Hebrews 9 (NIV)
Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle
1Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.
The earthly sanctuary: The tabernacle ordained by the Old Covenant was planned by God, but planned for an earthly service.
The tabernacle was a tent 45 feet long, 15 feet wide, and 15 feet high, divided into two rooms. The larger room (the first part) was a 15 foot by 30 foot “holy place.” Behind the second veil was the smaller room was a 15 foot by 15 foot, called the Holiest of All.
The lampstand with a middle stem and six branches stood in the first part and was of an unspecified size, made of pure gold; it provided the only light for the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31-40).
The table sat in the first part and was made of acacia wood covered with gold, 3 feet long, 1½ feet wide, and 2 feet 3 inches high. It held twelve loaves of showbread, each representing God’s fellowship with the twelve tribes of Israel (Exodus 25:23-30).
The sanctuary refers to the first part, known as the “holy place.” A veil (a thick curtain) separated the first part from the Holiest of All, also known as the “holy of holies” (Exodus 26:31-33).
The golden altar of incense was made of acacia wood covered with gold, 1½ feet square, and 3 feet high. It stood at the veil before the “holy of holies,” and was used to burn incense (Exodus 30:1-8).
The ark of the covenant stood inside the Holiest of All, and was a chest made of acacia wood covered with gold, 3¾ feet long, 2¼ feet wide, and 2¼ feet high, with rings for polls along its side by which it would be carried (Exodus 25:10-22).
Inside the ark was the golden pot that had the manna (Exodus 16:33), Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:6-11), and the tablets of the covenant (Exodus 25:16). The manna reminded Israel of God’s provision and their ungratefulness. Aaron’s rod reminded them of their rebellion against God’s authority. The tablets of the covenant reminded them of their failure to keep the Ten Commandments and rest of the law.
The mercy seat 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, His sight of the sin of Israel was covered by the blood of sacrifice.
6When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. 9This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
The Blood of Christ
11When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Not All the Blood of Beasts
by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.
My faith would lay its hand
On that dear head divine
As penitently here I stand,
Confessing guilt is mine.
My soul looks back to see
The burden you did bear
When hanging on the cursed tree;
I know my guilt was there.
Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice
And sing his bleeding love.
15For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
2 Corinthians 1:20 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
Certainly, Christ made God’s many promises come true. For that reason, because of our message, people also honor God by saying, “Amen!”
16In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
“The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” is a wonderful old Andre Crouch song, sung here by Clay Aiken.
23It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with BETTER sacrifices than these. 24For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
from The Daily Study Bible, by William Barclay:
Here is the eternal principle—Forgiveness is a costly thing. Human forgiveness is costly. A son or a daughter may go wrong; a father or a mother may forgive; but that forgiveness has brought tears; it has brought whiteness to the hair, lines to the faces, a cutting anguish and then a long dull ache to the heart. It did not cost nothing. There was the price of a broken heart to pay.
Divine forgiveness is costly. God is love, but God is holiness. God, least of all, can break the great moral laws on which the universe is built. Sin must have its punishment or the very structure of life disintegrates. And God alone can pay the terrible price that is necessary before men can be forgiven. Forgiveness is never a matter of saying: “It’s all right; it doesn’t matter.” Forgiveness is the most costly thing in the world. Without the shedding of heart’s blood there can be no remission and forgiveness of sins. There is nothing which brings the effect of his sin on someone with such arresting violence as to see the effect of his sin on someone who loves him in this world, or on the God who loves him forever, and to say to himself: “It cost that to forgive my sin.” Where there is forgiveness, someone must be crucified on a cross.