Hebrews Chapter 09

Originally published 7/18/2010.

Hebrews 9:1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

Review the last verse of chapter 8, Hebrews 8:13, “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” The covenant that has passed away is the Old Covenant with Moses. It is the covenant of the law and the priesthood entailed in the law. The Old Covenant had its services. They were known as ordinances.

What is an ordinance? It is an established rule, policy, or practice. The Greek word is δικαιωματα, diakomata, from δικαιωμα(diakoma, 1345). It is what has been established, and ordained by law. The Hebrew is חק (chuq, 2706) or חקת, (chuqqah, 2708), the latter being the feminine form. Both have the same meaning—statute, ordinance, limit, enactment, something prescribed. In this case, religious observances are intended. What were these observances? They are listed in part in Hebrews 9:10: “meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances.” To expand, these ordinances regulate offering of foods and drinks, different types of ceremonial washings, and ordinances concerning the flesh, that is, moral ordinances.

There were many specific ordinances, such as what type of offering was used for what sin, when certain festivals were to occur, how to disassemble and reassemble the Tabernacle, who carried the Ark of the Covenant, and etc. There was a liturgy that was followed explicitly in the worship services of the Old Covenant. Additionally there were the physical Tabernacle and later the Temple.

Hebrews 9:2-5 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. (3) And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; (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; (5) And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

The Tabernacle and the Temple each had two rooms set apart for worship. The Temple had side rooms for various uses, but the sacred portion of the Temple consisted of two rooms. The first room was the holy place, the Sanctuary. The Candlestick (Menorah), the Altar of Incense, and the Table of Shewbread were there. The second room, only accessible through the Sanctuary, was the Most Holy Place, the Sanctified Sanctuary, the Sanctum Sanctorum, the Holy of Holies, the קדשׁ הקדשׁים, Qodesh Haqodeshim (Holy of Holies). The Greek here follows the Hebrew. It is αγια αγιων, Hagia Hagion, (Holy of Holies). In the Most Holy Place were the Golden Censer, Ark of the Covenant (or Testimony), The Mercy Seat (the lid of the Ark), and the Cherubim. The reason Paul1 could not speak specifically of the Ark and the Cherubim, is that they were not important to this discussion. They were fulfilled in Christ and that is the subject here.

Hebrews 9:6-7 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. (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:

The priest entered the sanctuary daily to tend to the lampstand. Every time the priest went in, he burned incense, so the incense altar had to be tended. The shewbread was replaced regularly. But only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place and only once a year. There, on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), he sprinkled the blood of a goat on and around the Mercy Seat. The blood of a bullock covered the sins of the priest and the blood of a goat covered the sins of the people for a year (Leviticus 16:24).

Hebrews 9:8 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:

Christ is the true way into the Holy of Holies. The significance of the limited access to the Holy of Holies, was that Christ was not yet made known to the people. The Spirit directed all of the divine services having to do with Tabernacle/Temple worship activities. That the Holy Spirit is mentioned to have been in control of these things shows His work under the Old Covenant. Yes, after the resurrection His work was made manifest to us as the Paraklete, or Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, but He was also at work in Old Testament times. We first see His work in Genesis 1:2, “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Under the Old covenant, the only access to God was through the high priest on a single day on an annual basis. The Holy of Holies was blocked from view by a heavy curtain that obscured the contents of the area. At the exact moment Jesus Christ gave up the spirit on the cross, that heavy curtain split from top to bottom, forever opening the way into the presence of God. Of course, the Jewish religious system continued until 70 AD and the destruction of Jerusalem, but it was no longer valid, being passed away with the Old Covenant. Believers have direct access to God, not through a human intermediary, but through Jesus Christ, God the Son, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, making intercession for us. His intercession cleanses our sins (because of His Own shed blood), making it possible for us to go directly to the Father with our prayers.

Hebrews 9:9-10 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; (10) Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

The Old Covenant system was a figure that looked forward to Christ, Who fulfilled each and every ordinance pertaining to the worship system. The system was a shadow of the things in Heaven. The Tabernacle, the Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, the Ark, and the Cherubim are shadows of the Temple in Heaven. The sacrifices and the shewbread were figures of Christ, Who is the Word of Life. The sacrifices indicated His suffering and death, and the bread represented the Word of God.

The gifts and sacrifices of the Old Covenant were not enough to make the priest perfect, nor the people. These were imperfect sacrifices that could not fully cleanse from sin, therefore could not really cleanse the conscience. The only True Sacrifice that could accomplish the true cleansing from sin and of the conscience was Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. His sacrifice was once for all, and, once we believe, His righteousness is credited to our account, and we are cloaked in it, thereby cleansing our conscience (Romans 4:24-25).

Let us look at the definition of διορθωσεως‚, diorthoseos, from διόρθωσις‚ (1357), diorthosis, which is translated reformation. Thayer defines it: “in a physical sense, a making straight, restoring to its natural and normal condition something which in some way protrudes or has got out of line, as broken or misshapen limbs“. This certainly applies to the Old Covenant system, which, because of the unbelief of the people, had become misshapen. Just look at the myriad and unsustainable Pharisaical laws and regulations. The second definition of the word is “reformation of acts and institutions“. What was it that reformed the old system? The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our perfect and eternal sacrifice. The old system was reformed into the New Covenant, forever restoring the plan of salvation to perfection.

Hebrews 9:11-12 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; (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.

The Greater and Perfect Tabernacle is that in Heaven. It is the true and it is not made with hands; it was made by God. The blood of goats and calves was only a figure that did not cleanse the sins or the conscience. But Jesus the Messiah, entered into the true Tabernacle in Heaven with His Own shed blood, and it is implied that He sprinkled His Own blood on the altar in Heaven, not for His Own sins, for He had none, but for the sins of the world, thereby obtaining eternal redemption for those that believe.

Look at this closely. If the figure is the Old Covenant high priest going into the Holy of Holies, on the Day of Atonement, and sprinkling the blood of goats and calves on the Mercy Seat, then the real thing is Christ sprinkling His Own blood on the Mercy Seat in Heaven. The Apostle does not say this, but it is the implication.

Hebrews 9:13 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:

This did not purify the conscience nor did it provide eternal redemption. It purified the flesh but only temporarily . . .

Hebrews 9:14 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?

. . .but the blood of Christ provides eternal redemption for us. Jesus Christ was our sacrifice, Who was sinless and perfect before God. The dead works, from which our consciences must be purified, are, simply stated, sins. Once purged from our sins, we are then able to serve God. With sins, we would incapable of serving God, because, without Christ all of our works are dead works (see Isaiah 64:6).

Hebrews 9:15 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.

A mediator is one who sits in between two parties acting as an enabler or arbitrator. He enables both parties to come to an agreement or arbitrates the agreement. Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man, providing for our redemption. He is the mediator of the New Covenant, which is based upon His Own perfect shed blood and not on the blood of bulls and goats, of ordinances and performance. Those who are called, that is, those who, by the prompting of the Spirit, believe in Christ Jesus, receive the promise of eternal inheritance. Inheritance is what our predecessors leave for us. The inheritance given by God to His sons (and daughters) is eternal life in a dwelling place made for us in Heaven (John 14:2). As believers we are the sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:15-17).

Hebrews 9:16-17 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. (17) For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

The testament is διαθηκη (diatheke, 1242), which is a contract. But it is also the word for the last will and testament of an individual. The last will and testament is a contract that cannot be performed until the death of the one making the contract, who is called the testator διατίθεμαι, (1303, diatithemai). I am the testator of my own will and testament. That will and testament cannot be acted upon until after my death. It cannot be enforced before my death. In order for a last will and testament to be enforced, the testator must die.

Hebrews 9:18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.

Whereupon means “therefore” Therefore, because of the statement in the last two verses, the first such testament was not accomplished without the spilling of blood. Because a testament is not on effect until after the testator dies, then someone or something had to die in order for the testament or covenant to be in force.

Hebrews 9:19-20 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, (20) Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.

The covenant with Moses was put into effect with the sacrifices mentioned in the verse. Let us remember other covenants. The covenant with Abraham required the spilling of blood. The men were to be circumcised. This spilled their blood. When God promised the land to Abram, he had to kill animals and cut them in half, placing the halves opposite one another for the testators to pass between. Abram was put into a trance while the Holy Spirit passed between the halves of the animals (Genesis 15:7-17). This recognized the fact that God alone made the covenant and there were no conditions placed on Abraham in order for the covenant to be fulfilled. Blood was shed here, too—the blood of a heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon. The passing through the halves of the animals was the sealing of the covenant, much like a handshake.

The passage to which this verse refers is found in Exodus 24:4-8:

And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and built an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.

This testament was the covenant of the Law. Though no man died, the animals did and their death signified that the testament was in force and had strength. The people agreed that they would obey all of the precepts of God: “and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do” (Exodus 24:3). God said, in return for their obedience, “that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess” (Deuteronomy 5:33). Moses then sprinkled the blood of the animals (which was mixed with water to keep it from coagulating) on the people, thus consecrating the covenant. Again, the blood signified that the testament was in force.

The blood was that of the Old Testament, the testament of Law. The LORD enjoined the blood unto them, that is, He commanded that the blood be shed and sprinkled on them. Under the New Testament, Jesus said, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28). Thus the blood was the sealing of the covenants.

Hebrews 9:21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.

He did this so that the vessels would not be contaminated with sin. No one could touch the implements unless he had first been cleansed and made holy. (Exodus 30:29-30). There is no mention of Moses sprinkling the blood upon the Tabernacle or the vessels. The Old Testament says he anointed them with oil. Josephus tells us that he sprinkled blood on them:

And when Moses had sprinkled Aaron’s vestments, himself, and his sons, with the blood of the beasts that were slain, and had purified them with spring waters and ointment, they became God’s priests. After this manner did he consecrate them and their garments for seven days together. The same he did to the tabernacle, and the vessels thereto belonging, both with oil first incensed, as I said, and with the blood of bulls and of rams, slain day by day one, according to its kind. (Antiquities III.8.6)

And of course, the Epistle to the Hebrews is Scripture so that makes it certain that Moses did, indeed sprinkle the blood upon them, just as Josephus said.

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

There were a few things purged by water, such as clothing and the hands and feet of the priests. Precious metals were purged by fire. But everything else in the temple service was purged by blood.

Leviticus 17:11 tells us: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Here then, are two witnesses that attest to the fact that blood must be shed to atone for sins, the current verse, and Leviticus 17:11.

Hebrews 9:23 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.

Since all of the items of worship and service to God were just shadows of those things in Heaven, they had to be purified with blood to take away the tarnish of sin. But why must things in Heaven be purified? The commentaries contain several different explanations of this seeming contradiction. I am just going to print the way I understand it. There is no sin in Heaven; there cannot be. God is Holy and sin contaminates holiness, making it not holy. An easy way to understand this is to think of a dozen good eggs. The whole dozen is good; it is a perfect dozen. But if you add one rotten egg, the dozen is no longer a good or perfect dozen. It is now a contaminated dozen. You can look at a bag of fruit similarly. A bag of fruit is a perfect bag if all the fruit are fresh and vibrant. If you remove one piece of perfect fruit and replace it with one rotten piece of fruit, then you no longer have a perfect bag of fruit. Heaven is the same way. It is perfect and sinless and holy as is God. If sin were allowed into Heaven or into the presence of God, then Heaven would no longer be perfect and holy. It would be contaminated with sin. Therefore sin cannot enter into Heaven.

Since Heaven is opened to mankind, then the sin of men would contaminate the tabernacle in Heaven, and the blood of Christ purifies those things from the sins of men. It is to God that we owe our sin debt, and to Him we must pay. But Christ paid our debt for us. Since we owe the debt to God, then the blood of Christ purifies the things in Heaven from the sins of men.

It may seem a contradiction that Satan and the other sons of God may present themselves before Yehovah (Job 1:6 & 2:1). It would seem as though Satan’s presence would contaminate the Holiness of God. But the language seems to indicate that they were summoned before God. When we go to court, we present ourselves before the court. If we are charged, then we are at the mercy of the judgment of the court. It seems like these sons of God are summoned before God. I do not have an English translation of the Targum Onkelos, (there is a Hebrew Version online, but I do not read Hebrew). But according to Albert Barnes, a commentator of the Nineteenth Century, the Targum Onkelos (AKA the Chaldee Paraphrase), states (about Job 1:6):

Now it happened in the day of judgment, “in the beginning of the year,” that hosts of angels came to stand in judgment before Yahweh, and Satan came

So it appears that God summoned the sons of God and Satan before Him on the day of judgment. They were before God for Him to judge their actions over a past period of time. We may conclude this from the phrase, “And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou?” God is asking Satan to give an account of himself.

The dead whose names are not in the Book of Life will stand before the Great White Throne of the judgment of God. When a judge sits in the courtroom, he sits in a place set apart from the defendants, the legal professionals, and from the public. He sits on a higher plane than the rest of the court. No one may approach him without his permission. So the judge is above reproach, and not associated in any way with the rest of the court (except for his own representatives, like clerks and bailiffs). The judge is kept separated from those present in court. He is set apart (holy) from the rest.

The Great White Throne is a similar picture. God (the Son, for He has been give all authority—Matthew 28:18) sits above the dead in a place consecrated or set apart especially for Him. He does not associate with the sinners. He is above sin and removed from sin in His position as judge. Therefore when the sons of God came to stand before him (for that is the meaning of the Hebrew להתיצב, lahatyatsab, “to present himself”, from יצב(yatsab, 3320), “to stand”). In the English system of jurisprudence (and in other nations, especially those of the old Commonwealth), the accused stands in the dock during the trial. This gives more credence to the idea that Satan came to stand before God to be judged.

Again, since men and women are to live in Heaven with their Savior, it was necessary to purge their sins and, as with the Tabernacle on earth, to purify the tabernacle and its furnishings in Heaven from the sins of men in preparation for mankind’s entry into Heaven.

Hebrews 9:24 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:

Jesus did not enter into the Most Holy Place in Jerusalem—He was crucified outside the gates. He entered into the real sanctuary in Heaven. He sits at the Right Hand of God making intercession for us.

Hebrews 9:25-26 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; (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.

Christ’s blood was shed once for all. He did not need to make yearly sacrifices with the blood of animals. He was Himself the sacrifice. Had He needed to sacrifice yearly, it would have been necessary to do so over and over again from the foundation of the world. Why? Because He is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).

The one perfect sacrifice of His own body and blood, was sufficient to divorce (for that is what “put away” means) us from our sins for eternity.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

God said (in Genesis 3:19), “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” We are also told, in Revelation 20:11-13 “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. {12} And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. {13} And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” So the scriptures tell us that every person will die the death of the flesh, and these same dead will be resurrected for the Judgment of God. Death itself delivers up the dead it contains. There is nothing else. We live, we die, and we are judged. But Christians are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1). Christ took our punishment for us, and we are free from the Judgment of God. Of course all the saved will stand before Christ to have our Christian works judged in order to bestow rewards for our works, but no one saved will be judged to eternal punishment at that seat of judgment. Our sins are forgiven and forgotten by God (Psalm 103:12 , Micah 7:19).

Hebrews 9:28 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.

Though He took our sins upon Himself, when He returns, He will not have those sins upon Himself, for they have been removed and cast away. He will come and receive us into His Kingdom. He will return for our eternal salvation with Him, in Heaven, forever.

  1. The reason I use “Paul” instead of “the writer of Hebrews” is explained in the preface to Chapter 1. If you disagree that Paul is the writer, please continue to read for I have no argument with you. As a scholar once said, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things, love” (attributed to Augustine).
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