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The Tent in Heaven

The first promise that was made included rules for worship and a tent for worship here on earth. The first part of the tent was called the holy place, and a lampstand, a table, and the sacred loaves of bread were kept there.

Behind the curtain was the most holy place. The gold altar that was used for burning incense was in this holy place. The gold-covered sacred chest was also there, and inside it were three things. First, there was a gold jar filled with manna.[a] Then there was Aaron’s walking stick that sprouted.[b] Finally, there were the flat stones with the Ten Commandments written on them. On top of the chest were the glorious creatures with wings[c] opened out above the place of mercy.[d]

Now isn’t the time to go into detail about these things. But this is how everything was when the priests went each day into the first part of the tent to do their duties. However, only the high priest could go into the second part of the tent, and he went in only once a year. Each time he carried blood to offer for his sins and for any sins that the people had committed without meaning to.

All of this is the Holy Spirit’s way of saying that no one could enter the most holy place while the tent was still the place of worship. This also has a meaning for today. It shows that we cannot make our consciences clear by offering gifts and sacrifices. 10 These rules are merely about such things as eating and drinking and ceremonies for washing ourselves. And rules about physical things will last only until the time comes to change them for something better.

11 Christ came as the high priest of the good things that are now here.[e] He also went into a much better tent that wasn’t made by humans and that doesn’t belong to this world. 12 Then Christ went once for all into the most holy place and freed us from sin forever. He did this by offering his own blood instead of the blood of goats and bulls.

13 According to the Law of Moses, those people who become unclean are not fit to worship God. Yet they will be considered clean, if they are sprinkled with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a sacrificed calf. 14 But Christ was sinless, and he offered himself as an eternal and spiritual sacrifice to God. That’s why his blood is much more powerful and makes our[f] consciences clear. Now we can serve the living God and no longer do things that lead to death.

15 Christ died to rescue those who had sinned and broken the old agreement. Now he brings his chosen ones a new agreement with its guarantee of God’s eternal blessings! 16 In fact, making an agreement of this kind is like writing a will. This is because the one who makes the will must die before it is of any use. 17 In other words, a will doesn’t go into effect as long as the one who made it is still alive.

18 Blood was also used[g] to put the first agreement into effect. 19 Moses told the people all that the Law said they must do. Then he used red wool and a hyssop plant to sprinkle the people and the book of the Law with the blood of bulls and goats[h] and with water. 20 He told the people, “With this blood God makes his agreement with you.” 21 Moses also sprinkled blood on the tent and on everything else that was used in worship. 22 The Law says that almost everything must be sprinkled with blood, and no sins can be forgiven unless blood is offered.

Christ’s Great Sacrifice

23 These things are only copies of what is in heaven, and so they had to be made holy by these ceremonies. But the real things in heaven must be made holy by something better. 24 This is why Christ did not go into a tent that had been made by humans and was only a copy of the real one. Instead, he went into heaven and is now there with God to help us.

25 Christ did not have to offer himself many times. He wasn’t like a high priest who goes into the most holy place each year to offer the blood of an animal. 26 If he had offered himself every year, he would have suffered many times since the creation of the world. But instead, near the end of time he offered himself once and for all, so that he could be a sacrifice that does away with sin.

27 We die only once, and then we are judged. 28 So Christ died only once to take away the sins of many people. But when he comes again, it will not be to take away sin. He will come to save everyone who is waiting for him.

Footnotes

  1. 9.4 manna: When the people of Israel were wandering through the desert, the Lord provided them with food that could be made into thin wafers. This food was called manna, which in Hebrew means “What is it?”
  2. 9.4 Aaron’s walking stick that sprouted: According to Numbers 17.1-11, Aaron’s walking stick sprouted and produced almonds to show that the Lord was pleased with him and Moses.
  3. 9.5 glorious creatures with wings: Two of these creatures (called “cherubim” in Hebrew and Greek) with outspread wings were on top of the sacred chest and were symbols of God’s throne.
  4. 9.5 place of mercy: The lid of the sacred chest, which was thought to be God’s throne on earth.
  5. 9.11 that are now here: Some manuscripts have “that were coming.”
  6. 9.14 our: Some manuscripts have “your,” and others have “their.”
  7. 9.18 Blood was also used: Or “There also had to be a death.”
  8. 9.19 blood of bulls and goats: Some manuscripts do not have “and goats.”

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