When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first [covenant] obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is about to disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)
With the establishment of the new covenant, the first covenant is now obsolete and will disappear. What did the first covenant (now obsolete) include?
Now even the first covenant had regulations for divine worship and the earthly sanctuary (Hebrews 9:1)
Now even the first covenant had regulations for divine worship. The meaning here is the first covenant or old covenant, or former arrangement had religious laws, rites and services regulating the worship of God.
And the earthly sanctuary. The term “earthly,” applied to “sanctuary,” here means that it pertained to this world rather than to heaven. This earthly sanctuary was the blueprint God gave the Israelites because it pictured a greater reality in the heavenlies. So, the earthly sanctuary was part of the first covenant.
For a tabernacle was equipped, the outer sanctuary, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the sacred bread; this is called the Holy Place (Hebrews 9:2)
The outer sanctuary. The first room on entering the sacred edifice is called the “outer sanctuary”. The apostle then proceeds to enumerate the various articles of furniture which were in this room.
The lampstand. There was this lamp stand with seven branches out of it. It was lit. There were little cups of oil, and they would put the wicks in the oil and it was the light in this portion of the tent.
Table and the sacred bread. On the table were twelve loaves of bread.
This is called the Holy Place. The first room is called the Holy Place. The author of Hebrews does not say that the candlestick, and the table of showbread, and the other furniture that follows were designed to represent some particular truth or had a designed spiritual meaning. There are other passages in Scriptures that allude to their meaning which will not be elaborated here.
Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 9:2)
This is the second room. This second veil divided the holy place from the most holy, as the first veil did the holy place from the courts. This represented the visible symbol of His presence.
Having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron’s staff which budded, and the tablets of the covenant (Hebrews 9:3)
Having a golden altar of incense. The Greek must not be translated as “altar of incense,” for it was not in “Most Holy” place “after the second veil,” but in “the holy place”; but as in 2 Chronicle 26:19, and Ezekiel 8:11, “censer”. This GOLDEN censer was only used on the day of atonement. Alternatively, the writer of Hebrews probably meant that at the veil, not the Most Holy place, had the altar of incense and the ark of the covenant connected with it (Hebrews 9:3; cf. 1 Kings 6:22).
The ark of the covenant. This is often called “the ark of the testimony,” i.e., the ark containing the tables of the Ten Commandments, which were the symbol of the covenant of God with Israel. (See Exodus 25:10-16.). So, the ark of the covenant was part of the first covenant that is now obsolete.
In which was a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron’s staff which budded. The golden pot holding the manna and Aaron’s rod that budded were not said in the Pentateuch to have been placed in the ark of the covenant; but no objection can be lodged against the statement in Hebrews to that effect, because such a keeping place would have been perfectly in line with God’s instructions that they were to be “laid up before the Lord” (Exodus 16:33), and “before the testimony” (Numbers 17:10).
And the tablets of the covenant. The stones on which the decalogue or ten commandments were written are called “the tables of the covenant” (Deut. 9:9), which were a handful of ten laws from the law of Moses, which outlined a handful of duties towards man and God, and this was placed inside the ark of the covenant. The author of Hebrews does not appear to go into all the details (Hebrews 9:4), but there was also the book in which the law was expanded and applied for the Jews (613 commandments including the ten) called “the book of the covenant” (Ex. 24:7), and this was placed by the side of the ark (Deut. 31:26) in the Most Holy place. The first or “Old Covenant” (now obsolete) included an earthly sanctuary, ceremonial aspects, and also the “tablets of the covenant”. It cannot be any clearer. Efforts to dissociate the tablets of that covenant from the annulment (obsolescence) that fell upon it fail in the light of such clear identification as this.
And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the atoning cover; but about these things we cannot now speak in detail (Hebrews 9:4)
And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the atoning cover. Above the ark of the covenant were glorious cherubim (plural). The atoning cover is translated elsewhere as the mercy seat. This was the ornate “lid” for the ark of the covenant, made with the designs of cherubim upon it. The blood of sacrifice was sprinkled upon it for the forgiveness of Israel’s sin on the Day of Atonement (Exodus 25:17-22). As God looked down into the ark, He saw the symbols of Israel’s sin, rebellion and failure. But when the blood of sacrifice was applied to the mercy seat, the blood of sacrifice had provided atonement for Israel’s sin.
About these things we cannot now speak in detail. The writer declined to speak of the tabernacle furnishings in more detail as we saw earlier (Hebrews 9:3) because his main purpose is not to give details of the first covenant and the earthly sanctuary but to contrast the two rituals and the two covenants.
Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship (Hebrews 9:6)
Now when these things have been so prepared. The earthly sanctuary was prepared and set up exactly as how God wanted.
The priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship. So, the priests could go into the holy place (outer tabernacle), and they had various functions on a daily basis (continually).
But into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance (Hebrews 9:7)
But into the second, only the high priest enters once a year. But only the high priest and only once a year was he allowed to go behind the veil (Most Holy place) and only with blood in order to make payment for sin. This was a day of utter terror for the people of Israel as they stood and waited, wondering if the high priest would come out alive. If he came out alive, it indicated that God had accepted the offering for another year.
Not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people. The atoning blood was first for his own sins and then for the sins of his people.
Committed in ignorance. Sins of ignorance were the specific aim of the Day of Atonement. It is known that known sin would be taken care of (atoned, cleansed, forgiven) through regular sin offerings and the daily sacrifices in the daily sanctuary service. Sins of ignorance (unatoned) were the specific aim of the Day of Atonement. God does not require two different atonements for the same sins as Seventh-day Adventist teach (see: Truth About the Sanctuary Truth)
The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time (Hebrews 9:8-9a)
The Holy Spirit is signifying this. The Holy Spirit is unveiling this.
The way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed. The way into the heavenly sanctuary or heaven itself was not revealed.
While the outer tabernacle is still standing. When the earthly sanctuary is still standing and functioning according to God’s design in a way that’s pleasing to God, it indicates that the Messiah has not yet come. If the Messiah had come, then the purpose of the earthly tabernacle, the covenant and the temple would be fulfilled and completed. Then the way into the heavenly sanctuary would be unveiled. In other words, the continuing activities at the first (old) covenant tabernacle were “signifying” that the way into the entire heavenly sanctuary, was not yet ready until the Old Covenant ended. From God’s perspective these activities ended at Calvary (Mt 27:51; Mk 15:38; Lk 23:45). At His ascension, Christ’s New Covenant ministry in the heavenly sanctuary began (Ps 110:1; Acts 2:33-34).
Which is a symbol for the present time. The things of the earthly sanctuary were a shadow, a picture, a temporary figure, it was for that present time only till the earthly sanctuary stood. Once the heavenly sanctuary is unveiled, the earthly pattern is abolished, and ought not to be revived. Again, the patterns given from heaven concerning the (old) covenant sanctuary were only “a figure for the time then present.” They were NOT “a figure for the future” as SDAs argue. They do not depict reality in heaven.
Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food, drink, and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. (Hebrews 9:9b-10)
Gifts and sacrifices. Thank-offerings and bloody offerings. All kinds of offerings to God were made there in the earthly sanctuary.
Cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience. That could not take away sin, and remove the stains of guilt. Since gifts and sacrifices were outward and ceremonial rites, and even when offerings were made for sin, the conscience was not relieved. And the fact that they had to do it every year made them constantly conscious of their guilt.
Since they relate only to food, drink, and various washings, regulations for the body. Since under this old covenant system, food, drink, various washings, and regulations were limited to the outward and external cleanliness, they could not change the consciences of the ones who participated in them.
Imposed until a time of reformation. The idea here is that those rites and ceremonies (old covenant) were only temporary in their nature and were designed to endure until a more perfect system should be introduced. That is until the new covenant. “Until the time of reformation” refer to the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ (Gal 3:19). The Old Testament pattern of sanctuary service ended when the “time of reformation” arrived. SDAs part with the majority of Christians at Hebrews 9:9-10. The truth is that all of the patterns, examples and shadows given to Moses in the Law were only temporary blueprints of Old Covenant pre-Calvary reality!
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things having come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands, that is, not of this creation (Hebrews 9:11)
But. But here stands for contrast with what happened in type.
When Christ appeared as a high priest. Now that the Messiah has come as a High Priest. We cannot doubt that these words are contrasting between the true High Priest and the High priest on earth. Christ came as a High Priest from Judah after the king-priest rank of Melchizedek (Heb 7:11-18). He did not come as an Old Covenant Aaronic High priest from Levi who was required to follow the Law-patterns.
Of the good things having come. A more perfect system has been already introduced by which the conscience may be made free from guilt. Good things are now already here because Christ appeared as a High Priest.
He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle. He’s not entering the earthly tabernacle; He is entering the true tabernacle in the heavenlies.
Not made by hands, that is, not of this creation. The meaning is, that the place where he officiates is not made by human power but it is the ultimate presence of God. It’s the heaven itself.
And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12)
And not through the blood of goats and calves. Christ did not offer the blood of bulls and goats, these were the animals sacrificed on the day of atonement (Leviticus 16:3,11) which had no real power to make anyone clean—but would actually offer Himself.
But through His own blood. Christ would offer His own blood as payment for sin.
He entered the holy place [ta hagia] once for all time. The Greek word here is literally “holies.” The Septuagint uses it repeatedly in Leviticus 16 for the most holy place. The word itself can mean the sanctuary as a whole, or it can mean the first apartment, or it can mean the second apartment. You can prove nothing from the Greek, because it has these possibilities, but from the context it is obvious. It is speaking about a place that the high priest alone went once every year with the blood of bulls and goats. Here, Jesus entered the most holy place (heaven itself) once for all time. Having died “once for all” (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 10:10) He was able to enter God’s presence “once for all.”
Having obtained eternal redemption. As long as the ultimate High Priest lives, His payment for sin is valid, and because He is eternal, then His payment for sin is eternal—so the redemption that He provides is an eternal redemption.
Since our high priest entered into heaven once for all, and has obtained not a yearly respite, but eternal redemption, he need not make an yearly entrance into the presence of God, or every 100 year entrance into the presence of God or even an 1844 entrance into the presence of God. He entered once for all time into the heavenly sanctuary, heaven itself, the presence of God, in opposition to the annual entering of the high priest into the holiest of all, with the blood of the yearly victim. Note again. In the earthly type, daily and yearly sacrifices were made. Instead of following the type pattern by dying many times, Christ fulfills the type by having died “once for all”. In the earthly type, the priest entered the sanctuary many times (daily and yearly). Instead of following the type pattern by entering the sanctuary many times (daily and yearly), Christ fulfils the type by entering the heavenly sanctuary, heaven itself “once for all”.
Andre Reis, an SDA theologian writes: “The book of Hebrews explicitly negates the notion that Jesus has engaged in a two-phase ministry since his ascension, with the final phase to be commenced sometime in the future. Hebrews 6:19-20; 9:12, 25; 10:19 are full of verbal parallels drawn from the sanctuary ritual culminating with the yearly Day of Atonement to explain Jesus’s sacrifice and subsequent activities as the Heavenly high Priest” (source: https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/10/22/perspective-1844-pillar-faith-or-mortal-wound ).
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 (Hebrews 9:13)
For if the blood of goats and bulls. Referring to blood of sacrificial victims.
And the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled. The heifer was sacrificed, and the ashes were used to make people clean when they had become unclean.
Sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh. If these things are adequate to restore a man to ceremonial cleanness which was a type of moral purity.
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? (Hebrews 9:14)
How much more will the blood of Christ. If the blood of an animal had any efficacy at all, even in removing ceremonial pollutions, how much more virtue must there be in the blood of Christ, to cleanse us from all sin?
Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God. Through his own eternal Godhead, offered “himself” without blemish, meaning the great sacrifice was “perfect”.
Cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. The weakness of the sacrifices, “akin to dead works” made by earthly priests is that they could not really give us a clear conscience to serve the living God. They were a reminder of our sins that God had not completely dealt with our sin. And the fact that they had to do it every year made us constantly conscious of our guilt. But Jesus Christ has now purified our consciences for having to not offer “dead works”, instead we have peace that our sins have been cleansed (forgiven, blotted out, cancelled) to serve the Living God under the new covenant.