We began our study of chapter nine last week, and we looked at the first ten verses. In verse 1 he began by reminding the readers that the Old Covenant had a worldly sanctuary and ordinances of divine service. Then, in verses 2-5 he expounds upon the worldly sanctuary. We saw that the wilderness tabernacle and all of its furnishings were typical and illustrative. They all pointed to Jesus Christ.
Then, in verses 6-10 he expounded upon the ordinances of divine service. Verse 6 gives us the priest's function. Verse 7 talks about the function of the High Priest on the day of atonement. Verse 8 tell us that all this was a parable to teach us about God's holiness and our sinfulness. Verses 9-10 tell us all those physical things were temporary "for the time then present" until "the time of reformation" until the New Covenant arrived in its fullness.
Hebrews 9:11 (NKJV) But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.
Please notice the word "but", although it may appear insignificant, a mere conjunction as it were, comprised of only three letters, there are occasions when that diminutive word "but" has the greatest significance. Consider for example Romans 3 and Ephesians 2. There Paul outlines, in the most vivid of detail, the corrupt condition of a lost humanity, only to turn and contrast it with the grace of God which has brought unto us eternal life. That transition which Paul makes from the sin of man to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that transition that is so strikingly drawn between what we were in ourselves and what we now are in Christ is marked by that glorious word "but".
Ephesians 2:1-3 (NKJV) And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Now notice carefully the contrast:
Ephesians 2:4-7 (NKJV) But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
We see this same thing in Romans 3, after 20 verses talking about man's depravity he says:
Romans 3:21 (NKJV) But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
No less glorious is the contrast that we see in Hebrews 9:11, introduced with the eternally significant words "but Christ." If we miss the significance of this word in the drama of Hebrews 9, we will have deprived ourselves of a most magnificent theological truth, as well as the encouragement and comfort which it would bring.
Although the contrast which "but" introduces is singular in force, you can clearly see that it has two elements; the earthly tabernacle and sacrifices are contrasted with the heavenly tabernacle and sacrifice. Verse 11 corresponds to verses 2-5. And verses 12-14 correspond to verses 6-10.
The point of this passage is to show the superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Old Covenant system. The writer, in effect, says, "Why would you want to go back to an inferior type when you have the reality?"
"But Christ" - the title used here for the Savior is significant:
John 1:41 (NKJV) He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ).
Christ is the Messiah, a term that means: "The Anointed". Our text goes on to say, "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come..." - the word "came" is from the Greek word paraginomai, which means: "to become alongside thus to arrive upon the scene." Under the name of "Christ" or "Anointed" one had been promised to Israel for many centuries. Now he has arrived.
In verses 1-10 we had the shadow, here we have the reality "But Christ arrived" - the whole situation was altered. The imagery in these verses is that of the day of atonement. The manuscripts are divided on the phrase "of the good things to come" as to whether we should read it, "the good things that are already here" or "the good things that are to come."
Hebrews 9:11 (YLT) And Christ being come, chief priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands - that is, not of this creation.
I agree with Young's Literal Translation that the tense is future. The author doesn't explain what the "good things" are, but the expression is evidently a comprehensive way of summing up the New Covenant blessings. "Coming" is the Greek word mello which means: "about to be" or "about to come." The future tense looks forward to the full realization of these New Covenant blessings when the Old Covenant came to an end at the destruction of Jerusalem.
"The greater and more perfect tabernacle" - Here we see the first contrast - two tabernacles - the earthly one in verses 1 & 2 and the perfect one in verse 11. What is the greater and more perfect tabernacle? Or as 8:2 puts it, "true tabernacle"? Some say that this is a reference to Christ's physical body and use:
John 2:19-22 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 20 Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
But our text says it's, "not made with hands, that is, not of this creation." The Greek word for creation is ktisis. The tabernacle, in which our Lord serves, does not belong to the natural creation, the material universe. If this text was talking about Christ's physical body, the phrase, "not of this creation" would appear to call into question the genuineness of his humanity so strongly asserted in Hebrews 2. I don't think that this refers to the physical body of Jesus Christ.
What is the tabernacle? It's heaven:
Hebrews 9:24 (NKJV) For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
The Lord Jesus Christ has entered the true Holy of Holies, which is heaven - the dwelling place of God.
Acts 7:48-49 (NKJV) "However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 49 'Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the LORD, Or what is the place of My rest?
Heaven is the throne room, the dwelling place of God. The tabernacle was but a type to teach us about the true. Compared with this greater and more perfect tabernacle, all the gold, silver and jewels of Moses' tabernacle were but the toys and tinsel of a child.
Jesus Christ ministers for us in heaven in the throne room of God, at God's right hand, and we are invited to come to this throne to receive help to meet our every need.
The second contrast is between the blood of the Levitical sacrifices and that of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Hebrews 9:12 (NKJV) Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
"By his own blood" - clearly different from the Levitical priests who used the blood of bulls and goats. Christ made a personal sacrifice of himself, with his own blood. The word "own" is from the Greek word idios, which speaks of a personal, private, unique ownership. Jesus Christ was the priest and the sacrifice.
J.A. Bengel started a theory in the mid 1700's which is still held by many today. This theory is reflected in the RSV in this verse, which reads, "...taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood..." Jesus Christ entered the Holy of Holies through his own blood, not TAKING his own blood. Bengel said that at the ascension the blood that had been shed was carried by Christ, in separation from his body into the heavenly sanctuary. "Had his blood been in his body", Bengel contends, "there would not have been a correspondence with the typology of the Old Testament where the High priest entered the sanctuary with the blood of animals". To support his theory he appeals to:
Revelation 1:14 (NKJV) His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;
He is saying that the whiteness was to be attributed to the bloodlessness.
Bengel and others have pressed the analogy of the day of atonement beyond its limits, and by doing so have argued that the expiatory work of Christ was not completed on the cross. Kenneth Copland does this also by saying that Christ went to hell and suffered for three days prior to the resurrection. When Christ completed the work of expiation on the cross, he said, "It is finished", and he died.
What happened to Christ's blood? Did he take it to heaven? No. It dripped into the earth. Blood in the Scripture means: "life laid down in death." The blood is the final proof of the fact that death has been accomplished. Blood is metonymy for "sacrificial death."
When Hebrews 9:12 says, "...by his own blood he entered..." it is referring to his sacrificial death. Christ entered in "Once for all" - Jesus never needed to offer another sacrifice, because his death fulfilled the justice of God:
Hebrews 10:11-12 (NKJV) And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
This is in direct contrast to the activity of the high priest of the old covenant. As one will recall, the high priest of the old covenant had to enter the earthly Holy of Holies once per year to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. Jesus Christ only had to enter once, because His work is eternally complete. Jesus Christ's one sacrifice totally propitiated the wrath of God. Therefore, he obtained eternal redemption for us.
The word "redemption" is from the Greek word lutrosis, which means: "to release on receipt of ransom, to redeem or liberate by payment of a ransom." Jesus Christ, by his sacrifice on the cross, paid for our liberation by the ransom money of His blood. Jesus Christ paid our sin debt. He died for us. The sinner, having placed his faith in Jesus Christ, is liberated forever from sin's penalty. When Jesus Christ died we died, with him:
Romans 6:3 (NKJV) Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Romans 7:1 (NKJV) Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
Our redemption is eternal, we are redeemed for time and eternity. We can never be lost. The phrase, "having obtained eternal redemption" is in the aorist tense, indicating a completed action. Christ paid the necessary price for us with His death, and it is finished. This is the reason He entered God's presence "once for all". The Lord Jesus Christ, by his outpoured blood, procured for man, not a probation, but a salvation, everlasting life.
Hebrews 9:13 (NKJV) For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,
The "if" here is a first class condition in the Greek meaning: "since". The word "sanctifies" is "hagiazo, which means: "to set apart for God". Those Old Testament sacrifices had an efficacy, they purified the flesh - which was a temporary, external, and ceremonial cleansing.
The writer uses two instances of the Old Testament worship system as examples: The "blood of goats and bulls," referring to the Day Of Atonement (Leviticus 16), and the "ashes of a heifer," referring to the Ordinance Of The Red Heifer:
Numbers 19:1-9 (NKJV) Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 2 "This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD has commanded, saying: 'Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come. 3 'You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it outside the camp, and it shall be slaughtered before him; 4 'and Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of its blood seven times directly in front of the tabernacle of meeting. 5 'Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight: its hide, its flesh, its blood, and its offal shall be burned. 6 'And the priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet, and cast them into the midst of the fire burning the heifer. 7 'Then the priest shall wash his clothes, he shall bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp; the priest shall be unclean until evening. 8 'And the one who burns it shall wash his clothes in water, bathe in water, and shall be unclean until evening. 9 'Then a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and store them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for purifying from sin.
The sprinkling with the ashes of a heifer was prescribed for the ceremonial cleansing of any person who had been in contact with a dead body. The ashes were used in the preparation of the "water for impurity", that is, water to be ritually employed for the sprinkling of persons and objects contaminated through association with a dead body.
Typology of red heifer: It is generally agreed that its unblemished condition symbolizes the sinlessness of Christ, the sacrificial ritual of purification, the cleansing effected by the blood of Christ, and its offering outside the camp - the suffering of Christ outside the gate. Our author doesn't even pause to mention significance of this kind here. What he is concerned to emphasize at this point is that this ritual sprinkling of defiled persons, whether with blood or with the water for impurity, affected no more than the purification of the flesh, which is contrasted with the purging of the conscience affected through the blood of Christ.
If the blood of these animal sacrifices served for the cleansing of persons defiled in this external sense, how much more shall the blood of Christ achieve the radical inward cleansing of the conscience. If the shadow purifies the flesh, how much more does the truth purify the soul:
Hebrews 9:14 (NKJV) how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
It says of Christ that he, "offered himself" - it was his own doing, and in this free and voluntary act of self-offering he fulfilled the purpose of his coming into the world. What a contrast between the death of animals and the death of Christ the eternal Son. One a non-moral creature and the other the Creator, one is brought by another and sacrificed, Christ came of his own free will.
Christ offered himself through the "eternal spirit" - I believe that this is a reference to the Holy Spirit and not to Jesus Christ's divine nature. Jesus did everything through the Spirit in obedience to the Father, including His own sacrifice in His death.
Christ's blood is said to "cleanse your conscience" - the conscience is man's inner knowledge of himself, especially in the sense of answerability for his motives and actions in view of the fact that he, as a creature, must give an account to his Creator. By faith in Jesus Christ, we are justified, righteous before God.
Christ cleansed our conscience "from dead works" - in context, might be naturally taken of the ritualistic ordinances operative under the Old Covenant:
Hebrews 9:10 (NKJV) concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.
They were imposed, anyway, only until the time of reformation - the full establishment of the New Covenant when the temple and city of Jerusalem were destroyed. They are now all dead works. The purged conscience of the New Covenant people no longer needs them.
The effect of this purging should be a priestly service of our own - "to serve the living God". The word "serve" here is latreuo. It was originally used of the labor of a workman for hire, but in the LXX and in the New Testament, it is always used of religious service. Service to God is often translated: "worship" - thus suggesting that all labor for Christ is sacred. Worship is service and service is worship. This same word is used in:
Philippians 3:3 (NKJV) For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,
This is a description of a Christian. And notice that it has nothing to say about outward conduct. It doesn't say we know we are Christians because of what we do or don't do. Being a Christian has to do with the heart.
Paul says that the true Christian, "Worships God in the Spirit." The best texts have, "Worship by the Spirit of God." In other words, it's not outward ceremony but inward faith. It is produced by the Holy Spirit. It is Spirit empowered worship. That is what is important about it. Legal worship consisted in the outward act and was restricted to certain times and places. There were special days and special places to worship. But to the true Christian, worship is spiritual. It is not isolated to acts but embraces the whole of life. True worship marks the true circumcision. Let's look at John 4 and see what Jesus says about true worship. In this chapter, Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews, they were a mixed race of Jew and Gentile, and they worshiped God in the wrong manner, in the wrong place. The Jews and the Samaritans were bitter enemies because of racial pride:
John 4:9 (NKJV) Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
Jesus points out to this woman that she has already had five husbands, and the man she was presently living with was not her husband. So, she realizes that she is not talking to an ordinary man:
John 4:19-20 (NKJV) The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."
She understands that He is a prophet, so she asks where the right place to worship is. The Jewish inhabitants of Samaria identified Mount Gerizim as the chosen place of God and the only center of worship, calling it the "navel of the earth" because of a tradition that Adam sacrificed there. Their scriptures were limited to the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. Moses was regarded as the only prophet and intercessor in the final judgment. They also believed that 6,000 years after creation a Restorer would arise and would live on earth for 110 years. On the Judgment Day, the righteous would be resurrected in paradise, and the wicked roasted in eternal fire.
The Jews worshiped in Jerusalem. So, she asks which is the right place to worship.
John 4:21 (NKJV) Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Jesus is telling her that soon it won't matter where you worship. In the New Covenant, worship is not restricted to a certain place. When Jesus said, "The hour cometh," what did he mean? Some say that he is referring to Pentecost. That is definitely in view - once Pentecost came, worship was no longer restricted to a temple. But I think that he is more specifically referring to 70 AD when Titus, the Roman general, destroyed Jerusalem. That put an end to the Old Covenant and its fleshly worship. From 70 AD to this present day, the Jews have not sacrificed animals. The Old Covenant and Judaism were brought to an end. The transition period between the two covenants was over and the Old was now gone.
John 4:22 (NKJV) "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
Anybody who wanted to get in on knowing God had to come through Judaism. They alone had the covenants and promises, they had the Word of God. Salvation came out of Judaism. Worship is to be done according to truth, and the Jews had the truth:
John 4:23-24 (NKJV) "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
God has saved us that we would be a worshiping people. But for worship to be done properly, it must be done in the spirit and it must be done in truth. This is why we are committed to expositional teaching. If you are ever going to worship God, you must know who He is, and if you are ever going to know who God is, you must learn about Him from the Scripture. Our worship is spiritual, it comes from the heart and is done anywhere and everywhere at any time.
The word "worship" in Philippians 3:3 is latreuo, and it means: "To render respectful spiritual service." There are other Greek words that are translated "worship", but this one has the primary emphasis of service.
If you were to trace "worship" through the Old and New Testament, you would find that the emphasis of worship is service. Worship itself means: "Honor paid to a superior being." It means: "To give honor, homage, respect, adoration, praise and glory to God." Worship is a consuming desire to give to God. Worship proceeds from the heart:
Matthew 15:8-9 (NKJV) 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"
They were attempting to worship, but their worship was in vain, because it was not coming from their heart. It was all outward ceremony. Worship is a redeemed heart occupied with God, expressing itself in adoration and thanksgiving. That is worship. How does worship express itself? Through praise, prayer, singing, Bible study, witnessing, giving, meeting someone's needs. All these are worship if done from a heart of love. Everything we do is to be worship. But all these things can be legalism, also, if done from the attitude that "I have to do this so God will accept me." If it is done to earn favor with God, it is legalism.
Some people go out at different times with the express purpose of witnessing to others. Witnessing is good, and we all should be doing it, but if you do it to earn God's favor, it is legalism. It is a work of the flesh. But if we do it out of love for God and concern for our fellow man, it is worship. When you do what you do from a heart of love, it brings glory to God. When you sing from a heart of love, it brings glory to God. Motive is the issue, people. Why do you do what you do? Why are you here this morning? Many people go to church for improper motives. They go because it is the thing to do or to earn God's favor. Are you here to learn the truth so that you can love and serve God more effectively? A motive is any thought that determines a choice or induces an action. What moves you to action? Is it love?
Romans 12:1 (NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Why worship? Because of all that God has done for you in Jesus Christ. The bottom line of worship is how you live. You can't come here and worship on Sunday if you have been living in sin all week.
Let me share with you one of the clearest pictures of worship in the Bible. In the midst of the worse calamity you can imagine, in the midst of a catastrophic disaster, Job's reaction was worship:
Job 1:20-21 (NKJV) Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."
Remember what we said worship was? Worship is a redeemed heart occupied with God, expressing itself in adoration and thanksgiving. Here is a man in the midst of the furnace of adversity, and he falls on his face in acceptance of the Divine will and says, "Let it be so, Your will be done, Blessed be the name of the Lord." Worship is bowing to the sovereign will of God, whatever it is.
We have been redeemed to worship God. The purpose of our existence is to worship God by all we say and do. Our lives are to be devoted to the service of the living God.
Contrast - it should be clear how superior the New Covenant is to the Old. We have a superior tabernacle and a superior sacrifice.
The writer says the reason that Christ died for our sins, and gave us salvation is so we may "serve the living God." If you are someone who claims to have believed in the person and work of Jesus Christ, but are not functioning in the body and serving Him, you are living in rebellion to His purpose in your life.
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