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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Hebrews 9

Verses 1-15

  1. Intro - Title: Conscience Cleaning
    1. We talk about sin...but what about Guilt, Guilt Feelings & Shame. Let’s distinguish between each of these:
      1. Guilt speaks of the objective blame through a specific act, that merits punishment.
        1. Johnny was guilty of stealing the cookies.
      2. Guilt feelings focus on how a person feels about himself. [often justifies himself]
        1. Johnny says, Fresh cookies out of the oven...you would have eaten them too!
      3. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Shame springs from fear of others’ disgust, disappointment, or ridicule once they find out.
        1. Johnny says, Does mom need to know I took some?
        2. In our society we concentrate almost entirely on guilt feelings. But the Bible rarely speaks of them.
        3. The focus in Scripture is on guilt as an objective reality. But today much Gospel preaching promises release from felt guilt through faith in Christ.
          1. Sometimes missionaries, moving into another culture, begin by proclaiming freedom from guilt feelings and are stunned that no one seems concerned.
          2. As they learn more about the culture, they discover that the deep-felt need there...relates to shame. To be exposed in the eyes of others.
            1. In shame cultures the Gospel presentation may well shift from the emphasis given in guilt cultures.
            2. The Scripture presents Jesus as the answer for shame as well as guilt.
          3. 1 Pet.2:6 (quoting Is.28:16) Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.
      4. The Hebrew culture was distinct in that both guilt and shame were understood.
        1. In Jesus, God provides a remedy from all 3.
    2. So, how does Jesus deal with our guilt and with our guilt feelings & shame?
      1. The answer to this question is found here in Hebrews:
        1. Shame? - by giving us access (Heb.4-8)
        2. Guilt? - by forgiving us (Heb.9,10)
        3. Guilt Feelings? - by cleansing us (Heb.9,10)
  2. ​​​​​​​OLD SYSTEM (1-10)
    1. ​​​​​​​A SYMBOLIC TABERNACLE (1-5)
    2. At the Tabernacle, everything points to the holiness of God & the sinfulness of man. In that, no one could enter God’s presence w/o the shedding of blood.
    3. Explain the different parts of the tabernacle: [3 main parts: Outer, Holy place, Holy of Holies]
      1. The earthly sanctuary – see outer courtyard.
      2. The 1st part (Holy Place) – Lampstand (menorah). Table of showbread. (also the golden incense altar)
      3. Behind the 2nd veil (Holy of Holies) – Ark of the covenant. Which inside was…
        1. ​​​​​​​Pot of manna – God’s miraculous loving care to feed them in the wilderness for many years. Which represented...God’s Love.
        2. Aaron’s rod that budded – priesthood. Which represented... God’s Redemption.
        3. The 2 tablets of stone – The actual 10 commandments Moses brought down from the mountain, written by the finger of God. Which represented... God’s Holiness.
    4. (5b) Of these things we cannot now speak in detail - known as the greatest Bible Study that never was.
      1. Everything about the building & its furniture was meant as a teaching tool. Every point had a typological value, which pointed to Christ.
        1. Tabernacle (And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us); Lampstand (light of the world); Showbread (I am the bread of life); Veil (which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh); Mercy seat (redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation); Manna (I am the bread of life); Aaron’s rod (Jesus the High Priest); Tablets/stone (perfectly fulfilled).
    5. (5) Riddle: When is a seat not a seat? When it is a mercy seat.
      1. A mercy seat is no seat at all. It was a place, a place w/a purpose.
        1. Martin Luther used the phrase Mercy Seat in his famous translation of the bible into German (1534).
        2. It is from 1 word kapporoth meaning covering in OT. ἱλastήριον hilasterion in NT.
      2. So it was a place where God’s holy love covered the sinner.
    6. AN INADEQUATE TABERNACLE (6-10)
    7. What an endless repetition of sacrifices & ritual. Every day, year by year…which meant nothing permanent was ever accomplished.
      1. We see limited access & limited efficacy (effectiveness)
    8. What was the Holy Spirit trying to say to us here?…see vs.8-101. This restricted access (7) clearly demonstrated that a true entrance into God’s presence had not yet been disclosed. Conveying to us the idea that the true way to God did not lie in them.
    9. (9) Their consciences would know no relief.
      1. “Many people have only their bad memory to thank for their clear conscience.”
      2. “The disease of an evil conscience is beyond the practice of all physicians of all the countries of the world.”
      3. (Charles Colson, Who Speaks for God, pg.76,77) Albert Speer was once interviewed about his book on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Speer was Hitler’s chief architect, whose technological genius was credited w/keeping Nazi factories humming throughout WWII. In another era he might have been one of the world’s industrial giants. He was only one of 24 war criminals tried in Nuremburg who admitted his guilt. Speer spent 20 years in Spandau prison. – The interviewer referred to a passage in one of Speer’s earlier writings: “You have said the guilt can never be forgiven, or shouldn’t be. Do you still feel that way?” The look of pathos on Speer’s face was wrenching as he responded, “I served a sentence of 20 yrs, & I could say, ‘I’m a free man, my conscience has been cleared by serving the whole time as punishment.’ But I can’t do that. I still carry the burden of what happened to millions of people during Hitler’s lifetime, & I can’t get rid of it. This new book is part of my atoning, of clearing my conscience.” The interviewer pressed the point. “You really don’t think you’ll be able to clear it totally?” Speer shook his head. “I don’t think it will be possible.” – For 35 yrs Speer had accepted complete responsibility for his crime. His writings were filled w/contrition & warnings to others to avoid his moral sin. He desperately sought expiation. All to no avail. [How sad]
        1. Oh, how many have their bodies temporarily clean before God in ways they design, but their consciences remained defiled.
        2. Do you struggle with sins of your past, that just continue to gnaw & chew with the voracious appetite of a 1000 termites?
      4. Besides asking someone, What do you do with your sin? ask, What do you do with your guilt? [most can rationalize their sin...but not their nagging guilt]
      5. Mark Twain once said, “Man is the only animal that blushes, and the only animal that needs to.”
        1. Instead of being able to look God in the face or to look one another in the face, we want to run away and hide when our conscience troubles us.
        2. Nobody is free who is unforgiven. John Stott
  3. NEW SYSTEM (11-15)
    1. ​​​​​​​The good News - The need for pictures/copies/shadows/imitations/substitutes are over.
      1. He says, go on to the reality the H.S. is pointing to. The full forgiveness of sins of this New Covenant. The result?…Intimacy w/God.
    2. What was the contrast between Jesus & the old system?
      1. What He offered – His own blood (12).
      2. Where He offered it – in Heavens Tabernacle (11,12).
      3. How often? – once & for all (12).
      4. W/what Results? – Eternal Redemption & Eternal Inheritance (12,15).
        1. Did you see the 3 eternals: Eternal Redemption - Eternal Spirit - Eternal Inheritance.
    3. (12) There is a saying among Italian sculptors, who often miss the chisel and hit their own hands with the hammer: "When the blood flows out, the mastery enters." [not exactly what I used to say when I hit mine as an electrician]
      1. "When the blood flows out, the mastery enters." Is what Jesus would have said, regarding His death on Calvary...which made him the master of our souls.
        1. Oh, "There is power, power, wonder-working power In the precious blood of the Lamb.”
    4. This speaks of the 2 Goats from Lev.16 - 1 goat was sacrificed to Jehovah & the other became the Azazel/scapegoat (one that is made to bear the blame of others).
      1. Read 3 “all’s” in Lev.16:21,22.
      2. That’s why it is said about Jesus, He was our Satisfaction & our Substitution.
        1. ​​​​​​​Satisfaction - satisfying God’s Holy Justice. [He received His Holy wrath for us]
        2. Substitution - He died for us, or in our place. [Satisfaction/1st sac - Substitution/azazel]
    5. (14) If Christ is an example, nobody needs him...but if he's a sacrifice, everyone does.
      1. Do you have that eternal inheritance? If not, just lay your hands on Jesus’ head as your scapegoat. Confess your sins. He will take them away...as far as the East is from the West. Ps.103:12
        1. However many miles are between East & West, you can’t look 2 ways at once.
          1. You have to turn your back on 1, in order to look in the direction of the other.
        2. When God forgives, He puts our sin & us on 2 different horizons.
          1. When He looks at our sin he is no longer looking at us; & when he looks at us, he is no longer looking at our sin. (Boice)
    6. Cleanse your conscience – that’s where guilt resides.
      1. ​​​​​​​Your conscience acts as a barrier to God’s presence.
      2. Your conscience cannot be rendered inactive by your will.
      3. Your conscience can be muffled for a time. But also…
      4. Your conscience can be silenced with Christ’s cleansing :)
        1. This cleansing of the conscience could even be for Albert Speer.
    7. (15) Folks are meant to be the dwelling of God…the Holy of Holies.
    8. “When Jesus Christ shed his blood on the cross, it was not the blood of a martyr; or the blood of one man for another; it was the life of God poured out to redeem the world.” (Oswald Chambers)

Verses 16-28

  1. INTRO
    1. The public is interested in hearing Celeb’s wills read, as Joan Rivers was revealed this week.
      1. What did she do w/her $150mil fortune? Maybe because it speaks to what was of interest to her. She seemed to have a pretty generous heart. She designated a portion of the funds to go to several nonprof’s & ngo’s: Guide Dogs for the Blind, God’s Love We Deliver, the Jewish Guild for the Blind, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation & the Jewish Home & Hospital Foundation.[as she was the daughter of Russian/Jewish Immigrants]
    2. In John Grisham’s 1999 legal thriller, The Testament, Troy Phelan, an eccentric elderly billionaire, had written many wills during his life, but right before he dies by suicide, he leaves one final will, a holographic will, as a last surprise. He then leaps from a balcony to his death. He leaves his vast fortune to an illegitimate daughter, Rachel Lane, instead of his 6 children by 3 marriages. Her existence comes as a total surprise to everyone. She was a missionary down in Brazil.
      1. A Holographic Will, is a will entirely handwritten, dated and signed by the testator (the person making the will), but not signed by required witnesses.
      2. Under those conditions it’s valid in about 1/2 the states despite the lack of witnesses. A letter which has all the elements of a will can be a holographic will, as can a will scratched in the dust of an automobile hood of a person dying while lost in the desert.
        1. Here, Jesus writes a holographic will for us, not in the dust, but with His own blood!
        2. Jesus writes in bold crimson letters across our lives…FORGIVEN.
  2. SIN’S VALUE SHOWS MAN’S VALUE (16-22)
    1. THE MEDIATOR (back to vs.15)
    2. The job of a mediator is to arbitrate in order to bring 2 parties together. Here in this case…the Holy God & sinful humanity.
      1. Job cried out for a mediator, For He (God) is not a man, as I am, That I may answer Him, And that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both.
      2. Jesus sacrifice became that medium of arbitration.
    3. THE TESTATOR (16,17)
    4. Last Will & Testament Stories:
      1. A New York writer, wanting to will his body to science, selected Harvard as the recipient, because, I quote…“my parents wanted me to go there & this is the only way I could get in.”
      2. One woman in Philadelphia in her will instructed her executor to take $1 from her estate, invest it & pay the interest on the investment to her husband, “as evidence of my estimate of his worth”.
      3. A wealthy French Industrialist (capitaine Furrer) being disturbed by the impatience & greed of his heirs adopted a blood-sucking leech & bequeathed his fortune to it.
    5. True in every culture, a will is activated by the death of the one who made the will, the testator.
      1. Otherwise sacrifices would have been bled...rather than killed.
    6. What is the benefits we enjoy because of Christ’s death? Forgiveness, a clear conscience, peace/shalom, purpose, eternal life in heaven.
    7. THE ACTIVATOR (18-22)
    8. So Jesus was both the testator & mediator of His will. He died leaving the greatest inheritance ever; but he also lives to mediate his will.
      1. e.g. Before you can use your new Visa Card, when it comes in the mail, you must call a 1-800 # to have it activated.
        1. What activated the last will & testament was…His Blood. (6x’s in vs.18-22)
    9. (re-read 22) Here’s an Eternal principle: Forgiveness is a costly thing.
      1. Human forgiveness is costly: Maybe you’ve experienced that with your children. When they stray or do foolish things, you may forgive them, but that forgiveness brings tears, grey hairs, lines to the face, a cutting anguish, & an ache in the heart.
      2. Divine forgiveness is costly: It’s not God saying, It’s all right or it doesn’t matter. It involves the most costly thing in the world. It costs blood.
        1. ​​​​​​​Some become squeamish at the sight of blood, which is the point. It is to point out the terrible nature of sin.
        2. Think of the days of sacrifice at the temple: How would you have described it in that day? Like a bad episode of Criminal Minds? A bloody/gory scene indeed.
        3. [Kent Hughes] “During the 1000 + years of the Old cov, there were more than a million animal sacrifices. So considering that each bull’s sacrifice spilled a gallon or 2 of blood, & each goat a quart, the Old cov truly rested on a sea of blood. During the Passover, a trough was constructed from the Temple down the Kidron Valley for the disposal of blood...a sacrificial plumbing system.”
    10. Jesus’ blood should arrest our attention. We should be cut to the heart & say, “It costs THAT to forgive my sin.”
      1. ​​​​​​​Where there is forgiveness someone must be crucified.
        1. This is the centerpiece of our salvation.
  3. A DATE WITH DEITY (23-28)
    1. THE PURIFIER & REPRESENTER (23-26)
    2. Jesus’ blood grants us a better representation before the Father than the Old Cov.
      1. As soon as He sat down at the Father’s right hand He became our constant & consistent attorney. On the clock 24/7 for you & its all pro bono!
    3. THE TERMINATOR (27)
    4. Man dying & coming to judgment??? that in itself was a shock, for the Greek believed that death was final. We have an appointment w/God.
      1. This is both a basic assumption (man will rise again) & a basic warning (he rises to judgment).
      2. Man is often so careful to keep his business & social appointments yet ignores the supreme date on his calendar.
        1. God has set a day & has ordained a Judge, Christ Jesus.
    5. You and I will die...so we might as well get on with the only really pressing business there is… figuring out how to die well.
    6. Men/women/children need to be reminded of their appointment w/God...their date w/Deity.
      1. Put it on your calendar…IT IS ON GOD’S.
        1. “He is the Great Divider & He does not divide men horizontally [high class, middle class, low class] but vertically, to the right & to the left.” (Vance Havner)
        2. So God doesn’t separate us out like Dan & I felt traveling on Cathay Pacific...they walk you past 1st class, then Business, then coach. But it’s like getting on the right or wrong plane...which always determines your destination. (kid on Cap-Haitien plane)
    7. THE RETURNER (28)
    8. (28a) The heart of Christ became like a reservoir in the midst of the mountains. All the tributary streams of iniquity, and every drop of the sins of his people, ran down and gathered into one vast lake, deep as hell and shoreless as eternity. All these met, as it were, inChrist's heart, and he endured them all. CH Spurgeon, Christian History, no. 29.
    9. (28b) In this section we have 3 appearances of Jesus:
      1. A Past appearing for our Salvation
        1. (26b) He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
      2. A Present appearing for our Sanctification
        1. (24b) now to appear in the presence of God for us.
      3. A Future appearing for our Glorification
        1. (28b) To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a 2nd time, apart from sin, for salvation
    10. Here we have a different perspective on the return of Christ.
      1. Let’s remember back the sequence of events on the Day of Atonement:
        1. The people watched the high priest enter the sanctuary w/a basin of sacrificial blood; then waited w/bated breath until he emerged; then a corporate sigh of relief as the offering was accepted by God. A sense of festive excitement greeted the high priest’s reappearance.
      2. Here’s is what was said, of Simon II the Just, a priest in 219-196bc. “How glorious he was, surrounded by the people, as he came out of the house of the curtain. Like the morning star among the clouds, like the full moon at the festal season; like the sun shining on the temple of the Most High, like the rainbow gleaming in splendid clouds; like roses in the days of first fruits, like lilies by a spring of water, like a green shoot on Lebanon on a summer day; like fire and incense in the censer, like a vessel of hammered gold studded with all kinds of precious stones; like an olive tree laden with fruit, and like a cypress towering in the clouds.”
        1. Oh, how they eagerly awaited for their high priest to emerge.
        2. Slide#41-44 Jesus is coming again! Are you of those who are eagerly waiting for him to emerge through the clouds?
          1. Martha Butler wrote/sang…
            One day I’ll look up and I’m gonna see my Lord a comin’
            Yes, I’ll look up and I’m gonna see my Lord a comin’ - In the clouds Hallelujah, He is coming - Hallelujah, He is here
            Hallelujah, He is coming - Hallelujah, He is here
    11. Story: In a rural village lived a doctor who was noted both for his professional skill & his devotion to Christ. After his death, his books were examined. Several entries had written across them in red ink: “Forgiven – too poor to pay!”. Unfortunately, his wife was of a different disposition. Insisting that these debts be settled, she filed a suit before the proper court. When the case was being heard, the judge asked her, “Is this your husband’s handwriting in red?” She replied that it was. “Then”, said the judge, “Not a court in the land can touch those whom he has forgiven.”
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/hebrews-9.html. 2017.