For an introduction to this series, click here.
November 13, 2007
The writer goes into detail here about the worship in the Tabernacle and how Christ's sacrifice fulfilled all of that. The chapter begins with a description of the items in the Tabernacle. Then the writer says:
"These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age).[d] According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption." (9:6-12)
The Old Testament system was never sufficient to take away the sins of the priests themselves, much less the people in general. Now don't get the idea that what they did was wrong or bad. They were obedient to God's command. They were doing what God had told them to do, and God was pleased with that. That is why His presence came down among them, and why you read in a few places that the people were filled with joy as they worshiped the Lord in the Old Testament. That was God's plan for that time. But now God has a new plan, and these converted Jews needed to put their old religion into proper perspective.
"For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." (9:13-14)
The Old Testament law was all about ceremony and symbols. There were lots of things people could do to be ceremonially unclean, and there were things people could do to become ceremonially clean. But in Christ, we are made permanently, spiritually clean once for all. And this is a motivation and encouragement for us to live for God, as the writer says.
"Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, 'This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.' And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (9:18-22)
Blood signifies death. There was nothing magic in the blood of an animal, but it was the picture of the animal dying in the place of the people that was important. And it is the same with the Lord Jesus. There are a lot of people who claim there was some sort of magic or something divine in Christ's physical blood. But if He did not have human blood, how could He be our substitute? The fact that He died a substitutionary death is the important fact, not that He had special blood. If it was the shedding of His blood that was significant, and not His death, all Jesus would have had to have done was prick His finger to achieve salvation. In other words, if they had a bloodmobile back in Jesus' day, He could have donated. Whatever blood type it was, it was normal human blood.
"For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." (9:24-28, ESV)