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Old Rules about Worship

That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. There were two rooms in that Tabernacle.[a] In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room[b] called the Most Holy Place. In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.

When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room[c] as they performed their religious duties. But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle[d] and the system it represented were still in use.

This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. 10 For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.

Christ Is the Perfect Sacrifice

11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come.[e] He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds[f] so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

16 Now when someone leaves a will,[g] it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead.[h] 17 The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.

18 That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. 19 For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats,[i] along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. 20 Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.”[j] 21 And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. 22 In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.

23 That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.

24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. 25 And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. 26 If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age[k] to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.

27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, 28 so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All

10 The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.

But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ[l] came into the world, he said to God,

“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings.
    But you have given me a body to offer.
You were not pleased with burnt offerings
    or other offerings for sin.
Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—
    as is written about me in the Scriptures.’”[m]

First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. 10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

11 Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 13 There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. 14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.

15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,

16 “This is the new covenant I will make
    with my people on that day,[n] says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.”[o]

17 Then he says,

“I will never again remember
    their sins and lawless deeds.”[p]

18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

A Call to Persevere

19 And so, dear brothers and sisters,[q] we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death,[r] Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. 27 There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. 28 For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. 30 For we know the one who said,

“I will take revenge.
    I will pay them back.”[s]

He also said,

“The Lord will judge his own people.”[t]

31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ.[u] Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. 33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.

35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

37 “For in just a little while,
    the Coming One will come and not delay.
38 And my righteous ones will live by faith.[v]
    But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”[w]

39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Footnotes

  1. 9:2 Or tent; also in 9:11, 21.
  2. 9:3 Greek second tent.
  3. 9:6 Greek first tent.
  4. 9:8 Or the first room; Greek reads the first tent.
  5. 9:11 Some manuscripts read that are about to come.
  6. 9:14 Greek from dead works.
  7. 9:16a Or covenant; also in 9:17.
  8. 9:16b Or Now when someone makes a covenant, it is necessary to ratify it with the death of a sacrifice.
  9. 9:19 Some manuscripts do not include and goats.
  10. 9:20 Exod 24:8.
  11. 9:26 Greek the ages.
  12. 10:5 Greek he; also in 10:8.
  13. 10:5-7 Ps 40:6-8 (Greek version).
  14. 10:16a Greek after those days.
  15. 10:16b Jer 31:33a.
  16. 10:17 Jer 31:34b.
  17. 10:19 Greek brothers.
  18. 10:20 Greek Through his flesh.
  19. 10:30a Deut 32:35.
  20. 10:30b Deut 32:36.
  21. 10:32 Greek when you were first enlightened.
  22. 10:38 Or my righteous ones will live by their faithfulness; Greek reads my righteous one will live by faith.
  23. 10:37-38 Hab 2:3-4.