Comparisons of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant


Hebrews 9:1-5 (4)

Comparisons of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant

1      Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.

2      For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place.

3      Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies,

4      having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;

5      and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.





THE COURTYARD OF THE TABERNACLE WAS ONE-HUNDRED FIFTY FEET LONG AND SEVENTY-FIVE FEET WIDE.  Its single gate, on the east side, was thirty feet wide and seven and a half feet high, allowing a large number of people to enter at the same time.  It is a graphic picture of Jesus Christ, who side, “I am the wasy” and ““I am the door.”  Just as there was only one entrance to the Tabernacle, there is only one way to God—the only Wy and the only door, Jesus Christ.  Christianity is exclusive, not because Christians make it so but because God has made it so.  Throughout the centuries, of course, Christians have made the earthly church exclusive in many wrong ways.  But God has intentionally made His spiritual, eternal church exclusive.  It can be entered only through Jesus Christ.

The first article of furniture in the outer court was the bronze alter.  It was made of acacia wood sheathed with bronze.  It was seven and a half feet square stood four and a half feet off the ground, and was topped with a bronze grate.  The coals were placed underneath the grate and the sacrifice was placed on top.  On the four corners of the altar were horns, to which the animal was bound when it was being sacrificed.  The bronze altar is again a perfect picture of Jesus Christ, who Himself was a sacrifice for sin.

The next piece of furniture in the court was a laver or basin, also made of bronze.  In it the priests would wash their hands, and even sometimes their feet, as they went about the bloody services of sacrifice.  Here is a picture of Jesus Christ as the cleanser of His people.  Once we have received forgiveness for our sins through Christ’s sacrifice of Himself, we still need His daily cleansing that restores fellowship and joy.

Still moving west across the courtyard, we come to the Tabernacle proper- forty-five feet long, fifteen feet wide, and fifteen feet high.  The holy place took up two-thirds of this area, which means that the holy of holies was a perfect fifteen-foot cube.  Only priests could go into the Holy Place, in which were three pieces of furniture.  The writer of Hebrews mentions only two, because, as he says, he cannot speak in detail (9:5).

The unity of 9-1- is beyond question.  In v. 1 the pastor announces his topic as the “regulations for worship” and “earthly sanctuary” of the First Covenant. Verses 2-5 describe this sanctuary, and vv. 6-7 the First Covenant worship appropriate for such a sanctuary.  Verses 8-10 conclude by unveiling the significance of this sanctuary and liturgy as intended by the Holy Spirit.  The structure of this sanctuary and liturgy.  This structure of the earthly sanctuary (vv. 2-5) is determinative for its worship (vv. 6-7_.  Both structure and liturgy have a twofold significance:  First, they demonstrate the impossibility of approaching God through the old sanctuary.  Second, they anticipate the “new and living way” (10:20) of approach to God through Christ.

Several features of the pastor’s description reveal the impossibility of approaching the divine Presence through the “earthly sanctuary.”  The text emphasizes the distinction between the impenetrable boundary separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.  The Holy Place with its repetitious worship is a graphic reminder that access was not available before Christ.  On the other hand, by emphasizing the majesty of the Most Holy Place the pastor anticipates the way in which its liturgy foreshadows Christ’s entrance into God’s heavenly presence as described in vv. 11-14.  The details used in describing this “earthly sanctuary” keep the hearers from forgetting its earthly and therefore limited character.

  • During its tenure that “First” and inadequate Covenant” was having an earthly sanctuary,
    that could also be called a “Tent”) v. 2).  Contrast Christ’s entry into “the Sanctuary and true “Tent” as recorded in 8.
  • A comparison if these expressions reveals the importance of the word “earthly”. Just as the pastor never uses “Tent” for the heavenly reality without a qualifying description,  so he never uses “Sanctuary” for the earthly copy without qualification — “an earthly sanctuary” (0=1), “a sanctuary “made by hand”(9:24_.  Furthermore, the pastor has emphasized the “earthly” by locating it in the predicate position after the noun “sanctuary.”  His meaning is well rendered by a translation such as the following” the First Covenant had “the Sanctuary, but it was earthly,” or “the Sanctuary tht was indeed earthly.  This “sanctuary” is severely limited because it is part of the temporal, created universe and thus can provide no access to the Creator, who is beyond his creation.  Contrast the opening section of the next and final movement where the Sanctuary entered by Christ is nothing less than “heaven itself.”

An additional comparison between 9:1 and 8:2 is also instructive.  The pastor uses the singular when he refers to the “earthly sanctuary” but the plural in 8:2 and elsewhere in reference to the Sanctuary entered by Christ.  This contrasting use of the singular is in accord with the inferiority of the earthly sanctuary.  The singular also shows that the pastor thinks of this sanctuary as one structure despite his reference to first and second tents in vv. 2-3 below.

This is the “Tent” that “had been prepared” by Moses (cf.8:5) in the wilderness under God’s direction.  The pastor is anxious to point out the division between the two parts of this “earthly sanctuary”, in order to demonstrate the limitations revealed by the first and the significance of the second as foreshadowing Christ’s work.  Although he knows that there is one “earthly sanctuary.” which he calls a “Tent,” he describes it as if its two parts were two separate “Tents – a “First” and a “Second.”  Thus he brings distinction and to “the strongest possible expression.  The impenetrable barrier between the two is vital to his argument.

The pastor refers to the seven-branched “lampstand” described in Exod. 25:31-40 and 37:17-24 (cf. Exod 40:4, 24).  The lamps on this lampstand were kept perpetually burning before the Lord.  Exod. 25:23-30 (cf. 39:36; 40:23) described the “table upon which the “presentation of the bread” was renewed each week after the old loaves were consumed by Aaron and his sone (Lev.24:9).  Since the OT locates the “lampstand” and the “table” with its “bread” in the outer section of the Mosaic Tent, it is no surprise that the pastor identifies this first “Tent” as the “Holy Place. – Cockerill

9:2–3. The disciples faced a theological problem. Believing that sin directly caused all suffering, how could a person be born with a handicap? Therefore either this man … sinned in his mother’s womb (Ezek. 18:4) or his parents sinned (Ex. 20:5). Jesus therefore answered, Neither this man nor his parents sinned. These words do not contradict the universal sinfulness of man (cf. Rom. 3:9–20, 23). Instead Jesus meant that this man’s blindness was not caused by some specific sin. Instead the problem existed so that … God could display His glory in the midst of seeming tragedy (cf. Ex. 4:11; 2 Cor. 12:9).

9:4–5. Day means the time allotted for Jesus to do God’s will (to do the work of Him who sent Me). We includes the disciples and by extension all believers. Night is the limit set to do God’s works. In Jesus’ case it was His coming death. As the Light of the world Jesus gives people salvation (cf. 8:12). After His death, His disciples would be His lights (cf. Matt. 5:14; Eph. 5:8–14), bringing Christ to others. – Zuck

NAS John 9:5 “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

ESV John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

ESV Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

5:13–16. To demonstrate the impact these people would make on their world, Jesus used two common illustrations: salt and light. Jesus’ followers would be like salt in that they would create a thirst for greater information. When one sees a unique person who possesses superior qualities in specific areas, he desires to discover why that person is different. It is also possible that salt means these people serve as a preservative against the evils of society. Whichever view one takes, the important quality to note is that salt ought to maintain its basic character. If it fails to be salty, it has lost its purpose for existence and should be discarded.

A light is meant to shine and give direction. Individuals Jesus described in verses 3–10 would obviously radiate and point others to the proper path. Their influence would be evident, like a city on a hill or a lamp … on its stand. A concealed lamp, placed under a bowl (a clay container for measuring grain) would be useless. Light-radiating people live so that others see their good deeds and give praise not to them but to their Father in heaven. (V. 16 includes the first of 15 references by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount to God as “your [or ‘our’ or ‘My’] Father in heaven,” “your heavenly Father,” “your Father.” Also see vv. 45, 48; 6:1, 4, 6, 8–9, 14–15, 18, 26LIGHT OF TH 32; 7:11, 21. One who stands in God’s righteousness by faith in Him has an intimate spiritual relationship to Him, like that of a child to his loving father.)


Professor Thomas A. Rohm