V16-1716For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it.17For a covenant is valid [only] when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.. These verses form a parenthesis. In verse 1515For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were [committed] under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. the writer spoke about the death and the inheritance. He is now explaining how these two are connected to each other. The one is not separated from the other. Then it was like that and it is still like that nowadays.
An inheritance is something that someone bequeaths when he dies. He who has possessions he bequeaths will usually make a testament. In a testament the ‘testator’ describes who shall receive his possessions when he dies. That means that his death must have taken place before the heir, the one who is called the beneficiary in the testament, can enjoy the possession that is promised to him in the testament. Therefore it is said in these verses that a testament can only have power when the testator dies. In order to execute the will of the testator, that one’s death has to be absolutely sure.
Now the exceptional thing in this situation is that Christ is both the Testator and the One Who is entitled to that inheritance. As God He is Testator and as Man He died. As the Son of God He is also “the heir of all things” (Heb 1:22in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.). Considering that He shares that inheritance with you (Eph 1:1111also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,; 3:66[to be specific], that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,) and that you belong to the ones He called and who will receive the eternal inheritance (verse 1515For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were [committed] under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.), it can only bring you to your knees to worship Him. These are things that are beyond human understanding, but in faith you will accept that they are true. It is exactly the glory of Christ and the mystery of His Person that make us draw near to Him in worship.
A testament or covenant therefore only has power when death has occurred. That is not something that was only valid in relation to the new covenant. Also in the old covenant or Old Testament it was already like that. In the Old Testament we have plentiful examples of the necessity of the occurrence of death before men were able to stand in connection with God. Just think of the whole offering service. Yet again a person either endures the judgment himself or sees how his sins are being wiped out because another one has endured the judgment on his behalf.
V18-2018Therefore even the first [covenant] was not inaugurated without blood.19For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,20saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.”. To illustrate his teachings the writer quotes another example that was very familiar to his readers. Moses had passed on the words that he heard from the Lord about His covenant on the mountain, to the people (Exo 24:33Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!”). The people then responded solemnly to obey this covenant. Thereupon Moses offered up the offerings and sprinkled blood on the altar and on the people and the book (Exo 24:66Moses took half of the blood and put [it] in basins, and the [other] half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.). The blood is the blood that God commanded as His answer on the promise from the people. Threat came from this blood. God makes known what would happen to Israel when the people trespass the words of the Lord.
The blood of the new covenant speaks a totally different language. The believers of the New Testament are sprinkled with it. Atonement, forgiveness and blessing come from that blood (1Pet 1:22according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.; Heb 12:2424and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than [the blood] of Abel.). In the value of that blood we, who are not any better than those who were under the old covenant, are able to stand before God.
V2121And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood.. The sprinkling mentioned here, happened on the Day of Atonement, though not through Moses, but through Aaron. The point of the writer is to demonstrate the meaning of the blood under the old covenant and how everything was ruled by it. It clarifies the fundamental role of the blood, both in the old and in the new covenant.
V2222And according to the Law, [one may] almost [say], all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.. “Without shedding of blood” there is no forgiveness possible, just as little as redemption (verse 1212and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.) and washing (verse 1414how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?). By saying that with blood “almost all things” are purified, it is clear that the writer is aware of exceptions like for a poor (Lev 5:11-1311‘But if his means are insufficient for two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then for his offering for that which he has sinned, he shall bring the tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall not put oil on it or place incense on it, for it is a sin offering.12He shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as its memorial portion and offer [it] up in smoke on the altar, with the offerings of the LORD by fire: it is a sin offering.13So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin which he has committed from one of these, and it will be forgiven him; then [the rest] shall become the priest’s, like the grain offering.’”; Lev 15:1010Whoever then touches any of the things which were under him shall be unclean until evening, and he who carries them shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.; Num 31:22-23,5022only the gold and the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin and the lead,23everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean, but it shall be purified with water for impurity. But whatever cannot stand the fire you shall pass through the water.50So we have brought as an offering to the LORD what each man found, articles of gold, armlets and bracelets, signet rings, earrings and necklaces, to make atonement for ourselves before the LORD.”50shekels.; 16:4646Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense [on it]; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!”).
There is almost nothing that modern theologians hate more than the very thought that without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. It means that humanity consists of hopelessly lost creatures on whom the death penalty lies and that only through death it is possible to remove this death penalty, through which lost creatures are able to receive forgiveness. How necessary the death of Christ was indeed!
V2323Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.. With “the copies of the things in heaven” the whole earthly tabernacle with its service is meant. They are an illustration of the better, real, “heavenly things”. The symbolical things had to be purified, for they were touched by sinful people. That purification happened through blood. However, as a consequence of the fall of man also the heavenly things, that is the created heaven, are defiled (Job 15:1515“Behold, He puts no trust in His holy ones,
And the heavens are not pure in His sight;
) and have also to be reconciled (Col 1:2020and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, [I say,] whether things on earth or things in heaven.). In connection with that purification the writer speaks about “better sacrifices”. The blood draws our attention to the work of Christ; the sacrifice draws our attention to Christ Himself and the sacrifice He offered.
V2424For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a [mere] copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;. Christ has entered the real, “the true one”, that is the heavenly sanctuary. The earthly sanctuary was the “copy”. It was nothing more than a copy, an image or picture of the heavenly sanctuary. Christ has not entered the earthly sanctuary, but the heavenly one. He entered it in a very different way than Aaron entered the earthly one. Aaron remained just a very short time in the sanctuary. Christ entered the heavenly sanctuary in order to appear in the light of God on our behalf. As a result of that we are able to be there also now. He represents us to God.
V2525nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own.. Christ entered the sanctuary on the basis of His one-time sacrifice. That is perfect. Therefore repetition is not necessary. The Day of Atonement was totally different. There the prescribed sacrifices had to be offered up each year. You can derive from the repetition that that was inadequate. The high priest had to enter the sanctuary over and over again with blood and indeed with strange blood, which means: with other blood than that of himself. That is a great difference with the Lord Jesus Who on the contrary, entered into the sanctuary with His own blood.
V2626Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.. The writer again demonstrates clear what the consequence would be if the one-time sacrifice of Christ had not been adequate. He would then have had to come from heaven numerous times, again and again, to suffer. This proves the foolishness and also the reprehensibility of the sacrifice of the mass of the roman-catholic church, wherein Christ is being sacrificed again and again. If that one sacrifice of Christ wouldn’t be adequate, when then would His sacrifice be adequate? It is one of both: either the sacrifice of Christ was perfectly accomplished once for all or it will never ever be perfect. In the latter case an equally endless repetition would be required as this was the case under the old covenant.
But Christ came only once and has accomplished a one-time work that never has to be repeated ever (see also 1Pet 3:1818For Christ also died for sins once for all, [the] just for [the] unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;). The time of suffering was determined by God. It would happen in the fulfillment of the ages. Only when many ages had proven that there is no good to be expected from man, God sent His Son.
The corruptness of man has been fully exposed, with its lowest point being the rejection of the Son of God. At the same time this great purpose of God to abolish sin, was made known in the revelation of the Son. He is the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:2929The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!). The complete fulfillment is still to happen, but the foundation for the ultimate, definite and complete abolishment is laid by the Lamb when He died.
V2727And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this [comes] judgment,. Everybody will die once. That is the inevitable consequence of sin through which death entered into the world (Rom 6:2323For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.). With death the consequences of the earthly life are irrevocably and eternally established for everyone. He who dies in unbelief will end up in Hades, the place where pain rules (Lk 16:19-3119“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.20And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,21and longing to be fed with the [crumbs] which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.22Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.23In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.24And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.26And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and [that] none may cross over from there to us.’27And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house—28for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’29But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’30But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’31But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”; 1Pet 3:1919in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits [now] in prison,), and finally in hell (Rev 20:11-1511Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.12And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one [of them] according to their deeds.14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.).
Man is not given a second life on earth. A circle of life and death, the so-called reincarnation is a fabrication from the devil. People who ignore God love to believe that. Still, with death everything is not finished yet. There is an “after this [comes] judgment” that will be exerted by Jesus Christ (2Tim 4:11I solemnly charge [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:; Jn 5:2727and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is [the] Son of Man.).
V2828so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without [reference to] sin, to those who eagerly await Him.. Like all people Christ has also died only once, but with what wonderful, heavenly, everlasting and irrevocable consequences for the believer! He has two great securities: the forgiveness of his sins and the return of the Lord. Christ died in the place of everyone who believes in Him. He bore their sins (1Pet 2:2424and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.; Isa 53:1212Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.). When He appeared as Man on earth it was to die. Now He is in heaven, after He fulfilled His work, He appears before God’s face for us.
When He appears for the second time on earth, it is then for them who are waiting for Him. This is not about the rapture of the church, but His revelation on earth. The remnant of Israel will wait for Him and we also are looking forward to see Him. We love His appearing (2Tim 4:88in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.).
When He then comes it will have nothing to do with His work regarding sin, because the problem of sin has already been solved once and for all with His first coming. When He comes the second time, it will not be in humiliation, but in glory. Then the full salvation of the kingdom of peace will be realized by Him.
Now read Hebrews 9:16-28 again.
Reflection: Why is the value of the blood of Christ so great?