1. A Greater Sanctuary (Heb 9:1-12) – the ‘New Covenant’ creates an international church unlike the temple that served the ‘Old Covenant’. ‘The great high priest has come’ and with him a ‘reformation’ of the old has occurred and, as part of this, there is a ‘greater and more perfect tabernacle.’
a. The Earthly Sanctuary and Its Services (Heb 9:1-10)
i. The earthly sanctuary described in v. 2-5 by reference to its two main parts: the outer tent and the Holy of Holies, and by a list of the sacred furniture in each.
ii. The author wants to show that the things in the earthly tabernacle are a ‘parable’, ‘example’, and ‘shadow’. The persons, objects, and events in the OC represent the higher truths and glories of the NC.
iii. He wants to draw our attention to what occurred in the sanctuary and not the sanctuary itself to highlight what did not, and could not, go on there. Don’t obsess over furniture but the function God meant to signify by function.
iv. The Holy Spirit was teaching something by means of the earthly sanctuary and its services as long as they had divine validity. That validity was withdrawn when the veil was rent at the death of Christ and the separation between outer and inner was broken. At the death of Christ, lesson time was concluded. The Spirit teaches by types and shadows but only up to the era of fulfillment.
v. The Holy Spirit was teaching by the layout and services of the earthly sanctuary: ‘the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as that first section is still standing…” v.8
1. There is no way into the Holiest by the OC – it was not yet open to all.
2. The sacrificial system did not ever have within itself the power to cleanse the defiled conscience of the sinner. It was imperfect (v. 9), could not cleanse (7:11, 19 and 10:13), and was impermanent (v.10)
3. It conveyed that there was a better way to come.
b. The Heavenly Sanctuary and Its Services (Heb 9:11-12)
i. These verses describe the phrase ‘a time of reformation’ in verse 10.
ii. The coming of Christ introduced an immense change – it might seem more like a revolution than a reformation (and seemed so to unbelieving Jews). Even the early Church thought the change radical (reaction to Cornelius in Acts 10:15, 44-45; 11:1-20). The first major council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-29) was conducted in order to prevent a breach in fellowship between Jew and Gentile.
iii. The verses speak of the Lord as having gone through his tent into heaven. Good things have come and are to come because, having offered his own blood as a sacrifice for sin, the High Priest has obtained eternal redemption. Through him heaven has come down to earth and his people worship in him.
2. A Better Sacrifice (Heb 9:13-28) – the uniqueness of Christ’s sacrifice is in view here.
a. Greater Efficacy (Heb 9:13-14) ‘For if…how much more’ (lesser to greater) the effect of the blood of Christ is so much greater than that of bulls and goats and no less certain. Each death does something but only what it was appointed and suitable to do. The blood of animals cleansed physically and socially but Christ’s cleanses inwardly (the conscience) and makes people servants of the living God.
i. ‘The blood of Christ’ – points to the difference between an animal and a human and identifies that human as the ‘Messiah’. “Christ’ is not a surname but an official titles and his death has a central place in saving.
ii. ‘Through the eternal spirit’ – crucially important and relate to all that follows.
iii. ‘He offered…to God…through the eternal Spirit’ – Christ was active on Calvary. Though he suffered at the hands of men, the devil, and God and submitted, he was not inactive as bulls and goats were. He was making an offering to God (Heb 5:1-3). His offering was ‘through the eternal Spirit’ and was an offering to God (not Satan).
iv. ‘Himself…without spot…through the eternal Spirit’ – a priest cannot officiate without a sacrifice (see 8:3). ‘Himself…without spot’ describes the sacrifice which Christ offered. ‘Himself’ refers to Christ’s humanity while ‘without spot’ refers to his perfected obedience. The sacrifice is not the sinlessness of the eternal Son but the righteousness of the incarnate Son, acquired by obedience. Golgotha was the place of the sacrifice where He put himself without sin as a guilt-offering into the hands of a holy God.
v. ‘Through the eternal Spirit’ – These words explain how such a sacrifice could be offered on earth to God personally. They are like the fire on the altar that consumed all the burnt offering. All that the Messiah did, he did by virtue of the Spirit abiding on him. Each person of the Trinity was present and active in the moments that redemption was secured: the Father was smiting the Son for our iniquities; the Son was submitting to the Father, and the Spirit was sustaining the incarnate Son.
b. Absolute Necessity (Heb 9:15-23) – the sacrifice of Christ is required in order that a covenant might be put into operation (v. 18) and that people might be cleansed to receive its heavenly benefits (v. 22)
i. Covenant or Testament in verses 16 and 17?
ii. He combines the arrangements because death was necessary in both.
iii. In the OT world, death is the punishment for breaking the Covenant.
iv. In the classical word, a will cannot be put into effect except on the proven death of the testator.
v. Both stress the necessity of Christ’s death:
1. Without a death, every sinner would have to bear the curse of his disobedience
2. Without a death, no sinner would inherit a blessing.
vi. Furthermore, remember Gen 15, God the Covenant-Maker intimates that he himself would take the place of covenant-breakers so that the blessings of the covenant would become their inheritance.
c. Unrepeatable Finality (Heb 9:24-28)
ii. Repetition characterized the Aaronic priesthood – year after year.
iii. Though Christ is in heaven, hidden from earthly view as if behind a veil, he will not reappear to deal with sin again He is in heaven in a once-for-all manner for his people and will come again to receive them because he as ‘put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.’
iv. It’s impossible for Christ to repeat this (the idea is ridiculous)
1. Death is unrepeatable.
2. Christ had to be ‘manifested’ (born) in order to die. He can’t be born as a baby again.
3. The death he died was ‘at the end of the ages’ – the end of the old era and beginning of the new. God’s clock can’t be turned back.
4. He could not offer for sin without suffering for sin. If Christ’s death did not deal with all sin, would he need to suffer again and therefore live again, but he would have to live before he was born, in rder to suffer for sins committed during that period.
v. In the idolatrous practice of the Mass the church re-presents Christ to the Father as a sacrifice for ongoing sin – if this is necessary there is a need for a Calvary every day – an endless replay of history. Christ’s offer is enough for all time!
3. Perfected for Ever (Heb 10:1-18) – what is at the fore here is not so much ‘priest’ or ‘sacrifice’ but ‘worshippers’ and the effect of the sacrifice on them.
a. What is ‘Consciousness of Sin’? – awareness of sins; a guilty conscience. No longer having this ‘consciousness’ is not being oblivious to sins but aware they have been dealt with.
b. What Cannot Take Away Sins, and Why Not? – answered in verse 1 and it is the sacrifices prescribed by the law either daily (v. 11) or on the Day of Atonement (v. 10). The ‘can never’ take away sin – either presently or in the past. ‘It is impossible’ that they can do this. Their failure is illustrated by their repetition (in the past and the continue offering at the time of writing). They were powerful to remind people of their sins but powerless to remove them from their conscience. If they could cleanse the guilty conscience they would never have to be repeated.
i. The priestly arrangement was ordained by God but it was only a shadow cast by a brilliant reality and not the reality itself. It was a signpost – a sign to a castle has value to a traveler but not the same value as sitting at the King’s table dining.
ii. There was a disproportion between the sacrifice and the worshipper. A bull or goat can illustrate something but it can never take the place of a human being.
c. What Can Take Away Sins, and Why? – the ‘offering of Jesus Christ’. ‘Body’ emphasizes Christ’s humanity as a fit sacrifice for human sinners – a life in human flesh and blood had to be lived and that life had to die. David understood that the Levitical sacrifices were not desired by God as an alternative to the heart and life sacrifice of the worshipper but were God’s appointed ways for expressing worshipful obedience. David resolved to give to God what He desired, and to do so in the body that God had given him. ‘Great David’s greater Son’ did so even more. ‘Behold!’ how amazing it is that God provided what he demanded as a condition of pardon for rebels: He himself provided the body and blood of His own Son! It is because the law of God was perfectly done that the sacrifice was both sufficient and effective forever. It can perfect the conscience before God and continue to sanctify.
d. But How Can Worshipers Know This? – how can a worshipper, as he really knows his guilt, know that he is freely and fully pardoned? God knows that His Law has been kept by His Son and that he can ask no more. He has enthroned Him at His right hand. The answer is that ‘the Holy Spirit bears witness to us.’ God says He will not remember the sins of the worshipper in Christ nor will He remind him of them. Where such forgiveness is given there is no need for further sacrifice and the worshipper knows it. The burdened sinner becomes a willing servant – forever!