Manuscript of this sermon is available for reading services.
: Hebrews 9 , WCF 19:3
Text: Hebrews 9:11-14
Into the Heavenly Dwelling Place
Hebrews 9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Old and the New
9 Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For there was a [a]tabernacle prepared, the [b]outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the [c]sacred bread; this is called the holy place. 3 Behind the second veil there was a [d]tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, 4 having a golden [e]altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
6 Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the [f]outer [g]tabernacle performing the divine worship, 7 but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the [h]sins of the people committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the [i]outer tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the [j]body imposed until a time of reformation.
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things [k]to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect [l]tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, [m]having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the [n]cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through [o]the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse [p]your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where a [q]covenant is, there must of necessity [r]be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a [s]covenant is valid only when [t]men are dead, [u]for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. 18 Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled both the [v]tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. 22 And according to the [w]Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
23 Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin [x]by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And inasmuch as it is [y]appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
Into the heavenly dwelling Place
Hebrews 9 (11-14)
This morning we were reminded of the important role the Jews have played in the formation of the church It has been through the Jews that we have received the most important book in the world the Bible and the most important person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Through this book we’ve come to know who God is and in this book, especially in the Old Testament that we see so much which pre-figures Christ, including the ceremonial law which the writer to the Hebrews refers to here in chapter 9.
The theme of out text is that Christ super-cedes the ceremonial law through his sacrifice and his ascension into heaven. We’ll look at this in three parts.
1. By his own blood, 2 through a heavenly tabernacle and 3. As high priest of the good things to come
1 By His own blood.
The ceremonial ritual in view here is the OT Day of Atonement. . We can read about this in Leviticus 16:1-34. The rituals of the day of atonement had three stages. First, Aaron the high priest had to bathe himself, put on his sacred clothing and offer a bull as sacrifice for his own sin. After slaughtering the bull, Aaron was to take incense into the holy of holies and burn it on the incense altar and then take some of the blood of the bull and with his finger sprinkle blood on the atonement cover of the ark of the Lord. In that way Aaron could make atonement for his own sin and the sin of his immediate family.
Then Aaron had to do the same with a goat slaughter it, takes some of the blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle that blood on the atonement cover, this was to atone for the sins of all of Israel. This was to be done while the tabernacle was empty. Aaron would go in a third time in order to make atonement for the tabernacle itself. That also included sprinkling blood on the horns of the main altar on which the sacrifices were to be made.
Then a second goat was taken and Aaron would lay his hands on the head of the goat confess all of Israel’s sins and then give the goat to a man who would lead it far away from the camp intro the desert. That was to symbolise the removal of Israel’s sins.
After the release of the goat Aaron was to take off his sacred clothes, leave them in the Holy place put on his regular clothes and then offer the slaughtered bull and goat on the alter to atone for the sins of the people.
What we have here in the Day of Atonement sacrifices symbolises the two sides of the atonement. The first goat whose blood was sprinkled on the atonement cover of the Ark of the Covenant appeases God’s wrath. The other goat on whom the sins of the people were laid symbolises the cleansing of the peoples sin. The first is propitiatory God’s wrath against sin is appeased the second is a form of expiation in that it frees the people of the guilt of their sin.
The ashes of heifer mentioned in Hebrews 9 is prescribed in Numbers 9. These ashes were to be added to water and sprinkled on anyone who had contact with a dead body in order to make them ceremonially pure
Now the writer to the Hebrews says if God was pleased to accept these animal sacrifices how much more will the blood of Christ who offered himself without blemish to God cleanse the believer’s conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
So we come to the New testament and from the time of Christ’s birth onwards its very clear that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of the ceremonial sacrifices . Matthew 1:21 “Jesus came to save his people from their sins. John the Baptists calls Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In John 10 Jesus is the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. In Romans 3:20 it says that God presented Christ as a propitiation through his blood, and then here in Hebrews 9 we have a clear explanation that Jesus is the fulfilment of the entire sacrificial system winning for us eternal redemption and the forgiveness of sins through his own blood shed on the cross.
Now in order for anyone to truly understand why Christ came and what it means to be a Christian you do have to understand the atonement; that Christ’s blood of is infinite value which has taken away our sin once for all. Unlike the OT sacrifices which had to be repeated over and over again and were unable to cleanse the worshippers consciences from sin Christ’s blood can and does! The evidence of that is seen in the liberty Christ gives to the believer i.e. liberty from dead works and the freedom of a clean conscience.
Do you have any doubts that you are good enough or holy enough to get to heaven to be right with God? Do you worry that your past sins have been too great or numerous for you to be acceptable to God? You can put your minds at rest. Christ’s sacrifice was enough and no further sacrifice for sin is needed. You can put your minds at rest all our sin was nailed to the cross with Christ. That’s what it says in Colossians 2: 14. All our sin has been recorded as a certificate of debt. On the one side of the certificate is God’s law and on the other side against His decrees are written all our transgressions. Well imagine how long that certificate must be, enough to fill quite a fat book I’m sure.
Well that certificate has been taken out of the way. It is no longer a barrier between us and God. It was wrote Paul, been nailed to the cross of Christ.
The freedom Christ has won for us also includes from liberty from dead works to serve the living God. Christ’s atonement for us cleanses us from sin and opens the gates of heaven for us where we will worship and serve God perfectly. Obedience begins now. As Christians we haven’t been forgiven by God on account of the blood of Christ so that we keep living sinful lives. No! Our obedience to God and love for our neighbour begins from the moment we believe.
Besides, God hates hypocrisy. In Isaiah 1: 11 the Lord says I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats…. Who needs this trampling of my courts!? Learn to do good, seek justice reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan plead for the widow.”
Going through the rituals of worship without faith in the Lord are dead works with a warning!. Hebrews 10:26 says if we go on sinning wilfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth there remains no longer a sacrifice for sin.
On the other hand obedience prompted by God’s forgiveness is set out for us in Hebrews 13 and includes things like showing hospitality, remembering those in prison, sanctifying marriage, avoiding strange teachings and being strengthened by grace instead, obeying those in authority over us and praying for each other.
So we see here the difference Christ’s blood as the atonement for our sins makes. It is a once for all sacrifice sufficient to cleanse our consciences from sin and motivate us to serve the living God.
2. In the second place we see the significance of Christ entering the heavenly tabernacle.
Verse 11 says that Christ entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands that is to say not of this creation. In Moses day the Hebrews made one of the most elaborate tents ever. The chapter in Exodus which describes the materials used for the building of the tabernacle are what someone once called “an artist’s delight, a riot of colour, texture and design.” There were blue red and purple fabrics, fine linen, ram skins died bright red, acacia poles with bronze fittings. Then there were all the silver and gold and bronze articles inside the tabernacle and holy of holies. To add to this magnificent array of colour and finery was the pillar of smoke and fire which hovered above the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle day and night of all of it indicating God’s blessing and his holy Presence among his people.
The priest would enter the tabernacle and the holy of holies to present the sacrifices for his sins and the sins of Israel before the Lord .
Now it says here in Hebrews 9 that Jesus entered the heavenly tabernacle. This heavenly tabernacle contains similar items to the earthly tabernacle. There is an altar of incense(Revelation 5:8,) an altar of sacrifice (Rev. 6:9), the ark of the covenant (Rev 11: 19) and a sea of glass possibly alluding to the sea in the OT temple which was a large bronze basin about 5 meters in circumference and standing on twelve bronze bulls facing outward.
So what we find in the earthly tabernacle were merely copies of the real thing; that is the throne room in heaven which could only accept a perfect sacrifice. Jesus was that sacrifice. And so it says that Jesus, as the high priest of the good things to come, entered this greater and perfect tabernacle. He entered heaven itself.
By virtue of the perfect sacrifice of his own blood shed on the cross Jesus was able to appear before God the Father by right as our representative and high priest. The Aaronic priesthood had to appear repeatedly because their ministry was token and temporary. Jesus Christ ministry and the redemption he obtained for us is perfect in nature and eternal in effect.
And since the covenant of grace is a bond in blood, blood was needed to expiate our sin and this is what Christ has done once for all. He presented his own blood shed on Calvary with the result … and this is my third point.
3) that we may confidently anticipate the good things to come.
This is spelt out for us in verse 15 as our eternal inheritance and there are three things to note about that inheritance.
a) It is promised. Through-out the letter to the Hebrews the author stresses that the gift of God’s grace is achieved for us by the redemptive work of Jesus. It does not depend on anything you and I have done or still need to do but on what Christ did and on what God said. So if God promised us an eternal inheritance then it is as good as ours. It is ours by grace through faith in Jesus. In fact in Hebrew 6:17 & 18 the Lord swears an oath by himself that we will receive what He promised. And so we will.
b) And then there is the quality of the inheritance. It is eternal another important word in the letter to the Hebrews. It can’t waste away or diminish with time.
Hebrews was written to Christians who were suffering persecution. Life for them was difficult and often short. But though their enemies may have been able to rob them of their possessions and life here on earth their heavenly inheritance and eternal life is imperishable. That’s true for us as well. What we own in this life will one day mean nothing to us anymore. No matter! We have an eternal inheritance waiting in heaven for us.
c) And then there is the content of our inheritance. If we want to summarise that in a word we can call it the Promised Land. Now the blessing of this inheritance is not all future. According to Hebrews the Lord would also have us enjoy our present inheritance too. In Christ we are said to reign with him now in order to, i) declare the praises of God in the world, ii) to serve as Christ served and iii) to continue in the fight against the lust of the flesh sin in the world around us and Satan’s temptations . iv) In Christ we the possess the blessings of the world to come which are already evident to us. These include our present redemption and the fact that we are no longer slaves to sin but live in the freedom Christ has won for us. v) Hebrews 4 tells us about a Sabbath rest which also has a present as well as future aspect. While we look forward to our eternal rest we enjoy the present one including rest and worship on the Lord’s day and at least partial rest from the burden of sin.
Christ has won all this for us on the cross. Since he presented his sacrifice of atonement in the heavenly Holy of Holies his victory for us is sufficient.
So in conclusion when it comes to the ceremonial law we see how it points to Christ , how he has superceded it and how it is sufficient. His sacrifice purchased our freedom and our inheritance and it enables us to joyfully serve the living God