A Warning Against Rejecting God's Grace
The old covenant law, the 'law of Moses', was literally unforgiving. Even though the Old Testament speaks about God forgiving sinful people, the system of sacrifices could not purge the stain of sin (Hebrews 10:4). The concept of atonement uses an original word meaning 'covering'. In the same way that Noah's ark was covered with pitch, the tabernacle was covered by four fabric layers and the 'covering lid' of the ark of the covenant was the mercy seat – so the blood of animal sacrifices covered over sin and temporarily appeased God's wrath. Hence, sin is described as being removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Those covered sins were waiting to be fully paid for by the sacrifice of Jesus. As He died, He called out 'It is finished' (John 19:30) which meant 'Paid in full'.
The severity of the old covenant was an awesome warning to Israel, not to despise God's law. If they did, they would die; as the wilderness generation found out. They all died in the desert (Joshua 5:6). How much worse would it be to despise the Son of God, His sacrifice, His broken body, His blood and the appeal of His Spirit to submit to the Giver of grace. This description of apostasy is spine-chilling, and designed to make us recoil from any temptation to 'go it alone', without Christ and His body, the church.
Although mercy and grace is offered in full measure to all who will hear, those who refuse to listen and obey will find themselves opposing the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 5:39). He is the same God that Israel feared, having the same power to deal with rebels (Psalm 90:11). That rebellion is often first noticeable when the Body of Christ, the church, seems to interfere with what the rebel wants to do. The people are no longer precious, there is little hunger for the teaching, no joy in worship and no desire to serve (Hebrews 10:25). Those symptoms come from ungodly independence, functionally believing that they can live and succeed without Jesus Christ.
It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Deuteronomy 2:19-27). God is purifying a people who will join Him for all eternity and is looking to see those who love Him and love His people – those who delight in His grace and are dependent on His mercy, and express the joy of their salvation to the world (Titus 2:14). He also knows those who pretend and those who are giving up on Jesus and His church (Matthew 7:22-23). The warning of these verses is for us (1 Corinthians 10:1-13). So do not follow those who turn away: keep going with Jesus and He will keep you going. Remember that Jesus always has the last word.
© Dr Paul Adams