Hebrews 9:1-14 – Continuing with the Tabernacle of Israel as the backdrop, the writer of the letter of Hebrews directs our thoughts once again to the Messiah. In developing this theme he touches upon an area of life all of us have to deal with: The conscience deep within us.
The conscience has the ability to prod us or punish us. The conscience can be programmed to make us feel guilty when guilt is undeserved. On the other hand the conscience can be hardened so that we can feel internal approval when we should instead feel wrong.
In this portion of Scripture we are given some valuable instruction regarding the conscience. Most of us are aware that there is an external reality that we have. It is that which is seen. But we have an internal person that is not always seen. Personality is one aspect of the internal person we have that is seen. But something that is not generally seen is our conscience. It is our conscience that gives us signals of peace or condemnation.
The Scriptures contain many examples of the internal and external in relationship to one another. 1 Samuel 16:1-7 & Matthew 23:27-28, 2 Corinthians 4:16. So we know that there is an outward man as well as an inward man. The conscience is an inward unseen force.
No human doctor can perform surgery on the conscience, even though it may give to us great pain. Man tries to ease this pain with drugs and alcohol but the conscience cannot be completely subdued. In Hebrews 9, the Tabernacle is used as an illustration or a type of a relationship between that which is external and that which is internal.
Hebrews 9:1-10 there is a discussion on the Tabernacle. Hebrews 9:1-5 deals with the arrangement of the furnishings. The Tabernacle was a temporary, portable tent. Within it were a variety of furnishings placed in particular positions to assist the children of Israel in their worship of God. In Leviticus 16:12-13 we have the details and arrangements for Yom Kippur. Then we have a description of the activities of the priests in Hebrews 9:6-10.
Even with all the ceremonies and rituals, perfect cleansing from sin could not be fully accomplished. Specifically in Hebrews 9:9 we are told that these imperfect offerings are inadequate for the conscience. The word Symbol (Parable) refers to the setting side‑by‑side for the purpose of comparison; the old way vs. the new.
The conscience of the person sacrificing was never freed from the feeling of guilt because the guilt itself was never removed. The cleansing was only external. The ritual of the Levitical priesthood had two primary limitations:
1. The outward rituals changed nothing inside a person.
2. They were symbols of what was yet to come.
Remember the context, Jewish believers who were thinking that if they could worship in the Temple, the old way, they would have a correct relationship with God and a clean conscience. The point being made here is that you cannot by doing something external, to solve a problem that is internal. We love tangibles, the symbols. We have a tendency to become more attached to the symbols than to the realities that they represent.
Not too long ago we discussed the Bronze serpent and we saw that it was a type or a symbol of something that was to come. When the children of Israel were dying in the wilderness when they looked at the bronze serpent they were saved from dying. But 800 years later Hoshea the King of Judah had to destroy that bronze serpent with the blessing of God (2 Kings 18:1-4).
Hebrews 9:11-14 – In these verses we learn of God=s provision for an internal restoration through Messiah “But When Messiah Appeared. With these four words we are introduced to the significance of the inner person, and that which is of far greater value. When the Messiah died and rose again, the symbols were replaced with something of lasting reality. There are 4 ways that the sacrifice of the Messiah differs from the animal sacrifices of the Levitical priesthood:
1. The sacrifice of Jesus was voluntary. An animal dies because it had to. Jesus chose to die. An animal’s life is taken from it, but Jesus laid down his life willingly.
2. The sacrifice of Jesus was the fruit of God’s love for us. But the animal sacrifices were entirely the product of the requirements of the law.
3. Jesus sacrifice was rational, the animal did not know what it was doing. There was no forethought or reason on the animal’s part. On the other hand Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. He died knowing that His death would provide life to all who would believe in Him.
4. Jesus’ sacrifice was supernatural. His sacrifice was “Through the eternal Spirit of God” Hebrews 9:14. The result was eternal redemption. His blood unlike the blood that was required in the times of the Temple cleanses our conscience from works that do not lead to or give life. Hebrews 9:14. God is anxious for us to turn our attention to the internals. How do we do it?
1) By ceasing to emphasize and concentrate on externals. Practically it means eliminating the religious rituals that we think is pleasing to God. Just coming to services is not what God has in mind. Romans 12:1-2.
2) Start focusing on the internals. Go beneath the surface of the symbols and get to their significance. Place more value on what is inside.
Hebrews 9:15-28. In Hebrews 3-4 we learned that the main concern of Hebrews is that we rest or rely on the finished work of the Messiah entering the Sabbath rest that He provided for us. The emphasis is that we live under the New Covenant that was promised by the prophet Jeremiah. Offensive as it may sound to some; blood is an essential ingredient of the life of the New Covenant. In fact, blood is essential for all life.
This portion of Hebrews is prefaced in Hebrews 9:13-14. Under the Covenant of Moses that was given to the Fathers on Mt. Sinai, the children of Israel had to return time and time again to have their sins cleansed. In the New Covenant we learned that the Blood of the Messiah has everlasting results. We just learned how it cleanses our consciences, something that could never be done before.
We will now see that the blood relates to three things: The Covenant, Forgiveness, and Salvation.
1. Blood in relation to Covenant (Hebrews 9:15-18) The word covenant appears here 6 different times. The word Testament is a mistranslation and it is most important for us to understand that when we say New Testament, Covenant is really what is meant. The word Covenant means literally to cut. In every instance when God entered into a relationship with man there was cutting involved. For example in the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 15 and in Sinai covenant in Exodus 24:3-8. In both of these cases blood was shed and is an integral element of the agreement that was made. So then blood is an essential part of entering into a Covenant with the God of Israel.
2. Blood in relation to Forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22) If you meditate on this verse for a few minutes there are at least two conclusions that you will likely come to.
1) That sin is a terrible offense. It is so offensive that it blocked man from God. In fact when the first sin occurred man experienced a 3 fold separation — God, Man and Self.
3. Blood as it relates to Salvation (Hebrews 9:23-28) The first word in this passage is the beautiful connection therefore. Up until now, we’ve learned the importance of the blood and the many aspects of the Old Covenant in relation to the New. It is at this point that our observations end and there is a call for interaction (Hebrews 9:28). This is a reference to the believers hope for the Messiah’s return. We must not overlook what is being said here in v. 28. We have a contrast between the Old and New Covenant.
What we see here is that the Messiah didn’t enter a holy place made with hands (The Tabernacle), but rather he entered Heaven itself. Hebrews 9:24.
2) The second conclusion we come to is that the Messiah did not offer Himself often (as the priests offered animals), but rather, offered Himself once. Hebrews 9:25.
In Hebrews 9:27-28, in light of all we have seen in the Book of Hebrews the writer gives us a word of warning and a word of encouragement. The Greek society had as their motto, “Eat, drink, and be merry: for tomorrow you die.” Marcus Aurelius, a Roman, taught, “When one dies, his spark goes back and all that is left is dust, ashes, bones, and stench.”
On the other hand the writer of Hebrews says, “…It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment…” This is a severe word of warning. God is not concerned how religious or energetic we may be, or how kind or good we are in our attitudes or actions: He’s concerned that our hearts are washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Judgment is a certain reality to the person who dies without the blood of atonement. On the other hand we are given a word of encouragement to the one who has come to trust in the Messiah. His judgment is behind him and his salvation” (Hebrews 9:28) awaits him. This is a person who can live each day without fear, assured of his future.
As we conclude chapter 9, two truths remain:
1. Today’s sin is forgivable.
2. Tomorrows judgment is escapable.