Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.CHAPTER 9
The Spirit of God now brings forth the greatest and most blessed facts concerning Christ, the offering He brought, and what has been accomplished by that offering. First the worldly sanctuary, the tabernacle, which was connected with the old covenant is briefly mentioned. It was erected by divine command, exhibiting divine wisdom and foreshadowed, like the levitical priesthood, the better things to come. Yet it was a “worldly sanctuary,” that is, it was tangible according to this present world and built of materials of the earth. The antithesis to worldly is heavenly, uncreated, eternal. Everything in this tabernacle had a spiritual meaning. But it is not the purpose here to explain these things, the shadows of spiritual realities, for the apostle writes “of which we cannot now speak particularly” He does not give a complete description of the tabernacle at all. Nothing is said of the outer court, nor of the brazen altar, the golden altar of incense and other details. His object is not to explain the tabernacle but to demonstrate one great fact. He speaks of the two principal parts of the tabernacle, divided by the interior veil. Into the second the high priest entered in only once every year, not without blood--”the Holy Spirit signifying this, that the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest, while the first tabernacle had yet its standing.” This is the truth he demonstrates. the way into the holiest, into God’s presence was barred; the veil was in the way and concealed Him. All the gifts and sacrifices brought in that tabernacle could not give perfection as to the conscience--they could not lead the people into the holiest and give peace to the conscience.
With verse eleven begins the setting forth of the perfection which now has come. From here to the close of the tenth chapter we have the heart of this great epistle. The most blessed truth of the great work of Christ accomplished for His people is now gloriously displayed. The greatest contrast between the old things and the new is reached. Two little words of deep significance stand at the beginning of this section--”But Christ.” The gifts and offerings, the meats and drinks, the divine washings, the carnal ordinances, all and everything could not do anything for sinful man-- but Christ. It is well for the understanding of what follows to give a summary of what is here taught. “But Christ having come, a high priest of the good things that are come, by the better and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building (creation)--neither by the blood of goats and bulls, but by His own blood, He hath entered in once for all into the holy places, having found an eternal redemption.” Christ having come, perfection has come through His own precious blood. The blood of Jesus; has opened the way into the Holiest and the believer is admitted into the presence of God by that new and living way which He has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh. The next chapter brings this out more fully, that believers on earth have a free, a full, a perfect access to God. The believer can now go in perfect liberty, not into an earthly tabernacle, but into heaven where His holiness dwells and be perfectly at home there in virtue of the work of Christ and His own presence there. Such is the believer’s position in the presence of God through the entrance of our high priest into the heavenly sanctuary.
And the believer can go in without doubt and fear, for he has no more conscience of sin, his conscience is made perfect before God through Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God. The question of sin is settled forever. “A perfect conscience is not an innocent conscience which, happy in its unconsciousness, does not know evil, and does not know God revealed in holiness. A perfect conscience knows God; it is cleansed, and, having the knowledge of good and evil according to light of God Himself, it knows that it is purified from all evil according to His purity.
Now the blood of bulls and goats, and the washing repeated under the law, could never make the conscience perfect. They could sanctify carnally, so as to enable the worshipper to approach God outwardly, yet only afar off, with the veil still unrent. But a real purification from sin and sins, so that the soul can be in the presence of God Himself in the light without spot, with the consciousness of being so, the offerings under the law could never produce. They were but figures. But, thanks be to God, Christ has accomplished the work; and is present for us now in the heavenly and eternal sanctuary, He is the witness there that our sins are put away; so that all conscience of sin before God is destroyed, because we know that He who bore our sins is in the presence of God, after having accomplished the work of expiation. Thus we have the consciousness of being in the light without spot. We have the purification not only of sins but of the conscience, so that we can use this access to God in full liberty and joy, presenting ourselves before Him who has so loved us (Synopsis of the Bible).
And thus these Hebrews (as well as we) know that the true high priest is in the sanctuary above, not with the blood of sacrifices, but He has put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself As man on earth, in the perfection and value of His person, He offered Himself, by the eternal Spirit, without spot, to God. And therefore every sinner who comes to God through Him is purged from dead works to serve the living God. Being therefore perfectly cleansed, perfectly brought into God’s presence, in possession of an eternal (in contrast with earthly) redemption and an eternal inheritance, the believer can serve the living God. All this was unknown in the legal covenant. It is then that through the death of Christ and the subsequent bestowal of the Holy Spirit believers are constituted true worshippers in the heavenly sanctuary, a holy priesthood. Christ is the perfect mediator. And therefore no earthly priesthood is needed. The attempt to introduce priestly mediation of sinful men between Christ and His people, whom He is not ashamed to call brethren is anti-Christian, the offspring of Satan. Adolph Saphir, the author of an able exposition of Hebrews has exposed the Romish blasphemy in aping the defunct Judaism in words, which are worthy to be quoted.
“What a marvellous confusion of Jewish, pagan, and Christian elements do we see here! Jewish things which have waxed old, and vanished away; preparatory and imperfect elements which the apostle does not scruple to call beggarly now that the fulness has come--revived without divine authority, and changed and perverted to suit circumstances for which they were never intended. Pagan things, appealing to the deep-seated and time-confirmed love of idolatry, and of sensuous and mere outward performances; the Babylonian worship of the Queen of Heaven; the intercession of saints and angels, the mechanical repetition of formulas, the superstitious regard of places, seasons, and relics. Buried among these elements are some relics of Christian truth, without which this ingenious fabric could not have existed so long, and influenced so many minds--a truth which in the merciful condescension of God is blessed to sustain the life of His chosen ones in the mystical Babylon .
“This so-called church, vast and imposing, opens its door wide, except to those who honor the Scriptures, and who magnify the Lord Jesus. It can forgive sins, and grant pardons and indulgences, extending the astounding assumption of jurisdiction even beyond the grave; yet it cannot bring peace to the wounded conscience, and renewal to the aching heart, because it never fully and simply declares the efficacy of the blood of Jesus, by which we obtain perfect remission, and the power of the Holy Ghost, who joins us to Christ. This community speaks of sacrifice, of altars, of priesthood, and stands between the people and the sanctuary above, the only High Priest, who by His sacrifice has entered for us into the holy of holies. And in our day this great apostasy has reached a point which we would fain regard as its culminating point, when it places the Virgin Mary by the side of the Lord Jesus as sinless and pure, and when it arrogates for man infallible authority over the heritage of God.”
(Dr. M. Luther describes the Romish harlot in these excellent words: “The Church of Rome is not built upon the rock of the divine word, but on the sand of human reasoning.” It is a rationalistic church. And Lutheranism, Episcopalianism and other sects are turning back to it and support the Satanic counterfeit of a man made priesthood.)
These verses introduce once more the question of covenant. The covenant of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the mediator is now identified with a testament of which He is the testator. When there is a testament there must also of necessity be the death of the testator, before the rights and possessions acquired in the testament can be possessed and enjoyed. The first covenant was inaugurated by blood. “For when Moses had spoken every commandment to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of bulls and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop (Leviticus 14:4, Numbers 19:6) and sprinkled both the book and the people, saying, this is the blood of the covenant which God hath enjoined unto you.” So also the tabernacle and the vessels were sprinkled with blood. Yea, almost all things are according to the law purified with blood “and without shedding of blood is no remission.” The blood was used in a threefold manner. The covenant itself is founded on the blood. Defilement is washed away by the blood and the guilt is taken away through the blood that hath been shed. And all this is only fully realized through the blood shed by the Lord Jesus Christ, He died and all the blessings of the new and better covenant are righteously willed to the believer.
“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” After His great sacrifice He entered heaven itself, where He now is, appearing in the presence of God for His people. “Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world, but now once in the consummation of the ages hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” The sacrifice He brought needs not to be repeated, it is all-sufficient for all eternity. If He were to offer again it would be necessary also to suffer again. Both are impossible. (The Romish assumption of the Lord’s Supper being a sacrifice and that the blasphemous mass is an unbloody sacrifice are completely refuted by Hebrews 9:26, by this entire chapter and by the teaching of the New Testament.) At the completion of the ages of probation (the age before the law and the age under the law), when man’s utter ruin and hopeless condition had been fully demonstrated, He appeared in the fullness of time (the completion of the ages) and put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And here let us remember that the full and complete results of this work are not yet manifested. Sin will ultimately be blotted out of God’s creation. The blessed words which came from His gracious lips, when He gave Himself on the cross--”It is finished”-- will find their fullest meaning when all things are made new, when the first heaven and earth are passed away and a new heaven and new earth are come, when all things are made new. Then His voice will declare once more “it is done” (Revelation 21:1-6).
But now for those who believe sin is put away. It is appointed unto men--natural men-- once to die and after this the judgment. From the latter the believer is exempt. His own words “He that heareth my words, and believeth in Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24) assure us of this. And when the believer dies, it is no longer as penalty. A day will come at last when it will be fulfilled “Behold I show you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” And He who was once offered to bear the sins of many (those who believe in Him) shall appear the second time. “Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” It is His second coming. When He comes again He has nothing to do with sin, as far as His people are concerned. This was settled forever in His first coming. But He comes for their salvation their complete deliverance from all the results of sin, and His own will be changed into His image.
(“Without sin” is in contrast with “to bear the sins of many.” But it will be remarked, that the taking up of the Church is not mentioned here. It is well to notice the language. The character of His second coming is the subject. He has been manifested once. Now He is seen by those who look for Him. The expression may apply to the deliverance of the Jews who wait for Him in the last days. He will appear for their deliverance. But we expect the Lord for this deliverance, and we shall see Him when He accomplishes it even for us. The apostle does not touch the question of the difference between this and our being caught up, and does not use the word which serves to announce His public manifestation. He will appear to those who expect Him. He is not seen by all the world, nor is it consequently the judgment, although that may follow. The Holy Ghost speaks only of them that look for the Lord. To them He will appear. By them He will be seen, and it will be the time of their deliverance; so that it is true for us, and also applicable to the Jewish remnant in the last days” Synopsis of the Bible.)