Hebrews 13:10 reads, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat” (NKJV). Throughout this epistle the writer is trying to convince Jews who had made a profession of faith in Christ to leave the religion of Judaism and to cling to Christ. He spent chapter after chapter comparing Judaism with Christ and in each case he declared that CHRIST IS BETTER!  He argued that in Judaism you had TYPES and SHADOWS that pictured Christ and the work He would do on the cross to put away our sins, but now that Christ has come and fulfilled all that Judaism foreshadowed, one should leave the types and shadows behind and embrace the Savior fully and then enjoy all the spiritual benefits that His finished work on the cross has provided for the believing sinner.

In Hebrews 13:10 (and verses 11-13) he brings his argument to an end and exhorts them to make their final break with Judaism. He begins by saying “we have an altar.” Who are the “we” and what is the “altar?” I believe he is referring to “Christians” and the altar speaks of “the cross of Christ” and the benefits that we partake of from Christ’s death on the cross.” He goes on to say “from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.” Who and what is he speaking of here?” It seems clear to me that he is referring to “Jews” who were still serving in the Jewish temple, and because of this they had no right to eat, or partake, of the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

To fully understand this verse we need to see that in Judaism when a priest offered certain sacrifices on the altar in the tabernacle they were then allowed to eat it. We see this in Leviticus chapter 7 in connection with the TRESPASS and PEACE offerings. In verse 6 it says, “Every male among the priests may eat it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy.” So, the Jewish priests LITERALLY ate food that had been offered on the altar. Yet every sacrifice offered pictured Christ and the one, perfect sacrifice that He would make on the cross of Calvary. When one believes on Christ as their Savior His death on the cross becomes their “altar” and they can then eat (or partake) of all the blessings that His death has produced. But to those who refuse to leave Judaism and prefer to trust in the animal sacrifices that were made on the Jewish altar instead of trusting in Christ, they “have no right to eat” of the spiritual blessings that flow forth from the cross of Christ.

Now let’s read verses 11-13: “For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” Again, here is the final appeal to professing Jewish Christians to abandon their religion and to gather to Christ. He was the fulfillment of the SIN OFFERING which was “burned outside of the camp,” for He was taken outside the gates of Jerusalem and crucified. In His death on the cross He settled the question of sin and if a Jew truly believed this, he should be willing to forsake the shadows and types of Judaism and identify with Christ. They would be persecuted for doing this, but in reality they would be “bearing His reproach.” This speaks of the privilege they would have to share in Christ’s rejection. The religious world still hates Christ and has rejected Him; the Christian today can also take their place outside of the religious systems of men and “bear His reproach.”  (222.3)  (DO)