Hebrews Chapter 9
●Heb 9:1a Now the first covenant had regulations for worship (NIV)
Old covenant Judaism isn't just a code of rules comprising the so-called ten commandments and kosher diet. No, it includes a very large body of rules regulating worship too. So that old covenant Judaism is a two-part way of life— a civil part and a religious part. When Jews leave out one of those parts, they're not practicing genuine old covenant Judaism, but rather, some sort of bastard, rabbinical version— a version that leaves Jews in a perpetually unpurified condition.
●Matt 23:1-4 …Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying; "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."
Did the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, or did they supplant Moses' seat and make it their own? No, they sat in Moses' seat, not in a seat of their own. Thus, they were supposed to teach Moses' law, not a law of their own.
●Ex 24:12 …And YHVH said unto Moses; "Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them."
●Lev 10:11 …And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which YHVH hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.
●Deut 24:8 …Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that thou observe diligently, and do according to all that the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so ye shall observe to do.
Does Deut 17:11-13 teach that a council has a license to amend Moses' Law; or to bend it, or to revise it? No, it doesn't. It is strictly against the Law to either amend it, bend it, or revise it.
●Deut 4:2 …You shall not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin upon you.
●Deut 5:29-30 …Be careful, then, to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. Do not turn aside to the right or to the left: follow only the path that the Lord your God has enjoined upon you, so that you may thrive and that it may go well with you, and that you may long endure in the land you are to possess.
●Mal 4:4 . .Be mindful of the Law of My servant Moses, whom I charged at Horeb with laws and rules for all Israel.
Modern Judaism thinks that God annulled the Aaronic qorbanot system or that He somehow put it on hold. Well, I have news for them: The Law remains in effect as long as the universe exists, its mandates are perpetual ordinances, established for the Jewish generations to come. It is so ironic that the very people who pride themselves in Torah, and regard it as so holy and Divine, are the very ones who have invented themselves ways to get around it.
●Mal 3:6 …For I am the Lord— I have not changed; and you are the children of Jacob— you have not ceased to be. From the very days of your fathers you have turned away from My laws and have not observed them.
●Matt 5:18-20 …For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, Jews who try to side-step the Aaronic qorbanot system are a wicked, subversive element covertly undermining the very religion they so proudly wear on their sleeves like a Boy Scout's merit badge.
●Heb 9:1b-5 ...and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. (NIV)
All those sacred items he listed were part of a portable, temporary place of worship that could be torn down in no time at all and carried around on the march. The *atonement cover* was nothing more than the lid of the ark, which was a pretty simple wooden box overlaid with gold. All those sacred items have some pretty important applications; but the author didn't want to focus upon those items in this particular letter— apparently having, at least in his estimation, much bigger fish to fry. You could easily replace the word *cannot* with *won't* and not do any real damage to the meaning of the final sentence in that paragraph.
●Heb 9:6-7 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But 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. (NIV)
Don't miss that word *ignorance* because absolutely none of the Aaronic rituals serve to atone for deliberate sins; ergo: the annual day of atonement only benefits unintentional sinners; not willful sinners. Those kinds of sinners are excluded. Therefore, when Jewish offenders know something is wrong, but go ahead and do it anyway, they're supposed to be excommunicated from formal worship.
The tribe of Levi was designated by God for priestly duties. But of those, only Aaron or one of his male descendants are permitted to hold the office of high priest. And that is only one at a time. Aaron's male descendants each in turn hold the job until they can't do it anymore, and then another one takes his place at it. The high priest is the only one permitted to perform the atonement ritual within the innermost holy place; none of the regular priests are allowed in there.
The specific ritual to which the author refers is Yom Kippur; the great annual day of atonement. Many of it's details are explained in Lev 16.
Yom Kippur not only atones for a year's worth of sins, but even those sins for which an atonement has already been made once before during the year. However, not even Yom Kippur's ritual can atone for capital crimes and/or willful sins. So capital criminals, and those who commit sins while fully aware that what they are doing is wrong, are pretty much left out in the cold on that day. (For a discussion of atonement in relation to capital crimes and willful sins, please Click Here.)
●Heb 9:8 The 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. (NIV)
That verse is the very first mention of God's spirit in the Hebrews letter, and makes it clear that God's spirit is the true custodian of divine revelation; rather than a special religion or any one particular religious denomination.
For practical purposes, the tabernacle's holy place was where God came down to meet with the people. But they themselves were never allowed inside because of their inherent unworthiness to associate in person with God. So they met with God by proxy via the high priest— who didn't dare even himself to enter without some means to absolve his presence because he too was a sinner even as his constituents.
The whole affair was merely a ritual of course. Not even the high priest was actually in the presence of the person of The True God back in that gloomy little room because The True God resides in a Most Holy Place in the temple in Heaven which, up till Jesus' crucifixion, had been impossible for Man to access, either in person or by proxy.
●Heb 9:9-10 …This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and ritual washing— external regulations that are in effect only until their limitations can be corrected. (NLT)
The most serious problem confronting Man in his worship of God is his conscience, or rather, Man's consciousness; viz: the human psyche.
●Gen 2:7c …and man became a living being. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
To this good day, after years of intensive research, science is still nowhere near an understanding of the nature of consciousness. Exactly how the human brain makes everyone behave so similarly at times, while endowing each individual with a unique and irreproducible existence, is yet a total mystery. Solving that mystery might require another century of study, and some neuroscientists and philosophers believe that comprehension of what makes you the *me that you are; may always remain unknowable.
Neuroscience— the scientific attempt to deduce how the brain works —has succeeded in unraveling critical chemical and electrical pathways involved in memory, movement and emotion. But reducing the perceptions of a John Coltrane solo, or the palette of a Hawaiian sunset, to a series of interactions among axons, neurotransmitters and dendrites still fails to explain what makes an event special.
When God breathed the breath of life into Adam's freshly created, corpse-like body, he became a sentient being; a conscious being; a self-aware being who's conscious nature resembles the conscious nature of its creator in a very real way.
●Heb 9:11-12a When 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. He 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, (NIV)
There are some who feel that the new covenant hasn't been activated yet; that it won't be activated till sometime in the future. But the writer said Christ came as high priest of the good things that are *already here*.
The holy place in the earthly tabernacle got polluted by the presence of a human being, so Aaron had to purify it with blood during the course of his duties in the ritual of Yom Kippur. Since the tabernacle is a model of the temple in Heaven, therefore, the Most Holy Place had to be purified too when Jesus— sinful Man's proxy —entered it. But the blood of a brute beast isn't near good enough for that purpose. The proxy itself has to die, and its own blood used to cleanse the Most Holy Place. That emphasizes an additional necessity for Jesus' resurrection. He could hardly officiate as a high priest in Heaven if he were dead because if Aaron was a human being, then the model requires that a human being be high priest up in Heaven too.
●Heb 9:12b ...having obtained eternal redemption. (NIV)
The Greek word for redemption is lutrosis (loo'-tro-sis); which means: a ransoming.
The annual animal ransoms that Aaron paid for his constituents weren't enough because the value of animal life is too low. Every year he was supposed to go through Yom Kippur all over again because the Jews kept right on sinning and kept right on needing to pay more and more ransoms.
In contrast; Jesus' life is of such a high value that God's son needed to offer himself as a ransom for his constituents only just the one time. So for the people of God who are under the new covenant, there is no annual day of atonement because Jesus' blood was sufficient to ransom them forever. And he himself didn't have to exit the Most Holy Place after sprinkling his blood because Jesus isn't a sinner like Aaron was. So it was okay for Jesus to sit down and stay there. And being seated within the holy place, he's in a perfect position to intercede for his constituents and keep them in God's good graces.
●Rom 5:9-10 ...Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (NIV)
●Rom 8:33-34 ...Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for he is the one who died for us and was raised to life for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us. (NLT)
●Heb 9:13-14 The 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. How 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! (NIV)
Be careful not to confuse the word *conscience* with it's usual implication of a sense of right and wrong. The Greek word for consciences is from suneidesis (soon-i'-day-sis) and means perception; viz: self awareness and/or consciousness.
The word *cleanse* can be misleading. Jesus' blood didn't actually remove my natural psyche and replace it with an improved system. A better word than cleanse is absolve. Absolution is defined as: to set free from an obligation or the consequences of guilt. Thus, Jesus' blood not only absolved my acts of sin, but also absolved the me who I am.
A very, very serious shortcoming of the Aaronic system is its inability to absolve a sinner's very warp and woof. It can atone for the sinful things that you do, but it can't atone for the *me* that you are. Aaron's system only absolves Jews' outward sins, but his system can't absolve the inward source of their sins— the human psyche.
Jesus once told the Jewish religious elite that they were like whitewashed sepulchers. On the outside they were very pious; but on the inside, decay and rot. Aaron's system lacks the scope to absolve a sinner's inward rot and decay; and that's why old covenant worshippers aren't allowed into the holy of holies— because, although Aaron's system can obtain absolution for outward acts of sin, it can't obtain absolution for the human psyche incubating those acts of sin.
●Matt 15:17-20 ...But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man unclean; (NIV)
Man's *heart* of which Jesus spoke, isn't the muscular organ pumping blood through the veins in his body: but the thoughts, the feelings, the impulses, the attitudes, the appetites, the ego, and the passions residing within the human psyche.
●Heb 9:15 For 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. (NIV)
The Greek word translated Christ is christos (khris-tos'); which simply means anointed. It's Hebrew counterpart is mashiyach (maw-shee'-akh); which is a typical Old Testament designation of consecrated persons such as a king or a priest— the ultimate mashiyach of course being Messiah.
The eternal inheritance, often mentioned in the Hebrews letter, is totally Jewish, and always refers back to the pact God made with Abraham, and to the promises God made to David, regarding possession and occupancy of the land of Palestine. (Gen 15:7-17, Gen 17:7-8, 1Chron 16:15-18, 2Sam 7:10)
Webster's defines a ransom as a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity. There's more than one way to effect a ransom. You could fork over a bag of cash to rescue a kidnap victim, or you could redeem someone from slavery, or you could step up and take someone's place; like this:
There wasn't enough life boats for all the passengers aboard Titanic when she sank on her maiden voyage; not enough by half. If someone already aboard a boat were to give up their seat, they would in effect be sacrificing their own life to save another's. That's what the Jews' savior did for them on Calvary. He gave up his own life to rescue theirs from the wrath of God.
●Isa 53:4-6 …Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our suffering that he endured. We accounted him plagued, smitten and afflicted by God; but he was wounded because of our sins, crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, and by his bruises we were healed. We all went astray like sheep, each going his own way; and the Lord visited upon him the guilt of all of us. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
●Isa 53:11-12 …My righteous servant makes the many righteous, it is their punishment that he bears; assuredly, I will give him the many as his portion, he shall receive the multitude as his spoil. For he exposed himself to death and was numbered among the sinners, whereas he bore the guilt of the many and made intercession for sinners. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
God promised David that his people would enjoy a permanent occupancy in Palestine.
●2Sam 7:10 I will establish a home for my people Israel and will plant them firm, so that they shall dwell secure and shall tremble no more. Evil men shall not oppress them any more as in the past, ever since I appointed chieftains over my people Israel. I will give them safety from all your enemies. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
But the realization of that promise would be impossible unless a way were provided for the Jews to escape the judgment of God. Moses' Law mandates their eviction when they slide too far and there is nothing Aaron's priesthood can do to prevent it. So a new priesthood and a new law had to be enacted to protect their occupancy; voilà: the new covenant. There are just too many unpardonable sins under the terms and conditions of the old covenant; sins for which there is neither ransom nor absolution. Under the terms and conditions of the new covenant; not only are all outward sins of every kind absolved; but even the sinful nature of the human psyche.
●Acts 13:38-40 ...Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. (NIV)
●Heb 9:16-18 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. (NIV)
The interesting thing about the first covenant is that it's not really written like a will. It's more like a pact; and this is probably the first time in the whole Bible where Moses' Covenant is revealed to be a will rather than a contract. And oddly, the will was activated not with the death of either God or Man, but of beasts.
●Ex 24:5-8 ...He designated some young men among the Israelites, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed bulls as offerings of well-being to the Lord. Moses took one part of the blood and put it in basins, and the other part of the blood he dashed against the altar. Then he took the record of the covenant and read it aloud to the people. And they said, All that the Lord has spoken we will faithfully do! Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people and said, This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord now makes with you concerning all these commands. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
But how can Moses' covenant be the will and testament of illiterate animals who don't have a clue? Well, that is even more evidence that Moses' Covenant was never intended to be a permanent arrangement. It's ridiculous to make God and Man objects of the last will and testament of a dumb animal.
●Heb 9:19-22 When 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. He said, "This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep." In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (NIV)
If we had to settle on just one key text from the book of Hebrews, the second half of that last sentence would be my pick. Here's why.
During the course of the year, a low-income offender could obtain forgiveness by bringing the priests little more than a handful of grain because the difference would be made up on Yom Kippur. But on Yom Kippur no substitutes for blood are allowed. A flesh and blood victim has to die. No money, no grain, no prayers, no penance, no incense, no pious deeds, no repentance, no works of love and charity; no loyal church attendance and no synagogue membership can be accepted in lieu of blood because sin must eventually be atoned for by blood, and on that day; it is.
Yom Kippur is a very level playing field. The rich and the poor, the celebrities and the nobodies, and Jews as well as non Jews, all benefit from it equally and at no personal expense. The animals used in the ritual are all donated so it doesn't cost the worshippers anything to participate.
Somebody has got to pay for sin with a life because God said: "the soul that sins, it shall die." And He also said: "and will by no means acquit the wicked." So on Yom Kippur, an Aaronic priest has to kill a proxy for the people even for those people who brought birds and animals and grain and money during the year, because those daily offerings only grants them a reprieve till Yom Kippur's ritual ceremonially atones for their yearly sins.
Actually, all sins remained among the people all year long in spite of the daily offerings until the priests put them on the head of the scapegoat during Yom Kippur. But again, it has to be pointed out, Yom Kippur cannot atone for capital crimes, nor for sins committed by people who knew what they were doing was wrong. An atonement for those kinds of sins must be obtained outside the Law's jurisdiction.
●Heb 9:23 ..It 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. (NIV)
It would be insulting indeed to put the heavenly temple on the same level as the earthly one because God Himself in person inhabits the one in heaven. If the true temple in heaven is immeasurably holier than its copy on the ground, then it has to require something of much higher value than a critter to dedicate it and keep it clean.
●Heb 9:24-26 For 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. Nor 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. Then 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. (NIV)
That passage is good evidence of the security of the redeemed. If Jesus is only going to offer himself for sin just that one time, rather than year by year, then his death has to cover everything the first time or else he would have to die many times again to atone for the sins that his constituents will commit in the future.
Every year, on the great day of atonement, Yom Kippur, a high priest, all alone, is supposed to bring the blood of an innocent victim into the holy place and sprinkle it on the mercy seat. Its death is reckoned as payment for the people's sins, and also for the sins of the high priest too. The victim satisfies Divine justice. But as soon as Yom Kippur is over, the people, being prisoners of human nature, go right back to their usual manner of life and begin accumulating sins towards the next Yom Kippur.
The Yom Kippur ritual has to be repeated again and again because it's atonement power is limited— it's not a blanket atonement that covers people for the rest of their lives. It is only good for a previous year's sins; and even at that it's only good for the unintentional ones and for non capital crimes.
●Heb 9:27 ...Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, (NIV)
Everybody has to die at least once; and that's not really because of their own personal badness. It's because Man lost access to the tree of life to prevent the aging process (Gen 3:22-24). However, there is a second death stalking the human race that has nothing to do with the aging process.
●Rev 2:11 ...He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (NIV)
●Rev 20:12-15 ...And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (NIV)
●Rev 21:6-8 ...He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (NIV)
Everybody has to lose their body at least one time; nobody can get out of that. But they won't have to lose their body again a second time later on at the Great White Throne if they take advantage of Jesus' Passion on the cross. So people will have to lose their body twice if they go to their first death indifferent to what Jesus did for them at Calvary because everyone who goes to trial at the Great White Throne is reckoned dead already.
The Great White Throne judgment won't involve everyone. It is specifically said to be a judgment of the *dead*, not of the living. The dead are mentioned four times. The living aren't mentioned at all.
Two kinds of dead are listed Rev 20:12-15. There are dead who stand before God's throne. And there are dead in the sea, and in death and the grave. The dead who stand before God are people, and the dead who are "in the sea, and in death and the grave", are the people's bodies. What John actually saw is the resurrection of the damned; and it is not a pretty picture.
The Great White Throne judgment will be a really sad event. The dead will be reunited with their bodies to stand trial; probably at first joyous to be in flesh and blood again, and thinking maybe the worst is over. Then, one by one, as they take their turns in court, to their utter horror they will discover they must lose their bodies yet one more time; in a bath of liquid fire.
People will be screaming, sobbing, shrieking, eyes darting about, desperate for anything, anyone to grab on to as the grim reality of their fate begins to sink in— they're actually going to Hell.
●Heb 9:28 ...so 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. (NIV)
I myself will not appear at the Great White Throne judgment because I'm a beneficiary of Jesus' passion, and have passed from death into life: hence, I'm no longer among the dead; I am now among the living.
●John 5:24 …I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. (NLT)
●Col 2:13-14 …You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross. (NLT)
●John 3:14-19 …And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God. (NLT)
The bronze snake that Moses put up on a pole, was a God-given antidote for the venom injected into the people's veins by a swarm of deadly vipers (Num 21). It was in fact the only remedy available. Anyone who failed to take advantage of the bronze serpent was doomed to certain death. They were in point of fact, dead men walking. Thus, people are dead even while they live. The only remedy for their *dead* condition is Jesus' passion. And that is why the dead are judged at the Great White Throne according to what they had done. It's because they failed to have their deeds nailed up on the cross with Christ. Thus, they must bear the condemnation for those deeds themselves.
Objection: You say that you won't stand in judgment, which unfortunately is different from what the Bible says. It says that everyone must stand in judgment before the throne of God.
You have erred by confusing the Great White Throne (Rev 20:11-15) with the judgment seat of Christ (2Cor 5:8-11). The dead appear before the Great White Throne; and the living appear before the judgment seat of Christ. The first regards criminal justice, the latter regards rewards.
I will stand neither before God nor before Christ as a sinner. That aspect of my relationship to criminal justice already took place at Calvary. (Rom 5:6-11, Rom 6:3-11, Col 2:13-14, John 3:14-19).