The Place of Hebrews 10:14 in Redemptive History
Redemptive history– the work of God throughout time in graciously granting salvation to sinners for His glory– is bifurcated in the book of Hebrews in at least two ways, both of which are centered in Christ.
The first bifurcation of redemptive history is that between “long ago” and “these last days,” as mentioned in the first two verses of this book. These phrases divide God’s work of self-revelation into two broad time periods, with God revealing Himself rather indirectly by means of the prophets “long ago” and with God revealing Himself more directly by His Son, the exact representation of His nature, in “these last days.” It is crucial for the author of Hebrews that his readers understand that they are living in the “last days” of God’s self-revelation, for this understanding of redemptive history allows the privilege of evaluating the revelation of God that has come before in terms of the person and work of Christ. The author of Hebrews demonstrates this Christ-centered “last days” view of revelation by immediately beginning to demonstrate how the Scriptures written “long ago” find their unique fulfillment in Christ.
The second way in which redemptive history is bifurcated is the division between the old (or “first”) covenant and the new covenant, demonstrated– to give one of many possible examples– in Hebrews 9:15. In the book of Hebrews, the old covenant refers to the Law of Moses, which was supposed to conform the character of God’s covenant people to His holiness by means of written commandments, and which was supposed to provide forgiveness for the covenant people’s breaking of His commandments through means of the sacrificial system. That the old covenant system was faulty is explicitly stated in Hebrews 8:7-13. In what way was this system at fault? Examining this topic, Pastors Samuel Waldron and Richard Barcellos assert, “The Old Covenant did not secure the covenant keeping of those with whom it was made. That was its fault. Its fault was simply that it did not enable those with whom it was made to comply with its conditions.” If that was the fault of the old covenant, then how could the new covenant repair this fault? The Holy Spirit answers this question with the promise of the new covenant, saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then He adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more” (Heb. 10:16-17 ESV). Hebrews 9:11-10:18 is very clear that it is the blood of Christ– the “one offering” of Hebrews 10:14– that activates this new covenant and that sanctifies people into this covenant (cf. Heb. 10:10). So in reading “He has perfected” in Hebrews 10:14, it is to be understood that Christ has, by His “one offering,” brought about a condition in which the Lord will put His laws on the hearts and write them on the minds of His new covenant people, and He will forgive the sins of His new covenant people. Though this work is still being applied to “those who are being sanctified,” it is, from a heavenly viewpoint, already completely finished, as proclaimed by the verses just prior to Hebrews 10:14, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single offering for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet” (Heb. 10:12-13 ESV).