Hebrews 9 – New International Reader’s Version

September 16 (Year Six)

The first covenant had rules for worship. It also had a sacred tent on earth. A holy tent was set up. The lampstand was in the first room. So was the table with its holy bread. That was called the Holy Room. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Room. It had the golden altar for incense. It also had the wooden chest called the ark of the covenant. The ark was covered with gold. It held the gold jar of manna. It held Aaron’s walking stick that had budded. It also held the stone tablets. The words of the covenant were written on them. The cherubim were above the ark. God showed his glory there. The cherubim spread their wings over the place where sin was paid for. But we can’t say everything about these things now.

That’s how everything was arranged in the holy tent. The priests entered it at regular times. They went into the outer room to do their work for God and others. But only the high priest went into the inner room. He went in only once a year. He never entered without taking blood with him. He offered the blood for himself. He also offered it for the sins the people had committed because they didn’t know any better. Here is what the Holy Spirit was showing us. He was telling us that God had not yet clearly shown the way into the Most Holy Room. It would not be clearly shown as long as the first holy tent was still being used. That’s an example for the present time. It shows us that the gifts and sacrifices people offered were not enough. They were not able to remove the worshiper’s feelings of guilt. They deal only with food and drink and different kinds of special washings. They are rules people had to obey only until the new covenant came.

But Christ came to be the high priest of the good things already here now. When he came, he went through the greater and more perfect holy tent. This tent was not made with human hands. In other words, it is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by spilling the blood of goats and calves. He entered the Most Holy Room by spilling his own blood. He did it once and for all time. In this way, he paid the price to set us free from sin forever. The blood of goats and bulls is sprinkled on people. So are the ashes of a young cow. They are sprinkled on people the law called “unclean.” The people are sprinkled to make them holy. That makes them “clean” on the outside. But Christ offered himself to God without any flaw. He did this through the power of the eternal Holy Spirit. So how much cleaner will the blood of Christ make us! It washes away our feelings of guilt for committing sin. Sin always leads to death. But now we can serve the living God.

That’s why Christ is the go-between of a new covenant. Now those God calls to himself will receive the eternal gift he promised. They will receive it now that Christ has died to save them. He died to set them free from the sins they committed under the first covenant.

What happens when someone leaves a will? It is necessary to prove that the person who made the will has died. A will is in effect only when somebody has died. It never takes effect while the one who made it is still living. That’s why even the first covenant was not put into effect without the spilling of blood. Moses first announced every command of the law to all the people. Then he took the blood of calves. He also took water, bright red wool and branches of a hyssop plant. He sprinkled the Book of the Covenant. He also sprinkled all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant God has commanded you to keep.” (Exodus 24:8) In the same way, he sprinkled the holy tent with blood. He also sprinkled everything that was used in worship there. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be made “clean” with blood. Without the spilling of blood, no one can be forgiven.

So the copies of the heavenly things had to be made pure with these sacrifices. But the heavenly things themselves had to be made pure with better sacrifices. Christ did not enter a sacred tent made with human hands. That tent was only a copy of the true one. He entered heaven itself. He did it to stand in front of God for us. He is there right now. The high priest enters the Most Holy Room every year. He enters with blood that is not his own. But Christ did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again. If he had, he would have had to suffer many times since the world was created. But he has appeared once and for all time. He has come at the time when God’s work is being completed. He has come to do away with sin by offering himself. People have to die once. After that, God will judge them. In the same way, Christ was offered up once. He took away the sins of many people. He will also come a second time. At that time he will not suffer for sin. Instead, he will come to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

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