Study Notes

Hebrews 9:1-28


In the eighth chapter of the book of Hebrews, we saw a comparison between Jesus' ministry as the high priest in heaven and the high priests' ministry in the earthly tabernacle. The author made the point that the earthly tabernacle was just a copy, a shadow, of the temple in heaven.

This comparison also covered the old covenant under those Levite priests with the new covenant under Jesus' priesthood of Melchizedek.

As we begin chapter nine, the earthly and heavenly tabernacles and the old and new covenants are still the topics before us.

9:1-5 The Earthly Sanctuary

As we covered last week, the tabernacle on earth was a tent - a portable temple in which God met with His people. The tent had two rooms - the first room had the lampstand and the table of showbread, and was called the Holy Place.

Separating the two rooms was an altar of incense sitting in front of a veil. Behind the veil was the second room, called the Holy of Holies. This room housed the ark of the covenant, that golden box containing a jar of manna, Aaron's rod, and the Ten Commandments. The lid of the box, called the mercy seat, was solid gold. Sculpted upon it were two gold cherubim.

We have covered these things in depth during our previous studies, but, as the writer says, we don't have time to discuss these things in detail.

9:6-10 Once A Year

The priests went into the tabernacle every morning and evening to burn the incense on the altar and keep the oil lamp filled (Ex. 30:8). Every sabbath day, the priests changed out the bread (Lev. 24:8). They were in and out of the holy place all the time.

But the Holy of Holies, where the ark of the covenant sat, was only entered into once a year. And only the High Priest was allowed to do this, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Leviticus 16 gives the details for this annual event. Sin offerings and burnt offerings had to be made - first for himself, then for the people. A bull was killed for his sin offering, a ram for his burnt offering. Two goats were used as the people's sin offering and another ram for their burnt offering. Also, if anyone had come in contact with a corpse, they would be cleansed by the ashes of a red heifer.

The high priest would then take coals and two handfuls of incense from the altar in the Holy Place, and enter behind the veil. He burned the incense on the coals so that the smoke covered the mercy seat. Then he sprinkled the blood of the sacrifices on and in front of the mercy seat.

Not Yet Disclosed

In this ritual, the Holy Spirit was demonstrating that under this old covenant, the way to God was not yet open. An average, ordinary person couldn't approach God.

9:11-14 Christ Entered

Jesus entered the real Holy of Holies - standing before the very throne of God. But He did not enter in on the basis of bulls, rams, goats, and heifers being offered. He entered in by the offering of His own blood. He gave His own life by allowing Himself to be crucified on the cross. And when He ascended to heaven, He entered the real tabernacle, the perfect tabernacle, the heavenly tabernacle.

He, as our great High Priest, entered the true Holy of Holies.

The Blood Of Christ Cleanses Your Conscience

Now again, the author points out the superiority of this new covenant's sacrifice over the old covenant's sacrifices. The sacrifices of animals' blood couldn't do anything to cleanse a corrupt person's conscience. But when Christ shed His blood, He caused us to want to serve Him, to want to walk in repentance, to want to be close to Him, and to want to be imitators of Him.

Far superior to the outward cleansing that the people received on the Day of Atonement is the inward cleansing of our consciences we receive through Christ.

9:15-17 The Death Of The Covenant Maker

These verses can be a bit confusing. When we think of a covenant, we might think of stipulations that have been placed upon the land and houses we buy. You can't turn your yard into a dump, you can't raise sheep in your house, that kind of thing. If you've lived in a community with very strict covenants, maybe you actually wished for the death of the one who made them!

But the covenants we're talking about here are promises that have been made - covenants of inheritance. You'd do well to think of them as a will.

In fact, the New Living Translation of the Bible renders these verses,

Hebr. 9:16-17 (NLT) Now when someone dies and leaves a will, no one gets anything until it is proved that the person who wrote the will is dead. The will goes into effect only after the death of the person who wrote it. While the person is still alive, no one can use the will to get any of the things promised to them.

It would be quite difficult to try and enforce the terms of a will while the person was still alive! But since Jesus died, the covenant is in force.

9:18-20 Inaugurated With Blood

When God put the first covenant into effect, He made a promise to the people of Israel: If they obeyed, they would receive a blessed inheritance. To solidify the deal, Moses had them agree to it over the blood of a sacrifice.

Exod. 24:4-8 And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood and put {it} in basins, and the {other} half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant and read {it} in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!" So Moses took the blood and sprinkled {it} on the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words."

The first covenant was signed in blood, as it were.

9:21-22 There Is No Forgiveness

As we have seen in numerous examples in this chapter, almost everything to be cleansed was cleansed by blood. This followed the standard that God had set early on: without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

After God created the world, He told Adam, the first man, that the only rule was not to eat the fruit of a certain tree.

Gen. 2:19-20 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought {them} to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field...

Adam was hanging out with the animals - he had given each one of them names. Then God created Eve. Eve wasn't too hip on following the rule that God made, and she ate from the forbidden tree. Then she gave it to Adam and he also ate.

Gen. 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

They had sinned, and did what most religious people do. Tried to cover it up with the works of their own hands. But that was insufficient. We cannot cover our sin. Only by blood can sin be dealt with. And so we see that...

Gen. 3:21 ...the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

God killed an animal to properly cover their sin. It was only by the shedding of that animal's blood that they could be covered, that their transgression could be forgiven.

9:23-26 One Sacrifice

If the earthly tabernacle had to be cleansed with animal's blood, how much more did the heavenly tabernacle need a better sacrifice? The blood of Jesus was the acceptable offering.

Unlike the sacrifices made by the Levite priests, which had to be made year after year, Jesus' sacrifice was only necessary once.

9:27-28 Death, Then Judgment

So Christ died once, as we all will.

Now don't miss the truth of verse 27:

Hebr. 9:27 is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment

It has been established that people have a sin problem. And that sin must be dealt with for people to be able to enter God's presence. As God has said,

Ezek. 18:4 "...The soul who sins will die."

When we die, we will stand before God for judgment. If our sin has not been dealt with, we will be eternally separated from God in hell.

As you have learned, sin can only be dealt with by blood. Jesus Christ offered His life and blood for you to be forgiven.

If you receive that gift, He will cleanse your conscience and give you new life. You will have a promise of eternal life in heaven. As the Bible says,

Acts 10:43 "...everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."