Lecture 17: Hebrews 9:1-10
Lecture: Hebrews 9:1-10
1 Now the first covenant, in fact, had regulations for worship and its earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tent was prepared, the outer one, which contained 3 the lampstand, the table, and the presentation of the loaves; this is called the holy place. 3 And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of
holies. 4 It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. In this ark were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 And above the ark were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Now is not the time to speak of these things in detail. 6 So with these things prepared like this, the priests enter continually into the outer tent as they perform their duties. 7 But only the high priest enters once a year into the inner tent, and not without blood that he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit is making clear that the way into the holy place had not yet appeared as long as the old tabernacle was standing. 9 This was a symbol for the time then present, when gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They served only for matters of food and drink and various ritual washings; they are external regulations 13 imposed until the new order came.
I. Purpose and Process
We have seen that in chapter 8:3-6 the introduction being the superiority of Christ and 8:7-13 on the superiority of the new covenant over the old covenant. Now in 9:1-10:18 we have the superiority of the new covenant offering. So, this section runs all the way through 10:18. In showing this superiority we see in 9:1-10 that the purpose is to describe the structure and the practice of the old covenant worship. In the first verses he is going to briefly explain the structure of the tabernacle. When the tabernacle was set up, you had the first room and then a second room of which only the high priest could go into. Then he is going to describe the practice of the offering of sacrifice. The priests go in day after day offering these sacrifices and one time a year the high priest goes in to offer the main sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.
So, in 9:1-10, he is going to line the structure and practice of the old covenant offerings. Here, he is going to focus on three things: the place of the offering, being the tabernacle, then the blood of the offerings which was the blood of bulls and goats then the parenteral nature of those earthly offerings. These offerings were done over and over again. He is going to show the earthly worship as it was done according to the place, the blood and the on-going nature of it and the fact that these offerings were perpetual.
So, the purpose of this unit is to lay the foundation for his discussion of the superior offering of Christ which we will find in 9:11-10:18. He is going to deal with the same issues in regards to place where Jesus’ offering is superior on the basis of the place. It was not the earthly tabernacle but instead it was
the heavenly tabernacle. It wasn’t with the blood of bulls and goats but instead it was with Christ’s blood which was not made perpetually, over and over again. It was made once for all time. It was a decisively one-time sacrifice that dealt with sin.
II. Hebrews 9:1-5
A. Structure of the Tabernacle
1 κεφάλαιον δε (But the total sum) επί (upon) τοις (the things) λεγομένοις (being spoken is,) τοιούτον (2 such) έχομεν (1 we have) αρχιερέα (a chief priest,) ος (one who) εκάθισεν (sat) εν (at) δεξιά (the right) του (of the) θρόνου (throne) της (of the) μεγαλωσύνης (greatness) εν (in) τοις (the) ουρανοίς (heavens,)
So, he starts out in verse 1, saying that even the first covenant had regulations for worship. This is the topic that he is getting ready to discuss. He wants to talk about the regulations for worship. The word translated for regulations refers to requirements in terms of the appropriate approach to something. What the author has in mind are the directives concerning how the sacrificial sacrifices were to be conducted by the priests. In regards to the introduction, he says what God set up for the appropriate way to carry out the worship in the Old Testament, for God had specific things in mind. In verse 2, he describes the structure of the tabernacle saying that it was set up to be moveable center. It was a tent which was set up to facilitate the people’s ongoing interaction with God. It contains a series of curtains, altogether ten curtains all the same size made from finely twisted yarn that formed the enter part of the tabernacle which were covered with eleven curtains of goat hair (Exodus 25:26) which in turn was covered with red ram skin. All of these curtains were supported by frames.
B. Outer Room and Inner Room:
The main setup of the tabernacle consisted of an outer room and an inner room. The first outer room had a lamp stand, the table of show bread with the altar of incense. The lamp stand was made of pure gold. It had six flowered branches with seven lamps situated on the south side of the holy place. He describes this and then talks about the bread and the table that was there for the bread. So, in essence he says that here is the structure and then behind the second curtain you have the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies contained the golden altar of incense and the Ark of the Covenant. So where was the altar of incense? It was right outside the curtain before you went in. But there are a number of places that seemed to suggest that this altar was directly associated with the Ark of the Covenant. It was there facilitating the worship of God. So, this golden altar of incense is described as being associated with the Ark of the Covenant. He didn’t have time to really discuss these points fully because he wasn’t primarily interested in providing all these details. So the question is, what was he interested in? It is the structure in regards to having an outer and inner room. He is just showing us the setup so that we get a pattern or structure that’s there. The author thinks that there is a significance of an outer room and inner room.
III. Hebrews 9:6-10
A. They Could Not Come into God’s presence on Their Own:
Verse 6 talks about the priest going in and out of the outer room to perform their duties. Here, he is transitioning from the structure to the practice of the offering of the daily sacrifice. But it was only the high priest that went into the inner room. This was a symbol for the time then present when gifts and sacrifices where offered because of external regulations imposed until the new order came. So to summarize; the priest interred day after day into this outer room, but only the high went into the inner room in verse 7. The Day of Atonement back in chapter 5 was offered on the 10th day of the 7th month and it was the most important sacrifice of the year and it covered all the sins not covered in the previous year by other sacrifices. On this one day of the year, people drew near to God by the high priest entering the Holy of Holies with the Day of Atonement sacrifice. This is from Leviticus 16:1-25. There were two animals that were sacrificed in the ceremony: a bull as a sin offering for Aaron and his household and then you had a goat for the sins of the people. So, the blood of these animals was sprinted in the most Holy Place (Leviticus 16:11-17).
So, what does he mean in saying while this first tabernacle of the first room was still standing; this phrase is referring to this outer room. The existence of the Holy Place show that there was a sacred space separating the people from God’s presence in the Most Holy Place. The Holy Spirit is making it clear that the way into the Holies of today would not happen as long as the Old Testament was standing. The very structure of the tabernacle showed that a normal person could not go into God’s presence. The very structure itself; it was purposely set up with barriers. You couldn’t get into the tabernacle unless you were a priest and you couldn’t get into the Holy of Hollies unless you were a high priest. In chapter 9:8, the author is saying that the way into the very presence of God was not yet opened up. He says that this is a symbol of that time, the Old Covenant era. So, under the old covenant you could not be transformed on the inside because God’s laws were not yet written on the hearts and minds of people; transformation was not internalized by the Spirit of God yet. So, the very structure of the tabernacle itself showed that it wasn’t the time that people could go boldly and with confidence into the very presence of God. We see that the author is consistently using language that refers to that outer room.
This raises some questions of application in how one gets from the ancient meaning of the text using it in the modern world. How do you apply something where the whole point of the passage says that it is no longer applicable? This older system of regulations doesn’t apply to us as part of the new covenant. But, we do indeed need to look at any aspect of the Old Testament being the Word of God. Understand that one of the things that relates to the Law in the Old Testament as such is the fact that it is the Word of God. Paul says that the Word of God is profitable. Do you believe that the Book of Leviticus is profitable? What do these passages tell us about God? This talks about an approach into the presence of God. It also talks about the Holiness of God. You have a direct approach, especially the high priest but yet there are barriers. They had to come into the presence of God the way God set it up and thus designed to come into his presence. For example, one application could be in thinking about the old covenant sacrificial system, the idea of drawing near to God on a daily bases through sacrifices; it all seems very boring, but yet this boring sequence can be seen also as being very vibrant because of its’
repetition and non-changing nature. So, we have some of this repetition in our own lives with the turning of the seasons and beating of our own heart and the year to year march through life that we experience does indeed make life vibrant. All these things are signs of life that can never be labelled dull. God seems to like rhythm in our walk with him. We need to continue to live in this, perhaps, monotonous relationship with God. Jesus reflected this type of holiness, a wholeness of life centered on the perfect will of God.
So, what we see in the tabernacle worship is rhythm, holiness of God, and we see God’s desire for intimacy. In some ways, this is no different than now. But what eventuated in their practice of worship was not what God had in mind. The reason why the Old Testament had a history of failure; there were
people who thought that their outward duty in their sacrifices was all the matters. In some respects, is this any different today? If a heart for God wasn’t there, people just drifted away from God and they rebelled and turned to idols. Even in Amos, God said that he hated their sacrifices for it had become all superficial. Their hearts were not in the right place. This showed in the way they were treating the poor and the injustice that was in the court system of the time. So, if our hearts are not focused and centered on God, we too might drift away and rebel and turn to idols.