Worship Under the Old Agreement
9 The first agreement had rules for worship and a place for worship here on earth. 2 This place was inside a tent. The first area in the tent was called the Holy Place. In the Holy Place were the lamp and the table with the special bread offered to God. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place. 4 In the Most Holy Place was a golden altar for burning incense. And also there was the Box of the Agreement. The Box was covered with gold. Inside this Box was a golden jar of manna and Aaron’s rod—the rod that once grew leaves. Also in the Box were the flat stones with the Ten Commandments of the old agreement on them. 5 Above the Box were the Cherub angels that showed God’s glory. These Cherub angels were over the place of mercy.[a] But we cannot say everything about this now.
6 Everything in the tent was made ready in the way I have explained. Then the priests went into the first room every day to do their worship duties. 7 But only the high priest could go into the second room, and he went in only once a year. Also, he could never enter that room without taking blood with him. He offered that blood to God for himself and for the sins the people committed without knowing they were sinning.
8 The Holy Spirit uses those two separate rooms to teach us that the way into the Most Holy Place[b] was not open while the first room was still there. 9 This is an example for us today. It shows that the gifts and sacrifices the priests offer to God are not able to make the consciences of the worshipers completely clear. 10 These gifts and sacrifices are only about food and drink and special washings. They are only rules about the body. God gave them for his people to follow until the time of his new way.
Worship Under the New Agreement
11 But Christ has already come to be the high priest. He is the high priest of the good things we now have. But Christ does not serve in a place like the tent that those other priests served in. He serves in a better place. Unlike that tent, this one is perfect. It was not made by anyone here on earth. It does not belong to this world. 12 Christ entered the Most Holy Place only one time—enough for all time. He entered the Most Holy Place by using his own blood, not the blood of goats or young bulls. He entered there and made us free from sin forever.
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow were sprinkled on those who were no longer pure enough to enter the place of worship. The blood and ashes made them pure again—but only their bodies. 14 So surely the blood sacrifice of Christ can do much more. Christ offered himself through the eternal Spirit[c] as a perfect sacrifice to God. His blood will make us completely clean from the evil we have done. It will give us clear consciences so that we can worship the living God.
15 So Christ brings a new agreement from God to his people. He brings this agreement so that those who are chosen by God can have the blessings God promised, blessings that last forever. This can happen only because Christ died to free people from sins committed against the commands of the first agreement.
16 When someone dies and leaves a will, there must be proof that the one who wrote the will is dead. 17 A will means nothing while the one who wrote it is still living. It can be used only after that person’s death. 18 That is why blood was needed to begin the first agreement between God and his people. 19 First, Moses told the people every command in the law. Then he took the blood of young bulls and mixed it with water. He used red wool and a branch of hyssop to sprinkle the blood and water on the book of the law and on all the people. 20 Then he said, “This is the blood that makes the agreement good—the agreement that God commanded you to follow.”[d] 21 In the same way, Moses sprinkled the blood on the Holy Tent. He sprinkled the blood over everything used in worship. 22 The law says that almost everything must be made clean by blood. Sins cannot be forgiven without a blood sacrifice.
Jesus Christ Is Our Sacrifice for Sin
23 These things are copies of the real things that are in heaven. These copies had to be made clean by animal sacrifices. But the real things in heaven must have much better sacrifices. 24 Christ went into the Most Holy Place. But it was not the man-made one, which is only a copy of the real one. He went into heaven, and he is there now before God to help us.
25 The high priest enters the Most Holy Place once every year. He takes with him blood to offer. But he does not offer his own blood like Christ did. Christ went into heaven, but not to offer himself many times like the high priest offers blood again and again. 26 If Christ had offered himself many times, he would have needed to suffer many times since the time the world was made. But he came to offer himself only once. And that once is enough for all time. He came at a time when the world is nearing an end. He came to take away all sin by offering himself as a sacrifice.
27 Everyone must die once. Then they are judged. 28 So Christ was offered as a sacrifice one time to take away the sins of many people. And he will come a second time, but not to offer himself for sin. He will come the second time to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
- Hebrews 9:5 place of mercy Or “mercy seat,” a place on top of the “Box of the Agreement,” where the high priest put the blood of an animal once a year to pay for the sins of the people.
- Hebrews 9:8 Most Holy Place Literally, “holies” for “holy of holies,” the spiritual place where God lives and is worshiped. Also in verses 12, 24.
- Hebrews 9:14 Spirit Probably the Holy Spirit. See “Holy Spirit” in the Word List.
- Hebrews 9:20
Quote from Ex. 24:8.