Monday, October 8, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 9

Until now we have seen vague details as to the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant as we have worked our way through the book of Hebrews. In chapter 9 we see everything explained in explicit detail from the setting up of the actual old covenant through Moses to the setting up of the new one through Christ. We also see why each was done and what exactly each covenant accomplished. The first part of chapter 9 explains what the old covenant was. Notice the language that the author uses and the fact that it was set up in an earthly tabernacle. This is a key factor here, since everything had God's blessing, but they were still based on earthly rules.

"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." – Hebrews 9:6-7

How restricting is this? Of all the Israelites only one of them could enter the temple one day a year to atone for the sins of an entire people. It is no wonder the Israelites continued to lose their way because this had to be a very impersonal relationship. There is also the fact that everything was still based on ritual, and one small mistake made by a fallable man could ruin the whole process. This only points out the needs for Christ even more.

Beginning with verse 11 we see the need for the blood of Christ as a sacrifice, and how it washed away the old covenant by making things so much more personal. Now EVERYONE can get involved with their own salvation through Christ as a mediator.

"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!" – Hebrews 9:12-14

We see that now Christ is the mediator for us. We are free of our sins only if we accept this gift, as the old covenant is now made irrelevant except for the fact we have still sinned under it. The sin has not changed, but the method of atonement for it has.

"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." – Hebrews 9:24-28

That is a big chunk of text to look at closely here, but it needed to be placed there entirely to show the depth of not only Christ's sacrifice, but His power. The Sacrifice was so changing, so pure, and so powerful that it needed to be done once and only once for all mankind. Let's look at some perspective here. The old covenant called for the sacrifice to be repeated over and over again just for the sins committed in ignorance over the course of one year for a group of several thousand. This does not account for the other sin sacrifices that needed to be done daily, weekly, and monthly as outlined in the Old Testament. Right now there are more than 6.5 billion people on the planet, not counting everyone who has ever lived and died before now. The blood of Christ's one time sacrifice is good enough for all of them. It has been a redundant message throughout my writings on the book of Hebrews, but it is only the most important message in the history of mankind.

One thing I can add though is how this difference and personal relationship stands up against many other religions. Jewish traditions still call for acts of sacrifice in order to reach God. Islam requires a strict series of daily prayers and rituals in order to reach God. Christ's sacrifice is unique because it is God's attempt to reach mankind through Himself. This stands out because it is personalized and unique.


  1. How unique is Christ's sacrifice when compared to other religions?
  2. How does other Scripture back up the fact that Christ's blood is enough?
  3. Why was there an old covenant if it wasn't enough?

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