Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17

Friday, May 31, 2024

Hebrews 13:11-12 (Daily Verse and Comment)

  Hebrews 13:11-12

(11) For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. (12) Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 
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Where did Jesus Christ's suffering take place? Not at the Praetorium, for they led him from there (Matthew 27:31). Nor did it occur at the Temple. While scholars debate over the location and even the translation of "Golgotha" (Matthew 27:33Mark 15:22John 19:17), the writer of Hebrews provides a solid clue as to where Jesus died:

For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burnedoutside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. (Hebrews 13:11-12; emphasis ours.)

God instructed the priests to kill the sin offerings at the Tabernacle, but He required them to burn the remains at a place "outside the camp" (Leviticus 4:12, 21), away from God's presence. This distant altar became known as the miphkad ("the appointed place") altar. At the time of the crucifixion, this altar stood on a slope of the Mount of Olives, east of the Temple Mount, separated from the Temple by the Brook Kidron. The name of the Temple's eastern gate was, appropriately, the miphkad gate. When the priest performed a sin offering, he took the body of the sacrificed animal through the miphkad gate, over the bridge that spanned the Kidron Valley, and to the appointed place for burning and disposal.

Hebrews 13:11-12 ties this "outside the camp" location with Christ's crucifixion, being "outside the gate." Additionally, Jesus was crucified where the centurion with Him could see the veil of the Temple torn in two (Luke 23:45-47), which, because of the Temple walls, was possible from only a few angles and elevations—such as the area near the miphkad altar on the Mount of Olives, outside the "camp" of Jerusalem.

The miphkad gate and Kidron bridge had another significant purpose. History records that the gate and bridge were also used on the Day of Atonement (see Alfred Edersheim's The Temple: Its Ministry and Service). By this eastern route, the "suitable man" led the azazel goat out of the Temple and into the wilderness after the priest had laid on its head all the iniquities, transgressions, and sins of the nation (see Leviticus 16:20-22).

The centerpiece of the Day of Atonement ritual involved two goats as a sin offering (Leviticus 16:5). Consider how perfectly Jesus fulfilled the roles of both goats in this ceremony, as only He could. The Levitical high priest used the blood of the first goat to cleanse the sanctuary. The priest laid no sins on this goat; instead, he used its undefiled blood to cleanse and cover the incense altar and the Mercy Seat, which allowed rare access into the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16:15-16, 18-19). As the fulfillment, Jesus courageously and single-mindedly gave His sinless blood as a cleansing and a covering, providing us access into the heavenly Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9:7, 12-14, 23-25).

The azazel goat, the one used for "complete removal," received the iniquities, transgressions, and sins of the nation on its head, and it bore them, being sent by the high priest and led outside the camp, out of God's presence, as a representative of all the sins. In awe-inspiring fulfillment, the Father laid the iniquities of us all on Christ's dignified and undeserving head (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus permitted Himself to be sent by the leaders and led by their agents in true meekness, subsuming His well-being to what the Father desired for all mankind, even cleansing with His words those who led Him, just as the "ready man" was cleansed (Leviticus 16:21, ESV).

Jesus became a substitutionary sacrifice, for God "made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us" (II Corinthians 5:21). He became a curse on our behalf (Galatians 3:13) when they nailed Him to the tree. He, and He alone, bore our sins, iniquities, and transgressions (Isaiah 53:11-12Hebrews 9:28I Peter 2:24). He remained alive for torturous hours, bearing what belonged to us but permitted to be put on Himself, having been led outside the gate in perfect, divine meekness.

— David C. Grabbe

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