The All-Sufficiency of Christ’s Sacrifice
THE MAIN PART OF 9:1-10:18 IS THAT CHRIST’S SACRIFICE IS BETTER THAN THE SACRIFICES OF THE OLD COVENANT. IN 9:1-10 THE INADEQUACY OF OLD COVENANT SACRIFICES COMES TO THE FOREFRONT. They don’t usher people into God’s presence, nor do they truly cleanse the conscience from guilt. The sacrifice of Christ is contrasted with the sacrifices of the old covenant in 9:11-14. Christ entered into the presence of God with His own blood thereby securing eternal redemption (9:11-12). The blood of animals cleanses the flesh, but Christ’s blood is far superior. He cleanses the conscience of those who belong to him, purging them of their guilt so they are free to serve the living God (9:13-14).
A NEW ERA HAS ARRIVED IN THE HIGH PRIESTHOOD OF JESUS CHRIST. HE HAS ENTERED GOD’S PRESENCE, I.E. THE TRUE AND PERFECT TABERNACLE. THIS TABERNACLE IS NOT EARTHLY BUT HEAVENLY. Jesus’ priesthood signaled the realization, at least in part, “of the good things to come.” In Christ the eschatological good things have dawned, but they are not yet completed until the arrival of the heavenly city. We have another indication that the old era has been superseded, and in Christ that which is better has commenced.
THE EARTHLY TABERNACLE WAS A PICTURE OF THE HEAVENLY TABERNACLE. THE CONCEPTION IS BOTH SPATIAL AND ESCHATOLOGICAL. The earthly tabernacle points to a “greater and more perfect tabernacle.” That which is heavenly then, is far greater than that which is earthly. For the tabernacle that Jesus entered does not belong to this creation, for it is not made with hands. Strictly speaking, there isn’t a tabernacle at all in the heavenly realm. This heavenly tabernacle becomes a vehicle for describing the indescribable, for depicting the presence of God.
IN THE NEW THERE IS NO NEED FOR A HEAVENLY. ‘HOLY PLACE’ SINCE CHRIST BRINGS HIS PEOPLE INTO THE VERY PRESENCE OF GOD. THUS, ANY SUGGESTION THAT THE ‘GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TENT REPRESENTS A HEAVENLY ‘HOLY PLACE’ IS NOTHING MORE THAN A VESTIGAL REMNANT FROM THE PARALLEL THE PASTOR HAS DRAWN BETWEEN OLD TENT AND THE NEW.
THERE IS AN ESCHATOLOGICAL REALITY AS WELL HERE, FOR THE MORE PERFECT AND HEAVENLY TABERNACLE HAS BERENACESSED IN THE LAST DAYS THROUGH THE CROSS, RESURRECTION AND EXALTATION OF JESUS CHRIST.
THE EARTHLY TABERNACLE WAS ENTERED WITH “THE BLOOD OF GOATS AND CALVES” (CF. EXOD 29:10; LEV 1:5; 3:12; 4:3, 23: 8-2, 16:3). THE BLOOD OF ANIMALS “REPRESENTED THE LIVES OF THOSE WHO OFFERED THEM POURED OUT IN DEATH.” Jesus however entered the heavenly tabernacle because of a sacrifice far more valuable than the blood of animals. He offered his own blood; he surrendered his own life in death for the sake of his people. Furthermore, he entered “the most holy place” “one for all”. Jesus did not literally bring his blood into heaven. The blood stands for the giving up of his life which was offered as a sacrifice. Again, the most holy place in the tabernacle points to the holiest place of all: the presence of God in the transcendent realm. Jesus did not repeatedly offer his blood to procure forgiveness of sins. After all, as a human being he could only die once. As a result of Jesus; once-for-all sacrifice, he secured “eternal redemption”. The one sacrifice was an effective and definitive sacrifice, securing forgiveness of sins. In the OT redemption is related to Passover (Exodus 12-14)., the Jubilee (Lev 25:29. 48), and to liberation from Egypt (PS 111:19). Freedom at Jubilee or liberation from Egypt is not eternal, and hence the redemption Jesus accomplished is far superior to what happened in the year of Jubilee or at the exodus Bot of these events point typologically to the redemption accomplished in Jesus Christ.
THE AUTHOR ARGUES FROM THE LESSER TO THE GREATER HERE (9:13-14), FROM THE EARTHLY TO THE HEAVENLY. BLOOD FROM GOATS AND BULLS SPRINKLES “THOSE WHO ARE CEREMONIALLY UNCLEAN”. IN THE SAME WAY THE ASHES OF A HEIFER REMOVE DEFILEMENT. The ceremony regarding the heifer is explained in Numbers 19. The ashes remove impurity as a sin offering (Num 19:9, 17) and also remove corpse impurity (Num 19:12). All these sacrifices, however, did not truly cleanse the inner person or the conscience. They cleansed he flesh or body of those who were defiled. they removed ceremonial uncleanness. The flesh does not represent here, then, a sin principle against God as we find in Paul but that which is external and outward.
THE BLOOD OF CHRIST IS FAR BETTER THAN THE SACRIFICE OF BULLS, GOATS, AND HEIFERS. AFTER ALL, IT IS THE BLOOD OF A HUMAN BEING, AND NOT JUST ANY HUMAN BEING; IT IS THE BLOOD OF THE MESSIAH – KING OF ISRAEL AND THE ENTIRE WORLD (PS:110:1). The blood here designates Jesus’ death, referring to the “principle of life, offered to God in death. Animals offered in sacrifice had to be “without blemish”. Animals were physically unblemished, but Christ was morally unblemished (cf. 1Pet 1:19). Here the author picks up again the notion that Christ was sinless (Heb 4:14; 7:26-28).
JESUS “OFFERED HIMSELF,” AND THE WORD FOR OFFERING IS OFTEN USED TO DESIGNATE OFFERINGS IN THE OT (e.g., Exod 32:6; Lev 1:2, 5, 13-15; 3:6, etc.) AND SO IT IS CLEAR THAT WE HAVE THE LANGUAGE OF SACRIFICE HERE. The offering was “through the eternal Spirit”. The reference could possibly be to his human spirit, so that Jesus offered himself without reserve to God. but the word “eternal” doesn’t fit well with a reference to Jesus’ humanity and seems to fit better with a reference to the Holy Spirit (see 84). Furthermore, the author by adding the word “his” would have made clear that Jesus’ human spirit is intended, and its omission suggests a reference to the Holy Spirit. Most of the references to the Spirit in Hebrews clearly refer to the Holy Spirit (2-4; 3-7; 6-4; 9:8; 10:15, 29; but cf. 4:12). We see elsewhere in Hebrews that the Spirit is closely connected with the inauguration of the last days, either by verifying the gospel (2:4), or as the gift of the new age (6-4), or as speaking through the Scriptures to the new community (3:7; 9:8; 10:15). Insulting the Spirit (10:29) is an egregious sin, for it rejects the salvation accomplished by Jesus Christ and applied by the Holy Spirit. Why does he refer to the “eternal” Spirit? Before answering that question, it seems that the Spirit empowered and strengthened Jesus to give himself to God as a sacrifice. Such a notion fits with the Lucan conception of the Spirit’s work in the life of Jesus, where his ministry was empowered by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1;35; 3:22; 4:1, 14, 18; 10:21). It also seems that the word “eternal” emphasized the deity of the Spirit. Perhaps there is also an emphasis on the fulfillment of prophecy so that Jesus’ self-offering was in accord with the eternal plan of God. Furthermore, there is the suggested that someone who is merely a human being cannot atone for sin. Atonement must be secured by someone who is both human and divine for the sacrifice rendered to be efficacious. the offering through “the eternal Spirit” secures “eternal redemption” (9:12), “eternal salvation” (5:9) and an “eternal inheritance” (9:15).
IN THE LAST PART OF THE VERSE, THE BENEFITS OF Jesus’ OFFERING ARE CONSIDERED. HE CLEANSES CONSCIENCES STAINED WITH GUILT BY HIS BLOOD. THE CONSCIENCE REFERS TO “REMOVING SIN FROM THE ‘HEART,’ THAT IS, FROM THE INNER REALITY OF THE FAITHFUL. Cleansing is often referred to in the OT, such as the purification of altars (Exod 29:36-37; 30:10; Lev 8:25; 16:18) and cleansing human beings from uncleanness (Lev 12:7-8; 13:6-7; 13. 17; 14:2, 4; 15:13, 28) and from sin (Lev 15:30). Typically uncleanness in the OT is from physical defilement. Such defilement is related to sin, but the cleansing Jesus accomplished is deeper, for he cleansed the conscience from the works that lead to death (cf. Heb 6:1). The new covenant looked forward to a definitive cleansing of sin 2:4). “I will purify them from all the wrongs they have committed against Me and I will forgive all the wrongs they have committed against Me, rebelling against Me (Jer 33:8). Those who are thus cleansed are liberated to serve the living god. They are not saddled with guilt but purified from it, and thus they can live in confidence and joy before God and serve him gladly.
BRIDGE TO THE NEXT SECTION
JESUS ENTERED THE HEAVENLY TABERNACLE, GOD’S PRESENCE, WITH HIS OWN BLOOD. AS BELIEVERS, THEREFORE, WE ENJOY ETERNAL REDEMPTION. OUR CONSCIENCES ARE CLEANSED BY HIS BLOOD FROM ALL THAT DEFILES US, AND THUS WE ARE LIBERATED FROM OUR PAST AND ARE FREE TO SERVE THE LIVING GOD.
THE READERS MUST NOT TURN BACK TO OLD TESTAMENT SACRIFICES AND RITUAL, FOR THEY ARE MERELY EXTERNAL AND POINT FORWARD TO JESUS’ SACRIFICE, TO THE BLOOD THAT TRULY CLEANSES US FROM SIN. – Schreiner
THAT LAST PARAGRAPH IS ANOTHER OF THE MANY REPETITIOUS BUT EXQUISITE SUMMARY STATEMENTS THE NUMEROUS EXEGETICAL COMMENTATORS ADD TO THE BIBLICAL TEXT THAT HELP US ENORMOUSLY TO KEEP OUR BEARINGS IN THE STREAM OF PRECIOUS BUT AT TIMES CONFUSING INFORMATION. – Schneider
Professor Thomas A. Rohm