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Hebrews 9a

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Hebrews 9:1-5… Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For 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. 3 Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, 4 having 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; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

Commentary

The old covenant had regulations for worship. It took place inside a man-made portable tabernacle (later a Temple) which was temporary. Bezalel and Oholiab, mere men, gifted by God, constructed the tabernacle and its furnishings (Ex. 35-36) using earthly materials. Because it was man-made it required general upkeep and repair. It was also limited to one location at a time, and it belonged to the nation of Israel specifically, not to the entire world.

The tabernacle itself and all of its furnishings were pictures of Jesus Christ. First, there was the Holy Place within the tabernacle where the seven-branched golden candlestick (Ex. 25:31-40; 27:20-21; 37:17-24) or “lampstand” (Menorah) stood. Its light was produced by the burning of wicks in oil. Of course this gave light to the room since there were no windows in the tabernacle. The significance of this is that whereas Israel was supposed to be a light to the nations (Isa. 42:6; 49:6), Jesus Christ is the “Light of the world” (John 8:12). And His children (Christians) are to shine as lights in “this present darkness” (Eph. 6:12; Phil. 2:14-15).

Also in the holy place was the table of showbread which contained 12 loaves of bread eatable only to the priests (Ex. 25:23-30; 37:10-16; Lev. 24:5-9). Every Sabbath the priests would replace the “bread of the presence” with new loaves, and the old loaves would be eaten. The bread was a reminder to the 12 tribes of Israel that God was with them, sustaining them each day. But it too was a picture of Jesus Christ who is the “Bread of Life” given not just to Israel but to the whole world (John 6). Those who partake of Christ daily have His daily sustenance.

The next room inside the tabernacle was the Holy of Holies which contained only one article: the ark of the covenant. On the top of was the “mercy seat” made of gold with a cherub at each end. This was the throne of God in the tabernacle (Ex. 25:10-22; Pss. 80:1; 99:1). On the Day of Atonement, the blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat which covered the tablets of Law within the ark. So instead of God seeing His Laws broken, He saw blood covering it. This too is a picture of Christ, the “mercy seat” for believers, but instead of his blood merely covering sin, it takes it away completely. Truly, his blood was a “propitiation” (1 John 2:2; Rom. 3:25) for sin.

Verse 4 implies that the “golden altar” was also inside the Holy of Holies, but its ministry only pertained to the Holy of Holies, for it was clearly set in the Holy Place (Ex. 30:6). On the Day of Atonement the high priest used coals from this altar to burn incense before the mercy seat (Lev. 16:12-14; cf. Ex. 40:5; 1 Kings 6:22). Each morning and evening, a priest burned incense on this altar showing it to be a picture of prayer ascending to God (cf. Ps. 141:2). Pertaining to Jesus Christ it serves as a picture of Christ daily interceding for believers (Rom. 8:33-34).

Food for Thought

            If you know Jesus Christ as Lord then you can share the gospel message using any book of the Bible. To know Christ personally is to be able to read Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers and actually be excited about it! They are pictures of Christ. Sadly, orthodox Jews today have fixated on the pictures and shadows of Christ refusing to gaze upon the man Himself. But he has come!

Hebrews 9:6-7… Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, 7 but 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.

Commentary

The priests in Israel worked ceaselessly offering blood sacrifices on the altar, replacing the showbread weekly, keeping the light burning on the lampstand, and offering incense twice a day on the altar of incense. These duties were merely a picture Christ. Contrary to their ceaseless works, Christ made one sacrifice for sin for all people on the cross. He is the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5) who never needs oil like the lampstand. He is the bread of life (John 6) who feeds spiritually without ever getting old. And he is a continual incense, offering up prayers on our behalf (Rom. 8:34) while sitting at the right hand of the Father having completed his work.

The priests work in the tabernacle typified Christ’s work which fulfilled all things. Their duties occurred in the Holy Place, but in the Holy of Holies only the high priest entered, and that only once per year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kip­pur). This was a room separated from the Holy Place by a thick veil, and the only way into it was through the Holy Place. The tabernacle itself symbolized the restricted access man had to God in the old covenant. And the veil proved that only one man (the high priest) could come to God on man’s behalf. When the new covenant came the old order had to change. And since Jesus Christ is the “mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises” (8:6), it is clear that the old order is obsolete (8:13). Now Jesus is the Holy Place, as it were, who is the only way into the presence of God. And when he died on the cross the veil in the temple was torn in two (Mark 15:37-38) showing that access to God was to be enjoyed by all – not just Israel – who would come to him and believe in him for salvation.

The high priest on Yom Kippur, being a sinner himself, would first atone for his own sins with the blood of a bull, then he took two goats and cast lots for them. The first goat would be offered as a blood sacrifice to God for the sins of the people on the bronze altar. The priest would then go back into the Holy of Holies a second time to sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat (lid of the ark). The second goat was the scapegoat, the one which would symbolically carry the sins of the people out into the wilderness never to return. The first goat was offered as a satisfaction of God’s justice; the second goat, the scapegoat, freed the guilty consciences of the Israelites.

In the old covenant when an Israelite sinned his fellowship with God was broken. To restore that relationship with God he had to bring a blood sacrifice. Now there were many sins that were forgotten which would pile up over time without any sacrifice being made. So, for God-fearing Jews Yom Kippur served as an avenue to ease their guilty consciences. It was an annual day where the high priest offered a sacrifice for all sins committed in ignorance. What Yom Kippur did not do, however, because it was merely an avenue for the forgiveness of sins committed in ignorance, was to clear the guilty consciences of those who had sinned willfully.

Food for Thought

            Under God’s old order sins committed willfully and rebelliously could not be forgiven. There were no sacrifices given for intentional sins, and many were overcome with remorse for their rebellion having guilty consciences which nagged at them continually. This is another reason why Christ is better than the old covenant. God is merciful through Jesus Christ, and when we truly receive His mercy and grace we find the peace that passes all understanding. Any religion of works to gain forgiveness is inferior because Christ grants it by grace through faith.

Hebrews 9:8-10… By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. (ESV)

Commentary

The old tabernacle and all of its services were used as an illustration whereby the Holy Spirit would teach those who could understand, and the Spirit was teaching at least three things. First, the worship of God in the old covenant was limited because no one could approach Him. Even the priests could only go so far. Second, the Spirit indicates that the cleansing achieved by the old sacrifices was a deficient cleansing. The guilty consciences of those who had sinned willfully were never truly eased. Third, the Spirit indicates that the old order was temporary, for the daily and annual sacrifices had to be repeated regularly. The New Covenant, however, accomplished the ability for all worshippers to come to the very throne of grace for mercy and forgiveness, a clear conscience, and a once-for-all sacrifice. Now that’s a superior covenant!

As long as the tabernacle (or Temple) still functioned as an avenue in the minds of the people to come before God there could be no true access to God. The common people could not even enter the Holy Place and certainly not the Holy of Holies. So too, in the modern day there is no access to God without a Savior – a Mediator (whose name happens to be Jesus Christ!). To be sure, when the writer penned Hebrews the Temple had indeed replaced the tabernacle, and it was still functioning in Jerusalem with a priesthood which mediated for the Jews (destroyed only a few years later however). Only Jesus can take people into the presence of God.

The writer said the tabernacle was merely a “symbol” for the present age. This “symbol” is meant to draw a comparison of two things: the old and the new. The old sacrifices made in the tabernacle were unable to “perfect the conscience of the worshiper” (v. 9). As such, their guilt was never truly removed, and the cleansing of the sacrifice was merely external and needing to be repeated annually. The New Covenant, however, was an internal change of the heart done by God and accomplished through the Savior one time and for all nations. In this, God promised to write His Law on hearts of flesh as opposed to tablets of stone (8:8-12).

Truly the old covenant not only prevented Israel from approaching God to worship Him personally, it also merely provided imperfect and temporary cleansing of sins. The gifts and sacrifices offered to the priests by the people to be given to God were only drink offerings, food offerings, and various washings of the body – all external offerings and all temporary in their effect. This is akin to modern worshippers who can only give outward worship by giving money and/or food to the poor and being baptized. Some actually think this makes them Christians!

But God’s regulations for worship in the old covenant were temporary until the “time of reformation” which means “to make right,” and the New Covenant does just that. Whereas the old covenant was incapable of making man right with God, the new one reformed man from the inside out. Now he can worship God face to face and enjoy His once for all sacrifice for eternity.

Food for Thought

            Today’s “regulations for divine worship” (9:1) require us to recognize Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, first and foremost. Apart from him there is no true worship of God. And because Jesus accomplished was we could not and did all the work, our worship entails works that simply praise God for His free gift. Doing works to gain salvation are inferior. He did that!

Hebrews 9:11-14… But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this world; 12 and 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. 13 For 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, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who offered himself through the Spirit without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Commentary

The tabernacle and all of the ministries was a symbol for comparing the new and old covenants. The author of Hebrews has accurately taught about the tabernacle and the priests, so he concludes once again by showing how Christ is superior to the old order. The old symbols accomplished an external and temporary purpose, and it was good. But its goodness clearly pales in comparison to the greatness of the new covenant in Jesus Christ.

The New Covenant in Christ ushered in three superior things in vv. 11-14. First, the new holy place (v. 11). The old Holy Place in the tabernacle was man-made with earthly materials, and it was the pathway to God in the Holy of Holies. But Christ’s sanctuary – his Holy Place – is heaven which is THE dwelling place of God (Acts 7:48-50; 17:24). The old covenant priests went into the Holy Place for the people but not with the people. Christ, however, takes his children with him all the way into heaven into the real presence of God. Ephesians 2:4-6 reveals that believers in Christ have already been taken to heaven, for at the time of belief they were raised with Christ and ushered into the Father’s presence. Spiritually speaking, believers already live with God, for their citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), and there they will live eternally.

Second, there is the new ministry (v. 12). The old ministry concerned the sacrifice of animals through the shedding of their blood to atone for sins. God had graciously allowed man to have fellowship with Him when he sinned through the shedding of blood – the blood of animals. But Jesus, as the Lamb of God, shed his own blood. In this sense the Sacrificer was the Sacrifice! And contrary to the repetitive nature of having to sacrifice animals daily and annually to atone for sins, because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice he sacrificed himself once and for all obtaining eternal redemption as opposed to temporary atonement. Redemption can mean to either free or release by paying a ransom price, or it can refer to the act of buying something back by paying a ransom price. Man was locked in sin and held captive to it, so Christ paid the price needed to free him from the penalty of sin. He did this not with an animal sacrifice but with his own blood.

Third, there is the new meaning (vv. 13-14). The old covenant sacrifices cleansed the external part of a sinner through the shedding of animal blood. But animal blood could not bring forgiveness of sins. God, however, allowed that ordinance to atone briefly for sins and point to a better sacrifice with a new significance. The perfection of Christ (Heb. 5:8-9) qualified him as the perfect sacrifice. No animal could do that! And it was his blood, offered to God through the Holy Spirit (v. 14) – unlike the human high priest who offered goat blood on the altar – that cleanses the guilty consciences of sinners from dead works to serve the Living God.

Food for Thought

            As Christians our sins ought to tug at our consciences. And no good work should be able to make us feel better. It is only our reliance upon the shed blood of Christ that is able to ease our consciences. The old order of dead works is inferior, so if you’re relying upon good works to make you right with God, then you’re no different than the deluded audience Hebrews addresses.

·         Brad Batt story/Rick Warren story… When did relevancy get on par with being biblical?

o   We’re commanded to be biblical, which makes it relevant.

o   The problem of bringing God to us instead of us coming to God (repentance)

o   We have become friends with the world

·         Knowing Christ through the Scriptures is superior to loud songs/watered down theology

·         Guilty conscience eased through feel-good churches like Yom Kippur; but inferior

 

Hebrews 9:1-5…

·         Evangelism using any book of the Bible

 

Hebrews 9:6-7…

·         This old covenant had to change… Jesus the “mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises” (8:6), it is clear that the old order is obsolete (8:13).

·         Guilty consciences not eased under old covenant

 

Hebrews 9:8-10…

·         The Holy Spirit would teach those who could understand

o   First, the worship of God was limited because no one could approach Him.

o   Second the cleansing achieved by the old sacrifices was a deficient cleansing.

o   Third old order was temporary – sacrifices had to be repeated regularly.

o   There is no access to God without a Savior – a Mediator

·         “symbol” is meant to draw a comparison between old and new:

o   Old… guilt was never truly removed; external cleansing (outward gifts; baptism)

o   New… guilt removed eternally; internal change of the heart done by God.

·         “Regulations for divine worship”… recognize Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior

o   no true worship of God apart from him

o   Offering bodies as living sacrifices

 

Hebrews 9:11-14…

·         The New Covenant in Christ ushered in three superior things:

o   A new holy place (v. 11).

§  Christ takes his children into the real presence of God (cf. Eph. 2:4-6)

§  Believers already live with God; heavenly citizenship (Phil. 3:20)

o   The new ministry (v. 12).

§  Man was locked in sin and held captive to sin; Christ freed him.

o   The new meaning (vv. 13-14).

§  The old covenant sacrifices cleansed the external giving temp. atonement

§  The perfection of Christ (Heb. 5:8-9) qualified him as the perfect sacrifice.

§  Cleanses the guilty consciences

·         Ex. 3:5 Josh. 5:15… the area of God is holy, the ground where He stands.

·         Ex. 15:11… none is like Him, awesome and majestic in holiness

·         Deut. 32:4… a God of faithfulness and justice, standing upright

·         1 Sam. 2:2… No one is like Him

·         1 Sam. 6:20… None can stand before God

·         Ezek. 36:20… His name cannot be slandered for fear of judgment

·         Hab. 1:12… from everlasting to everlasting

·         Rev. 15:4… all nations will come and worship before Him

Extra Notes:

·         Brad Batt story/Rick Warren story… When did relevancy get on par with being biblical? Preaching the Word “in season and out of season” means to preach it when it’s popular or unpopular – seemingly relevant or irrelevant. We are commanded to be biblical, and being biblical in and of itself is relevant. It may not be relevant to the life we’ve made for ourselves, but being biblical is relevant to being godly! The lives we’ve made for ourselves are not the lives God intended for us to have. We have become friends with this world, and we are trying to make God relevant to our world. It doesn’t work! It can never work! God is who He is, and He desires for us to be relevant to Him. We have reversed the order and tried to make Him relevant to us.

·         Just like the Jews of Hebrews were warned of the inferiority of moving back into Judaism, today we warn about the inferiority of the Seeker Church. Knowing Christ through the Scriptures is superior to singing songs together and learning all the “how to’s” the Seeker movement espouses. Why opt for emotional loud music that promotes God as your friend over orthodox songs to and about as our Sovereign Savior who is a Holy and Consuming Fire? Why opt for “How to be happy in your marriage” in favor of the rich nutrients of God’s Word which reveal more and more of Christ’s superiority? (and which promotes happy marriages anyway).

·         Unregenerate Jews came to the annual Day of Atonement in much the same way that unregenerate Gentiles flood the seeker churches today. The Atonement day helped them with their guilty consciences making them believe that God accepted them based on their participation in the ceremony. People today flood the seeker churches because it makes them feel good and gives them a false assurance that they have somehow done God a favor. The difference is that the high priest never gave the Jews assurance that their willful sins were forgiven. Because of this many Jews never had their guilty consciences relieved. Many of today’s preachers, however, attempt to bring God to lost people and make them believe that He doesn’t judge and that all are acceptable in His sight. And many of them sleep well at night because of this even though their lives are full of sin and rebellion against the True God who will indeed judge them for their unbelieving and wicked ways.

·          

·         Ex. 3:5 Josh. 5:15… the area of God is holy, the ground where He stands.

·         Ex. 15:11… none is like Him, awesome and majestic in holiness

·         Deut. 32:4… a God of faithfulness and justice, standing upright

·         1 Sam. 2:2… No one is like Him

·         1 Sam. 6:20… None can stand before God

·         Ezek. 36:20… His name cannot be slandered for fear of judgment

·         Hab. 1:12… from everlasting to everlasting

·         Rev. 15:4… all nations will come and worship before Him

The holiness of God is set before us in the Scriptures as of great practical consequence. (1) It is the special ground of reverence, awe, and adoration (Ps 71:22; 111:9; Isa 6:3; etc.). (2) It is the standard of all holiness (Matt 5:48; 1 Peter 1:6; etc.). (3) It implies necessarily the divine opposition to, and condemnation of, all sin (Hab 1:13; 1 Sam 6:20; Isa 6:5; etc.). (4) The contemplation of this attribute is accordingly peculiarly adapted to awaken or deepen human consciousness of sin. See Scriptures above referred to. (5) It is revealed to men, nevertheless, as setting before them the highest end of their aspiration, hope, and endeavor (Ex 19:6; Lev 20:7; Heb 12:1; 1 Peter 1:16).

Like Christ:

·         Once the atoning sacrifice had been made, he put his priestly attire back on.

·         In taking off his priestly clothes the high priest pictured Christ, who, in his true and perfect work of atonement, stripped off all His glory and beauty and became the humblest of the humble. He dressed Himself in human flesh, pure but plain and unadorned.

·         picturing still further the work of our Lord. In His high priestly prayer, anticipating what would happen after the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus said, "And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (John 17:5). He was saying in effect, "Give Me back My robes. I've done the job of atonement. My work of humility is over."

·         The two goats actually are two parts of one offering. “And he shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering” (Lev. 16:5). They represented propitiation and pardon, two aspects of the one atoning sacrifice.

Εἶχε μὲν οὖν [καὶ] πρώτη δικαιώματα λατρείας τό τε ἅγιον κοσμικόν.

2 σκηνὴ γὰρ κατεσκευάσθη πρώτη ἐν τε λυχνία καὶ τράπεζα καὶ

πρόθεσις τῶν ἄρτων, ἥτις λέγεται Ἅγια· 3 μετὰ δὲ τὸ δεύτερον

καταπέτασμα σκηνὴ λεγομένη Ἅγια Ἁγίων, 4 χρυσοῦν ἔχουσα

θυμιατήριον καὶ τὴν κιβωτὸν τῆς διαθήκης περικεκαλυμμένην

πάντοθεν χρυσίῳ, ἐν στάμνος χρυσῆ ἔχουσα τὸ μάννα καὶ ῥάβδος

Ἀαρὼν βλαστήσασα καὶ αἱ πλάκες τῆς διαθήκης, 5 ὑπεράνω δὲ αὐτῆς

Χερουβὶν δόξης κατασκιάζοντα τὸ ἱλαστήριον· περὶ ὧν οὐκ ἔστιν νῦν

λέγειν κατὰ μέρος. 6 Τούτων δὲ οὕτως κατεσκευασμένων εἰς μὲν τὴν

πρώτην σκηνὴν διὰ παντὸς εἰσίασιν οἱ ἱερεῖς τὰς λατρείας

ἐπιτελοῦντες, 7 εἰς δὲ τὴν δευτέραν ἅπαξ τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ μόνος

ἀρχιερεύς, οὐ χωρὶς αἵματος προσφέρει ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῶν τοῦ

λαοῦ ἀγνοημάτων, 8 τοῦτο δηλοῦντος τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἁγίου, μήπω

πεφανερῶσθαι τὴν τῶν ἁγίων ὁδὸν ἔτι τῆς πρώτης σκηνῆς ἐχούσης

στάσιν, 9 ἥτις παραβολὴ εἰς τὸν καιρὸν τὸν ἐνεστηκότα, καθʼ ἣν δῶρά

τε καὶ θυσίαι προσφέρονται μὴ δυνάμεναι κατὰ συνείδησιν τελειῶσαι

τὸν λατρεύοντα, 10 μόνον ἐπὶ βρώμασιν καὶ πόμασιν καὶ διαφόροις

βαπτισμοῖς, δικαιώματα σαρκὸς μέχρι καιροῦ διορθώσεως ἐπικείμενα.

11 Χριστὸς δὲ παραγενόμενος ἀρχιερεὺς τῶν γενομένων ἀγαθῶν διὰ τῆς

μείζονος καὶ τελειοτέρας σκηνῆς οὐ χειροποιήτου, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν οὐ

ταύτης τῆς κτίσεως, 12 οὐδὲ διʼ αἵματος τράγων καὶ μόσχων διὰ δὲ τοῦ

ἰδίου αἵματος εἰσῆλθεν ἐφάπαξ εἰς τὰ ἅγια αἰωνίαν λύτρωσιν

εὑράμενος. 13 εἰ γὰρ τὸ αἷμα τράγων καὶ ταύρων καὶ σποδὸς δαμάλεως

ῥαντίζουσα τοὺς κεκοινωμένους ἁγιάζει πρὸς τὴν τῆς σαρκὸς

καθαρότητα, 14 πόσῳ μᾶλλον τὸ αἷμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὃς διὰ πνεύματος

αἰωνίου ἑαυτὸν προσήνεγκεν ἄμωμον τῷ θεῷ, καθαριεῖ τὴν συνείδησιν

ἡμῶν ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ἔργων εἰς τὸ λατρεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι.

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