The Heartbeat of Hebrews

By Blake E. Jones

Chapter 9


The Old Testament Tabernacle and Ministry (9:1-10)

I. The Tabernacle Pattern (9:1-5)

1. Then verily the first [covenant] had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein [was] the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.

3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein [was] the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

The pattern of the tabernacle set apart two enclosures that were separated by what the writer calls the second veil. The Holy Place was in daily use and housed most of the holy furniture. The table of shewbread on the right held twelve loaves called the "bread of Presence". On the left was the golden candlestick which was used to light the sanctuary at night. Just before the veil was the altar of incense from which the sweet fragrance arose. This seemed to represent the prayers of God's people which filtered into the presence of the Holy God. Beyond the veil was the "Holiest of All" --God's dwelling place. Here the ark of the covenant was placed and its cover, called the mercy seat. The writer of Hebrews mentions a "golden censer" as part of the furnishings of this cube-like room. Some feel that it was the censer used yearly by the high priest and left just within the veil so that he might grasp it by simply reaching under the curtain. Others are convinced that it was the altar of incense to which reference is made. These suggest that the fact of it being before the mercy seat is all that is really being stated.

An interesting note is made in the book entitled, Exploring the Old Testament, and reads as follows: "The furniture in the entire Tabernacle was arranged in the form of a cross, which seemed to cast its shadow backward through the veil".1

II. The Tabernacle Ministry (9:6-7)

6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service [of God].

7 But into the second [went] the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and [for] the errors of the people:

Even though the tabernacle service was elementary in the sense that it was to give way to the better covenant and true heavenly ministry; it was, none the less, a most hallowed and sacred performance. It drew its sacredness from the fact that God had ordained it, and from the glory of what it prefigured of the heavenly sanctuary. Thus it was that the priest went daily into the Holy Place to perform the daily ministration. Once every year, the high priest entered through the veil into the very Holy of Holies. Note the Scripture's emphasis on the phrase "not without blood". This was the priest's "pass" into the Shekinah presence of God. To enter otherwise would have been death. This blood was a sin offering for the sins of the priest and the people that he represented.

III. The Holy Spirit Expresses Significance (9:8-10)

8. The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

9 Which [was] a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

10 [Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed [on them] until the time of reformation.

Dear Hebrews, can you not see that the Old Testament system was not God's final plan for His people? Do you not recognize that it did not give the common man access to God? The Holy Spirit "was showing us that we could not truly come to God through the old sacrifices. The way to God is through Christ."2 The whole system could not make man "perfect, as pertaining to the conscience". For the most part, there did not seem to be a clear, assuring witness of forgiveness. To what extent their faith grasped the sacrificial death of a future Lamb, we do not know. Yet, there had to be a certain level of faith involved to participate in such a ministry, otherwise it would be cast off as a pretentious and useless superstition. By faith, the Jews obediently carried out these "carnal ordinances" expecting expiation for their sins. It was, however, only in the fact of Christ's coming and the shedding of His blood, that their faith found fruition.

This series of washings, offerings, gifts and sacrifices was obligatory until the time of the "reformation" as the King James version translates it. Adam Clark suggests that this means the "time of rectifying...the Gospel dispensation, under which everything is set straight; everything referred to its proper purpose and end; ...the spiritual nature of God's worship taught, and grace promised to purify the heart; so that, through the power of the eternal Spirit, all that was wrong in the soul is rectified; the affection, passions, and appetites purified; the understanding enlightened; the judgment corrected; the will refined; in a word, all things made new."3 Mr. Lenski translates this reformation the "period of the right order"4 at which time the Old Testament ministry of ceremonies and rituals would no longer be binding.

The Blood of the Testator (9:11-28)

The Christian religion has been ridiculed and scorned as a bloody religion. It must be clearly understood, however, that we are not merely stressing the gory, stomach turning part of this; but the merit of One's death blood, in our place, as our substitute. "Although references to the shed blood of Jesus Christ are graphic descriptions of His death, one must wonder why the Good News for Modern Man (Today's English Version) substituted the word "death" for "blood" thirty-eight times in the New Testament. Was it to avoid the reproach of having a "bloody religion"?5 asks Vic Reasoner. To the Christian, the blood of Jesus Christ is a most hallowed thing and calls forth a great and solemn veneration. No doubt, in this supposedly sophisticated, learned, and cultured day, the blood of Christ has been too well ignored and too little extolled in preaching, in teaching and in practical evangelical application and worship.

I. Better Blood (9:11-14)

11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us].

13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to 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, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

At the very outset of this study, it should be recognized that the blood of "goats and calves" does not possess any redemptive merit and can in no way expiate sin's guilt and punishment. If that were not so, then perhaps Satanic rituals of cat killing, human sacrifice, and drinking blood might offer some hope. That is as absurd as it is horrifying. The blood of an animal or a human is powerless to win favour before God. No human could sacrifice himself and expect that, having bled to death, he would find appeasement before God.

Old Testament sacrificial blood did not offer pardon to the penitent by virtue of the efficacy of that animal blood. As has been discussed under verses 8 - 10, it was their obedience in faith that wrought merit to the shedding of blood. That faith, whatever their minds grasped of the future Saviour, was founded in God's provision. God provided a sacrificial covenant that actually found its strength in a future event; that being the shedding of the blood of the Son of God. So it was, as we were told in Bible School, "the New was in the Old concealed and the Old was in the New revealed".

Verse 13 presents the inferior statement of contrast. The blood and ashes of animals provided, at least, a ceremonial purification for physical or fleshly defilement. All of this ceremony only set the stage for the enormous, contradistinction between the blood of animals and the blood of Christ.

Because our Saviour was the spotless, sinless Son of God, His blood could be shed without involving a hint of personal judgment or just retribution. In short, Jesus was not getting what He deserved. His blood claims merit by the very fact that it is divine blood. Thus, it can accomplish what otherwise would have been a futile speculation.

The blood of Christ can perform an inner spiritual purging. It can deal, first of all, with the conscience or awareness of guilt and pending condemnation. The conscience of a burdened, convicted, guilty soul can be set at ease and, as far as eternal damnation and the wrath of God are concerned, it can be wiped clean. This we call being "saved". Keeping God's law is not merely the observance of rules upon rules with no inner compulsion of power to obedient adherence. That is Old Testament religion. Some laws were tenaciously and fiercely clung to, while others seemed to be out of the grasp of willing, heartfelt obedience. What was adhered to was merely "dead works" that lacked the power of Holy Ghost enabling. They lacked the power of the Gospel. John makes this clear when he writes, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and His commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:3) We now serve our great Emancipator because we love Him. This is New Testament religion! Beyond this, the blood of Christ can cleanse the heart from the consciousness of sin. That is a purging from the defilement that brought us to sinful deeds and a burdened conscience in the first place. Where the conviction of need and the consciousness of defilement reigns, the Holy Spirit can apply the blood of Christ to effect a perfect purifying of the soul.

Who, but those who have not tasted the "good things to come" of verse 11, could deny that the blood of Jesus is "better" blood?

II. Testament Blood (9:15-17)

15. And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions [that were] under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

16 For where a testament [is], there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

17 For a testament [is] of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

First, it should be noted that the word translated "testament" in these verses is the same word we have been noticing earlier translated as "covenant". It appears that with reference to the death of the covenant maker, we are now using "testament" to aid our grasp.

No will or testament is valid and able to be enforced until the death of the will (or covenant) maker. A promise had been made to human kind, that better things were in store involving moral, spiritual verities. None of that could be accomplished, however, until Jesus shed His blood and died as the will maker or testator. Thus we understand that Christ's death validated His will and testament as efficacious, meritorious and supernaturally powerful. To us, it opened our inheritance in the Gospel. A beautiful inclusion is made in verse 15 that speaks volumes, both of the great mercy of God and also of the immensity of His power and the broad scope of this testament blood. It is clearly stated that, in the death and shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ, sins committed beforehand by Old Testament people of faith were amply pardoned and atoned for since their embracing of the old covenant, in faithful obedience, had reached forward to Christ's testament blood. Adam Clarke says, "The death of Jesus had respect to all the time antecedent to it, as well as to all the time afterward till the conclusion of the world".6

III. Dedicatory Blood (9:18-23)

18 Whereupon neither the first [testament] 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 of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,

20 Saying, This [is] the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.

21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.

22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

23. [It was] therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

The access to God's presence, the pass into the Holy of Holies, was blood. It was used to set apart and purify the tabernacle, its vessels and furnishings and the priest that was approaching God's glory. Blood must be shed for sins to be remitted.

When the true and real system came into fruition, blood was the basis upon which the heavenly sanctuary was opened to sinful man. This time, however, animal blood would not do. It would be meaningless and obnoxious. It was with better blood, testament blood, that a way into God's presence was dedicated and a pass offered to repentant sinners to come and come confidently. More will be seen of this in the next chapter.

IV. Consummating Blood (9:24-26)

24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, [which are] the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

The sacrificial death of Christ consummated all the blood sacrifices of all time. It was the perfect completion of atonement offerings and the very crown of thousands upon thousands of previous blood gifts. It was also the final sacrifice, for never again would it be necessary for Jesus to die. His blood was final, conclusive and consummate.

To the fact of its finality, verse 26 points out that the blood of Christ is effectual in making a final death stoke to sin. Not only can sin's guilt and record be "put away", but sin, the nature itself, can be given a death blow in the heart of the believer. As Dr. Yocum put it in his preaching, this was no mere "bandage" for the sin problem; this was God's plan from 'the foundation of the world" to provide a cure, a remedy for sin.

V. Promising Blood (9:27-28)

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Through the blood of Jesus Christ, salvation can replace the judgment of God's wrath. For those who have embraced by faith the grace offered through Christ's sacrificial death, He will "appear the second time" to claim His own. The writer is saying that when our Lord returns, it will not be to make another offering for sin. No, it will be "apart from sin" (NKJ) that he comes; and this time to usher in final salvation of those who have embraced the promise of His blood.

With Mrs. C. H. Morris we would sing:

"Hallelujah for the Blood, for the sin cleansing fountain,
For the Lamb has been slain, and the ransom price paid.
Fully cancelled was the debt when on Calvary's mountain
All the sins of this world upon Jesus were laid.

Hallelujah for the Blood! Sing for joy all ye nations,
And rejoice that the work of redemption is done.
Here is pardon free for all, and a perfect salvation
Thro' the sin-cleansing blood of the Crucified One.

Hallelujah for the Blood! Hallelujah forever!
We shall sing it anew in the kingdom of God,
Where the anthems of delight shall be silent, no, never,
Evermore hallelujah for Christ and the Blood.

There was no arm to save, there was no eye to pity,
Until Jesus, our Saviour, from glory came down.
He was mighty to save; He was strong to deliver.
He has brought us salvation, a robe and a crown.
Hallelujah, hallelujah! Sing the triumphant strain.
Hallelujah for the Blood, and the Lamb that was slain."7

End Notes

1. W. T. Purkiser, Ed., Exploring The Old Testament, (Kansas City, MO.: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1955) p. 127.

2. Albert Harper, Gen. Ed., The Wesley Bible, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers,1990) p. 1854.

3. Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, (Nashville, New York: Abingdon Press) Vol. VI, p. 746.

4. R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Epistle of James, (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966) p. 281.

5. Vic Reasoner, Ray Crooks, Ed., Adult Teacher's Insights, Studies in Hebrew, (Overland Park, Kansas: Herald and Banner Press, 1992) Vol. 15, No. 3, p. 64.

6. Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, (Nashville, New York: Abingdon Press) Vol. VI, p. 747.

7. Mrs. C. H. Morris, Praise and Worship Hymnal, (Kansas City, Missouri: Lillenas Publishing Co., n.d.) pp. 405-406.