To appreciate the difference between the two covenants, their respective sanctuaries and divine services are compared. First the earthly sanctuary and the limitations of its divine services are reviewed (1-10); then the greater and more perfect heavenly sanctuary with emphasis on its better sacrifice, the blood of Christ Himself (11-28).
POINTS TO PONDER
* The symbolism of the earthly tabernacle and its divine services
* The superiority of the heavenly High Priest and His sacrifice
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
- The earthly sanctuary and its service - He 9:1-10
- The heavenly sanctuary and its sacrifice - He 9:11-28
2) Describe the two parts of the earthly tabernacle and what they contained (2-5)
- Holy place: lampstand, table of showbread, altar of incense (cf. Exo 30:1-7)
- Holiest of All: ark of the covenant, with the items in it, and the mercy seat
3) What were the limitations of the earthly tabernacle and its services? (9-10)
- Symbolic, and could not make one perfect in regard to the conscience
- Imposed only until the time of reformation
4) Of what was Christ the High Priest? (11,24)
- Of good things to come, of the greater and more perfect tabernacle (heaven)
5) What sacrifice did Jesus offer? (12,14)
- His own blood, offered without spot
6) What does the sacrifice of Christ accomplish? (12,14-15,26,28)
- Eternal redemption (even for transgressions under the first covenant)
- Cleansing consciences from dead works to serve the living God
- To put away sin, once and for all
7) When did the new covenant (testament) come into force? (15-17)
- Not until Jesus died on the cross
8) What is appointed for men? (27)
- To die once, and then the judgment
9) For whom will Christ appear a second time for salvation? (28)
- Those who eagerly wait for Him
The earthly sanctuary
[Heb 9:1-28 NKJV] 1 Then indeed, even the first [covenant] had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first [part], in which [was] the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which [were] the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
Limitations on the earthly sanctuary
6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest [went] alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and [for] the people's sins [committed] in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 It [was] symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience-- 10 [concerned] only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.
The heavenly sanctuary
11 But Christ came [as] High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
The mediator's death necessary
16 For where there [is] a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament [is] in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. 18 Therefore not even the first [covenant] was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, "This [is] the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you." 21 Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
Greatness of Christ's sacrifice
23 Therefore [it was] necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, [which are] copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another-- 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.