CONTEXT: The book of Hebrews is a letter of exhortation ("But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly" Hebrews 13:22) addressed to Jewish recipients who had entered the New Covenant or were being drawn that direction. This letter provides many exhortations (strong urgings, appeals and encouragements) designed to undergird the readers so that they would hold fast to the truth about Jesus their great High Priest and conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the New Covenant into which they had entered, despite severe persecution ("a great conflict of sufferings" Hebrews 10:32) and strong temptation to return to Judaism and the regulations of divine worship under the Old Covenant ("who shrink back to destruction" Hebrews 10:39). Chapters 5-7 presents a strong argument explaining why Jesus is a better High Priest than the Levitical priesthood and Chapters 8-10 amplify why Jesus now has a more excellent ministry in the New Covenant and how this covenant is a better covenant with better promises.
Remember that the Old Covenant ("the first"), which was never referred to as everlasting, was inaugurated by God at Mt Sinai, with the nation of Israel, through the mediation of Moses, for the purpose of setting Israel apart as God's special possession and included promises of blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience (therefore a conditional covenant), and Israel agreed to obey the covenant laws ("All...we will do!"), this agreement being solemnly attested to and ratified by "the blood of the covenant".
Note: An attempt has been made in discussing Hebrews 8-10 to describe a related topic or subject on each row, usually from left to right and usually drawing out a contrast the writer is making between the old and new covenants (or the priesthood, tabernacle or other ritual associated with covenant).
How does the place of service of earthly priests contrast with that of our High Priest Jesus? (Heb 8:5-note)
The earthly tabernacle was a Copy & shadow of heavenly - according to pattern God showed Moses on Sinai
What is the main point of the preceding chapters? (Heb 8:1-note)
Jesus our High Priest has taken His seat at right hand of throne of Majesty in heavens
Where does He minister? (Heb 8:2-note)
In the sanctuary = the true tabernacle the Lord pitched, not man.
What is Jesus' ministry in the true tabernacle according to (Heb 7:25-note)?
He ever lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God through Him
How is the first covenant described? (Heb 8:7-note)
What was the fault? (Heb 8:9-note)
What is the status of the first covenant? (Heb 8:13-note)
(Note: Even use of "new" implies something else is "old" and is ready to be replaced = the very point the writer seeks to emphasize.)
How is Jesus' ministry described? (Hebrews 8:6-note)
Where is this better covenant first mentioned and to whom? (Heb 8:8-note)
Jeremiah 31:31, 32, 33, 34
Why is it better according to (Heb 8:8-note)
Why is the NC
It is based on
Better promises than OC
What are some of the better promises noted in Heb 8:10,11,12 (see notes Heb 8:10,11,12)?
"I will" (6x) (no conditions)
Put His laws into their minds
Write laws upon their hearts
Be their God, they His people
All shall know God
Mercy for their iniquities
Remember their sins no more (In Greek "no" is a double negative which is the strongest negation - absolutely will not remember" is the idea! Hallelujah! cp Mic 7:18, 19, Ps 103:12 Isa 38:17 43:25 44:22, foreshadowed by the scapegoat - Lev 16:20, 21)
What structure does the writer describe in Heb 9:1; 2; 3; 4; 5 - see notes Heb 9:1; 2; 3; 4; 5)?
The earthly tabernacle
See note on location of
How is the priestly activity characterized in (notes Heb 9:6; 7 -note)?
Priests continually (daily) entered the outer tabernacle (note)
Only High Priest entered the 2nd (Holy of holies) 1/yr & only with blood for himself & the people (note)
How did the Holy Spirit use the Tabernacle to teach Israel according to (Heb 9:8-note)?
He used it as a "Symbol" =
What truths did the Holy Spirit teach using the symbol of the Tabernacle (Heb 9:8, 9-note)?
1) The majority of the people had no access into the presence of God (Holy Place = Holy of holies) as long as the Tabernacle stood or as long as it had a significant standing in their mind (See note regarding translation)
2) Animal sacrifices were unable to cleanse one's conscience (remember that the heart of the problem is the problem with the heart) (note)
What was the implied weakness of the OC according to (Heb 9:10-note)? (Clue: see NLT)
The weakness of the priestly service under the OC was its inability to address the need for inner transformation in man; therefore it was only imposed until the time of reformation (when God would "set things right")
How does the writer allude to the New Covenant in (Heb 9:10-note)?
The time of reformation
Only the NC could set things right between God and man
Application to NT believers: Are you still trying to earn a sense of being pleasing to God by trusting in your good deeds and/or good behavior. The problem with this approach is that you never know when you have done enough to please Him and the result is often an uneasy, troubled, restless feeling. If this is you beloved, you need to cease striving and know that He is God (Ps 46:10) and believe that He has graciously provided for your bold entrance into His glorious presence through His beloved Son's finished work as your Great High Priest! (He 4:16, He 10:19, 20)
How is the priestly activity of Christ contrasted ("but when") with that of the OC (Heb 9:11-note; Heb 9:12- note)?
1) Where?: He entered the greater, more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, not of this creation
He entered the "holy place" in heaven = very throne room of God!
2) When?: He entered once for all
His work is finished. PTL! (See John 19:30-note)
3) How?: He entered through His own blood (not through the blood of animals)
(Note that "but when" in Heb 9:11 marks a major contrast as the author shifts from discussion of the old system to the new - the time of reformation.)
What did the priestly activity of Christ accomplish (Heb 9:12-note)?
Redemption = lutrosis (note) = Greeks used it to describe paying a ransom to free slaves, for all who enter the new covenant it means deliverance from the guilt, penalty and power of our old "master" Sin, so that now we don't have to obey Sin
You can have confidence in your salvation because it is not temporary but eternal
What was the purpose of the blood of animals and sprinkled ashes of a heifer (Heb 9:12-note;Heb 9:13-note)?
V12 Made it possible for the earthly high priest to enter the Holy Place on the Day of Atonement
v13 Cleansed the body from ritual defilement - deals only with external cleansing and did not change the person's heart
Phillip Hughes makes an important point that is not well understood by many NT believers, explaining that while the Old Covenant sacrifices were indeed superficial and external, nevertheless "faith in the reality to which as a type it [OC sacrifices and rituals] pointed led to the appropriation of the promised covenant blessings awaiting their fulfillment in Christ". In other words, OT sinners became saints by grace thru faith in the One to Whom the sacrifices and rituals pointed, i.e., the Messiah. Don't misunderstand - Performance of the OC sacrifices saved no one, but as men and women saw and believed upon Christ Who was pictured in these sacrifices, that is when they were saved. Does that make sense?
How did blood of Christ compare with the blood of animals (Heb 9:14-note)?
Much more effective
Blood of Christ was
Christ by the power of the eternal Spirit as the High Priest Who offered Himself as the sacrifice!
OT priests carried animal blood in as their offering
The High Priest became the sacrifice!
Note: Through the eternal Spirit: Although disputed, this phrase most likely refers to the Holy Spirit's role in Christ's life as the Son of Man (cp Isa 42:1, 61:1, Mk 1:10, Lk 4:1, 14, 18).
How much more effective was blood of Christ compared to blood of animals (Heb 9:14-note)?
The blood of Christ effects a complete cleansing of our conscience from dead works (deeds that only lead to death) to serve the living God
Note the contrast: This better promise is based on the fact that the cleansing by the blood of Christ is internal not external like OC sacrifices
How does the writer refer to Christ in (Heb 9:15-note)?
How did He become the Mediator?
How does the writer explain why Christ had to die (Heb 9:16-note; Heb 9:17- note)?
Note that "covenant" in this case is used like a will - while the person is alive the will does not go into effect - the person who made the will must die for the will to go into force - the point is that the promise of eternal inheritance is in the will so to speak and did not go into effect until Christ died
What did Christ death accomplish according to (Heb 9:15-note)?
Redemption of the transgressions committed under the first covenant
Promise of eternal inheritance for those who are called
Called is the verb kaleo in the perfect tense meaning they were "called" at some point in time and that "calling" was permanently efficacious.
Explanation of the writer's divinely inspired logic (and "apologetic") in Hebrews 9:16-9:28: "Being very much aware of that theological blind spot, the writer of Hebrews proceeds to give three reasons it was necessary for the Messiah to die: a testament demands death, forgiveness demands blood, and judgment demands a substitute." (MacArthur, John: Hebrews. Moody Press or Logos or Wordsearch)
And so the writer of proceeds to explain (1) Christ's death had to occur in order for His "will" ("covenant") to become effective (Heb 9:16, 17 - see preceding columns), (2) Christ's blood had to be shed to effect genuine forgiveness of sins (Heb 9:18-26) and (3) Sin calls for judgment and the offering of Christ (and His death) served as the Substitute to "bear the sins of many" (Heb 9:27, 28)
How was the first covenant inaugurated? (Heb 9:18; 19; 20; 21; 22) (see notes Heb 9:18; 19; 20; 21; 22)
With blood (which was proof of death so that as is the case with a will the terms of the will could now be activated) - Moses sprinkled people, book, tabernacle, vessels of ministry
The blood of the covenant
What was the effect
Almost all things
What does he reiterate regarding the blood in (Heb 9:23-note)? What was the blood used for?
Copies of the things (emphasizing again that the tabernacle on earth was just a model) in the heavens were cleansed with blood
How were the heavenly things cleansed? (Heb 9:23-note)
With better sacrifices
than the blood of animals
Why were better sacrifices necessary? (Heb 9:24-note)
Christ entered not into a copy (like the earthly priests) but into heaven itself
(OC priests could only enter into the earthly holy place with animal blood)
What is the better
Forgiveness of sins
Note: (Also see note) Strictly speaking this is not a promise although it does foreshadow or preview a better promise. The point the writer is making is that forgiveness cannot occur without the shedding of blood - shedding of blood in the OC brought a temporary sense of forgiveness but it was an incomplete forgiveness. Perfect forgiveness demanded a perfect blood sacrifice, which the writer has already presented in in verse 14. Christ's who was without blemish fulfilled the Law which paved the way for perfect forgiveness to be received by those who believed.
Forgiveness = aphesis [from apo = away from + hiemi = send] (see word study on aphesis) which refers first to an action which produces a separation. Aphesis was used as a legal term meaning to repay or cancel a debt or to grant a pardon. Through the shedding of His own blood, Jesus Christ actually took the sins of the world upon His own head, as it were, and carried them an infinite distance away from where they could never return. That is the extent of the forgiveness of our trespasses.
What's the better promise Christ accomplished by entering into the true holy place made without hands? (Heb 9:24-note)
Appears in the presence of God for us (in our place)
What does he repeat about the high priest in (Heb 9:25-note)?
Enters year by year with blood not his own
How often did Christ enter the true holy place? (Heb 9:26-note)
Once at the consummation of the ages
Why only once? (Heb 9:26-note)
What did Christ
Put away sin (made void the power of sin forever) by the sacrifice of Himself
What analogy does the writer make to help us understand Christ's death just once (in contrast to the yearly deaths of animals)? (Heb 9:27-Heb 9:27; Heb 9:28 note)
Men die once > judgment
What is the better promise that is effected by Christ dying once? (Heb 9:28-note)
Bear the sins of many
What else is promised as a result of His dying once?
Christ shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin
Who will receive this future tense salvation (explained below)?
All who eagerly await Him
Beloved are you looking for Him?
Looking will motivate living for Him!
This verse speaks of...
Future tense salvation =
(Eph 1:14 - note, Ro 8:23-note)
Redemption is completed and we receive our new bodies and are forever free from the presence & pleasure of sin! Hallelujah!
How did the writer refer to the Law in (Heb 10:1-note)?
Shadow not form (reality)
Why was the Law a shadow... What could the Law never do? Heb 10:1; 10:2; 10:4)(see notes Heb 10:1; 10:2; 10:3; 10:4)
1 Yearly sacrifices can never perfect those who draw near
2 Cannot remove consciousness of sins
4 Impossible for animal blood to take away sins
Was the Law useless? What was one purpose of the Law? (Heb 10:3-note)
What was the Law a shadow of in (Heb 10:1, 2, 3 4)?(see notes Heb 10:1; 10:2; 10:3; 10:4)
Good things to come
What are "the good things to come"?
The New Covenant mediated by the Great High Priest Who offered the perfect sacrifice once for all time
What are the implied promises of the "good things to come"?
1) Make perfect those who draw near to God
2) Removes consciousness of sins
3) Takes away sins
How does Jesus explain the inadequacy of the OC burnt offerings and sacrifices according to (Heb 10:5-note; Heb 10:6-note; Heb 10:8-note)?
Father did not desire them
He took no pleasure in them
What was God's solution in view of the inadequacy of the Law? Heb 10:5; 10:6; 10:7; 10:8; 10:9 (notes Heb 10:5; 10:6; 10:7; 10:8; 10:9)
God prepared a body for Jesus (He had to have a body to be a blood sacrifice)
What was Jesus' response to God? (Heb 10:7-note; Heb 10:9-note)
He came to do
What is the conclusion in view of the fact that Jesus states He will do His Father's will? (Heb 10:9-note)
Takes away the first in order to establish the second
How are we sanctified since the Law is taken away? (Heb 10:10-note)
Through offering of body of Jesus Christ once for all
What is the better promise in (Heb 10:10a-note)?
We have been sanctified
Perfect tense indicates completed action at a point in time in the past with present and ongoing effect.
This verse speaks of...
Past tense salvation =
Click Three Tenses of Salvation
We have been once and for all time declared righteous (our standing or position before God is that we are perfectly righteous because we are hid in Christ, our Righteousness)
How does he describe the work of the earthly priest? (Heb 10:11-note)
Stand daily ministering and offering the same sacrifices
What is the problem with their ministry?
Can never (ever)
What is the contrast in (Heb 10:12-note)?
Jesus offered one sacrifice for sins for all time
How do we know it was a satisfactory sacrifice?
Jesus sat down at the right hand of God = His work is finished
What is Jesus doing now according to (Heb10:13-note)?
Waiting until all His enemies are conquered
What did Christ's one offering (in contrast to the many offerings of the earthly priests) of Himself accomplish? (Heb 10:14-note)
He has perfected for all time those who are (being continually) sanctified
This verse speaks of...
Present tense salvation =
Click Three Tenses of Salvation
This describes God's part (sanctified = passive voice = God exerts His power on us) to set us apart gradually from the world and our old self and unto Him, by the sanctifying work of His Spirit, and ultimately into conformity with the image of His Son. Note Philippians 2:12 (notes) clearly shows it is not just "Let go and let God" for there believers are to work out their salvation day by day, but the good news in Philippians 2:13 (notes) is that God is at work in us both to work and to will (gives us the "want to") to do His good pleasure (this latter equating with Hebrews 10:14-note) (See this same juxtaposition of God's provision and man's responsibility in Ezek 36:27 which foretells the promise of the New Covenant. ).
How can we be assured that God has perfected us for all time and is daily sanctifying us? (Heb 10:15-note)
Holy Spirit continually bears witness with us
What does the Spirit quote? (Heb 10:16-note; Heb 10:17-note)
What promises does the Spirit repeat? (Heb 10:16-note; Heb 10:17 note)
God's Laws upon our heart
Written upon our mind
God will no more remember our sins and lawless deeds
How complete is the work of the New Covenant? (Heb 10:18-note)
There is no longer a need for blood sacrifices
What is the wonderful promise in Heb 10:18-note?
There is now forgiveness of all our sins and iniquities
What is the basis on which a believer can now enter the presence of God? Heb 10:19; 20; 21; 22; 23 (notes 19; 20; 21; 22; 23)
19) The blood of Jesus
20) A new and living way has been inaugurated for us through the veil (His flesh) in the very throne room of God
21) We now and forever have a great High Priest
22) Our hearts have been sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water
23) He Who promised all of these things is faithful!
What is the better promise in Hebrews 10:19-note?
Confidently enter Holy Place Into presence of God
What is the better promise in Hebrews 10:22- note?
Hearts sprinkled clean
What should believers now do
1) Draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith
2) Hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He Who promised is faithful
3) Consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds and
Not forsaking our assembling together as is the habit of some
But encouraging one another and all the more as we see the day of Christ return draw near
Summary of the Better Covenant:
The New Covenant...
1) Is made by God with Israel and Judah
2) Is an unconditional covenant - It does not rest on anything in man for its efficacy and is thus like the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants. It is something God Himself said He would do.
3) Is a reiteration and an expansion of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants.
The following prophecy in Ezekiel 37 gives details which indicate that there is clearly a relationship between...
4) Is superior to the Mosaic Covenant, which was a conditional covenant in which God and man both had certain responsibilities. Man of course failed.
5) Stresses the forgiveness of sins. The Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants stated nothing regarding the forgiveness of sins at least in the sense that they were completely sent away by God. Forgiveness in the OT associated with animal sacrifices was a shadow of the true forgiveness wrought by the sacrifice of Christ.
6) Was ratified and established by the son of David. (Lk 22:20, 1Co 11:25, Jn 19:30-note - See also discussion of Kinsman Redeemer).
7) Is to be consummated in the future. At that time God fulfills His promises to Israel (Ro 11:25, 26, 27-note).
|Why is it important for NT believers to comprehend why God first gave the Old Covenant and then the New Covenant?
Andrew Murray suggests that...
MAJOR FEATURES OF
Frederick Diven summarizes the major features of the New Covenant as recorded in the Old Testament...
|Hebrews 9:1 (He 9:1-note)
John MacArthur previews Hebrews 9:1-5 with the comment that...
Hebrews 9:2 (He 9:2-note)
"There was a tabernacle prepared" Note that the writer does not mention the Temple (it was probably still standing at the time this letter was written) but instead his emphasis is on the tabernacle, the first sanctuary which was obviously the most temporary, which well illustrated the transient nature of the Old Covenant. The Tabernacle was composed largely of skins and was designed to be portable, emphasizing its impermanence. Note also that while there are only two chapters Scripture dealing with the Creation story, there are some fifty chapters dealing with the Tabernacle (especially Ex 25-40)! The Tabernacle was important and demanded one's attention because it represented a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ (See Shadows of the Messiah).
Hebrews 9:4 (He 9:4-Hebrews 9:4)
How does one resolve the writer's notation that the "golden altar of incense" is within the Holy of holies when the OT clearly states it is within the Holy Place? First, note that several versions translate the phrase "golden altar of incense" more literally as the "golden censer" and not as the actual altar. The Greek word in question is thumiasterion which in secular usage described a utensil or container for burning incense. The Jewish historian Josephus does use thumiasterion as a metonymy to describe the altar of incense in the Jewish Temple. A metonymy is a figure of speech in which one uses the name of one thing (utensil for burning incense) for the name of another thing (altar of incense) of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated. In the Septuagint (LXX) thumiasterion is used only twice (2Chr 26:19, Ezekiel 8:11) and both times describes a censer or utensil of incense and not the altar of incense. The point is that what the writer of Hebrews appears to be using the thumiasterion to describe the taking of coals of fire from the altar of incense in the Holy Place and transporting them through the veil into the Holy of holies, an event which occurred once each year on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:12,13). This explanation would present no contradiction with the location of the altar of incense in front of the "second veil". (Ex 40:26, Ex 40:1, 2, 3, 4, 5). It is amazing that some commentaries go so far as to suggest that the writer must not have been familiar with the Old Testament Tabernacle and simply "slipped up"! This is a highly unlikely explanation.
Hebrews 9:6 (He 9:5-note)
The writer now shifts his focus from the Tabernacle to the priestly rituals. The fact that the priests were "continually entering...performing" (both present tense) emphasizes that their work was never finished. And despite their ceaseless religious activity, they still failed to gain entry into the presence of Jehovah in the Holy of holies. Are you so busy doing "religious work" that you don't have (or don't take) time to commune with the Lord of glory?
J Vernon McGee writes that...
“Accomplishing the service of God” should be “accomplishing the worship of God.” This was the ultimate goal of it all, that God’s people might worship Him. This is speaking of real worship, not just a church service where an order of service is followed. When real worship takes place it is a worship that draws us into the presence of Christ where we can adore Him. The word worship comes from the same Anglo-Saxon root word as worth. To worship is to give someone something of which they are worthy. The Lord Jesus Christ is worthy to receive our praise and our adoration. That is worship, and from that follows service. Real worship will always lead to service. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos) (Listen to Mp3 )
Hebrews 9:7 (He 9:7-note)
In this verse the focus is on the activities associated with the Day of Atonement, emphasizing the limitations associated with the high priest's entry into the Holy of holies (in this chapter called "Holy Place"):
(1) Only once per year (Note that "once" means "on one day," because the high priest made more than one entrance into the room beyond the curtain, certainly entering at least twice, Lev 16:12, 15, and possibly a third time for the sprinkling of the blood of the bull Lev 16:14). Access into the Holy Place was thus severely restricted, and even when the high priest could enter, it wasn't for real fellowship with God, but was only symbolic of that possibility which became a reality under the New Covenant.
(2) Only by taking sacrificial blood for himself. The ancient Jewish Rabbis wrote of how the high priest would not prolong his prayer in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, because it might make the people think he had been killed. When he came out, he threw a party for all his friends, because he had emerged safely from the presence of God.
Both points emphasize the inferiority of the Levitical system compared with the "Better Covenant".
J Vernon McGee adds that...
"The way to God in the tabernacle was actually blocked by the three entrances and compartments. In other words, the people could come only to that outer entrance and bring their sacrifice. If a man brought a little lamb, he would put his hand on it in an act of identification since it would die in his place, and then the priest would take it from there. It would be slain and offered upon the brazen altar. The individual who brought the lamb could go no farther than the entrance." (McGee, J. V. Thru the Bible Commentary. Vol. 5, Page 565. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
What was the significance of the "Day of Atonement"? How was it different from the daily gifts and sacrifices? The answer is that whenever an Israelite sinned, his communion with God was broken and in spite of continually offering sacrifices, many sins were either forgotten (or not recognized as sins) and thus they would accumulate throughout the year with no sacrifice being made for these sins. The Day of Atonement was intended to remedy this problem and to make sacrifice for all those sins that had not yet been covered.
John MacArthur comments that the Day of Atonement was...
The necessity of the annual visit established the fact that what took place was ultimately symbolic rather than efficacious. The offering of the blood of the goat and the carrying away of the scapegoat provided forgiveness only in that they typified the final sacrifice of Christ. As the writer explains later
Sins committed in ignorance: The point is that there were only offerings and sacrifices for unintentional sins! Under the Old Covenant there was no offering for deliberate sins. Individuals who committed deliberate sins were cut off from the people of God. Jesus' work on the Cross is sufficient to atone for both the sins we do in ignorance and sins that we know.
On the other had note that the sins "committed in ignorance" point to the truth that there is ignorance which is culpable. Sins of this kind do matter, and we should not minimize their seriousness.
Notice that even in the priestly activity (cf Heb 9:9 "a symbol") there was a shadow pointing to the work of the Messiah. For example, in the sentence "blood which he offers for... the sins of the people" note that the Greek word “for” is huper, a preposition which means “for the sake of, in behalf of" and thus speaks of substitution. In this verse it clearly points to the necessity for the people to have a priest who was able to function as their substitute in the process of the atonement. For instance, Caiaphas without realizing what he was doing voiced a simple prophecy about the substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross when he declared
John provides the commentary on Caiaphas' statement recording that
Thus not only in John but here in Hebrews 9:7, the blood is offered as a type pointing to the substitutionary atonement of our Lord.
Hebrews 9:8 (He 9:8-note)
MacArthur explains that...
Stedman has an interesting note on the phrase "while the outer tabernacle is still standing" writing that
Wuest agrees with Stedman translating Hebrews 9:8 as...
Hebrews 9:9 (He 9:9-note)
The Holy Spirit uses the pattern of the tabernacle to teach important truths. Here the writer states that the tabernacle was a symbol which is the interesting Greek word parabole (from para = beside + ballo = throw) which literally means that which is thrown alongside of something else. Figuratively as used in this verse it refers to setting side-by-side the old versus the new for the purpose of comparison. Parabole also gives us our English parable and thus the old was only a parable, an object lesson, for Israel. The limited access into the Most Holy Place was meant to bring home the fact that ordinary men had no direct access to the presence of God. The old covenant sacrifices were never meant to cleanse from sin, but only to symbolize cleansing from sin. The conscience of the person sacrificing was never freed from the feeling of guilt because the guilt itself was never removed because the cleansing was entirely external. As a result the worshiper could never have a clear conscience with a deep, abiding sense of forgiveness.
Wuest adds that symbol as it referred to...
Gifts and sacrifices...cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience: (Click word study on conscience = suneidesis) If complete remission of sins had been procured, then the offerer’s conscience would have been free from the guilt of sin. But this never happened.
The Holy Spirit was teaching that sacrifices and even blood applied to the mercy seat could never change the heart or the conscience of the worshiper, because all of the ritual dealt with ceremonial purity, not moral purity, pertaining to the outer man but unable to change the heart, the inner man. This inability to achieve a completely clear conscience could not be relieved and for the honest Israelite would have been a constant reminder of their separation from God.
Wuest adds that...
Hebrews 9:10 (He 9:10-note)
"Regulations for the body until a time of reformation" or literally "until the time of setting things right"
The NLT renders this verse
The Amplified Version (which often can be utilized almost as a "mini" commentary) reads...
Reformation means to make straight, to make right and so to reform, an effect that in the spiritual arena only the New Covenant in Christ could accomplish. The Old Covenant regulations (such as "various washings") were symbolic, picturing or pointing to Christ, but unable to bring about the internal change that only Christ's perfect sacrifice could accomplish. The regulations of the Old Covenant served their purpose only until the New Covenant came, for it alone was capable of setting things right between God and man.
Ray Stedman comments on the reformation that had come when Christ rent the veil from top to bottom, setting things right, making the way fully open and doing away with the need for shadows, copies and symbols of Messiah...
Hebrews 9:11 (He 9:11-note)
"But when" marks a major contrast as the writer shifts from discussion of the deficiencies of the old system to the new and better covenant. In keeping with the prior verse one could paraphrase it as...
Thomas Kelly puts the truths in this section in the form of a poem...
Hebrews 9:12 (He 9:12-note)
Christ "through His own blood...entered the Holy Place once for all". Beloved let us rejoice in that glorious phrase "once for all"!
Warren Wiersbe asks...
How Does One Explain Redemption to a person not familiar with this word?
A missionary in West Africa was trying to convey the meaning of the word redeem in the Bambara language. So he asked his African assistant to express it in his native tongue.
The man told him that many years ago some of his ancestors had been captured by slave-traders, chained together, and driven to the seacoast. Each of the prisoners had a heavy iron collar around his neck. As the slaves passed through a village, a chief might notice a friend of his among the captives and offer to pay the slave-traders in gold, ivory, silver, or brass. The prisoner would be redeemed by the payment. His head then would be taken out of his iron collar. What an unusual and graphic illustration of the word redeem! Let Him take your head out of the enslaving collar of sin and set you free. Christ our Great High Priest was lifted up on the cross that we might be lifted out of our sin. He is now sitting in the true Holy of holies at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven interceding with His Father on your behalf. Next time before you give in to that sin which so easily entangles you, meditate on what it cost to redeem you from enslavement to the old Master, Sin.
Wuest explains redemption writing that it is...
Hebrews 9:13 (He 9:13-note)
Hebrews 9:14 (He 9:14-note)
Cleanse your conscience
Isaac Watts wrote...
Ray Stedman sums up this section writing that...
Hebrews 9:15 (He 9:15-note)
In this verse and through verse 17, the word "covenant" is used somewhat differently than in the rest of the book, for now the writer treats the covenant more like a will. In other words Christ is seen both as the One Who makes the will and Who dies so that the "will" can come into effect, but He also functions as the executor so to speak, the One Who administers the will.
"And for this reason" begs the question "what reason"? the context explaining that the readers can now obtain a clean conscience and serve the living God because they have obtained an "eternal inheritance". As explained in the next two verses, they could not have received this "inheritance" unless the one who made the will had actually died. But He has died and so now the "inheritance" is eternally theirs!
"A death has taken place for the redemption of transgressions...under the first covenant": This passage refers to the fact that Jesus’ death not only was efficacious for believers who were alive but for all those believers who had lived under the Old Covenant. The point is that when Christ died, these Old Testament believers realized what heretofore had only been a promise. Stated another way, Christ's atoning death was "retroactive".
This same truth is taught by Paul in Romans, where he writes that
For example think of King David who was confronted by the prophet Nathan for committing adultery with Bathsheba and then having Uriah her husband murdered. Nathan says, "Why have you despised the word of the Lord?" (2Sa 12:9). David feels the rebuke of Nathan, and in (2Sa 12:13) he says, "I have sinned against the Lord" to which, Nathan responds, "The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die." Here we see bountiful mercy as David's adultery and murder are "passed over"! Nathan goes on to add that "The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die." Christ's death hundreds of years later paid the penalty, the price of redemption, for David's transgression! This concept is difficult to grasp, but the gracious, all wise God clearly teaches it and that settles it!
This same truth is foreshadowed in Micah's prophecy...
MacDonald adds that...
The promise of the eternal inheritance
Peter explains our eternal inheritance writing...
Hebrews 9:16 (He 9:16-note)
NLT helps understand the author's intent...
Morris comments that...
Ryrie adds that this verse
Hebrews 9:17 (He 9:17-note)
Hebrews 9:18 (He 9:18-note)
Hebrews 9:19 (He 9:19-note)
Hebrews 9:20 (He 9:20-note)
Hebrews 9:21 (He 9:21-note)
MacArthur comments that..
Hebrews 9:22 (He 9:22-note)
What does the phrase "almost all things are cleansed with blood" mean? John MacArthur helps us understand writing that...
What does the phrase "without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" mean?
There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood, and there is no perfect forgiveness without a perfect sacrifice. We in the Church Age need to understand that under the Old Covenant sacrifices merely covered over sin, but they could never remove it. The Old Covenant sacrifices were never meant to cleanse from sin, but only to symbolize such cleansing. The cleansing, like the Old Covenant as a whole, not only was limited and imperfect and also temporary.
The conscience of the person sacrificing was never freed from the feeling of guilt because the guilt itself was never really removed. The cleansing was entirely external. Consequently, the person could never have a clear conscience, a deep, abiding sense of forgiveness. There was a degree of forgiveness, but it was never comprehensive. Permanent forgiveness, and therefore permanent access to God, came only through Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant and of a new permanent priesthood. Had the Old Covenant sacrifices been able to bring a person into God’s presence, the sacrifices would have ceased for they would have fulfilled their purpose. The Old Testament saints (an OT saint was not all or even most of Israel but only the "remnant" who like Abraham had believed in the Lord and had been credited with righteousness) lacked the total sense of freedom from the consciousness of their sin. They came short of that full privilege, because the sacrifices of that covenant could not completely remove their sin and bring them to God. Because their sins were not finally cleansed, their consciences could not be wholly cleansed, could not be freed. The New Covenant gives greater understanding of full forgiveness, freedom from guilt, and a cleansed conscience. The writer sums this up the finality of the New Covenant in Hebrews 10 writing...
To reiterate, no one through the Old Covenant had complete access to God. There was only a temporary covering over of sin, not a removal of sin or of the guilt that sin brings. When Jesus Christ offered His sacrifice, however, He sat down at the right hand of His Father in the Holy of holies in Heaven because His work was done. Among His last words on the Cross were, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Jesus accomplished in one glorious act what all the priests of the Old Covenant had not accomplished and could never have accomplished -- forgiveness of men’s sins and thereby their reconciliation with a Holy God. What a marvelous and wonderful truth this is. Jesus did it all in one sacrifice, the sacrifice of Himself.
The glory of the New Covenant is not only that sins are now truly forgiven, but that they are also completely forgotten. Under the Old Covenant, sins could never really be forgotten, because they were never really forgiven. As discussed above they were only covered, foreshadowing and anticipating true forgiveness in the Perfect Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. Now, for those who belong to His dear Son, whether they believed under the Old Covenant or under the New, God forgives and forgets every sin. Beloved, do you really understand this great truth, the capstone of the New Covenant, the Better Covenant? This truth can set you free from self-imposed guilt and condemnation over past sins assuming that they have been "put under the blood" rather than being "swept under the rug"! And when the Son sets you free with His perfect forgiveness, you are free indeed! (Jn 8:36) Free to confidently worship and serve in the presence of the Living God. How much more meaningful will it be for you the next time you celebrate the Lord's Supper, and you remember His words given to His disciples the night He instituted the New Covenant declaring...
MacArthur adds that...
Hebrews 9:23 (He 9:23-note)
Ray Stedman commenting on the phrase "the heavenly things (to be cleansed) with better sacrifices (than those that cleansed the earthly copies of the heavenly things) writes that...
Hebrews 9:24 (He 9:24-note)
Hebrews 9:25 (He 9:25-note)
Hebrews 9:26 (He 9:26-note)
Stedman notes that...
Guzik has an interesting comment on Jesus' perfect sacrifice writing that...
Hebrews 9:27 (He 9:27-note)
"It is appointed for men to die once" Just as any fallen human being is destined to die once for all time, with judgment awaiting beyond death, so Christ also died once for all time to deal with sin.
Hebrews 9:28 (He 9:28-note)
Christ...shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin"
Stedman writes that
Those who eagerly await (apekdechomai - word study) (present tense) Him
This brings to mind the picture of the Israelites who patiently waited for the high priest to emerge from the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement. What are NT believers eagerly awaiting? Their "future tense salvation", known theologically as glorification (see Three Tenses of Salvation). Peter alluded to it after explaining to his readers that they had been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, writing that now...
Paul also encouraged the Roman saints with the assurance that...
Hebrews 10:1 (He 10:1-note)
Same sacrifices year after year: the OC sacrificial system was temporary, and therefore could accomplish nothing permanent. The very repetition of the sacrifices day after day, and year after year, pointed out the weakness of the OC system.
Make perfect does not refer to sinless perfection but speaks to the removal of guilt which makes free access to God possible for worshipers who trust in the sufficiency of the Cross. See comment on Hebrews 10:14 below.
MacDonald comments that...
Hebrews 10:2 (He 10:2-note)
Hebrews 10:3 (He 10:3-note)
Hebrews 10:4 (He 10:4-note)
Warren Wiersbe comments on this section writing that...
MacArthur comments that
Hebrews 10:6 (He 10:6-note)
God was not pleased with sacrifices given by a person who did not give them out of a sincere heart. To sacrifice only as a ritual, without obedience, was a mockery and worse than no sacrifice at all. David in Psalm 51, a psalm that deals with David's confession and repentance of his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah writes...
God does not delight in the external acts and the ritual of worship. God always inspects the giver, before he inspects the gift, offering or praise. How can one who is unclean offer a clean sacrifice? The constant urging is that God’s servants give their hearts and their lives in deep contrition and brokenness of spirit before they observe feasts, fasts, sabbaths or sacrifices. Rote religion can never substitute for purity of heart.
Ray Stedman reminds us that...
MacDonald adds that the writer quotes form Psalm 40 specifically noting...
Wiersbe adds that ...
Hebrews 10:7 (He 10:7-note)
MacDonald notes that...
Hebrews 10:11 (He 10:11-note)
The Levitical priests always stood before God for there were no seats in the sanctuary, indicating that the priests’ job was never done.
Hebrews 10:12 (He 10:12-note)
Christ sat down after offering Himself as a sacrifice indicating that His work of atonement is finished. This truth parallels Christ's final words on the Cross “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Hebrews 10:14 (He 10:4-note)
Perfected is the Greek word teleioo (see study of related word teleo) and is used in the perfect tense meaning that this perfection began at a point in time in the past and has continuing or ongoing effects or benefits. The idea of the verb teleioo is that one has finally reached their goal and in the context of the book of Hebrews refers to believers as now once and for all fully cleansed from sin in contrast to the temporary, ineffective external cleansing that resulted from the sacrifices under the Old Covenant. The New Covenant is a Better Covenant with a Better Sacrifice which does once and for all what the Old could never accomplish. So from a positional view, that is in the presence of God's holiness, because we are in Christ and His perfect righteousness, God sees us now as perfectly righteous. In that sense, we will never be any more righteous then we are now, because we could never add anything to the righteousness found in Christ. On the other hand, we still live in these bodies of sin and have to contend with the flesh and thus our practice (as contrasted with our "position") before God is that we are "those who are sanctified". The verb for sanctified is hagiazo which means to be made holy in the sense of being set apart from the common, profane and mundane things of this world and unto God. Hagiazo is the same verb used in Hebrews 10:10, with a very important distinction -- in verse 10, the tense is perfect (past completed action with present ongoing result or effect) whereas here in verse 14 the tense is present which conveys the idea of a continual action. In other words we as believers are perfected as far as our eternal standing before God is concerned but we in another very real sense "works in progress", daily, even moment by moment being set apart by the "sanctifying work of the Spirit" (passive voice), "being transformed into His likeness" (2Co 3:18) and ultimately "conformed to the image of His Son' (Ro 8:29)
Kistemaker explains that "perfected" refers to the fact that...
Hebrews 10:15 (He 10:15-note)
Wiersbe adds that ...
Hebrews 10:25 (He 10:25-note)
"The day drawing near" refers to the return of Christ (see Table comparing Rapture vs Second Coming) as in Heb 9:28 which records that...