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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Writings

Hebrews 9

Verses 1-28

8 The New Sacrifice and the New Sanctuary

( Hebrews 9 )

The apostle has brought before us the new priesthood of Christ ( Hebrews 7 ), involving the blessings of the new covenant ( Hebrews 8 ). Now in Hebrews 9 he presents the new sacrifice of Christ in all its infinite value, together with the new sanctuary to which the sacrifice of Christ gives access.

The Earthly Sanctuary with its Carnal Sacrifices

(Vv. 1-7)

(Vv. 1-5). The apostle first refers to the tabernacle of old, not to speak in detail of its furnishings however symbolically instructive, but in order to show by contrast the superiority of the heavenly sanctuary.

We learn that though there were ordinances of divine service connected with the tabernacle, yet it was essentially “a worldly sanctuary”. By its beauty, its elaborate ritual and impressive ceremonies, it made special appeal to the natural man, and was thus entirely suited to this world. Further, the apostle lays great stress upon the two divisions of the tabernacle separated by the veil, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.

(Vv. 6, 7). Having referred to the form of the tabernacle and its contents, the apostle passes on to speak of the priests, the sacrifices connected with the tabernacle, and the people. In connection with this tabernacle it was the priests, not the people, who accomplished the service of God. Moreover, into the second part of the tabernacle the high priest alone had access, and that only once every year, and then not without blood, which he offered for himself and the errors of the people.

Here, then, in these first seven verses we have a description of what the apostle speaks of in the closing chapter as “the camp” ( Heb_13:13 ). The camp was composed of a host of people surrounding a beautiful tent that appealed to nature, with one portion veiled off as the Holy of Holies, and served by a company of priests, distinct from the people, who accomplished the services of God on behalf of the people.

The Signification of the Tabernacle and its Sacrifices

(Vv. 8-10)

(Vv. 8-10). What then are we to learn from the tabernacle and its services? We are not left to give our own interpretation, but are definitely told that the Holy Spirit has signified their true meaning. Firstly, we are to learn that the services of the tabernacle clearly showed that, under the law, the way into the presence of God was not yet made manifest.

Secondly, if the way into the Holiest was not yet open, it was a clear proof of the insufficiency of the sacrifices. They could not make the offerer perfect as to the conscience.

Thirdly, these things during their existence were a figure of things to come. The figures, however, could never satisfy God nor meet the need of man. Under such a system God was shut in and man was shut out. The Jewish system could neither open heaven to us nor fit us for heaven.

Christendom, alas, ignoring the teaching of the Holy Spirit, instead of seeing in the tabernacle a figure, has used it as a pattern for their religious services. So doing, it has lost the “good things” of which the figures speak. Thus the mass in Christendom have again set up magnificent buildings, have again railed off one part of their buildings as more holy than the rest, and again have instituted a priestly class distinct from the laity, who perform religious services on behalf of the people. Thus a system has been adopted after the pattern of the Jewish camp that keeps people at a distance from God and can never make the conscience perfect.

It is well to remember that the “perfect” or “purged” conscience, of which the apostle speaks in Hebrews 9 and 10, is very different to that which is spoken of elsewhere as “a good conscience”. The purged conscience is one that, being “once purged”, has no more conscience of sins ( Heb_10:2 ). It supposes a conscience that has been exercised as to its sins, but has had that exercise met by learning that the believer is cleansed from all sins by the precious blood of Christ and will never come under judgment. A good conscience is a conscience void of offence in the practical ways and walk.

The New Sacrifice

(Vv. 11-23)

(V. 11). With the coming of Christ all is changed. At once we have a new High Priest, a greater and more perfect tabernacle and a new sacrifice. Aaron was high priest in reference to things in this present world; Christ is our “High Priest of good things to come”. The sacrifice of Christ does indeed secure present blessings for the believer, but the “good things” in reference to which Christ is High Priest are yet “to come”. Thus again the Spirit of God keeps in view the end of our wilderness journey. In Heb_2:10 we have learnt that Christ is bringing many sons to glory; in Heb_2:5 we read of “the world to come”; in Heb_4:9 we are told of the rest that remaineth; in Heb_6:5 we again read of “the world to come”. Christ is our High Priest to support us through the wilderness in view of bringing us into the “good things” at the end of the journey in the world to come.

If, then, the Aaronic priesthood is set aside by the priesthood of Christ, so too the earthly tabernacle is set aside by “the greater and more perfect tabernacle”. The earthly tabernacle was made with hands and was of this creation; the perfect tabernacle is “heaven itself” (verse 20).

(V. 12). The Levitical sacrifices are set aside by the one great sacrifice of Christ, who by His own blood has entered into heaven itself, prefigured by the Holy of Holies. Moreover, in contrast with the Aaronic priest who entered once “every year”, Christ has entered into heaven “once for all”. He enters to take up His priestly service on behalf of those for whom He has already obtained eternal redemption.

(Vv. 13, 14). The blood of Christ, by which eternal redemption has been obtained, sets aside the blood of bulls and of goats. The blood of these animals did indeed have a sanctifying effect, so far as the cleansing of the body is concerned. (See Num_19:7 ; Num_19:8 .) But the blood of Christ purges the conscience. The blood of an animal offered through a priest is entirely set aside by “ the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.” By the Holy Spirit Christ became incarnate; by the Holy Spirit He lived His life of perfection. So, by the eternal Spirit, as the perfect Man He “offered Himself without spot to God”. (Compare Luk_1:35 and Act_10:38 .) In the ninth verse of the second chapter we read that by “the grace of God” Jesus tasted death “for every man”. Here we learn that He has offered Himself without spot to God. Thus we can announce to the sinner that Christ has offered Himself to God, but for you.

For the one that believes, the effect of this great sacrifice is to purge the “conscience from dead works”. As Christ has offered Himself without spot to God and God has accepted the great sacrifice and is infinitely satisfied with Christ and His shed blood, the conscience of the believer is relieved of all thought of working to secure the blessing. Such works, however good in themselves, would only be dead works. Thus set free in conscience, the believer becomes a worshipper of God.

(V. 15). As the offering of Christ meets the holiness of God and the need of the sinner, Christ becomes the Mediator of the new covenant, the One through whom all blessings of the new covenant are secured for those who are called, that they might enter into the promise of the eternal inheritance.

(Vv. 16, 17). The apostle has shown that “by means of death” the believer receives the promise of the inheritance. In order to illustrate the necessity of death he refers in these two parenthetical verses to the fact that, amongst men, the inheritance is secured by a will that only comes into force by the death of the one who makes the will.

(Vv. 18-22). The writer proceeds to show the great fact that the blessings of the new covenant and the new sanctuary can only be secured “by means of death” was set forth in figure in the first covenant and the earthly tabernacle. The first covenant was dedicated by blood, and the tabernacle with all its vessels were sprinkled with blood, the witness that there can be no blessing for man, no drawing nigh to God apart from the blood.

Thus the great conclusion is reached that “without shedding of blood is no remission.” Here it is not simply the sprinkling of blood, but the “shedding of blood” - the righteous basis upon which God can proclaim forgiveness to all and proclaim all who believe forgiven.

(V. 23). The tabernacle and its furnishings were only “the patterns of things in the heavens”. It was possible to enter the earthly tabernacle through the purification of the flesh, afforded by the blood of bulls and goats; but the purification of heavenly things demanded better sacrifices.

The New Sanctuary

(Vv. 24-28)

(V. 24). The writer has spoken of the better sacrifices, introducing the subject with the words, “But Christ being come” (verse 11). Now he leads our thoughts to the New Sanctuary with the words, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself.” There, in the very presence of God, the Lord Jesus as our great High Priest now appears to represent His people before the face of God. Christ appearing in heaven before the face of God “for us” is the everlasting witness that heaven is secured and thrown open to the believer.

(Vv. 25-28). Moreover, every hindrance to the believer being in heaven has been righteously met and removed by one eternally efficacious sacrifice. The yearly repetition of the Levitical sacrifices was a proof of their inadequacy to put away sin. In contrast with these sacrifices, Christ has once appeared in the consummation of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, “and as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” Thus, by one sacrifice, of Christ Himself, sin has been put away, sins have been borne, and death and judgment removed for the believer.

The blessed result for the believer is that when Christ appears the second time, He will no more have to do with sin. Sin having been dealt with at His first appearing, His second appearing will be wholly for the salvation of His people from a world of sin and the power of the enemy to bring them into the rest that remaineth.

The passage thus presents the three appearings of the Lord Jesus: His past appearing at the cross to put away sin, bear sins and remove judgment (verse 26); His present appearing in heaven itself as the great High Priest on behalf of His people; the future appearing in glory for the final salvation of His people from this wilderness world with all its temptations and infirmities.

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Hebrews 9". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/hebrews-9.html. 1832.