Chapters 9 and 10 of the Letter to the Hebrews require some effort on the part of the modern reader to grasp. In this article I hope to give such a reader some help. The basic structure of these two chapters is a comparison or analogy between the ministry at the ancient tabernacle in the wilderness and Jesus’ ministry in heaven. The Hebrews writer has already established that the former is merely a shadow of the latter, which is reality. Therefore, one does not have to understand everything that is said about the “shadow” side to get the “reality” side.
For example, 9.1-10 gives a description of the ancient tabernacle. The conclusion about rituals of this ancient tabernacle: “They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order” (9.10). While this may be interesting to some, the real stuff begins in v. 11.
- Christ is the high priest of the good things already here!
- He went through the “perfect” tabernacle (heaven)
- He entered not with animal blood but his own.
- Therefore, his blood can cleanse our consciences so we can serve (like priests) the living God!
- Furthermore, Christ is the mediator of the new covenant and
- He died as a ransom to set people free!
These are just a few of the high points, and the important points, of Heb 9. Finally, this chapter closes with these incredible words:
But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 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 (Heb 9.26b-28)
Though the language of the text is dense, this comes through loud and clear: Jesus has paved the way for me, an unholy sinner, to stand before a righteous God. In a sense, we are saved by the “worship” of Jesus in the true tabernacle!