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Bible Commentaries

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books
Hebrews 9

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 6-10

Lessons from the Service in the Tabernacle

Having finished this brief description of the tabernacle and its furniture, the writer began to tell about some of the things done there. There were daily ministerings in the Holy Place (Exodus 27:21; Exodus 30:7-8). The Most Holy Place was entered only on one day during the year and then only by the High Priest. He performed the duties listed in Leviticus 16:1-34. His main purpose was to offer a sacrifice for the unwitting and ignorant sins of the people and himself (Numbers 15:1-41). All these things were done by and through the direction of the Holy Spirit "indicating," in order to make plain, that the way into the Most Holy Place was not yet opened to man. Such should have caused anticipation of the new covenant which was designed by God to open the way. It was only after Christ had died, nailing the old covenant to the cross, that the way was made clear (Hebrews 9:6-8).

The sacrifices of the tabernacle were symbolic. It would seem that the tabernacle and worship system of the Jewish people is compared to the Holy Place of the tabernacle. The world had to go through this period of Jewish history in order to reach the Christian age and the way to heaven, represented by theMost Holy Place. So, the old law leads to the new and not until the old law is gone can one reach the new. Sacrifices and gifts were offered under that system, but perfection could not be obtained until the new went into effect. "The Levitical code contained many instructions with reference to clean and unclean foods. (Leviticus 11:1-47; Deuteronomy 14:3-21). There were also laws as to drink (Leviticus 10:9; Numbers 6:2-3). There were numerous laws on washings. There were washings for the high priest (Leviticus 16:4; Leviticus 16:24), washings for the priests (Exodus 30:18-21; Leviticus 8:6), washing for the Levites (Numbers 8:6-7), washings for lepers and unclean persons (Leviticus 14:8-9; Numbers 19:1-22), and washings of garments and vessels (Leviticus 6:27-28)" (Lightfoot, p. 168). Despite all these outward washings, no one was made inwardly clean. These external laws were in effect until the "time of reformation." Jesus said there would be a new age and He would bring about a regeneration, which I believe would mark the time spoken of previously. Thus, we are forgiven of our sins when we are regenerated (Hebrews 9:9-10; Colossians 1:13-14).


Verses 11-14

Christ’s Blood, His Sacrifice

The Old Testament pointed to Christ"s coming when all the things of the past were to change. Christ has a more perfect tabernacle which is his church, as Milligan states. Christ entered heaven once with His blood to make an offering for all the people"s sins. This would be in contrast with the annual entry into the Most Holy with the blood of a calf or young bullock already mentioned as a part of the old law. Then, under the new covenant the ransom price has been paid and will be valid eternally.

Under the old law, the people were cleansed by the blood of bulls and goats. The blood of bulls and goats was used in several different sacrifices, including those on the Day of Atonement. The ashes of a red heifer were kept for the water of separation (Numbers 19:1-22). Those who were unclean, especially because of touching the dead, had to use this water to be cleansed. This cleansing was only ceremonial and outward, thus a purification "of the flesh." In contrast, the writer describes the cleansing effect of the blood of Christ. He gave His own body in complete obedience to God (Philippians 2:5-8). With the "conscience" man understands the will of God. While the blood of bulls and goats could only cleanse flesh, Christ"s blood cleanses the conscience. Jesus offered Himself through His own divine and eternal spirit. The cleansing under the old law was only temporary. Christ"s pure blood stands as an effective sacrifice until the end of time (Hebrews 9:11-14).


Verse 15

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The New Covenant Was Validated by Christ’s Death

Since it is a better sacrifice, Christ is the mediator of a new and better covenant, or will. It is through His death that the people of the old covenant will receive an actual (not ceremonial) cleansing from their sins. All of those from the past who were children of God can only receive the final promises of their covenants if Christ"s blood ratifies their agreements, which it does. It is a fact that Christ had to die so that all of the promises of God"s covenants with man could go into effect. No one could claim eternal life as a part of his inheritance until Christ died, since His death ratified all past and present covenant promises.

Summing up what he has already said, the writer tells his readers blood has to be shed for a testament, or covenant, to be in effect (see comment on ). To prove the point, the writer related the story of the sprinkling of blood performed by Moses in the dedicating of the first covenant (Exodus 24:1-8). That sprinkling was with the blood of oxen, which could not take away sins (10:4). That is why the blood of Christ still had to be shed for the sins of those who died under the first covenant. Further, Moses had said that the blood sprinkled ratified the testament. The fact that God "commanded" them shows that this covenant was proposed by God and agreed to by the children of Israel. The importance of blood is further seen in the sprinkling of the tabernacle and all its vessels. Indeed, most acts of purification were by blood, under the law, and all atonement for sin was made with blood (Hebrews 9:15-22; Exodus 40:9-11; Leviticus 17:11).


Verses 23-28

Results of Christ’s Entrance Into Heaven

The very existence of Israel and all of the promises that she was to receive was dependent upon blood. The superior sacrifice of God"s only Son was intended to cleanse all of the anti-types of the Jewish Tabernacle. Also, Christ"s shed blood was used for the cleansing of heavenly things. Therefore, it had to be shed. While the blood of the old covenant was sufficient for its purpose, only the blood of Christ could purify the anti-types of the Jewish tabernacle and the heavenly things. The sanctuary Christ entered was heaven, the home of spiritual beings. Thus, a spiritual sacrifice was required. Christ is now before God"s throne and will represent sinful man (Hebrews 9:23-24; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1).

Having seen Christ"s blood is needed, it is important to recognize continual sheddings of it are not required. If there were a need for yearly sacrifices to cleanse man"s sins, those sacrifices would have been required from the fall of Adam to the present. The single offering of Christ was all that was needed and is able to cleanse the sins of man from the time of his fall to the end of the earth. Christ came at the "completion of the ages," thus the last age of God’s dealings with man. Jesus made His sacrifice at the beginning of this last age (Hebrews 9:24-26; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Peter 1:2).

While the High Priest had to make an annual sacrifice to cleanse his own sins and the sins of the people, Christ, who was without sin, has no need of those yearly cleansings. Also, His sacrifice was perfect for the task and only needed once. So, like all men, He had to die once and face the consequences of sin. Of course, the sin He bore was not His own. "Appointed" means "reserved for," or "laid up." Jesus came as a sin bearer, or sin offering, the first time, but He will not do so the second time. We as Christians are like the people under the old law who awaited the return of the High Priest from the Holy of Holies. Jesus will come again as He promised (John 14:1-6) and as the writer assures his readers (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Christ’s second coming is also mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, where we learn of the reward Christians will receive and the punishment non-Christians will receive (Hebrews 9:27-28).

 


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Bibliography Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:4". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/hebrews-9.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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