Read Hebrews 9
1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.
6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7 But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
The Blood of Christ
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Throughout our study of Hebrews, we have seen a number of comparisons and contrasts between the Old and New Testaments. If you are even vaguely familiar with the Old Testament, you know there was a sacrificial system that was required for the forgiveness of sins. A priest would enter into the temple on a consistent basis to provide an animal that would serve as a substitute on behalf of the people of God. Since they had fallen short of the glory of God, they deserved to die apart from God. This sacrifice stood as a reminder of the ways in which they had fallen short. However, this was by no means a perfect sacrifice. This system had to be done repeatedly because the Israelites sinned frequently. There was never a sacrifice that was good enough to cover the sins of the people. Until Jesus. He came to offer Himself in our place so that we might not face judgement or death.
What Hebrews 9 tells us is that Jesus didn’t just die for us, but He also now stands in the presence of God on our behalf. When God sees His son Jesus, He sees the One who lived the life that we couldn’t live and died the death that we deserved. Because of His perfect obedience, we no longer have to provide sacrifices to God. Jesus was enough. As long as we place our faith in Him, we know that He stands in the presence of the Father on our behalf. He paid for our sins so that we no longer have to. During Jesus’ first time on Earth, He came to die for us. But there will be a return of Christ in which He comes to rescue us home for eternity.
The entire book of Hebrews revolves around this idea that Jesus is better. Better than the past sacrificial system. Better than Moses. Better than any priest to come before Him. And He is better than the world around us today. As people who hope in Him, today we have the opportunity to reflect back on what Christ has done and look forward to what He will do in the future.
- Do you think you would take your sin more seriously if you saw the results of it through a sacrifice?
- Did you notice in v. 16 that our salvation was placed on Jesus’ will? How does that stir your affections for Christ?
- In light of Christ’s sacrifice, what are some sacrifices you should make in your own life?
Did You Know?
The high priest would enter into the Most Holy Place, behind the second curtain, only once per year. Here he would be responsible for not only atoning for the sins of the people, but for himself as well. Jesus, because He was sinless, proves once again to be a greater high priest.