General idea: Now Christ presides as our High Priest. He comes before the Father as our Advocate to mediate on our behalf. He does not enter; He is The Great Sanctuary, by His own blood, for our salvation and rest. He becomes the perfect temple of God, not of man, securing our eternal deliverance. He purifies forever; where animals only made temporary coverings, He is the eternal, atoning cover. Animals once stood in for our Lord as a sacrifice; now the true Sacrifice has come. He is real and here for us now, and we are cleansed by His deed and love. God demanded blood for payment of sins in order to give us forgiveness, and it was His blood that paid the price that God demanded, that we could not pay, and confirms His new covenant with us in the age of grace. He purifies our dead works so we can become servants of the Living God. He wills Himself to us as His death makes us alive. Christ's blood was shed to please God's price so we could be forgiven. The Tent and then the Temple were just copies and shadows of He who was to come-He who now has come; Christ is here with us now and forevermore. His work was once and for all; there is no longer a need for the repeated priestly acts. His one-time offering was good enough for all who eagerly waited for Him. Are you eagerly waiting and in Him?
Contexts and Background:
This passage is about how Christ's blood was shed to please God's price so we could be forgiven. Then the externals versus the internals; the previous covenant system can only take care of our outside, whereas Jesus deals with our inside so it affects our outside. Just dealing with the outside rarely affects the inside-as the Pharisees demonstrated in Jesus' day. To truly love and serve God and not repeat the betrayals of our past or our ancestors, God had to do a radical change from drawing us to Him to conform to Him. Now He goes inside of us so we conform; our gratitude and desire is to know Him, for He first loved and saved us.
The entirety of the Tent and Temple, all of its sacred furnishings and all its rituals were meant to expiate (make amends) to God's just wrath by appeasing Him with the substitution of bloodshed by animal sacrifices. This, in its entirety, also pointed to Christ and showed us His work; He is the better Sanctuary and sacrifice for our service. His blood is what purchased our redemption and gave us our salvation. Previously, the work of sacrifice was never finished; with Christ, it is finished! God's holiness, justness, and pureness cannot be contaminated by our sin. Yet, He allowed mankind the provision to know Him and be temporarily cleansed, as He pointed to the One who would permanently cleanse-Christ. These earthly representations were mere copies of the Heavenly one where God resides (1 Kings 6:22).
Commentary; Word and Phrase Meanings:
- The good things. Meaning the Old Covenant was a demonstration to all of who God is; now through the New Covenant, we can share in Him. Referring that under the old covenant, one's conscience was not cleared nor was one drawn closer to God. Now He draws us to Him; our salvation is through Him and Him alone (Heb. 6:5; 10:1-2; 12:22-24).
- Not a part of this creation. Referring that the earthly tabernacle was flawed, but the heavenly sanctuary is in the presence God and is perfect. Heaven, in most ancient traditions, pointed to perfection (Acts 7:40-50).
- Once for all. Christ is the greater Tent and Sanctuary; there is no more need for the repetition of sacrificing animals or empty rituals that do not cleanse one's heart. Christ is the greater reality and permanent offering by His blood.
- Eternal redemption. Now we have everlasting deliverance by one sacrifice: Christ's. He purchased our salvation, paid our ransom, and gave us abundant life for real living. The Qumran community believed that eternal redemption would be offered in the last days (Lev. 16:11-16; Dan. 9:24; Heb. 10:2-14).
- Blood of goats and bulls. Referring to the daily sacrifices the priests made in behalf of the people, personally and collectively, on the Day of Atonement. The point is since this sacrifice was only external, it could neither cleanse a person externally nor internally of sin (Lev. 16:6-16; Num. 19; Isa. 52:15; 53:4-12).
- Ashes of a heifer. This was the leftover residue from the sacrifices done outside of the Tent/Temple, then added to holy water and used for purification rituals (Nub. 19:9-18).
- Unblemished to God/without blemish. Under the Law, an animal must have been without any defect; to present a spotted or lame animal was an extreme insult to God. Christ is the unblemished Lamb-without sin-and the perfect sacrifice (Num. 6:14; 1 Pet. 1:19).
- Acts that lead to death/dead works. When one's heart is not right toward God, no ritual can save him from the need for real salvation in Christ. Our wicked deeds are rightly cursed and condemned by God. This shows our need for forgiveness so we can become God-centered in our outlook rather than self-willed or selfish. In this way, we can love Christ and serve Him righteously, faithfully, and truly and thus be entitled to know and worship Him (1 Sam. 24:5; Gal. 3:1-4; Heb. 6:1; 12:28; 13:15-21).
- Serve the living God. Meaning to have a God-centered life versus a self-centered life. God forgives us because of His love and desire that we grow, not just be saved and do nothing. We are to rather be worshippers and doers in His Kingdom (Heb. 12:28; 13:15-21).
- Died as a ransom. Jesus came to earth to pay our debt of sin, become a substitute for our death, and fulfill His role as our High Priest, which means He paid our payment that we could not do for ourselves. This inaugurated the New Covenant (Mark 10:45; 1 Cor. 1:23-25; 1 Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 9:15). This sacrifice of Christ does not manipulate and/or force God to love and accept us; but God is the one who initiated it, and we are given it freely by grace, which we receive by faith and respond to by our gratitude and growth in our faith (John 3:16). This is the full expression of love in God's heart. We are reconciled to God, whose righteousness paid the price for the justification for our sins through the sacrifice of His Son, who removed the defilement of our sin from the very core of our being (Rom. 3:21-26).
- Set them free/redeems. A payment to purchase a slave from captivity or a hostage or release someone's debt. When we violated God's law, we became debtors to Him for a payment we could never afford. Christ offers Himself as a "substitute" for our sin so He can pay our debt for us.
- Case of a will/will involved/testament. "Will," in the Greek, is the same for covenant, meaning "agreement or a testament to an agreement." The point here is that the Jews inherited a land; now we have so much more because we inherited a salvation by faith-without merit or works. In any will, a death is required to fulfill it; Christ's death made this new covenant possible-as in ratified. This is also a "pun" (a play on words) to make a point that blood is required, and has been eternally and continually given to us by Christ (Gal. 3:15).
- Blood. This is what ratified the covenant-what Christ did on the cross, as Moses pointed to in the ceremonies and Law. Christ's blood was our substitute for the payment of our sins (Gen. 15:9-18; Ex. 24:4-8; Jer. 34:18-20
- Ceremonies. The buildings and furnishings of worship were the meeting places and tools for the rituals to show the people their sin compared to the Holiness of God; the sacrifice of blood was the only way to receive forgiveness, and Christ fulfilled this (Ex. 24:4-8; 29:37; Lev. 5:11-13; 8:5-30; 14:6; 16:16-20; 17:7; Num. 18:9; 19:6).
- Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. God demands a payment for sin; its cost is something we do not fully understand because we are sinful and he is Holy. But, its cost is so enormous that we could never ever pay it, so Christ paid it for us as our suffering servant (Isa. 53:12).
- Forgiveness/remission. Meaning God lets us go, lets us off the hook of our debt from our sin and His just wrath. God cancels our debt, and thus we receive pardon because of Christ and are released from our captivity of sin and guilt.
- Better sacrifices. God's sanctuary in heaven does not need to be purified; it is perfect-as He is. It does not rest on human frailty or sin, or slither to bribes or apathy. It still was not effective to remove guilt or give man gratitude for who God is and has done. While the earthly Temple had to be constantly purified and still was dependent upon the humanity of its priests, now in contrast, Christ, who appears in our behalf before God, is perfect (Lev. 16:32-33; 2 Tim. 4:8; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1).
- End of the ages/consummation of the ages. Meaning the entire goal of history, time, and the climax and point of God's plan, which are the person and Work of Christ. Here, it refers that Christ had to offer Himself only once, since He is perfect. This is the same term as last days or the period of Christ Kingdom and/or the age of grace, until He comes back, returns everything to perfection, and declares judgment on the wicked (Heb. 1:1-2; 1 Pet. 1:20).
- Destined/appointed to die once. This image pointed to the priest coming out of the Temple into the outer courts on the Day of Atonement that assured the people the sacrifice was done and accepted, since the priest was still walking. The point is that there are no "do overs" or reincarnation as Plato taught. We have but one life to live; then we die and there are no more opportunities to repent or be reconciled to God for those who were estranged by sin. Then, we go to heaven or hell, to our reward or judgment, depending on whether or not we accepted Christ's work (Psalm 49:7-15; Isa. 53:12; Ezek. 18:21-32; Rom. 5:12; 8:29-30; Phil. 1:23; 3:20-21; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 John 3:2-3).
Devotional Thoughts and Applications:
The priestly role only dealt with one's appearances and presentations. Jesus gets into our hearts and minds so we are transformed and renewed in Him. He purifies us so we can know Him more deeply, and in so doing, become our best for His glory. This is quintessential in our spiritual growth. We have to be formed in Christ, and He has to have a deep impact on us so our life is changed. We no longer rely on our feelings and experiences; rather, we seek Him and His Word for all of our life and decisions so we are people of maturity not tossed by the winds of society and pride or seeking to create a façade rather than a real person whose heart is growing in Him. This comes from trusting in His redeeming power, in His blood that saved. He is the Spotless Lamb who saves; we respond by our trust in Him. Christ's blood was shed in our place to please God's price and wrath so we could be forgiven and have eternal life.
The Essential Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study):
1. What does this passage say?
2. What does this passage mean?
3. What is God telling me?
4. How am I encouraged and strengthened?
5. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
6. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
7. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
8. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
9. What can I model and teach?
10. What does God want me to share with someone?
- How do you feel that Christ's blood paid for your sins? How would you have paid it if you could?
- What does it mean that God is pure and cannot be contaminated by our sin? How does this motivate you to have a heart that is after His because of what He did for you?
- How are you an indication of His work? How do your devotion and obedience please Christ? How do they not? How can they do so more?
- How can you better seek His truth? What does it mean to you to consider His precepts and walk in His ways by trust?
- What does it take to remain faithful and true to God in Christ by the Way of the Spirit? How can you do this better? So how do you live now? How can your eyes be upon Christ?
- How does this passage show you that the previous covenant system only took care of the outside of a person? How have you seen people go to empty rituals and not experience any effectual changes in attitude or behaviors?
- If you just dealt with your outside, would it affect your inside? How did the Pharisees demonstrate this in Jesus day? (See Matthew 23)
- How does Christ show you that He deals with your inside? How does this affect your outside? What do you need to do to make sure your heart is lined up to His?
- Why does God demand blood for the payment of sins? Could there be any other economy to appease Him?
- How can you truly love and serve God and keep from repeating your past mistakes or sins? How would a radical change from Christ help you express conformity to His precepts, gratitude, and/or desire to know Him more? Keep in mind: He first loved and saved you!
- How can you come to Christ daily and seek to know, grow, and serve Him? What would this do for your daily life in the world as well as the church?
12. What does it mean to you to be a servant of the Living God? How can you be more so? What would your life look like if you were more "servant minded?"
© 2008 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org/