers now receive in the New Covenant inaugurated by the Son. If the fulfillment of God’s promises arrived in him, to return to the incomplete revelations of the past is to embrace the old types and “shadows” rather than the substance provided by God in Jesus of Nazareth.

The Law was incomplete, and not without its shortcomings. The fact that a new priesthood became necessary indicated the need for a change of law - “for the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”

Thus, “upon the last of these days,” the former commandment has been set aside because of “its weakness and un-profitableness, for the Law was unable to perfect anyone.”

And this deficiency included the Levitical sacrificial system included in the covenant given to the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai - (Hebrews 8:1-5).


The previous but now outmoded sacrificial system was ordained by God. The priests who served in the Tabernacle did render divine service, but they were only “glimpses and shadows of the heavenly realities”, mere “copies” of the reality that was foreshadowed by the Tabernacle and its sacrifices and offerings.

In contrast, Jesus did not enter the “copy.” Instead, he entered into the very presence of God where he now remains to intercede for his people at the “right hand” of God:

  • For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near” (Hebrews 9:24, 10:1).

And so, he became the “guarantee of a better covenant,” one that is “legislated on better promises.” If the first covenant with its “glimpses and shadows” had been “faultless,” there would have been no need for its replacement.


The priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” differs significantly from the Aaronic priesthood. Rather than one generation of priests after another, along with repeated animal sacrifices, the new priestly legislation is based on the once-for-all sacrifice and the endless resurrection life of its one high priest - (Hebrews 7:18-24, 8:7-13).

The recipients of Hebrews were not facing the temptation to revert to paganism or gross immorality, but to return to the “shadows” of the Heavenly Reality that they already possessed in Jesus.

Effectively, if they took the easy path and escaped persecution by returning to the local synagogue, they would reject God’s appointed high priest who achieved the “purification of sins” by his one-for-all sacrifice. They would regress to the obsolete and incomplete “shadows” of the old legislation, including its flawed priesthood and endless sacrifices – (compare Colossians 2:9-17).

If the fulfillment of the promise has arrived in Jesus, why return to the “shadows” cast by him? Returning to what was always partial, fragmentary, and promissory is regression. And by doing so, a man may escape persecution in the present, but he will not escape a far more severe punishment since he has rejected the very “great salvation” provided by God through the death and resurrection of His Son.


Suffering Servant

Revolt Against the Son