All New (Hebrews 9)

What are we to learn from the earthly tabernacle and its carnal sacrifices (9:9, 10)? We are not left to give our own interpretation, but are definitely told that the Holy Spirit has signified their true meaning. First, we are to learn that the services of the tabernacle clearly show that, under the law, the way into the presence of God was not yet made manifest (v 8).

Secondly, if the way into the Holiest was not yet open, it was a clear proof of the insufficiency of the sacrifices. They could not make the offeror perfect as to the conscience. Thirdly, these things, during their existence, were a figure of things to come. The figures, however, could never satisfy God, nor meet the need of man. Under such a system God was shut in and man was shut out. The Jewish religion could neither open heaven to man nor fit him for heaven.

It is important to remember that the “perfect” or purged” conscience, of which the Apostle speaks in chapters 9 and 10, is very different to what is spoken of elsewhere as “a good conscience.” The purged conscience is one that being “once purged” has no more conscience of sins (10:2). It supposes a conscience that has been exercised as to its sins, but has had that exercise met by learning that the believer is cleansed from all sins by the precious Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and will never come under judgement. A good conscience is “a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man” (Acts 24:16), in the practical ways and walk.

With the coming of the Lord Jesus all is changed and made new. There is a new High Priest, a greater and a perfect tabernacle, and a new sacrifice. Aaron was high priest in a reference to things in this present world. The Lord Jesus is our “High Priest of good things to come.” His sacrifice does indeed secure present blessings for the believer, but the “good things” in reference to which He is High Priest are yet “to come.” Thus again the Spirit of God keeps in view the end of our wilderness journey—Christ being our High Priest to support us through the wilderness in view of bringing us into the “good things” at the end of the journey in the world to come.

If then the Aaronic priesthood is set aside by the Priesthood of Christ, so too the earthly tabernacle is set aside by “the greater and more perfect tabernacle.” The earthly tabernacle was made with hands, and was of the creation. The perfect tabernacle is heaven itself.

The Levitical sacrifices are set aside by the one great sacrifice of Christ, who by His own Blood, has entered into heaven itself, prefigured by the Holy of Holies. Moreover, in contrast to the Aaronic priest who entered once “every year,” Christ has entered in heaven “once for all.” He enters to take up His priestly service on behalf of those for whom He has already obtained eternal redemption.

The Blood of Christ, by which eternal redemption has been obtained, sets aside the blood of bulls and goats. The blood of these animals did indeed have a sanctifying effect, so far as the cleansing of the flesh was concerned (Num 19:7, 8). But the Blood of Christ purges the conscience. The blood of an animal offered through a priest is entirely set aside by “the Blood of Christ, who by the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.”

For the one that believes, the effect of this great sacrifice is to purge the “conscience from dead works*.”
Seeing that Christ has offered Himself without spot to God, and that God has accepted the great sacrifice, and is infinitely satisfied with Christ and His shed Blood, the conscience of the believer is relieved of all thought of working to secure the blessing. Such works, however good in themselves, would only be “dead works.” Thus set free in conscience, the believer becomes a worshipper of the Father.

Thus the great conclusion is reached that “without the shedding of blood is no remission.” Here it is not simply the sprinkling of blood, but the “shedding of blood”—the righteous basis upon which God can proclaim forgiveness, and proclaim all who believe are forgiven. The tabernacle and its furnishings were only the pattern of things in the heavens (“but not the very image of the things” Heb 10:1 – NC). It was possible to enter the earthly tabernacle through the purification of the flesh, afforded by the blood of bulls and goats; but the purification of heavenly things demanded a better Sacrifice.

The Apostle has spoken of the better sacrifices, introducing the subject with the words, “But Christ being come.” Now he leads our thoughts to the New Sanctuary with the words, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself.” There, in the very presence of the Father, the Lord Jesus as our great High Priest now appears to represent His people before the face of the Father. Christ appearing in heaven, before His Father’s face “for us” is the everlasting witness that heaven is secured, and thrown open to the believer.

Moreover, every hindrance to the believer being in heaven has been righteously met and removed by one eternally efficacious sacrifice. The yearly repetition of the Levitical sacrifices was a proof of their inadequacy to put away sin. In contrast to these sacrifices, Christ has once appeared in the consummation of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, “and as it is appointed unto men to once die, but after this the judgement: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” Thus, by one great sacrifice of Christ Himself, sin has been put away, sins having been borne, and death and judgement removed for the believer.

The blessed result for the Christian is that when the Lord Jesus appears at the Rapture, He will no more have to do with sin. Sin having been dealt with at His first appearing. His second appearing will be wholly for the salvation of His people from a world of sin, and the power of the enemy, to bring them into the rest that remains.

The passage thus presents the three appearings of the Lord Jesus. His past appearing at the Cross to put away sin, bear sins, and remove judgement; His present appearing in heaven itself, as the great High Priest, on behalf of His people; and the soon appearing in glory for the final salvation of His people form this wilderness world with all its temptations and infirmities.

- Hamilton Smith

Poster’s Opinion:
*”dead works”: The sacrificial ordinances were works that could obtain forgiveness from guilt of sin but were considered dead or powerless works in relation to addressing the removal of the dominion of sin (Heb 10:11), which is the goal of being forgiven in order to be in, not just union but in fellowship with God.

Miles J Stanford devotional: