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The Old Tabernacle Points Forward to the New

The first Tabernacle had, of course, its own regulations for worship, and it contained the earthly sanctuary. A double tent was constructed. In the outer one was the lampstand, the table and the ‘bread of the presence’. This is called ‘the holy place’. After the second curtain came the inner tent, called ‘the holy of holies’. This contained the golden altar, and the ark of the covenant, which was covered completely in gold. In the ark were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory, which overshadowed the mercy seat. There is much we could say about all this, but now is not the time.

With all these things in place, the priests continually go into the first Tabernacle in the ordinary course of their duties. But only the high priest goes into the second Tabernacle, once every year, and he always takes blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. The holy spirit indicates by this that, as long as the original Tabernacle is still standing, the way is not yet open into the sanctuary.

This is a picture, so to speak, of the present age. During this period, gifts and sacrifices are offered which have no power to perfect the conscience of those who come to worship. 10 They only deal with foods and drinks and various kinds of washings. These are regulations for the ordering of bodily life until the appointed time, the moment when everything will be put into proper order.

The Sacrifice of the Messiah

11 But when the Messiah arrived as high priest of the good things that were coming, he entered through the greater and much superior Tabernacle, not made with hands (that is, not of the present creation), 12 and not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood. He entered, once and for all, into the holy place, accomplishing a redemption that lasts for ever.

13 If the blood of bulls and goats, you see, and the sprinkled ashes of a heifer, make people holy (in the sense of purifying their bodies) when they had been unclean, 14 how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who offered himself to God through the eternal spirit as a spotless sacrifice, cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God!

The Purpose of the Blood

15 For this reason, Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant. The purpose was that those who are called should receive the promised inheritance of the age to come, since a death has occurred which provides redemption from transgressions committed under the first covenant.

16 Where there is a covenant, you see, it is vital to establish the death of the one who made it. 17 A will laid down in covenant only takes effect after death; it has no validity during the lifetime of the one who made it. 18 That’s why even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment had been read out to the people by Moses, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has made with you.’ 21 Then, in the same way, he sprinkled the Tabernacle, and all the vessels used in worship, with blood. 22 In fact, more or less everything is purified with blood according to the law; there’s no pardon without bloodshed!

The Messiah’s Work in the Heavenly Sanctuary

23 That’s why it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly objects to be purified in this way, while the heavenly things themselves require better sacrifices than these. 24 For the Messiah did not enter into a sanctuary made by human hands, the copy and pattern of the heavenly one, but into the heavenly one itself, where he now appears in God’s presence on our behalf.

25 Nor did he intend to offer himself over and over again, in the same way as the high priest goes into the sanctuary year after year with blood that isn’t his own. 26 Had that been the case, he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. Instead, he has appeared once, at the close of the ages, to put away sin by the sacrifice of his own self.

27 Furthermore, just as it is laid down that humans have to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so the Messiah, having been offered once and for all to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time. This will no longer have anything to do with sin. It will be in order to save those who are eagerly awaiting him.

Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle

Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary.(A) A tabernacle(B) was set up. In its first room were the lampstand(C) and the table(D) with its consecrated bread;(E) this was called the Holy Place.(F) Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place,(G) which had the golden altar of incense(H) and the gold-covered ark of the covenant.(I) This ark contained the gold jar of manna,(J) Aaron’s staff that had budded,(K) and the stone tablets of the covenant.(L) Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory,(M) overshadowing the atonement cover.(N) But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.

When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly(O) into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered(P) the inner room,(Q) and that only once a year,(R) and never without blood,(S) which he offered for himself(T) and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.(U) The Holy Spirit was showing(V) by this that the way(W) into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. This is an illustration(X) for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered(Y) were not able to clear the conscience(Z) of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food(AA) and drink(AB) and various ceremonial washings(AC)—external regulations(AD) applying until the time of the new order.

The Blood of Christ

11 But when Christ came as high priest(AE) of the good things that are now already here,[a](AF) he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle(AG) that is not made with human hands,(AH) that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves;(AI) but he entered the Most Holy Place(AJ) once for all(AK) by his own blood,(AL) thus obtaining[b] eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls(AM) and the ashes of a heifer(AN) sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit(AO) offered himself(AP) unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences(AQ) from acts that lead to death,[c](AR) so that we may serve the living God!(AS)

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator(AT) of a new covenant,(AU) that those who are called(AV) may receive the promised(AW) eternal inheritance(AX)—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.(AY)

16 In the case of a will,[d] it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.(AZ) 19 When Moses had proclaimed(BA) every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves,(BB) together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people.(BC) 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”[e](BD) 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood,(BE) and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.(BF)

23 It was necessary, then, for the copies(BG) of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one;(BH) he entered heaven itself,(BI) now to appear for us in God’s presence.(BJ) 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place(BK) every year with blood that is not his own.(BL) 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world.(BM) But he has appeared(BN) once for all(BO) at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.(BP) 27 Just as people are destined to die once,(BQ) and after that to face judgment,(BR) 28 so Christ was sacrificed once(BS) to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time,(BT) not to bear sin,(BU) but to bring salvation(BV) to those who are waiting for him.(BW)


  1. Hebrews 9:11 Some early manuscripts are to come
  2. Hebrews 9:12 Or blood, having obtained
  3. Hebrews 9:14 Or from useless rituals
  4. Hebrews 9:16 Same Greek word as covenant; also in verse 17
  5. Hebrews 9:20 Exodus 24:8