LESSON 9 - Heb. 9:11-15 - A NEW AND BETTER OFFERING
INTRODUCTION: Last week, in Heb. 8:1-13, we heard the writer explain how the superior work of Jesus Christ as Messiah has established a new and better Covenant in four ways: (1) As our forever High priest, Jesus' work was finished forever when (a) He laid-down His life on the cross and (b) ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father; (2) That the OT earthly tabernacle and temple was intended to be only a copy and shadow of a higher spiritual reality, that is, to become the ultimate pattern that God fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ; (3) That OT prophecy
clearly revealed that God never intended for the Old Covenant to be the final basis of His relationship with man (Jer. 31:31-34). By making an unconditional New Covenant of grace, God guaranteed success because fulfillment would depend on Him alone, and He cannot fail; and (4) That the New Covenant of grace makes the Old Covenant of law completely obsolete. God has fully implemented a New Covenant of Grace through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which makes the Old Covenant completely obsolete-in fact, it's no longer in force or applicable to anything.
This week, in Heb. 9:11-15, we skip verses 1-10, which describe the Earthly Holy Place-the OT Tabernacle, its furnishings, and it worship practices under the "first Covenant"-as the groundwork for a discussion of the "new covenant" in the section that follows. In today's lesson, the writer will explain how, in comparison to the Old Covenant tabernacle worship, the New Covenant High Priesthood of Jesus Christ provides a superior sacrifice in a superior tabernacle that brings complete forgiveness of sins, eternal salvation, a purified conscience, and direct access to God.
Read Heb. 9:11-12 - ONCE AND FOR ALL
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect 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, having obtained eternal redemption.
v. 11a: "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come," - The Greek word for "appeared" (Gk. paraginomai [par-ag-in'-om-ahee]) denotes three completed actions: (1) Christ has arrived as heaven, (2) has taken up His post as High Priest, and (3) is presently serving there now and for all time to come; and the "good things to come" refers to the special blessings He gives to those who receive Him as Lord and Savior.
v. 11b: He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; - This "greater and more perfect tabernacle" refers to the area that immediately surrounds God's very presence in heaven. And this tabernacle is infinitely superior to the Mosaic tabernacle because it isn't some temporary structure made with "human hands" and in all reality is not even of "this creation."
v. 12a: "and not through the blood of goats and calves," - "Blood" was a symbol of life (Lev. 17:11), and the lives of 'innocent' animals were sufficient substitutes only to temporarily atone for sin.
v. 12b: "but through His own blood," - But the "blood" of Jesus Christ, because He was a perfect and sinless human substitute, was sufficient to pay for the redemption of sin for all people "once and for all"-forever.
v. 12c: "He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption." - That Christ entered the "holy place once for all," means that at the time of His ascension, He went into God's presence because He had finished God's work of redemption on the cross at Calvary. "Redemption" requires bringing freedom to a captive through the payment of a price, in this instance the very lifeblood of Jesus Christ. The verse showcases the comparison between the limited and temporary power of the blood of sacrificed animals versus the blood of Christ, with its power to cleanse the sins of all people who have ever lived, all who are living now, and all the people who will ever live. As saved Christians we owe everything in life to Christ for saving us from the penalty of sin. AMEN?
APPLICATION 1: The blood of Jesus Christ has the power to cleanse everyone. This includes all people who have ever lived, all who are living now, and all the people who will ever live. From the Jewish perspective, this forms a complete contrast to the limited and temporary cleansing power of the blood of sacrificed animals. This is the 'wonder-working" power of the blood.
Read Heb. 9:13-14 - HOW MUCH MORE WILL THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
NOTE: These two verses may seem repetitive to you, but we should remember that this is a common Hebrew literary device designed to place great emphasis on a particular topic, in this instance, another comparison between the blood of animals and the blood of Christ. For us, non-Jews with little practical understanding of the ritual sacrifices made in the OT Temple, this section of the Letter is harder for us to understand; but to the writer's audience, it would make good sense. As I've said before, to understand the Book of Hebrews, we must understand the broader context from which the writer is working-an audience of converted Jews. Their roots are a lot deeper than ours.
v. 13a: "For if the blood of goats and bulls" - Approaching his argument from a different angle, rather than condemning the limits of Old Covenant sacrifices, the writer will point out that they-i.e., "the blood of goats and bulls"-did have some measure of power and could provide ritual purity to a person's physical flesh, even if only temporarily. So the argument goes that if animal blood can provide that kind of benefit to a person, how much more does the blood of Christ provide? Answer: we'll come to that in the verses that follow when the writer is prepared to conclude his point.
v. 13b: "and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh," - Here we move to a comparison based on "the ashes of a heifer." Under OT Law, if an Israelite touched a dead body, they would become ceremonially 'unclean' for seven days. The remedy-to remove the defilement-was to mix the ashes of a heifer with pure spring water and to sprinkle it on the defiled person on the third and seventh days, after which they became 'clean.'
v. 14a: "how much more will the blood of Christ?" - Connecting this to the previous phrase, here's the question: If the ashes of a heifer had enough power to cleanse a person from one of the most serious forms of defilement, then "how much more will the blood of Christ" cleanse? The Old Covenant sacrifices did serve a purpose and were able to provide a measure of purity; yet, that purity was merely external, ceremonial, and temporary, and none of them could ever change the inner, sinful nature of man.
v. 14b: "who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God," - The term "eternal Spirit" means both the willing spirit with which Christ sacrificed Himself and the Holy Spirit, which empowered Him to make the sacrifice, a perfect sacrifice "without blemish" that would be acceptable to God for once and for all.
v. 14c: "cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" - When the writer declares that the blood of Christ cleanses "your conscience from dead works," (i.e., "dead works" being a metaphor for the OT Law), he's saying that the Christian believer doesn't receive temporary ceremonial cleansing but obtains a permanent moral renewal (i.e., a change in the inner person) which purifies the "conscience" and allows a person to truly "serve the living God" with a clean heart. In this verse, you should also notice that all three persons of the Trinity-"Christ, the eternal Spirit, and God"-participate in the completion of this transaction.
APPLICATION 2: Believers in Christ receive an everlasting moral renewal. In contrast to the temporary, ceremonial cleansing of the OT sacrificial system, the blood of Christ gives a New Covenant Christian a moral cleansing via the Holy Spirit which purifies the "conscience" and enables a believer to serve God with a pure heart. You should also see that all three persons of the Holy Trinity are involved in this transformation.
Read Heb. 9:15 - HE IS THE MEDIATOR OF A NEW COVENANT
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.
v. 15a1: "For this reason" - So far, the writer of Hebrews has been very careful to point out that God's plan since the beginning has always been to provide a New Covenant for His people. For example the superior priesthood of Melchizedek came as a forerunner-a human type-who foreshadowed Christ's eternal and unending high priesthood; and the prophecy God gave through Jeremiah showed that God had in the past promised a New Covenant in the Jewish Scriptures (Jer.31:31-34). The specific point the writer makes is that the shortcomings of the Old Covenant (which required "works" that depended on the obedience of man) were not a mistake (God never makes mistakes), but planned by God to help show the need for a newer and better Covenant (see, Heb. 8:7, last week), one that was unconditional.
v. 15a2: "He is the mediator of a new covenant," - The word for "mediator" (Gk. mesites) literally refers to a person who intervenes between others to make peace and restore friendship. In this case, Jesus Christ, as Messiah, acts as a go-between or mediator between a holy God and sinful man.
v. 15b: "so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant" - Quite simply, the Old Covenant was replaced by New Covenant through the "death" of Christ whose work covered the sins of the OT saints, that is, covered "the redemption of the transgressions" under "the first covenant"-as well as well as sinners from every other generation. To summarize this thought, Christ not only mediated the New Covenant, but completed the Old Covenant. This adds profound meaning to Christ's last words, "It is finished," just before He gave up His life on the cross. (John 19:30).
v. 15c: "those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." - The spiritual inheritance of "those who been called" refers to "the eternal" salvation of all who believe in Jesus Christ, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. The sacrifice of Christ accomplished what the Old Covenant sacrifices could not-to pay the penalty for human sin for all time.
APPLICATION 3: Christ not only mediated the New Covenant but completed the Old covenant. Quite simply, the Old Covenant was replaced by New Covenant through the "death" of Christ whose work covered the sins of the OT saints as well as well as sinners from every other generation, past, present, and future. As Jesus Himself said on the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30).