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Meeting tents, sacrifices, and covenants

Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We have this kind of high priest. He sat down at the right side of the throne of the majesty in the heavens. He’s serving as a priest in the holy place, which is the true meeting tent that God, not any human being, set up. Every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices. So it’s necessary for this high priest also to have something to offer. If he was located on earth, he wouldn’t be a priest because there are already others who offer gifts based on the Law. They serve in a place that is a copy and shadow of the heavenly meeting tent. This is indicated when Moses was warned by God when he was about to set up the meeting tent: See that you follow the pattern that I showed you on the mountain in every detail.[a] But now, Jesus has received a superior priestly service just as he arranged a better covenant that is enacted with better promises.

If the first covenant had been without fault, it wouldn’t have made sense to expect a second. But God did find fault with them, since he says,

Look, the days are coming, says the Lord,
        when I will make a covenant with the house of Israel,
        and I will make a new covenant with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors
    on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt,
        because they did not continue to keep my covenant,
        and I lost interest in them, says the Lord.
10 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
        after those days, says the Lord.
I will place my laws in their minds,
        and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
11     And each person won’t ever teach a neighbor
    or their brother or sister, saying,Know the Lord,
        because they will all know me,
            from the least important of them to the most important;
12         because I will be lenient toward their unjust actions,
            and I won’t remember their sins anymore.[b]

13 When it says new, it makes the first obsolete. And if something is old and outdated, it’s close to disappearing.

Christ’s service in the heavenly meeting tent

So then the first covenant had regulations for the priests’ service and the holy place on earth. They pitched the first tent called the holy place. It contained the lampstand, the table, and the loaves of bread presented to God. There was a tent behind the second curtain called the holy of holies. It had the gold altar for incense and the chest containing the covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. In the chest there was a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the chest there were magnificent winged creatures[c] casting their shadow over the seat of the chest, where sin is taken care of. Right now we can’t talk about these things in detail. When these things have been prepared in this way, priests enter the first tent all the time as they perform their service. But only the high priest enters the second tent once a year. He never does this without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins the people committed in ignorance. With this, the Holy Spirit is showing that the way into the holy place hadn’t been revealed yet while the first tent was standing. This is a symbol for the present time. It shows that the gifts and sacrifices that are being offered can’t perfect the conscience of the one who is serving. 10 These are superficial regulations that are only about food, drink, and various ritual ways to wash with water. They are regulations that have been imposed until the time of the new order.

11 But Christ has appeared as the high priest of the good things that have happened. He passed through the greater and more perfect meeting tent, which isn’t made by human hands (that is, it’s not a part of this world). 12 He entered the holy of holies once for all by his own blood, not by the blood of goats or calves, securing our deliverance for all time. 13 If the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of cows made spiritually contaminated people holy and clean, 14 how much more will the blood of Jesus wash our consciences clean from dead works in order to serve the living God? He offered himself to God through the eternal Spirit as a sacrifice without any flaw.

Christ’s death and the new covenant

15 This is why he’s the mediator of a new covenant (which is a will): so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance on the basis of his death. His death occurred to set them free from the offenses committed under the first covenant. 16 When there is a will, you need to confirm the death of the one who made the will. 17 This is because a will takes effect only after a death, since it’s not in force while the one who made the will is alive. 18 So not even the first covenant was put into effect without blood. 19 Moses took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the Law scroll itself and all the people after he had proclaimed every command of the Law to all the people. 20 While he did it, he said, This is the blood of the covenant that God established for you.[d] 21 And in the same way he sprinkled the meeting tent and also all the equipment that would be used in the priests’ service with blood. 22 Almost everything is cleansed by blood, according to the Law’s regulations, and there is no forgiveness without blood being shed.

23 So it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be cleansed with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things had to be cleansed with better sacrifices than these. 24 Christ didn’t enter the holy place (which is a copy of the true holy place) made by human hands, but into heaven itself, so that he now appears in God’s presence for us. 25 He didn’t enter to offer himself over and over again, like the high priest enters the earthly holy place every year with blood that isn’t his. 26 If that were so, then Jesus would have to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. Instead, he has now appeared once at the end of the ages to get rid of sin by sacrificing himself. 27 People are destined to die once and then face judgment. 28 In the same way, Christ was also offered once to take on himself the sins of many people. He will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

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