Obedience Greater Than Sacrifice- Hebrews 10:5-9
As we continue in our examination of Hebrews 10, we come upon one of the many ways in which the writer informs us of the superiority of the New Covenant to the Old Covenant. As we begin in verse 5, we come upon a Hebrew idiom which has been translated into Greek. In the NIV, it is translated as “but a body you prepared for me”, which is a quotation of the Septuangint, which is the translation of the original Old Testament Hebrew text into Greek. The writer of Hebrews uses quotes from the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew Masoretic text, which in the passage quoted reads “I have dug out my ears”. This expression apparently would have been foreign to the original readers of this letter, as it would also be to us. What this idiom refers to is to one who has made his primary focus listening to and obeying God. He has dug out all obstacles and distractions from his “ears” that he may hear and obey all God says to him. This is quoted here because the theme of the next few verses is the theme of one who has come to do His Father’s will, and that this obedience is greater then a sacrifice, that obedience to God in the first place is better than having to offer a sacrifice for disobedience afterward. This is reinforced in verse 6, in which we are told that offerings and sacrifices for sin do not please God, that what really pleases God is for there to be no sin to make offerings for. God is more pleased with the offering of ourselves to obey Him beforehand than with the offering of another (an animal) to atone for our sin afterward. In this passage we learn that the “offering” in the New Testament is Christ, offering Himself in obedience to the Father, and that the “sacrifice” in the New Covenant is the sacrifice of ourselves, the “digging out of our ears” to hear and obey what God has to say to us. God is infinitely more pleased with the offering of ourselves in obedience to Him than with the offering of another to atone for our disobedience afterward. We also must make note of the use of the plural here in verse 8, because another point which the writer makes here is that the Old Covenant required many and various different sacrifices, while the New Covenant only required one. These many sacrifices may be seen as a foreshadowing of the completeness of the sacrifice of Christ, and also as a metaphor for the New Covenant “offering” of our entire selves to God, the offering of our body, our mind. our heart, our soul, our time, our finances, etc. This then is the primary message which is intended for us to understand here. Christ offered all of himself to God in complete obedience, and the admonition here is that those who bear His name would do so as well, that every believer would “dig out their ears”, and offer the entirety of themselves to God, to hear what He says and obey it without question, that obedience is greater than sacrifice.