Hebrews
1-10 The Earthly Sanctuary 11-15 Christ, High Priest and Mediator 16-28 The Purification and the Appearance
The Earthly Sanctuary

1Now even the first [covenant] had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. 2For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which [were] the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. 3Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, 4having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5and above it [were] the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, 7but into the second, only the high priest [enters] once a year, not without [taking] blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. 8The Holy Spirit [is] signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9which [is] a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10since they [relate] only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.

In chapter 8 you saw how the new covenant was placed against the old one. In chapter 9 you shall see how the true heavenly sanctuary is set against the allegorical earthly sanctuary. In verses 1-51Now even the first [covenant] had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.2For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which [were] the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place.3Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies,4having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;5and above it [were] the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail. first a description of the preparation of the earthly sanctuary is given after which, up till verse 1010since they [relate] only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation., the service in the earthly sanctuary is described. From verse 1111But when Christ appeared [as] a high priest of the good things to come, [He entered] through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; you look into the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ has entered once and for all and what are the wonderful results of it.

Another striking thing is that there is mention of the tabernacle and not of the temple. The reason is that the description of the tabernacle and the service therein are more adaptable to the view of the Christians in this letter. They are actually seen here as a pilgrim nation on earth that is on its way to the promised land. That doesn’t mean that there is a certain difference between the preparation of the tabernacle and the service that took place therein on the one hand and the temple and its preparation and service on the other hand. According to their character the services in the tabernacle and in the temple were the same. The description that is given is actually that of the usual way in the temple, but the writer indeed continually speaks about the tabernacle.

V11Now even the first [covenant] had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.. He starts with demonstrating the connection between the first, old covenant and the regulations for the service in the earthly sanctuary where that service took place. He speaks about “the earthly sanctuary” and not about a ‘worldly sanctuary’. A worldly sanctuary would mean that it happened in a worldly way and that it is adapted to the taste of the world. What he intends to say, is that it is a sanctuary that belongs to the tangible, visible world.

V22For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which [were] the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place.. In the description the writer takes his readers to the tabernacle and leads them in mind along the several objects. First he stands still at “the outer” tabernacle, which means the first part of the tabernacle. This part is called “the sanctuary” (Exo 26:1-301“Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet [material]; you shall make them with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman.2The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall have the same measurements.3Five curtains shall be joined to one another, and [the other] five curtains [shall be] joined to one another.4You shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the [first] set, and likewise you shall make [them] on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set.5You shall make fifty loops in the one curtain, and you shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite each other.6You shall make fifty clasps of gold, and join the curtains to one another with the clasps so that the tabernacle will be a unit.7“Then you shall make curtains of goats’ [hair] for a tent over the tabernacle; you shall make eleven curtains in all.8The length of each curtain [shall be] thirty cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; the eleven curtains shall have the same measurements.9You shall join five curtains by themselves and the [other] six curtains by themselves, and you shall double over the sixth curtain at the front of the tent.10You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the [first] set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain [that is outermost in] the second set.11“You shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and you shall put the clasps into the loops and join the tent together so that it will be a unit.12The overlapping part that is left over in the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that is left over, shall lap over the back of the tabernacle.13The cubit on one side and the cubit on the other, of what is left over in the length of the curtains of the tent, shall lap over the sides of the tabernacle on one side and on the other, to cover it.14You shall make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red and a covering of porpoise skins above.15“Then you shall make the boards for the tabernacle of acacia wood, standing upright.16Ten cubits [shall be] the length of each board and one and a half cubits the width of each board.17[There shall be] two tenons for each board, fitted to one another; thus you shall do for all the boards of the tabernacle.18You shall make the boards for the tabernacle: twenty boards for the south side.19You shall make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards, two sockets under one board for its two tenons and two sockets under another board for its two tenons;20and for the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side, twenty boards,21and their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board and two sockets under another board.22For the rear of the tabernacle, to the west, you shall make six boards.23You shall make two boards for the corners of the tabernacle at the rear.24They shall be double beneath, and together they shall be complete to its top to the first ring; thus it shall be with both of them: they shall form the two corners.25There shall be eight boards with their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board and two sockets under another board.26“Then you shall make bars of acacia wood, five for the boards of one side of the tabernacle,27and five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle for the rear [side] to the west.28The middle bar in the center of the boards shall pass through from end to end.29You shall overlay the boards with gold and make their rings of gold [as] holders for the bars; and you shall overlay the bars with gold.30Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to its plan which you have been shown in the mountain.). In that part the priests were allowed to come daily to hold their services. In the sanctuary were the lampstand (Exo 25:31-4031“Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand [and] its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be [of one piece] with it.32Six branches shall go out from its sides; three branches of the lampstand from its one side and three branches of the lampstand from its other side.33Three cups [shall be] shaped like almond [blossoms] in the one branch, a bulb and a flower, and three cups shaped like almond [blossoms] in the other branch, a bulb and a flower—so for six branches going out from the lampstand;34and in the lampstand four cups shaped like almond [blossoms], its bulbs and its flowers.35A bulb shall be under the [first] pair of branches [coming] out of it, and a bulb under the [second] pair of branches [coming] out of it, and a bulb under the [third] pair of branches [coming] out of it, for the six branches coming out of the lampstand.36Their bulbs and their branches [shall be of one piece] with it; all of it shall be one piece of hammered work of pure gold.37Then you shall make its lamps seven [in number]; and they shall mount its lamps so as to shed light on the space in front of it.38Its snuffers and their trays [shall be] of pure gold.39It shall be made from a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils.40See that you make [them] after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.) and the table with the showbread on it (Exo 25:23-3023“You shall make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long and one cubit wide and one and a half cubits high.24You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a gold border around it.25You shall make for it a rim of a handbreadth around [it]; and you shall make a gold border for the rim around it.26You shall make four gold rings for it and put rings on the four corners which are on its four feet.27The rings shall be close to the rim as holders for the poles to carry the table.28You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, so that with them the table may be carried.29You shall make its dishes and its pans and its jars and its bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold.30You shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times.).

V33Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies,. After the first part behind the first veil there is another part “behind” what is called here “the second veil“. That part is called “the Holy of Holies” and was the actual dwelling place of God. It was only accessible for the high priest for only once a year.

V44having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;. In the Holy of Holies there were also some objects, namely the altar for burning incense (Exo 30:1-61“Moreover, you shall make an altar as a place for burning incense; you shall make it of acacia wood.2Its length [shall be] a cubit, and its width a cubit, it shall be square, and its height [shall be] two cubits; its horns [shall be] of one piece with it.3You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top and its sides all around, and its horns; and you shall make a gold molding all around for it.4You shall make two gold rings for it under its molding; you shall make [them] on its two side walls—on opposite sides—and they shall be holders for poles with which to carry it.5You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.6You shall put this altar in front of the veil that is near the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is over [the ark of] the testimony, where I will meet with you.) and the ark (Exo 25:10-1610“They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high.11You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it.12You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it.13You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.14You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them.15The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it.16You shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you.). The ark is called here “the ark of the covenant” to indicate once more that it is about an old and a new covenant. The ark was the meeting place between God and the nation under the old covenant. Against this center of the old covenant Christ stands as the center, the heart of the new covenant.

The glory of the ark is indicated by mentioning that it was “overlaid on all sides with gold”. There were still more glorious things connected to the ark. In the ark there were a golden jar with manna (Exo 16:3333Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.”) and Aaron’s rod (Num 17:8-108Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.9Moses then brought out all the rods from the presence of the LORD to all the sons of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod.10But the LORD said to Moses, “Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against Me, so that they will not die.”).

When you read the quoted verses it will strike you that of both the jar and the rod is said that they were placed before the ark. Here it is said that they were in the ark. That can only mean that they were brought later into the ark. How that has happened we do not know. The contents of the ark is completed by two tables of stone, here called “the tables of the covenant” (cf. ‘the ark of the covenant’). The tables were found in the ark from the beginning, because God said so (Deu 10:55Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as the LORD commanded me.”; 1Kgs 8:99There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the sons of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.).

V55and above it [were] the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.. In his ‘guided tour’ in the earthly sanctuary the writer finally concentrates on “the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat” (Exo 25:18-2218You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat.19Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim [of one piece] with the mercy seat at its two ends.20The cherubim shall have [their] wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be [turned] toward the mercy seat.21You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you.22There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.). The two impressive angel images formed one whole with the mercy seat. Between the two cherubim that formed the throne of God was the place where God was dwelling. They looked down on the mercy seat and the tables of the law and they were the symbolic representatives of God’s judgment power to judge everything that was not in accordance with God’s holiness.

The writer would have wanted to speak in detail about the meaning of the interior or the exterior of the tabernacle, but that was not possible. Of course it is also wonderful to be able to understand the spiritual meaning of those objects. That is certainly allowed and that is even the intention of it if you read and study the book of Exodus, but that is not the point of the writer here. His intention is rather to separate his Jewish readers from this whole earthly routine, because that whole temple service, including all its objects, has lost its meaning to God.

For them however, the temple with all its objects and the service connected with it still exerted a potential attraction. That is the reason why the writer demonstrates the emptiness of the earthly sanctuary and the uselessness to still ascribe any value to it. Though the teachings about the symbols are indeed very useful, the point of the writer is the sharp contrast between the symbols and Christendom. Again and again he shows the contrast (symbols – reality, earthly – heavenly, temporary – eternal; imperfect – perfect) and says that a mixture or dilution is not possible.

V66Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship,. After the writer has shown how everything was prepared, he then speaks about the service of the priests. Their service in the sanctuary (‘the outer part of the tabernacle’) consisted of taking care of the lamps and the offerings of the incense on the altar twice a day and the changing of the showbread once a week. This service happened on a very regular basis, which is indicated by the word “always”.

V77but into the second, only the high priest [enters] once a year, not without [taking] blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.. That is a contrast with the service of the high priest of whom you read that he alone was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies (the second part of the tabernacle) just “once a year”. This ‘once a year’ was on the tenth day of the seventh month, that is the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:29-3029“[This] shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you;30for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD.). And when he entered it, it was “not without [taking] blood”. First he entered with the blood of the bull to offer that “for himself” (Lev 16:6,146Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household.14Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle [it] with his finger on the mercy seat on the east [side]; also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.). After that he entered with the blood of the first goat to offer that “for sins of the people committed in ignorance [that means: the sins that were committed unintentionally]” (Lev 16:1515“Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.).

V88The Holy Spirit [is] signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing,. The description of the tabernacle is not made up by the writer. He is simply following the instructions that the Holy Spirit has made known about it in the Old Testament. He also learns from the description of the tabernacle the teachings of the Holy Spirit that, as long as the first tabernacle with its closed veil is still being maintained, there will be no free access to God. His readers had to be fully aware that a return to the earthly service meant that they were closing again the way to God for themselves.

Had the veil not been rent and had the way to the sanctuary not been opened through the work of the Lord Jesus (Mt 27:5151And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.)? Each believer is allowed to come into God’s presence on the basis of what the Lord Jesus has done. You too have a permanent access to God, a direct access to the place where He is, in the light. Would you want to exchange that privilege for a service that may be appealing to eye and ear, but takes you outside God’s presence?

V99which [is] a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,. The whole earthly tabernacle or temple service was “a symbol for the present time”, in order to compare all the parts of that service with the heavenly tabernacle. The word ‘symbol’ literally means ‘throw next to’ with the meaning of throwing an object next to another object to compare these objects with each other. The intention is that you compare both the building and the service that takes place in it, with the heavenly sanctuary and the service that takes place there. As was fitting for an earthly sanctuary, tangible literal gifts and sacrifices – also at the time this letter was written – were offered up.

The readers had to become fully aware that no sacrifice in the first part of the tabernacle had ever been able to give the sacrificer a perfect conscience. He who returned to the old service would lose his perfect conscience and be continually accused again by his conscience. A person with a perfect conscience knows God and knows to be surely accepted by Him. He who has a perfect conscience, knows that he has been purified from all evil once and for all by the work and the blood of Christ.

V1010since they [relate] only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.. The whole service according to the law with its offerings and ordinances can and could never ever had that effect. They were all ordinances for the outward man, the flesh, the body, and not for the inward man or the conscience or the spirit. In that way “food” had to do with the difference between clean and unclean animals (Lev 11:22“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘These are the creatures which you may eat from all the animals that are on the earth.) and “drink” for example refer to the prohibition for the priest to drink alcohol (Lev 10:99“Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations—). Also the “various washings” have nothing to do with the inward man, but only with the outward man. In that way washings were necessary at births (Lev 12) and after leprosy (Lev 13-14).

All these outward ordinances were imposed on the people by God “until a time of reformation”, that is the millennial kingdom of peace. When that kingdom comes, God’s earthly people will be cleansed from all sins by conversion and regeneration and will be connected to God. The outward service will then not be an empty form anymore, not a religious event without content. It will be a service that will take place from a new heart which is fully in accordance with God’s thoughts.

Now read Hebrews 9:1-10 again.

Reflection: What does the writer want to make clear with this summary of the earthly worship service?


Christ, High Priest and Mediator

11But when Christ appeared [as] a high priest of the good things to come, [He entered] through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12and 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. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14how 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? 15For 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.

V1111But when Christ appeared [as] a high priest of the good things to come, [He entered] through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;. The first word “but” indicates that what now follows is a contrast with what is written in the previous part. The word “Christ” presents the Person by Whom the whole earthly service, which is described in the previous verses, has lost its right to exist. The earthly service has not made perfect the conscience of any man (verse 99which [is] a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,) and also hasn’t brought a perfect situation (Heb 7:1919(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.). The only One Who is able and Who will indeed do that is Christ.

He has come as High Priest to guide His people into the rest of the promised millennial kingdom of peace. In that kingdom of peace, which is the future world, He will reign and bless His people with the “good things”. These good things “to come” exist in everything that will please the Messiah when He reigns. You recognize these good things in the bread and the wine with which Melchizedek met Abraham (Gen 14:1818And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.).

We have now already received the good things that are still to come for Israel: the eternal salvation, redemption, inheritance, covenant, a perfect conscience, free access to the heavenly sanctuary, fellowship with God. For the believing Hebrews and for you Christ has already come as High Priest. To us His service is not related to an earthly sanctuary that is marked by weakness and imperfection, but with the heavenly sanctuary.

The heavenly sanctuary is greater and more perfect than the earthly one. That heavenly sanctuary and the service He performs there, is not the result of men’s work. In no way it is related to the first creation. Therefore that sanctuary and the service that happens there cannot be violated or harmed in any possibly way and therefore the blessing is preserved and safe. With that blessing Christ will soon come out as the true Melchizedek to form the heavenly sanctuary for His people on earth.

V1212and 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.. The writer uses again the most powerful words in order to absolutely exclude any possible chance of the slightest doubt concerning Christ and His work. The assurance of the blessing lies in the “own blood” of Christ with which He entered into the sanctuary. That also stands against the earthly service with its animal sacrifices of which the blood could not take away sins (Heb 10:44For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.). How could the blood of animals ever possibly take away the sins from men?

Christ entered the sanctuary to be there forever. His blood that was shed once for all eternally keeps its value and power. The work is finished and its value can never change. Because He always remains there, the access has been opened once for all and therefore we always have access to God in the light. We can enter, because Christ entered and we are able to enter, because we have a perfect conscience.

He has accomplished an “eternal redemption”. That redemption concerns the believers of all times. Even the whole universe will take part in it. It is about the rights that He as the Son of Man, Who will soon rule over the world to come, has obtained. Through His sacrificial death He has laid the foundation for the redemption of all believers and of all things (Col 1:19-2219For it was the [Father’s] good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,20and 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.21And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, [engaged] in evil deeds,22yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—). The blood that forms the foundation is now in the sanctuary.

The blood has eternal value and therefore the redemption is also an eternal redemption. Redemption goes further than forgiveness. Forgiveness deals with our sins and it means that God doesn’t impute our sins to us anymore, because they have been removed by the Lord Jesus. Redemption deals with our own selves. It removes us from our former situation and brings us into a totally new position, related to Christ.

V1313For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,. The writer wants to present the contrast between the washing rituals in the Old Testament and the washing through the blood of Christ with more emphasis. The blood of goats and bulls is related to the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:3,14-153Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.14Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle [it] with his finger on the mercy seat on the east [side]; also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.15“Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.). The ashes, mixed with the water of purification, came from the red heifer (Num 19:99Now a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place, and the congregation of the sons of Israel shall keep it as water to remove impurity; it is purification from sin.). These means were literally applied on the body of a person who had become unclean by a sinful expression or contact. By the sprinkling with the prescribed means that person became clean again. That cleansing concerned only his body, but on that basis he was allowed to be among God’s people again. It did not say anything about his inward man. These means also had to be used again when the person committed a sin again. The cleansing was only temporary.

V1414how 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?. The blood of Christ and its functioning and the result of it are completely different. As far as heaven is above the earth, as far is the distance of what Christ has done and the value of His blood beyond the earthly washing rituals. In that way the Holy Spirit was present in each aspect of the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross and of His whole preceded life. The Lord Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:3535The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.); He was anointed by Him (Acts 10:3838[You know of] Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and [how] He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.); He was led by Him (Lk 4:11Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness) and He acted through Him (Acts 10:3838[You know of] Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and [how] He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.). Here we read that He “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God”.

The value of the blood of Christ is that great, because this blood is from Christ Who has sacrificed Himself to God and that through the Holy Spirit. He is seen here as Man, Who, for the sake of all men who would believe in Him, offers up the sacrifice to a holy and righteous God in the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ was a Sacrificer Who was able to offer up a spotless sacrifice to God, because He was perfectly clean, righteous and without sin. He was the Sacrificer and the Sacrifice, Whose blood was brought into the sanctuary. And that’s the point here.

The result is that the conscience of the believer is cleansed from “dead works”, through which he is now able “to serve the living God”. Dead works are all works that are not done in fellowship with the living God, but from one’s own idea about serving God. Therefore serving the living God stands against dead works.

‘Serving’ here has the meaning of serving as a priest. On the basis of the sacrifice that the Lord Jesus offered up to God in Himself, all believers are now able to bring offerings to God. They serve God by honoring Him. The believers bring worship in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:2424God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”) by telling God what they have seen in the sacrifice of His Son.

All things will be judged by the question: ‘What does God, the Living One, think about it?’ The living God has no interest in ‘church attendances’ as such, but sees if there is any interest in His Person. Imagine that someone visits you, but only pays attention to the way your house is decorated and doesn’t look at you at all. That’s the way many people deal with God and His service. They do not realize that the Lord Jesus sacrificed Himself to form a company of worshippers who would be able to draw near to God in the sanctuary with a fully cleansed conscience.

V1515For 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.. This drawing near to God was impossible under the old covenant. To make that possible a new covenant was necessary. This new covenant concerns Israel and Judah and still has to be made with them, but God has already appointed and revealed the Mediator, actually. This One has accomplished the work on which the fulfillment of the promises could be based. The sacrificial death of Christ liberates us from the transgressions of the old covenant and is the foundation for receiving the blessings of the new covenant: “the eternal inheritance”.

The transgressions under the first covenant could not be removed by the sacrifices under the first covenant. But the blood of the new covenant that was shed through the death of Christ, has completely blotted them out. They don’t weigh like a burden on the believer anymore, as such is the case with them who remain related with the old covenant. He who is connected to the Mediator of the new covenant, is redeemed from the transgressions. They are “those who have been called” and are able to receive the eternal inheritance on the basis of that redemption.

It is a great privilege to belong to the called ones, which also includes the receiving of the eternal inheritance. There can be mention of an eternal inheritance, because the atonement is perfect. Sin has been removed and will be completely removed from God’s eye in accordance with the nature and the Being of God Himself. Christ, the Mediator (Heb 12:2424and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than [the blood] of Abel.), mediates between a holy God and the defiled man. Moses was also a mediator, but then of the old covenant, but he didn’t die for the people. As a sinful man neither was he able to. What Christ did, was not in relation with the old covenant, for within that system there was no room for a real cleansing and service. The service of Christ is connected to a new covenant. That makes everything totally different and perfectly sure.

Now read Hebrews 9:11-15 again.

Reflection: Which aspects of Christ and His work do you find in these verses?


The Purification and the Appearance

16For 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. 18Therefore 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.” 21And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. 22And according to the Law, [one may] almost [say], all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23Therefore 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. 24For 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; 25nor 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. 26Otherwise, 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. 27And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this [comes] judgment, 28so 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.

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?


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