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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 9

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and HebrewsHaldane on Romans and Hebrews

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Verse 1

“Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.”

The Apostle having proved that the establishment of the new and better covenant, of which Christ is the mediator, had been clearly predicted, proceeds to contrast the ordinances of the old with those of the new covenant.

“Then verily…”—The word covenant is properly supplied by our translators, as in verses 7 and 13 in the preceding chapter. Some would supply tabernacle, but this would occasion an awkward repetition in the end of the verse, and also in verse 2. The ordinances to which the Apostle refers were enjoined by the first covenant. There were ordinances of Divine service, or, rather, of worship, and a worldly sanctuary, or holy place, not only made of worldly materials, but erected in this world, and, as it had been stated, chap. 8:5, a shadow of heavenly things.

Verse 2

“For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary.”

“For there was a tabernacle made,” in the first compartment of which was the candlestick. The candlestick was beaten out of a talent of gold. It had seven lamps, and gave light to the tabernacle. In the vision with which John was favored, he saw seven golden candlesticks, Revelation 1:12, which are said to be the seven Churches. Revelation 1:20. The people of God are the light of the world; and perhaps this was shadowed forth by the candlestick with its seven lamps enlightening the tabernacle. Zechariah also saw a golden candlestick with seven lamps. These were supplied with oil by two olive-trees, which are explained by the angel as signifying the supply of the Spirit, by which the truth is maintained in this dark world.

“The table”.—On this the shewbread was placed; it was of shittim wood, overlaid with gold, and had a cornice, which prevented the leaves from falling off. It was carried by staves of shittim wood, overlaid with gold. It was consecrated by sprinkling of blood, and anointed with oil.

“And the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary,” or holy place. Exodus 26:33; Exodus 26:35. [The shewbread consisted of twelve loaves, according to the number of the tribes of Israel, which were placed on the table. They were renewed every Sabbath, and were eaten only by the priests in the holy place. The tabernacle was the royal pavilion in which the King of Israel represented himself as dwelling in the midst of his people. The shewbread seems to have been an intimation of the coming of the Lord Jesus as Immanuel. Human food was provided.]

Verse 3

“And after the second vail, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all.”

“And after the second vail…”—The first vail was the hanging for the door of the tent. Exodus 26:36-37. The second vail, within which no man in Israel, with the exception of the high priest, was permitted to enter, separated the holy place from the holiest of all.

Verse 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.”

In the most holy place was the golden censer. This was used by the high priest when he went into the holy of holies, for he was not to enter till the cloud of the incense covered the mercy- seat. As the Apostle tells us, it was within the second vail; and, as the high priest was required to burn incense, no doubt it must have been placed so that he could reach it without entering. This golden censer appears not to have been used on any other occasion than when the high priest entered the holiest of all. In the temple we read of censers of pure gold. 1 Kings 7:50.

“And the ark of the covenant…”—The ark was a chest, and it is called the ark of the covenant because in it the two tables of the law, written with the finger of God Himself, were deposited. It is also called the ark of the testimony, because it was a witness of the covenant which God made with Israel, avouching Himself to be their God, and requiring of them obedience. The ark was overlaid round about with pure gold, and had a crown of gold round about it.

“Wherein was the golden pot that had manna”. —Moses, by Divine commandment, laid up in a golden pot an homer of manna, as a memorial of the bread with which Israel had been fed in the wilderness. The Apostle cannot mean that the pot of manna was within the ark; for it is written, "There was nothing within the ark, save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb.” 1 Kings 8:9; 2 Chronicles 5:10; and, therefore, wherein,” or " in which,” must refer to a remote antecedent schene, called the holiest of all. Ver. 3.

“And Aaron’s rod that budded”.—We have already referred to the sedition of the sons of Korah, who claimed a right to the priesthood, and were consumed, and noticed that the rod of the chief of each tribe was laid up before the Lord, to ascertain to which tribe the priesthood belonged. All the other rods were unchanged; but Aaron’s rod put forth blossoms, and bore almonds, after which there was no further dispute about the priesthood. Moses, by Divine commandment, brought Aaron’s rod before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels, Numb. 17:10; and the Apostle here informs us it was placed in the holy of holies.

“And the tables of the covenant”.—We have already seen that they contained the two tables which contained God’s covenant with Israel.

Verse 5

“And over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.”

The mercy-seat was the covering of the ark. Moses having been informed by God that Israel had made the golden calf, came down with the two tables in his hand; and, when he witnessed the idolatrous feast in which the people were engaged, cast down the tables, and broke them at the foot of the mount. This, no doubt, was done in anger, but it was a significant action, showing that the law of which Moses was the minister can only condemn the sinner. Romans 3:20.

When the covenant was renewed through the intercession of the mediator, Moses prepared two tables like the first, upon which God again wrote the ten commandments, for the law is unchangeable; and, by God’s commandment, prepared the ark for their reception, the covering of which was called the mercy-seat, which was also of pure gold. It was the throne of the God of Israel, from which He spoke to Moses. Exodus 37:6. No covering had been provided for the first tables, and they were broken before they reached the camp. The ark being covered with the mercy-seat, intimated that there was forgiveness with God, and that, while He would by no means clear the guilty, He was the Lord God, merciful and gracious. The tables being covered with the mercy-seat, showed that, in God’s dealings with His people, mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Hence we find the Psalmist, quoted by the Apostle, speaking of the blessedness of the man whose sins are covered, to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Christ is the true propitiatory, or mercy-seat, Romans 3:24, in whom God is revealed as just, and the Justifier of all who believe. Through faith in His blood, pardon is proclaimed to the chief of sinners; while a more awful manifestation of the justice, purity, and holiness of God is given, than if all Adam’s race had been turned into hell, and, like the rebel angels, reserved unto judgment against the great day.

Whether the cherubim, as some suppose, are an order of angels, we know not, although it seems probable; but the cherubim of glory, or the glorious cherubim, were of gold, beaten out of the mercy-seat, one at each end. They overshadowed the mercy-seat, spoken of by the Apostle, and their wings met in the middle. Their faces were turned towards each other, toward the mercy-seat. There appears to be an allusion to their posture, 1 Peter 1:12, “Which things the angels desire to look into.” They are represented as contemplating the wonders of the love of God to sinners of mankind, which, in its height and depth, its breadth and length, passeth knowledge.

“Of which we cannot now…”—The Apostle intended to go on to what these emblems shadowed forth, and therefore would not further insist on the patterns of things in the heavens.

Verse 6

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

Now when these things were thus arranged, the priests went daily into the first tabernacle or compartment, performing the appointed service.

Verse 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.”

But the high priest alone entered the second compartment, and he only once in the year, not without blood. He then sprinkled the blood of the sin-offering upon the mercy-seat, and also the blood of the goat. Thus he offered first for his own sins, and then for those of the people.

Verse 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.”

By giving those directions, and excluding every man in Israel from entering the most holy place, the Holy Ghost, by whom all these directions were given to Moses, 1 Chronicles 28 :, intimated that the way into the holiest of all was not yet laid open. The truth was but darkly intimated by these shadowy ordinances.

The word rendered here by our translators "holiest of all,” is τῶν ἁγίων, literally "holies,” and this is the same word in chap. 8:2, and there rendered "sanctuary.” This is evidently the true sanctuary, even heaven itself; and the holiest of all, or holy places, in this verse, has evidently the same meaning. It is placed in contrast with the first tabernacle. This expression is employed, verse 6, to signify the first compartment of the Jewish tabernacle; but here it must be understood of the whole of the tabernacle worship instituted by Moses. This exactly corresponds with what the Apostle says, verse 24, of Christ having entered into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us. Here the Apostle speaks of the first tabernacle as he had formerly done of the first covenant. While it stood, the way into the true sanctuary was not made manifest.

Verse 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.”

The Mosaic tabernacle was a figure or parable for the time then present, in or during which time [Which may refer either to the time, or, as our translators appear to have understood it, to the tabernacle; but, by the gender of the pronoun, the former appears to be intended.] both gifts and sacrifices were offered, which could not give the worshipper the answer of a good conscience, because the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin; they only sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, removing ceremonial uncleanness, and fitting the Israelites to unite in the Mosaic worship,

Verse 10

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

Our translators have added which stood, to connect this with the preceding verse; but this is not necessary. The meats and drinks may be connected with the worshipper, or him that worshippeth (as, indeed, the words stand in the original), with meats and drinks. This has been objected to because the meats and drinks do not comprehend all the Mosaic institutions. But the gifts and sacrifices, verse 9, and the meats and drinks, and divers baptisms, and carnal ordinances, include the whole Mosaic system of worship. The breaking down of the middle wall of partition which separates Jews and Gentiles was intimated to Peter by the great white sheet let down from heaven, with all manner of beasts, and his being commanded to arise, and kill and eat. The Gentiles were now to be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel. The sheet being let down from heaven, and being received up again, might intimate that the Mosaic dispensation, although having no glory, by reason of the glory that excelleth, as exhibited in the new dispensation, was from God, and should remain for ever, a proof of His manifold wisdom, in giving a pattern of spiritual and heavenly things, before the full manifestation of His glory in the unveiled face of Jesus Christ.

Verse 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.”

“But Christ being made an high priest of good things to come”.—We have seen that the Gospel dispensation is termed the world to come, chap. 2:5; and this appears to be the meaning of good things to come. All the blessings of the old covenant were carnal; they referred to this world, as may be seen in the blessings promised for obedience, and the curses pronounced for disobedience. Leviticus 26 :; Deuteronomy 28 : But Christ is made an High Priest of a dispensation which conveys spiritual and eternal blessings.

The comforts and the blessings of time perish with the using; the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are unseen are eternal, and such are the blessings conveyed to us by our great High Priest. He is made an High Priest of good things to come —an High Priest for ever, chap. 6:2, and after the power of an endless life. Chap. 7:16. The Apostle had shown the superiority of our great High Priest to the priests under the law; and here he contrasts the tabernacle in which he ministers, with that erected by Moses. It was a greater and more perfect tabernacle. The former was only a pattern, the latter was the thing represented. The one was of human workmanship, the other was made by God Himself. The Apostle explains, “Not made with hands,” by not of this building, or, more literally, not of this creation. The Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands. Acts 7:48. “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” Isaiah 66:1.

Some consider the greater and more perfect tabernacle, in which Christ ministers, to mean His body, in which He ministers as a priest, in which all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and this receives some countenance from Christ terming His body a temple, John 2:19-20; and from His being charged with saying that He would destroy this temple made with hands, and build another made without hands, Mark 14:58; but still it cannot be said that Christ entered once into the tabernacle of His own body, or that he is the minister of His human nature, as He is said to be of the true tabernacle. He is set at the right hand of the majesty in the heavens. Hebrews 8:1. This is the sanctuary of which He is minister. This is the true tabernacle into which He has entered by His own blood. Chap. 9:12. Heaven itself is, then, the sanctuary where Christ ministers.

Verse 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.”

In all respects the ministry of our great High Priest is superior to the service of the Mosaic high priest. Jesus is an High Priest of good things to come, not of things present which are seen and temporal, but of those which are unseen and eternal. He ministers in a greater and more perfect tabernacle, Hebrews 8:2; He entered once for all into the most holy place, even heaven itself, having obtained eternal redemption for us. So glorious is His sacrifice that it neither requires nor admits of being repeated. It secures eternal redemption for all for whom it was offered. The Jewish sacrifices could only remove ceremonial uncleanness. The most solemn sacrifice, that on the great day of atonement, had only respect to sins committed during the preceding year; but the sacrifice of Christ hath removed all our sin from us as far as East is distant from the West. When the sins of those for whom the sacrifice of our great High Priest was offered are sought for, they shall not be found. He offered one sacrifice which never can be repeated, because it hath fully satisfied justice, answering all the demands of the law, so that Jesus proclaimed on the Cross, “It is finished” —eternal redemption is now secured to all the Israel of God. As the Jewish high priest bore the names of all the tribes on his shoulders and breastplate when he entered with the blood of the sin offering into the holiest of all, the names of the true Israel are engraved on His heart, and His intercession for them is founded on His having magnified and made honorable the law which they had broken. Such is the unity between Him and them that they all died in His death, rose in His resurrection, and are seated with Him in heavenly places.

Verse 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.”

The Jewish sacrifices being that of bulls and goats, could never take away sin, they could only remove ceremonial uncleanness, sanctifying to the purifying of the flesh; but by the Divine appointment they had this effect.

Verse 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?”

“How much more shall the blood of Christ purge the consciences of his people from dead works?”— [Dead works, or works which merit death. Chap. 6:1. All are by nature dead in trespasses and sins, hence all their works are dead works. John 14:4.] The sacrifices appointed by Moses had in themselves no efficacy, but they did sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, they fitted the Israelites who had contracted uncleanness to come into the court of the tabernacle, and to unite in the tabernacle worship.

This was a parable for the time then present. It prefigured the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ in giving the believer the answer of a good conscience that he might draw near to God with childlike confidence. He who appointed the legal sacrifices, and gave them efficacy to answer the end of their appointment, hath provided a better sacrifice, which gives the true Israel boldness and access with confidence to approach to God. Christ is said to have offered Himself without spot to God.

Reference is here made to the sacrifices offered by the law. A sin-offering must be perfect to be accepted. Leviticus 22:21; Matthew 18:13-14. This was an emblem of Christ’s spotless purity, chap. 4:15. He is a lamb without blemish and without spot, 1 Peter 1:19. Christ offered Himself through the eternal Spirit. He was truly man born of a woman, while all the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Him bodily. He was also the Father’s servant to “raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to rest on the preserved of Israel;” and, as all Adam’s posterity received natural life from Him, which was forfeited by sin, so all the people of God, all whom He had chosen in Christ, were to receive spiritual and eternal life from their great Head. When He entered upon His public work, and was manifested to Israel by a figurative burial and resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in a bodily shape like a dove, and abode upon Him. Thus was He sealed as the Son of God, the source and fountain of spiritual life. As the precious oil poured on the head of Aaron ran down to the skirts of his garments, so is the Holy Spirit which he received beyond measure communicated to all His people, who were dead in trespasses and sins, but are now made alive through their glorious Head; hence their life is said to be hid with Christ in God, and because He lives, they shall live also. By one Spirit they are all baptized into one body, and are all made to drink of that one Spirit. All He did and said was under the guidance of the Spirit. He said, My doctrine is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.” He represents Himself as casting out devils by the Spirit of God. In short, all He did and said upon earth was in obedience to His Father’s will, communicated through the Spirit; and the last scene of His eventful life was consequently by the eternal Spirit through which He offered Himself without spot to God. So entire is the unity of the persons of the Godhead, that whatever is done by one is done by all. For instance, Christ rose from the dead by the glory of the Father, He laid down His life and took it again, and He was quickened by the Spirit. Here we are told that through the eternal Spirit He offered Himself without spot to God, and the perfection of this sacrifice cleanseth believers from all sin, and gives them boldness and confidence before God. “Who,” they exclaim, shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even now at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” The Father heareth him always, for His intercession is founded on that sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour, in which His Father is ever well pleased. The eternal covenant between the Father and the Son ran thus:—“When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10. Never was a service so hard as that which Jesus served, and never was reward so glorious as that which He received in recompense. All things are put under His feet; all power in heaven and in earth is committed to Him; the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son, in order that His prayer may be fulfilled in all its extent—"Father, I will that those whom Thou hast given me may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which Thou hast given me;” and thus, according to His own declaration, is He preparing mansions for them, even an eternal inheritance.

Verse 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.”

“And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament”.—The word διαθήκη is uniformly rendered by our translators Covenant, except in the account of the institution of the Supper, and in 2 Corinthians 3:6, Hebrews 7:22, and in this passage, verses 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, where, following the Vulgate, they have rendered it Testament. But certainly this is improper. The Hebrew word Berith is always rendered covenant by the translators of the Old Testament, and there ought to have been no deviation from this practice in the New Testament.

The first covenant was ordained of angels in the hand of a mediator, Galatians 3:19. But there is no room for a mediator in a testament, or last will. On this passage a commentator inquires, “Was it ever known, in the practice of any nation, that a testament needed a mediator? Or that the testator was the mediator of his own testament? Or that it was necessary the testator of a new testament should die to redeem the transgressions of a former testament? Or that any testament was made by sprinkling the legatees with blood? These things, however, were usual in covenants. They had mediators who assisted at the making of them, and were sureties for the performance of them; [Hence, when Israel broke the Sinai Covenant, Moses, the Mediator, offered to die in their room.] they were commonly ratified with sacrifices, the blood of which was sprinkled on the parties. We know that if a former covenant was infringed by the parties, satisfaction was given by making a second covenant. By calling Christ the mediator of the new testament our thoughts are turned away entirely from the view which the Scriptures give at His death as a sacrifice for sin. Whereas if he is called the Mediator of the new covenant, which is the true translation of διαθήκης καινῆς μεσίτης, that appellation directly suggests to us that the new covenant was procured and ratified by his death as a sacrifice for sin.

For this cause he is the Mediator of the new covenant, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they who were called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. The sacrifices prescribed by the law could not take away sin, and therefore, and as God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, neither can evil dwell with Him, in order that those who had sinned might receive the promise of an eternal inheritance, it was necessary that their sins should be expiated by the death of the Mediator of the new covenant. So that, under every dispensation, sin has been pardoned only through the blood-shedding of Christ. To the same purpose, the Apostle having stated that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and are only justified by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, proceeds, “Whom God hath set forth as a propitiation,” (or mercy seat, [The word here used is that translated mercy seat in the law of Moses.]) " through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Romans 3:25. Here we have a plain intimation that the sins which are past, namely those committed under the first covenant, are remitted only through faith in the blood of Christ. The forbearance of God had waited during that dispensation, although no sacrifice had been provided that could expiate sin, Romans 9:23-24, or through which the people of God could receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Verse 16

“For where a testament is, there must also of necessity he the death of the testator.”

Where a testament is, there is of necessity the death of the testator. It is true that a testament, or last will, is liable to be altered so long as the testator liveth; but there may be a valid testament executed and in force for years while the testator survives. But we have already seen, and shall find further proof, that the Apostle’s reasoning does not apply to a testament. The word rendered in our version testator is a participle of the verb which signifies to appoint. It may be rendered the appointed (victim or sacrifice), or that by which the covenant is confirmed, which is the same.

That the Apostle is speaking of a covenant is certain, both from what goes before and what follows. We find instances in which a covenant was made without any sacrifice; on the other hand, sacrifices were frequently offered. Thus we find the covenant made with Abraham. Genesis 15 : By the Divine commandment, Abraham took an heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon, dividing them in the midst with the exception of the birds, and when it was dark a smoking furnace and a burning lamp, the emblem of the Divine presence, Hebrews 12:29, passed between the pieces. Thus God made a covenant with Abraham, to give his posterity the land of Canaan. The heifer, goat, &c., were the appointed victims, whose death was essential to the ratification of the covenant. It was confirmed by their death.

We have another striking instance in Jeremiah 34 : During the siege of Jerusalem the Jews made a covenant to let their servants go free, a calf was the appointed victim or sacrifice; it was slain, and those who made the covenant passed between the pieces. When they considered the danger to be passed they again brought the servants into bondage, and for this wickedness God denounces his judgments upon them; they are described as having passed between the parts of the calf,” thus confirming the covenant. These instances fully explain the language of the Apostle.

Verses 17-18

“For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.”

For a testament is of force when men are dead. There is nothing in the original about men. The assertion of the Apostle is that a covenant is firm or confirmed upon the dead; for instance, the sacrifices employed by Abraham, and the calf by the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Till the death of these sacrifices, or victims, respectively, neither Abram’s covenant, nor that of the Jews, was ratified or confirmed. This clearly illustrates the Apostle’s meaning.

In perfect correspondence with this, the first, or Sinai covenant, was not dedicated, or ratified, without blood.

Verse 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.”

When Moses had written all the words of the Lord he builded an altar, and took the blood of calves and bulls with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, in which the words of the covenant were written, and all the people. It may be asked, how the blood could be possibly sprinkled on such a multitude? The answer is, the twelve pillars represented the twelve tribes, and on them the blood was sprinkled. That all of such a multitude should be individually sprinkled appears impossible, but the twelve pillars which represented all the people might easily be sprinkled. There are some things mentioned by the Apostle which are not recorded by Moses, who informs us that having told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments, they answered with one voice and said, All the words which the Lord hath said we will do.” He then wrote in a book all the words of the Lord, builded an altar, and offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. He then read the book of the covenant in the audience of the people, who said, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Half the blood was sprinkled on the people and half on the altar; and Moses said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.” Exodus 24:3-8. There is some variation in the account given by the Apostle, although it is substantially the same.

The goats mentioned by the Apostle seem included under the burnt offerings mentioned by Moses; Moses does not mention the water nor the scarlet wool and hyssop; but the Apostle wrote under Divine inspiration as well as Moses, and there is an entire correspondence between the account given by the Lawgiver and the Apostle.

Verse 20

“Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.”

When Moses sprinkled the blood on the book and on the people, he said, This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath enjoined upon you.” We may observe the correspondence between the words of Moses and those employed by the Lord at the institution of the Lord’s Supper, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28. The blood of the old covenant was that of bulls and goats, by which the first covenant was ratified. The blood by which the new covenant was ratified was that of Christ. By the old covenant the nation of Israel became God’s peculiar people, who dwelt among them and gave them a land flowing with milk and honey. God dwells in the hearts of all the children of the new covenant, and bestows on them an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.

Verse 21

“Moreover he sprinkled likewise with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.”

In the account given of setting up the tabernacle only the anointing oil is mentioned, but we find that the altar was sanctified with blood, Leviticus 8:15; and the Apostle informs us that both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry were sprinkled with blood, and that under that dispensation there was no remission without shedding of blood, which clearly intimated that the wages of sin is death, and that the blood maketh atonement. Leviticus 17:11.

Verse 22

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

“Almost all…”—There were some exceptions; some things were purified with fire, others with water and the ashes of the red heifer, Numb. 31:23, 19:9, and without shedding of blood there was no remission. Hence the morning and evening sacrifices, and on the great day of atonement, Leviticus 16:30, of which it is said, On that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.”

Verse 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.”

Thus we see it was necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens, for the ordinances of the Mosaic dispensation were no more, should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves were better sacrifices than these. The whole of the Mosaic dispensation was a shadow of good things to come. The covenant and all its ordinances was a parable for the time then present. The moral law, even the ten commandments, were uttered in the hearing of all Israel by God himself, and were written on tables of stone, intimating their perpetual obligation. Thus the unchangeableness of God was the foundation of the covenant into which God brought the children of Israel. Hence it is frequently called the covenant, and the ark in which the tables were kept was called the ark of the covenant or of the testimony, because they testified the peculiar relation into which Israel were brought by the covenant. The people, not being able to endure that which was commanded, besought that God would not speak to them any more; accordingly, after the ratification of the covenant with the blood of bulls and of goats, God delivered to Moses the statutes and judgments, and the sacrifices and purifications which Israel was to observe.

That the whole system was figurative, appears,

1. From its being delivered to one nation, although all nations are made of one blood, and with God there is no respect of persons.

2. Their obedience was required from the consideration of the peculiar relation in which God stood towards them, and of the temporal deliverance vouchsafed to them. “I am the Lord thy God, that brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, therefore thou shalt have no other gods before me."

3. From God, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, commanding the tabernacle to be erected as the royal tent, in which he represented himself as dwelling in the character of the King of Israel in the midst of the people, from which he directed all their movements by the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night.

4. From the sacrifices which were enjoined, which could not possibly take away sin, and were offered from year to year continually, thus bringing sin to remembrance, at once testifying the necessity of atonement, and showing the inadequacy of the legal sacrifices, by their constant repetition.

5. From the purifications, which only sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, removing ceremonial uncleanness.

6. From the system of religion enjoined being evidently local. All the males in Israel were required to appear three times in the year at a particular place, which might be suitable for one nation, but was impracticable as an universal system.

7. From all the promises and threatenings, and the inheritance bestowed on Israel being carnal and earthly, Levit. 26:, Deuteronomy 28 :, Exodus 3:8.

The necessity of which the Apostle speaks arose

1. From the design of God to exhibit a pattern of that heavenly and eternal kingdom which it was his purpose to establish, in order to keep up the expectation of the appearance of the great King.

2. Of separating the family from which he was to spring from all other nations; thus manifesting his faithfulness, in the fulfilment of his promise to Abraham, of affording a demonstration of the truth of the Gospel, for which so great preparations were made and so exact a pattern prepared; and, finally, of illustrating all the great doctrines of the Gospel, from their being embodied and placed before us in a tangible form. But, considered in themselves, these were all weak and beggarly elements, having no glory by reason of the glory that excelleth. By heavenly things we are not to understand literally things in the heavens, but those spiritual and eternal things revealed without a vail under the new and better covenant, ratified with the blood of the Son of God, which reveals a complete atonement for sin, consequently not to be repeated. During the old and introductory dispensation, while all the perfection of the Divine character was revealed, Jehovah appeared as the God of one nation, but this was only to make way for that glorious system by which all the families of the earth are invited to the enjoyment of an eternal inheritance by faith in Christ.

It is true that the religion of Jesus has been corrupted by blending the institutions of the new with those of the old dispensation, but by means of the Gospel, which we possess unadulterated in the Scriptures of truth, the kingdom of the man of sin shall be destroyed, and the Church of Christ, extended over all nations, shall appear fair as the sun, clear as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners.

Verse 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.”

The Apostle here returns to our great High Priest, who hath not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are but figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. The priest daily entered the holy place, where incense was burnt on the golden altar; but on the great day of atonement the high priest entered the holiest of all, and sprinkled the mercy seat with the blood of the bullock for his own sins and of the goat for the sins of Israel. Our great High Priest had no sin, but has entered into heaven itself with his own blood shed for the remission of the sins of his people. There he appears in the midst of the throne as a Lamb that had been slain. And as the people of Israel watched for the high priest coming out from the most holy place that they might receive the blessing, so do believers wait for the second coming of the Lord Jesus, who shall then receive them into the everlasting mansions which he has prepared for them, saying, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Verse 25

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

Nor yet was it necessary that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of the sacrifice.

The Jewish worship was a shadow of good things to come. In order to keep up the expectation of the sacrifice by which Christ was to finish transgression, make an end of sin, make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness, the high priest year by year, on the great day of atonement, entered the holiest of all with the blood of the sin-offering.

Verse 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”

In that case He must often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world, 1 Corinthians 10:11, He hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. When the tabernacle was reared, and when Aaron and his sons were consecrated, fire came down and consumed the burnt-offering upon the altar. Thus the Lord testified his approbation of the conduct of Moses in obeying the instructions which he had received.

This fire was not to be extinguished. It alone was to be employed in consuming the sacrifices, and two of Aaron’s sons were struck dead for using strange fire. Many sacrifices continued to be offered in Israel; but still the Lord’s fire, and His furnace in Jerusalem, continued to demand its victims. It did not say, "It is enough; from day today and from year to year,” it still cried, Give, give.” Like the grave, it was not satisfied: but now once in the end of the world Christ appeared effectually to remove sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Thus the demands of justice were fully satisfied, and Christ by His resurrection abolished death and showed His people the path of life.

Verse 27

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die” —to return to the dust from whence they were taken"but after this the judgment.”— This passage is generally misquoted. As it is appointed for all men once to die, but there is no such appointment. Enoch before the law, and Elijah under the law, did not taste death, and the Apostle tells us those who remain to the coming of the Lord shall not all sleep, but shall all be changed; [This is the change for which Job says he will wait It does not refer to death, but to the resurrection, when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality. This is evident from the context: “Thou wilt call, and I will answer thee; thou wilt have respect to the work of thy hands.” When the body is cast into the grave, God appears to have no respect to the work of His hands; but after the leprous house has been cast into an unclean place, it will be raised spiritual and incorruptible, like Christ’s glorious body.] but it is appointed to men once to die. It is the law of our fallen nature. The exception of Enoch and Elijah is a mystery which the Apostle explains, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, of the change which shall take place on those who are alive at the coming of the Lord.

The judgment was intimated immediately after the fall. Sentence was passed on fallen man that he should return to dust; but mankind were divided into two families—the seed of the woman and of the serpent. The former were to prove victorious over their enemy, and we see him who was born of a woman, in His resurrection, trampling on the neck of Satan, and giving those whom He is not ashamed to call brethren the assurance of sharing his victory.

Verse 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.”

Christ was made in all things like unto his brethren, yet without sin. In exact correspondence with the appointment that man should once die, Christ once suffered to bear the sins of many (even the children whom God had given Him). The Apostle Peter says,—“His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24. Such is the unity between Christ and His people, that they all died in His death and rose in His resurrection; nay, they are represented as seated with Him in heavenly places. Ephesians 2:6. Their citizenship is in heaven, whence they look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the head, they are the members; His suffering is their suffering. They were created in Adam, who is the source of natural life. It is dried up; the Second Adam is the source of spiritual and eternal life, and He says,—“Because I live ye shall live also. Thus their life is hid with Christ in God; and when He, who is their life, shall appear, then shall they appear with Him in glory. Sin had doomed His people to death, but He descended into their prison-house. He felt the pillars by which it was supported—the justice and truth of God; but He so magnified and made honorable the law which they had broken, that mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace kissed each other. Hence the Gospel is called the revelation of God’s righteousness; for, by Christ’s fulfilment of the law in all its extent, by the most perfect obedience and the perfection of His atoning sacrifice, He has brought in everlasting righteousness, arrayed in which the believer stands unrebukable, and can challenge the universe to lay anything to his charge. God is, in short, the just God and the Savior, and in the salvation of an innumerable multitude of our fallen race has given a more awful proof of his hatred of sin and of the impossibility of its passing unpunished than if all had perished, like the angels who kept not their first estate.

He has entered heaven with His own blood, His people are waiting without for His second appearing; they are looking for Him, and He will appear the second time, not in the likeness of sinful flesh, but without sin; [A sin-offering is sometimes called “sin,” because the sin of the worshipper was in a figure transferred to it; but Christ, in taking part with His people in flesh and blood and becoming their substitute and surety, was responsible—the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of them all. Hence He says, “Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more in number than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart faileth me.” Psalms 40:12.] which was once imputed to Him, but is now cast into the depth of the sea. The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of all His people, and when they are sought for they shall not be found. In the day of his second coming the Church will appear a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle. Their robes will be so white that “no fuller on earth can white them,” and they shall for ever drink of the river of God’s pleasures. The Second Coming of Christ was typified by the high priest coming out of the holy of holies to bless the people.

Bibliographical Information
Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hal/hebrews-9.html. 1835.
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