But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
Last week’s article examined Hebrews 9:1-10, which described the Old Testament tabernacle (or tent) and taught that it symbolically foreshadowed spiritual truths which would come to fruition under the New Testament (9:9; cf. 10:1; 8:5; Colossians 2:17). Now God through the Hebrew author describes the spiritual tabernacle of the New Testament, calling it a “greater and more perfect tent” (9:11). We know it is spiritual rather than physical like that of the Old Testament because it is “not made with hands, that is, not of this creation” (9:11). Indeed, later the Hebrew author will identify this “greater and more perfect tent” as symbolism for heaven itself (9:24). Christ, the high priest of the new covenant (“the good things that have come”), came through this greater tabernacle and “entered once for all into the holy places,” offering himself on the cross as a sacrifice “once for all…by means of his own blood” (9:12).
Grab your Bibles and note the question in Hebrews 9:13-14. The Old Testament high priests annually entered into the Most Holy Place in the Old Testament tabernacle to offer animal sacrifices (“the blood of goats and bulls”) for the sins of the people and sprinkle “defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer” in an effort to purify them (9:13; cf. Numbers 19:2, 17-18). In comparison, the Christian’s high priest – Jesus – “through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God” (9:14). God inspired the Hebrew author to rhetorically point out to the reader that Jesus’ sacrifice of himself on the cross is far greater than the animals sacrifices of the Old Testament priests because Christ’s sacrifice can “purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (9:14). In other words, Jesus’ death did what the deaths of those animals could not: provide forgiveness of sins (cf. 10:1-4).
Read on to Hebrews 9:15. Christ is described as “the mediator of a new covenant” (9:15). A mediator is someone who takes people who are estranged from each other and reconciles them. Through our sins we are estranged from God (Isaiah 59:2). By dying on the cross, Christ was able to reconcile us back to God through his new covenant. His was the “death” which “occurred that redeems (Israel) from the transgressions committed under the first covenant” (9:15). His death not only offered that opportunity for reconciliation with God to Israel, but also to the whole world (1 John 2:2).
Those “who are called” by the new covenant “may received the promised eternal inheritance” (9:15). How does this happen? The New Testament contains the gospel of Christ, which is how God calls everyone to himself (2 Thessalonians 2:14). God calls for all to obey the gospel in order to avoid hell and receive “the promised eternal inheritance” of heaven (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 1 Peter 1:4). One obeys the gospel by believing in Christ, repenting of one’s sins, being baptized for the forgiveness of sins, and then holding fast to the word of God as revealed in the New Testament (Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:45-47; Acts 2:37-39; 17:30-31; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2). If you would like to study more about this, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.