Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hebrews 9:1-14

1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.

6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7 But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, 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; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer 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 offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Questions to consider:
  • Where do priests perform their duties?
  • What is the significance of (a) the curtain dividing the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies (b) the blood taken into the Holy of Holies, and (c) the sacrifices and regulation of the old covenant?
  • List reasons that Christ’s blood has unique significance.
  • To what extent is your conscience changed because of Christ’s blood?
  • How does Christ’s sacrifice release you from dead works?

Possibilities for prayer:

The idea of Jesus as a high priest is a pretty common theme thus far in the book of Hebrews. For the Jewish people, this metaphor would have been particularly powerful and relevant, since the old covenant dictated in large part the way in which they lived their lives. Most of us have likely not lived under a set of stringent laws like the Jewish people, but I think we can still appreciate the way in which Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross has made such a way of living “obsolete” (see yesterday’s passage). So let’s be thankful for the new covenant, for the way in which we are now able to, with clean consciences, serve the living God, without the burden of the sacrificial requirements previously prescribed.