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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 9

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentMahan's Commentary

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Verses 1-12

Christ our atonement

Hebrews 9:1-12

The design of the apostle in this chapter is three-fold:

1. To show the pre-eminence of Christ over the tabernacle, its furniture, its priesthood, and its sacrifices all fulfilled in Christ!

2. To show how all which had gone before in the Levitical Covenant were types and pictures of Christ, having no power in themselves to save (Hebrews 10:1-4).

3. To mark an end to all Levitical ceremonies, sacrifices, and the first covenant (Hebrews 10:9).

Hebrews 9:1-5 . This typical covenant had a tabernacle made according to divine instruction, of earthly material, with rules and regulations for sacrifice and worship. The tabernacle was 45 feet long, 15 feet wide, and 15 feet high. It had two rooms separated by a heavy veil.

1. In the first compartment, called the Holy place, were three pieces of furniture.

(a) The table of shewbread. This table was made of wood overlaid with gold, which pictures the humanity and deity of Christ. The bread (12 loaves) represents Christ, the bread of life.

(b) The golden candlestick. There were no windows. This lampstand was the only light, which represents Christ as the light of the world. The lampstand was pure gold (representing his pure deity), and there were seven candles (the number of deity).

(c) The altar of incense (Exodus 30:1; Exodus 30:6-9). The continual, sweet burning incense before the veil is the intercession of Christ before the Father.

2. In the second compartment (measuring 15 feet by 15 feet by 15 feet) was really one piece of furniture with two parts. It is called the ark! This was the most important piece of furniture. It was 3-3/4 feet long, 2-1/4 feet wide, 2-1/4 feet high, made of wood covered with pure gold, and contained the tables of the law, Aaron's rod that budded, and the golden pot of manna. The mercy-seat was a solid slab of pure gold (no wood) and it formed a cover for the ark. The mercy-seat, or better the propitiatory (deriving its name from the blood of propitiation) was overshadowed by the cherubims of glory (Romans 3:25-26).

Hebrews 9:6-7 . Into this first room, called the Holy place, the common priests went every day, morning and evening, accomplishing the service of God by offering sacrifices, burning incense, and trimming the lamps. But into the Holy of Holies, beyond the veil, went the high priest alone every year to put the blood on the mercy-seat covering the broken law. This day was called the Day of Atonement (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:15-17).

Hebrews 9:8-10 . Here are several things which the Holy Spirit is teaching the Lord's people.

1. The way into the presence of God (which is Christ--Hebrews 10:18-20) is not clearly revealed or actually manifested while this first tabernacle stood. Until Christ comes, the sacrifices must continue as set forth.

2. This first tabernacle (Hebrews 9:9) was only a symbol, a picture for the time present to typify the work of Christ.

3. These sacrifices could never take away sin nor purify the conscience, so they must continually be offered (Hebrews 10:1-4).

4. These ceremonies were imposed upon them until the coming of Christ, who fulfilled them all and established the reality of a better covenant of grace.

Hebrews 9:11-12 . But that appointed time came (Galatians 4:4-5). Christ, the great High Priest of good things to come (such as peace, righteousness, reconciliation, grace, and mercy), came in a body prepared for him by the Father. He tabernacles among men. In him, men meet God, and in him, God deals with men. He is our representative, our righteousness, and our redemption (2 Corinthians 5:19). He was numbered with the transgressors and died under the penalty of our sins. As our great High Priest, he entered once into the presence of God (the true Holy place) and made a once-for-all atonement. Through this one offering he perfected all believers and obtained eternal redemption! (Hebrews 10:11-14.) Now we are all priests (Christ, our great High Priest), and through Christ we can come boldly before the very throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 10:19-22; Luke 23:45).

Verses 13-28

Remission of sins by the blood of Christ

Hebrews 9:13-28

To better understand this portion of scripture, I will divide it into four parts.

1. The efficacy of his blood (Hebrews 9:13-14).

2. The necessity of his blood (Hebrews 9:15-17).

3. The blood illustrated on earth (Hebrews 9:18-23).

4. The blood applied in heaven (Hebrews 9:24-28).

Hebrews 9:13-14 . We know that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin (Hebrews 10:4). These sacrifices were never given to remove sin but to illustrate the atonement and sacrifice of Christ. But if these Old Testament sacrifices did purify the people, hold back the wrath of God, and sanctify the flesh in an external way, how much more shall the very blood of God's Son, offered to God (without spot, sin, or stain) through the Holy Spirit by design and purpose, thoroughly cleanse us, purify our souls, and deliver us from seeking acceptance through our dead works! If they could come to God through types, how much better to come to God in Christ! If they could find comfort and confidence in types, how much more comfort and assurance do we find in Christ! The blood of Christ effectually cleanses from all sin! (1 John 1:7.)

Hebrews 9:15-17 . These verses show us that Old Testament believers were redeemed by the death of Christ exactly as we are. This first testament reaches from Adam to Christ, for Adam and his sons offered blood sacrifices upon an altar. The transgressions that were under it are the sins of believers from Adam until Christ's personal coming into the world, and the redemption of these sins was by the death of Christ (Acts 10:43; John 8:56). The promise of eternal inheritance was made to all believers by him who is the Mediator of the will and testament (1 Corinthians 10:4; Luke 24:44-47).

Where there is a will and testament, there must be the death of the testator. No claim can be made by the heirs until the testator dies; even so, all that Christ has given to all believers can never be ours actually until he, by his death fulfills the requirements of law and justice (John 3:14-16; Romans 3:19-26). Christ must suffer and die if we are to be redeemed (1 Peter 1:18-21).

Hebrews 9:18-23 . Even the old covenant with Israel was not ratified nor put in force without blood. When Moses had given them the pattern for the tabernacle and its services, he took the blood and water (typical of the blood and water which flowed from the side of Christ, typical also of justification and sanctification) and sprinkled the book, the roll of the law and covenant, and the people. He also sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels used in divine worship. In fact, under the law of Moses almost all things were purified by means of blood (Leviticus 17:11). Some things were cleansed by water and fire, but without the blood there was no forgiveness of sin! No example of pardon, where there is no blood, can be given. The blood of Christ has been shed; it would be foolish to suppose pardon without it (1 Corinthians 5:7).

In Hebrews 9:23, we see that the tabernacle, the mercy-seat, the written law, the priesthood, and the nation Israel were all patterns of what is in heaven (Hebrews 8:5). Christ, our great High Priest, comes before the holy throne of God representing spiritual Israel. He satisfies the law; he atones for our sin with his blood; he prays for us; he presents a suitable atonement. Now if all this in heaven is done through his blood, the pattern on earth must have blood sacrifices.

Hebrews 9:24-28 . Christ, our Mediator and High Priest, is not entered into a holy place made by human hands (as the tabernacle), which was but a pattern, or picture, of the true tabernacle; but he has entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

It is not necessary for him to offer more than one sacrifice (Hebrews 10:11-14). If he had to offer a yearly atonement like the priests of old, he would have suffered death thousands of times; for he has been our Priest from the foundation of the world. But now in these last days, he hath appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Isaiah 53:4-6; Hebrews 10:17-18).

As men die just once and face judgment but once, so Christ was once offered to bear our sins. They are paid for and put away. Unto them who believe on him and look for him, he will appear without sin unto eternal glory (Romans 8:1; Romans 8:33-34).

Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hms/hebrews-9.html. 2013.
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