The Book of Hebrews #30 chapter 9:1-14
The Book of Hebrews
The New Covenant, Part 4
Hebrews 9:1-14
 
The critical thought of the book of Hebrews is how to have access to God. What He is talking about in this book is how to get to God.
 
He uses the terms "access to God," "salvation to the uttermost" and "perfection." And those three are really synonymous terms having to do with entering into the presence of God. And He shows that such access to God, or perfection, if you will, or salvation to the uttermost, is impossible except through Jesus Christ. He shows to the Jew how that all of the old economy, all of the old priesthood, all of the old sacrifices and all of the old covenant could not bring men to God. They could only take a man so far. They could not provide uttermost salvation, full access to God.
 
And full access to God, according to the New Testament and according to the Holy Spirit writing in the Book of Hebrews, is by Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus Himself said, "No man cometh unto God but," what? "By me." And that's exactly the message of this book. There is no access to God apart from Jesus Christ. Because of Christ, men have access to God.
 
So, first, the Holy Spirit is concerned with presenting Christ in this book because if you're going to get to God, you must accept the fact of who Christ is. If you're not willing to respond to Christ, then you have cut off the only access.
So He begins with a clear presentation of the superiority of Jesus Christ and tells us that He is superior to everything and everyone.
 
And then He goes on to show us three things by which Christ had made this access possible.
 
First of all, by His priesthood
 
Hebrews 7:27
 
Secondly, He talks about a new sacrifice
 
That idea is really developed in chapter 10, but it’s mentioned in chapter 9:22. And if you go to chapter 10, you find that Jesus says, "I am the final sacrifice." So He brings a new priesthood and a new sacrifice. One is divine mediation. The other is divine redemption.
 
Then the third thing that He offers that is new is a new covenant, or divine promises.
 
And that we found in chapter 8:6
 
Now, the Old Testament worship was based on those three things, the priesthood, the sacrifices and the covenant. Jesus says, "I bring a better priesthood, a better sacrifice, a better covenant."
 
So first we see the preeminence of His person.  Then we see the preeminence of His priesthood, then the preeminence of His sacrifice, then the preeminence of His covenant. That's the message of Hebrews. And on the basis of His priesthood, His sacrifice and His covenant, men can enter into God's presence. There is access.
And since His is an eternal priesthood, an eternal sacrifice and an eternal covenant, our access is eternal as well. To put our trust, then, in Jesus Christ is to receive the benefit of all three of these things.
 
Now, if this is going to be His theme, it's no shock to us that He's going to talk about these three in relation to the Old Testament, and that's exactly what He does. If He's going to show the Jews that there needs to be a better priesthood and a better sacrifice and a better covenant, He'll have to show them out of their own text, which is the Old Testament, and He does.
 
And that’s what we’ve been studying.  First of all, you'll remember that all through chapter 7, He uses Psalm 110:4 and talks about the priesthood of Melchizedek.
 
The second thing He wants to talk about is a new sacrifice and He uses Psalm 40, verses 6 to 8, and that we’ll see that when we get to chapter 10, verse 5.
 
The third thing is, He wants to prove there needs to be a better covenant. And He does that by quoting Jeremiah 31. And that we studied last week in 8:8 and following.
 
So the Holy Spirit is talking about three things that are new in Jesus Christ. A new priesthood, a new sacrifice and a new covenant.  Now, the very fact that God says a new one is needed means the old one is insufficient.
 
 
 
We see that in the closing verse of chapter 8, and it is that thought that introduces the subject of chapter 9.
 
A Jew might be saying,  “You told us we need a new priesthood, and you proved it by the Old Testament and you said Jesus was the new priest. Then you showed us we needed a new covenant, and you showed us that Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant and the old is passing away.  So what is the value or purpose of the Old Covenant?”
 
He gives the answer in chapter 9
 
I think the thing that was most difficult for a Jew to understand is that all the Old Testament stuff was symbolic and prophetic.  And when the reality which was Jesus came, it was done away with.
 
It’s like a lover continuing to pine away looking at the picture of his long-lost lover when she’s finally returned and sitting beside him on the couch.
 
That's exactly what is happening in Israel. The reality is here, proclaiming His presence, and they stare at the picture. And He keeps saying to them in Hebrews, "Throw the picture away. You don't need it anymore. The reality is here."
 
So in verses 1 to 14 He presents a contrast between the old and the new. In verses 1 to 10, He outlines the characteristics of the old covenant and in 11 to 14, the new. We’ll just jump in and see how far we get.
 
 
 
1. The Characteristics of the Old Covenant
 
verse 1
 
- Divine Service
 
The old order was of God.  IN fact, every detail was beautifully ordained of God to present a picture of Messiah. And He begins by establishing the fact that these services were divine.
 
But notice it was done in an earthly sanctuary. Even though its service was divine, it was also temporary.
 
Then he describes the earthly pattern by looking at three things.
 
First of all, notice the sanctuary
 
Verses 2-5
 
He's dealing here with the Tabernacle rather than the Temple, because He wants to pull out the primary things that God placed initially in that Tabernacle. And it was the earthiest of the two, between the Tabernacle and the Temple. It was the most transitory and passing thing, because of its mobility and the substance of which it was made, so it illustrates His truth.
 
And He starts out by saying, "There was a tabernacle made." Now, that tent is very important. And I dare say we don't know nearly as much about it as we ought to. Do you know that there are only two chapters in the Bible that talk about creation, and there are 50 chapters that talk about the Tabernacle? That is important.
The Tabernacle is important and demands attention from us in our study, because the Tabernacle is a giant picture of Jesus Christ and in its detail, God laid out all the plans.  And when you look at it you see Jesus in everything about it.
 
Now, the writer deals only with the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies and the furniture in them.  The tabernacle in the wilderness, which he references had some other parts and every part of it was symbolic of Jesus.
 
For instance, there was an outer fence 150 feet long and 75 feet wide with only one and it was 30 feet wide. So while there is only one entrance, it was a big entrance.  That means a lot of people could get in.  In fact, we might say, “Whosoever will, may come”.
 
It is a perfect picture of Jesus Christ, who referred to Himself as “the Way" as well as “the Door”.  There is only one doorway to God and it is Jesus. Christianity is very exclusive. Men only come to God through Jesus Christ, but on the other hand, whoever comes that way, gets in..
 
After you entered that courtyard, you would come to the brazen altar.  It was made of acacia wood, 7½ feet square, 4½ tall. The top was covered by a brass grate, and the coals were underneath the grate, and the sacrifice was placed on the grate. On four corners of the altar were the horns of the altar to which the animal was bound when it was being sacrificed.
 
 
Again that was a picture of Jesus Christ, the one who was a sacrifice for sin.  He was bound, and His blood was shed and He endured the fires of eternal punishment.
 
Continuing west and you come to the laver.  It was a wash area where the priest would clean his hands and feet before entering the Holy Place.  There we are reminded that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
 
And those two furnishings in the courtyard work together to show us how we are forgiven and cleansed.   Not only do we come to the alter and receive forgiveness, which pictures salvation, we need to come to the laver and find daily foregiveness which produces joy and usefulness.
 
Once we get clean at the laver, we come to the tabernacle itself, which is what is described here in Hebrews 9.
 
It was a cloth and animal skin covered tent-like structure 45 feet long, 15 feet wide, 15 feet high.  It had two compartments or rooms.
 
The first one was called the Holy Place.  It was 30x15x15. It contained three pieces of furniture; the writer only mentions two of them, the lamp stand and the table of showbread.  There was also an altar of incense. Why doesn’t he mention it?  He doesn’t have to cover all the details; he’s talking to people who knew all about this temple.  So for the sake of his discussion he mentions only two, the lamp stand.
 
 
 
The lam stand had seven arms.  It was fashioned out of solid gold and sat on the left side of the room.
 
On the right was the table of showbread. It was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. It was three feet long, one and a half feet wide, and about two and a quarter feet high.  On it every Sabbath they laid 12 loaves, one for every tribe in Israel, six in two rows. And at the end of the week the priests ate it, and only the priests were allowed to eat it.
 
Then in the center was the altar of incense. It, also, was made of acacia wood and covered in gold. It was one and a half feet square, three feet high. And on this were placed the burning coals from the brazen altar way out in the courtyard where sacrifice was made.
 
And again all of that pictures Jesus Christ.  Now watch what happens:
 
Everything in the outer courtyard was connected in some way with salvation and the cleansing of sin.  It was made of brass, which always signifies judgment and it involved blood and fire and water.
 
Where did Jesus accomplish salvation and the cleansing of sin? On the earth and that's what the courtyard symbolizes.  It is outside God's presence. The very fact that it was the outer court and accessible to all the people, pictures Christ in the world, openly manifesting Himself before men.
 
But when He goes into the Holy Place, He is shut off from the men of the world. So whatever it is that's going on in the Holy Place, it'll have to do with that which He does when He gets back to heaven.
It’s all about heaven and the presence of God.  There we find no brass; everything is gold.  In fact, it is wood covered in gold which is a picture of the humanity of Jesus which has now been swallowed up in His majesty.
 
Now remember, the author is talking to Jews about Jesus being a greater priest than they’ve ever known.  He ministers, not on the earth, where priests get old and die and their priesthood comes to and end, but in heaven, eternal and forever.
 
And what are the three things that Jesus as Great High Priest does when He gets back to heaven?
 
He lights our path. He is the Eternal Lamp Stand of God.  And by the way, that is not picturing Jesus as the Light of the World.  He said in the gospel of John, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." He’s not the Light of the World any longer, we are.  He is, in the presence of God, the light of Life.  We’re seeing a picture of His work in Heaven.
He is the light of life. He is the light that directs our paths. He is the one who through the Spirit illumines our mind to understand spiritual truth. He is the one by the indwelling Spirit that guides us through the world of darkness. He is our light.
 
Number two, He feeds us. He is the Eternal Table of Showbread. Jesus is our sustenance. He's the one who feeds us every day, who sustains us, and He sustains us with the Word.
 
 
 
 
And He intercedes for us. He is the constant aroma and smoke that is forever in the presence of God interceding for us.
 
That’s all happening in the Holy Place, but we don’t stop there.  Look at verses 3-5.
 
Now at verse 3 the hearers got very somber because the writer begins to talk about what is behind the second veil.  As far as they are concerned, this is no-man’s land.  Outside the High Priest, no one had ever seen the inside of that compartment.  And that only happened once a year, on one day.
 
So I can imagine the original hearers must have sucked in a little air when he ventures to talk about what’s behind the veil in the Holy of Holies, or as the text calls it, the Holiest of All.
 
Now, there’s only one item in it and that was the Ark of the Covenant.  It too, was a acacia wood box covered with gold, 3’9” long, 2’3” inches wide and about two feet high.  It contained Aaron’s rod that budded, a pot of manna, and the Ten Commandments.   
 
The top of it was called the mercy seat and it was adorned with two angels whose wings stretched over and almost touched. The Mercy Seat was made of gold. The angels were solid gold.
 
Now, it was between the wings of those angels, on the Mercy Seat, that God met men. In Exodus 25:22, God said, "I'll commune with you from above the Mercy Seat, from between the cherubim." And if God and man were to have any meeting place, they only met there.
And the tragedy of the Old Covenant was only one guy, once a year, could get in there, and he had to hurry in and hurry out, because that approach didn’t allow for anyone to live in the presence of God.  The closest most people ever got to God was the outer courtyard. They never even got into the Holy Place and they sure didn’t get to the Holiest of All.
 
And that’s where the meeting place was.  There was the Ark. Now that Ark is all about Jesus Christ, who is the true Mercy Seat and when you meet Jesus Christ as Savior, you are ushered into the presence of God.  Listen:  God is no longer meeting with men between the wings of the cherubim. It’s no longer about blood sprinkled on a golden Mercy Seat.
 
He communes with men because they come to Him in the name of Jesus Christ. He is the Mercy Seat.  Think about this:  It was on the basis of the blood of a goat that would God have fellowship with Israel and it is on the basis of the blood of Christ that God will have fellowship with men.
 
It’s kind of ridiculous to think about when you look at it in that way that men would continue to depend upon goats rather than Jesus.  He is not just the bull and the altar.  He is not just the bread and the lamp and the incense.  He is the Mercy Seat and the blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat.
 
They had a sanctuary alright, and it served a divine purpose.  But it was earthly, temporary and passing.  And it could never do what Jesus did in providing true access to God.
 
We’ll stop there.
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