Let’s be honest, Scripture can sometimes be difficult to understand. Sometimes we get to a passage of Scripture and wonder, “what does this even mean?” Other times, we read a passage and think that the meaning is pretty obvious, but it doesn’t fit with our understanding of the context in which it was written. We think, “how could this Scripture possibly mean this, when this other Scripture clearly says that?”
It is always good to use Scripture to understand Scripture. When we pray for the Holy Spirit to guide our understanding of God’s Word, He usually gives us insight from the very Word itself.
Today’s passage is a perfect example of that. Please read Psalm 40:5-8, and then read Hebrews 10:1-10.
In verse 5, David declares that no one cane compare with God; God’s wonders are more than can be told. Yet, he then says “I will proclaim and tell of them.” (A bold assertion on its own!). What follows this statement are verses 6-7, which are quoted in Hebrews 10.
If you read these verses without knowing of their quotation in Hebrews 10, they would seem out of place. How could David possibly say that God has not delighted in sacrifice and offering and has not required burnt offering and sin offering while living under the Old Covenant?
Sure, plenty of Old Testament references tell us that the Lord does not delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as He delights in obedience (Leviticus 26:27, 31; 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 51:16-17; Isaiah 1:11-17; Hosea 6:6; etc.). But nowhere in the Old Testament is there any indication that God’s people should not offer sacrifices and offerings. Outside of David’s very window, the priests were daily offering sacrifices to God in accordance with the Law of God! God did require sacrifices and burnt offerings! These requirements are clearly outlined in the Pentateuch! How could David say that God does not require them?
The author of Hebrews sheds some light on these verses. He says, “the law has but a shadow of the good things to come.” God gave His perfect Law to His people so that they may better understand His holiness and the requirement necessary for sinful people to have a relationship with Him. But the law was powerless to forgive us of our sin. The best it could offer was a bandaid of blood sacrifices that would point toward the ultimate Sacrifice. The priests therefore had to offer the same sacrifices year after year, even though these sacrifices could never ultimately forgive us. “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” These sacrifices were all just a shadow of the ultimate Sacrifice that was to come; they were powerless in and of themselves.
Therefore, “What the law was powerless to do… God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering” (Romans 8:3). Because Jesus Christ is our sin offering, there is now no more need for sacrifices and offerings. Now that Christ has come, the prophesy of Psalm 40 is fulfilled and it is true that God no longer requires sacrifices and burnt offerings. Jesus has completely fulfilled the will of God by serving as the payment for our sin. Through Christ’s obedience, we are made perfect (Romans 5:19).
This does not do away with the law. Christ did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). In fact, Psalm 40:8 says “your law is within my heart.” Christ has so hidden the Law of God in His heart, that His every thought, word, and action while on this earth was in complete obedience to God (John 5:19; 8:28). He was the fulfillment of the Law. He was the perfectly obedient One. That made Him the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus could say “in the scroll of the book it is written of me,” because nearly every scroll of every book of the Old Testament speaks of Him. Every word points to Him. Jesus is the fulfillment of it all. None can compare with Christ!
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