Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve he living God”
Our Text – (Hebrews 8 – 9)
Theme – In Christ, God has provided a New Covenant that fulfills what the Old Covenant only pictured
Do you know anyone who adopted a child from a foreign country? Chances are the couple received a photo of that child before they ever met him or her. They may have passed the photo around, saying, “This is our new daughter or son.” As precious as the photo was to the adoptive parents, a mere representation of the child was nothing to actually hold their child in their arms and knowing he or she was theirs. The photo was just a temporary or inferior copy.
Jesus Christ provided a better relationship with God through His death than what the tabernacle and priests provided in the Old Testament. So, for the Hebrews to want to hold on to the past was like cherishing a picture when the real person is readily available.
Throughout the ages we’re always looking for better ways to do things. Hebrews 8:6 tell us, “Christ is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises”. God is the originator of the better way. The author of Hebrews said that animal sacrifices were only a “shadow of the heavenly things” of which Christ and His death on the cross are the reality (Hebrews 8:5; 9:11-15). Before Jesus came, people waited for the annual Day of Atonement, when the high priest entered the Most Holy Place.
In that awe-inspiring place where the Ark of the Covenant was located, the High Priest offered the blood of animals on behalf of himself and the Israelites. In fact, the Old Testament itself predicted that a New Covenant would come. Hebrews teaches that because of Christ, there is a new priesthood, a New Covenant, a new sanctuary, a new sacrifice, all of which are better than the Old Testament system, because it is once-for-all and eternal.
When Christ came to earth, something better was revealed. He Himself became our High Priest by sacrificing His life and shedding His blood to atone for our sins. Now, when we accept His gift of forgiveness, we can rejoice that the penalty of our sins has been paid and our guilt removed. Salvation through Messiah Jesus is the only way we can be forgiven and have fellowship with God. We are servants of the Most High God who has given us the privilege to share in His eternity. Jesus Christ is our friend, our Priest, our King, our Lord, our Savior.
He is our God. We are ever on His heart and He is with us today in whatever situation we may find ourselves. He knows and He cares. May we follow our High Priest and King; the One who has perfected forever our place with Him in eternity? Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Our High Priest Jesus Christ will not let that happen. What a glorious representation we have in Heaven! In the courtroom of divine justice, the Lord Jesus Christ stands before God as our advocate, making intercession on our behalf.
The High Priest of a New Covenant – (Hebrews 8:1-13)
The Nature of the New Covenant
Hebrews 8:1-6, “Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. 3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises”
Hebrews 8:1 summarizes that Jesus Christ is the perfect priest and is superior to the Old Testament system. He does not have a temporary ministry in an earthly tabernacle. He has an eternal ministry as He sits on the right hand of God in Heaven. Jesus Christ is both a king with an exalted position and a priest with a ministry to humans (you and me).
If you recall, as the people of Israel went from place to place, the Levites pitched the tabernacle, a large tent; then the priests led the worship. As the better priest, Christ ministers in the sanctuary that the Lord pitched, Hebrews 8:2, “and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.” This is the true tabernacle of God, the original of the symbol used in the Old Testament. Hebrews teaches that because of Christ, there is a new priesthood, a New Covenant, a new sanctuary, and a new sacrifice, all of which are better than the Old Testament system.
A priest is one who does priestly ministry by offering sacrifices to God (8:3). As a priest, Christ did this priestly work. Hebrews 7:27 explains that He offered the perfect once-for-all sacrifice of Himself, which completely satisfied God. Now He is seated at God the Father’s right hand. If Christ were on earth and living within the limits of the Levitical system, He would not be qualified or needed as a priest, because He was not from the tribe of Levi and there were already many Levitical priests who could offer sacrifices under the law (8:4).
But Christ’s priesthood is of a different order, and it functions in a different location. And because Christ is the superior priest Who serves in Heaven, the Levitical priesthood on earth was only an inferior copy of Christ’s heavenly priesthood. Moreover, the tabernacle of Israel was also an inferior copy, a mere shadow of the reality in Heaven (8:5). It showed what the original looked like in its function, but it also pointed to Christ’s heavenly ministry as superior to the earthly, Levitical system.
Compared with the earthly tabernacle and the priesthood, Christ has a more excellent ministry, He mediates a better covenant, and this covenant is guaranteed by better promises (8:6). In every way, Christ’s priesthood surpasses the Levitical system. His priesthood is real and substantial, in contrast with the Levitical priesthood, which was a copy and a shadow of what Christ would bring.
The Need for the New Covenant
Hebrews 8:7-13, “For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.11 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord, ’because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear”
If the first covenant, or formal relationship, between God and Israel had been without fault, there would have been no need for a New Covenant or for Christ as a new priest (8:7). Even in the Old Testament, it was clear that the Levitical system could not meet the real need caused by sin. God, therefore, promised to make a New Covenant
Jeremiah 31:31-33, “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, declares the LORD. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people)
that would be based on a different principle (8:8-12). God gave Moses a system of law that required precise obedience to a specific set of commands. The people of Israel did not and could not obey God’s commands, because as humans they were sinners by nature.
To overcome this problem of sin, God said that He would make a New Covenant that worked from the inside out. By changing their hearts, God would give sinners a new capacity for knowing and obeying Him. This New Covenant would be internal and personal, and each person would know God. When God spoke of a New Covenant, He made the first covenant old (8:13). Because it was inadequate to meet the sin problem and because it could not match what Christ accomplishes in His priestly ministry, the Old Covenant of Judaism is obsolete.
God has given in Christ a better and permanent covenant; therefore, the readers were not to hold on to their cherished heritage in Judaism. Christ is the war forward; Judaism is the way back. The new age of Christ is here to stay. Christ replaced the old with the new.
Christ Provides a Better Approach to God – (Hebrews 9:1-10)
The Old Testament system of the Mosaic Law included the Levitical priesthood and a clearly defined mode of worship. Hebrews 9 explains how Christ has brought a better approach to God than was possible in the pattern that God gave Israel.
Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle
Hebrews 9:1-10, “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 lamp stand 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 Old Testament system had a method of worship and a building for worship that were specifically prescribed by God (9:1). Though this system was for the worship of God, it was done in a “worldly,” or earthly, sanctuary, in contrast with Christ’s ministry in God’s heavenly sanctuary (9:1-2).
Hebrews 9:2-5 summarizes the tabernacle as God instructed Moses to construct it. The tabernacle was separated into two parts. In the sanctuary, or Holy Place, stood the golden candlestick and the table of showbread (9:2). On this table were placed twelve cakes of bread each Sabbath Day. Into this section of the sanctuary only the priests could enter. The altar of incense also stood in the Holy Place by the veil, though the writer did not mention it because the incense was taken into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement, and the writer was thinking of that day.
Between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies was a veil that prevented access into the Most Holy Place (9:3). Inside the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant (9:4). This small chest contained three items: a golden pot full of manna, Aaron’s rod that miraculously budded to evidence his priestly authority when it was challenged, and the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed. The lid of the ark was called the mercy seat, because there the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sin offering on the Day of Atonement (9:5).
Stretching over the mercy seat were the golden cherubim, which represented the exalted angels who guard the presence of God. Hebrews also mentions the golden censer as being in the Holy of Holies. This was the case only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:12-13), which is specifically mentioned in Hebrews 9:7.
In mentioning the furnishings of the tabernacle, the writer intended to show how Christ’s ministry supersedes the old system. Consequently, he did not speak in great detail, but moved forward to his main point (9:5). In the Holy Place the priests performed their daily tasks in accomplishing the worship of God (9:6). However, the Holy of Holies could be entered only by the high priest on the Day of Atonement (9:7). On that solemn day, the high priest had to take the blood of the sin offering to atone for his own sins and for the nation’s sins.
The writer of Hebrews then pointed out the significance of the Old Testament system (9:8-10). The whole tabernacle procedure was a figure (a comparison) for God’s appointed time period. It illustrated the chasm between sinful people and the holy God. The way to God’s presence for the individual worshiper was barred by the priesthood and the veil. Even the high priest was severely limited in how and when he could go before the Lord. The limitation of the animal sacrifices revealed the necessity for a better way to approach the holy God and demonstrated that the Old Testament system looked ahead to the perfect worship that Christ brought (9:10).
A Better Sacrifice – “The Blood of Christ”
Hebrews 9:11-22, “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,[c] 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”
In every way the New Covenant system is superior to the mode of worship in the Old Testament. Christ as priest serves in God’s greater, heavenly tabernacle, which was not constructed by human hands (9:11). Unlike the Old Testament high priest, who annually offered the blood of an animal on the mercy seat, Christ entered once into God’s presence by His own blood. That once-for-all offering secured eternal redemption, not just a temporary covering, for human sin (9:12).
In the Old Testament, the blood of bulls and goats from the animal sacrifices was used on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). Cleansing for ceremonial uncleanness was achieved by the ashes of a red heifer (Numbers 19). These sacrifices provided an external purification of the flesh (9:13). Christ’s death, however, accomplished far more than that. His blood was the perfect sacrifice for sin to produce internal cleansing of the conscience that the animal sacrifices of the Old Covenant could not (9:14). Christ is a better high priest because He gives total cleansing by His eternal, perfect sacrifice of Himself.
When Christ died on the cross, He fully paid all of the past sins, and He provided sufficient forgiveness to cover all future sins as well. Because of this, Christ can offer to all who believe in Him the promise of an eternal inheritance of full salvation, including Heaven (9:15). In the Old Covenant the imperfect high priest represented the people before God. In the New Covenant the perfect, sinless Christ is the mediator. The New Covenant came into effect only by Christ’s death (9:16-17).
In the Old Testament system, sacrificial blood was involved in all parts of the worship (9:18). For example, the Law, the people, the tabernacle, and the worship vessels were sprinkled by Moses (9:19-21; Exodus 24). Nearly everything involved in the worship of God in the old system had to be purged, or cleansed, with blood (9:22). Although this animal blood was insufficient to provide complete and permanent cleansing from sin, it was a picture of the necessity of sacrifice. Since the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), shed blood spoke of sacrificial death. In this way it foreshadowed Christ’s better sacrifice that alone could purge the conscience and equip people to serve God truly.
A Better Sanctuary
Hebrews 9:23-28, “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”
If the Old Testament tabernacle, which was a copy of God’s original, had to be consecrated by the blood of animal sacrifices, then the heavenly tabernacle in which Christ ministers must be sanctified by a better quality of sacrifice (9:23). The use of animal blood was adequate for the earthly pattern, but only the blood of Christ could be valid for purifying the tabernacle in Heaven.
Christ’s ministry is not in the human tabernacle made by hands that was the place of worship in the Old Testament (9:24). Instead, He ministers on our behalf in Heaven itself. His present position in Heaven as priest guarantees the certainty of salvation and forgiveness for His people.
The high priest in the Old Testament system had to enter into the Holy of Holies each year with the blood of the sin offering. The annual repetition of the sacrifice proved that it was inadequate to provide permanent remission of sins. When Christ died, He at one time put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (9:25-26). Christ’s death provided the full redemption for the sins of all time (9:12, 26, 28). If Christ’s death were insufficient to take care of sins permanently, then He would have had to die frequently. The fact that He died just once demonstrates that He has superseded all of the Old Testament system, for it was only partial and temporary in its effect.
People die once, and then they are judged by God (9:27). In the same way, Christ died once as the offering for the sins of all humanity (9:28). The fact that He is now serving as priest in the heavenly sanctuary demonstrates that God has judged Him to be the perfect sacrifice and substitute for the sins of the world.
The people of ancient Israel looked anxiously to see if the high priest would come out of the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. Christians today look for Christ our priest to appear again from Heaven. The next time we see Christ, He will return to earth, not to provide another offering for sin, but to deliver His people. In light of this great prospect, Christians should wait in hope, rather than grow weary in the conflict.
Conclusion – His Cleansing Blood”
Hebrews 9:26, “For 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”
A barrier of sin stands between man and God and unless that obstacle is overcome and removed to God’s satisfaction, sinners cannot be accepted by the One in whose presence the angels cry, “Holy, holy, holy!” (Isaiah 6:3). How can we approach this One with confidence? What could guarantee our pardon and remove our guilt? The Israelites gathered once a year for a special celebration called the Day of Atonement. Let’s use our imagination and take a quick look on that solemn day. The high priest in his white linen garments has just slain a goat. As he enters into the temple’s holiest place he sprinkles the blood before the mercy seat.
Outside the temple stand hundreds of people, some weeping because of their sins. You sense an air of reverence and expectancy. Suddenly, the high priest appears. He’s alive! His very presence says that God has accepted the sacrifice. The people rejoice as the priest extends his hands with a benediction. Ask a smiling Hebrew, “What’s the meaning of this?” and he might reply, “Oh, our sins have been covered by sacrifice and the nation is at peace with God!’” Today, our sins are removed because Jesus Christ, with His own blood, has obtained eternal redemption for us. He has entered the Most Holy Place once and for all. So, let’s praise Him for His great sacrifice.
Hebrews 9:22 tell us that “without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin”. The slaughtering of sheep and goats on the altar symbolized the results of sin. An unmerciful death for innocent animals pointed forward to a coming substitute, the sinless “Lamb of God.” The Scriptures tell us that John the Baptist described Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). Peter said that the full weight of our sins fell upon Jesus (1 Peter 2:24).
The apostle Paul explained, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). My friend, we all have fallen in sin, but on the cross Jesus took the punishment for our sin upon Himself. He now offers eternal life to all who personally put their faith and trust in Him (John 3:1-16). Thus, the only way to approach God is on His terms. We must receive the forgiveness He offers to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. My question to you would be:
(1) Have you accepted Jesus, the Lamb of God, as your Savior from sin?
(2) If not, I would urge you to accept Him this very hour. Maybe He has been speaking to you, but you’ve been ignoring Him. The actual words you say to God to receive this gift may vary. What is important is that you believe Him enough to be able to say, “God, I know I have sinned against You. I believe that Jesus is Your Son, that He died for my sins, and that He rose from the dead to prove it. Now I accept Your offer of eternal life. I accept Jesus as Your gift for my salvation. If this is the honest expression of your heart, you have entered into a personal relationship with God!
I know I’m a sinner and Christ is my need;
His death is my ransom, no merit I plead.
His work is sufficient, on Him I believe;
I have life eternal when Him I receive … Anon
We are only saved by what Christ did, not by what we do