Lesson Ten—Hebrews 9 The Services… Superior to Levitical Service

We continue to notice the contrast between the old and the new covenants in this chapter. We travel from the blood-stained altar, enter through the many-hued door of beauty, and find ourselves within the Holy Place. Its golden glow reminds us that here we have the prophecy and picture of better things to come. Its service typified the ministry of our High Priest in a better sanctuary, the heavenly one. Let us look at the better things in this portion.

1. The Better Sanctuary (vv. 1-10)

The Tabernacle of old was separated by the beautiful veil into two compartments. The first was called “the Sanctuary,” and the second “the Holiest of All.” In the contents of these chambers we behold rays of divine glory, for in His Tabernacle every whit of it declares His glory.

The Candlestick, mentioned first, prefigured Christ as the Light that dispelled our darkness.

The Table was the symbol of that fellowship which is enjoyed in the light of His presence.

The Shewbread spoke of Christ as the food of His people, satisfying our soul’s hunger forevermore.

These all were in the first room, the place of communion.

Entering the second compartment, seven things are mentioned. They speak of our worship within the veil of heaven (vv. 4, 5).

The Golden Censer, containing the sweet, fragrant incense from off the golden altar, speaks of the worthiness of Christ. We draw near to God in all the sweet savor of His blessed Person and work.

The Ark of the Covenant, overlaid round about with gold, tells of the glory of His Person in whom we have found our Center.

The Golden Pot That Had Manna, suggests the remembrance of that life of grace here below that satisfied God’s heart and ours.

Aaron’s Rod That Budded reminds us of the glorious resurrection of Him who lay in death for us. Death could not hold Him.

The Tables of the Covenant declare that all of God’s holy requirements have been met in Him, and by Him.

The Cherubims of Glory over which the Presence-Cloud rested speak of “righteousness and judgment, the foundation of His throne” (Ps. 97:2, R.V.). Their satisfaction is found in the glory of accomplished redemption set forth in

The Mercy-Seat, blood-stained, glory-crowned, telling us that God rests in Christ, and there too we have found our rest.

God is satisfied with Jesus,
We are satisfied as well.

In these earthly pictures, what a lovely foreshadowing we have of heavenly realities! But we also notice one great contrast. Although the priests in Israel had access always to the first chamber where they served continually, they were excluded from the second by the veil that hung between. Once every year the high priest passed the barrier with blood, only to hasten out of that Holy Place when his services were completed. The way to the Holiest was not yet made manifest. The blood of those sacrifices offered then, could never put away sin. But all this is different now. A rent veil and an open sanctuary characterize Christianity. It is the blessed privilege of every believer to draw near unto God, through the removing of every barrier by the blood of Jesus.

Within the Holiest of all,
Cleansed by His precious blood,
Before the throne we prostrate fall,
And worship Thee, O God.

2. The Better Sacrifice (vv. 11-14)

Christ is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament shadows. They all have their end in Him. They were figures for the time then present. Now we have reached the time of reformation, that is, the time of setting things right. Christ has entered the “greater and more perfect tabernacle,” the heavenly, as the High Priest of “good things to come.” For the unsaved there are no good things to come; there remains only the wrath of God and all its terrors. Christ having entered into the good things, faith possesses them in Him. By Him we have access into the very presence of God, where all these good things are enjoyed. We share them with Him because He entered heaven through His own precious blood (v. 12, R.V.). The glory He has acquired through obtaining “eternal redemption,” He shares with those who are “sons” under His captaincy. Unto all them that obey Him, He is the Author, or Cause, of eternal salvation (5:9, R.V.). His blood opens the way for us to the glories of heaven.

Our title to glory we read in His blood.

Not only has the blood of Christ opened the sanctuary to us, it has also fitted us for that place (vv. 13, 14). Two illustrations from the Old Testament are used. The one picture is of the Great Day of Atonement, when the high priest entered the holiest with the blood of the offering and sprinkled the Mercy-Seat. The other is that of the red heifer, whose ashes were used for the daily cleansing of the defiled Israelite (Num. 19). Since our High Priest has entered in once into the Holy Place, and His blood assures for us that cleansing that enables us to enter as happy worshipers into the presence of God, we can sing:

Conscience now no more condemns us,
For His own most precious blood,
Once for all has washed and cleansed us,
Cleansed us in the sight of God.

3. The Better Inheritance (vv. 15-17)

Under the old covenant a people journeyed through a desert to their inheritance in Canaan, struggling beneath the burden of their sins. The blood of twice ten thousand sacrifices could never remove one of them. It is not so with us. The blood of Christ has removed every incumbrance, the old accounts are all settled, the past is all “under the blood,” and the glory shines before us. His death has relieved us and enriched us.

In the parenthetical portion here (vv. 16, 17) we have an illustration from legal affairs. Here lies a document entitled, “A last will and testament.” That paper is powerful, for in it lies the disposal of a vast inheritance. But as long as the testator lives it is invalid, nothing more than a mere “scrap of paper.” Only upon the death of the testator can it be put into effect; then the heirs receive their due portions. Christ died to put into effect the will of God concerning us. By His death we inherit that wealth which God has made ours in His gracious purpose.

4. The Better Blood (vv. 18-20)

In these verses notice three things with regard to the blood.

1. The blood is the foundation of the covenant (v. 18). In olden times a covenant was ratified with the blood of a victim. When God made a covenant with Abraham, there were the cloven carcasses of the slain beasts forming a ghastly blood-stained avenue. It was down this lane of death that God went to meet Abraham. At Sinai the necessity of the blood was not forgotten. There Moses spinkled both the book and the people, thus binding them to the terms of that covenant. At Calvary we behold the blood of the new covenant, the blood of Jesus. His precious blood is of infinite value in the sight of God, and to its efficacy we owe every blessing and privilege we possess.

2. The blood cleanses from defilement (v. 21). Not only were the people sprinkled with blood, but the tabernacle as well, and the vessels of its service. God must have His house clean as well as those who serve in it. Apart from this cleansing, sinful man could never feel at home in the dazzling light in which God dwells, nor could God welcome us there.

3. The blood removes guilt (v. 22). “Without shedding of blood there is no remission,” or “forgiveness.” The bringing in of a people into the presence and service of God involved the removal of sins. No arrangement between a holy God and a sinful people was possible except on the ground of the shed blood. The blood tells the tale that judgment is past, sins are gone, and the Worshipped and the worshippers are together in divine harmony.

5. The Better Appearances (vv. 24-28)

1. His present appearing as our High Priest (vv. 24, 25). The holiest was the goal of the high priestly work in Israel. There for a brief moment Aaron appeared as the representative of the people. Our eyes follow Jesus as He appears in the presence of God for us, every ray of that glory showing the value of His finished work. Our great High Priest bears our names on His bosom, upholding us by His power; nor is the least forgotten by Him.

2. His past appearing as our Surety (vv. 26-28). Christ never could have entered the glory to appear there for us if He had not first entered the judgment-cloud and borne the wrath of God that was our due. He met our appointment when in the “consummation of the ages He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

3. His future appearing as our Saviour (v. 28). At His first appearing Christ settled the sin question. When He comes again it will be “without sin,” that is, He will not open that question again. He comes to take us into the full enjoyment of all that He won for us by dying on the tree.

We who love Him “look for Him.” We lovingly lift our eyes to heaven and in response to His parting words, “Surely I come quickly,” respond, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Gathered Gleanings

The “first tabernacle” was characteristic of the law. Even to Moses, the mediator, it said, “Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see Me and live.” There was an unrent veil between God and the people and the priests as well.

We are in the presence of God, and we are always there. This is Christian ground.

In the Epistle to the Hebrews we are viewed as being on earth, but with free and full access to God in the Holiest.

V. 11. Lit.: “Having come forward,” emerging out of shadows, He steps on the scene never to retreat.

V. 12. The way by which He enters secured a place for us there. His blood is the key that unlocks heaven’s glories to us.

V. 26. The world’s history, and man’s closed at the cross. Grace is active now in gathering to, and uniting to, that Man in heaven.

“That is my Saviour; tell me more about Him.” Every ray of the glory shows the value of His work. The glory into which He has entered and with which He is surrounded, only enhances the preciousness, the love and the majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Most Precious Thing in heaven has died for the vilest thing on earth—you—me.

The question of our sin can never be opened again. The efficacy of Christ’s work brings us into the presence of God without a veil between, and ourselves entirely clear from all sin. We are before Him, whiter than the snow, in a light which only can show it.