Remember, we're in a section of Hebrews which compares covenants (a solemn agreement between two parties, in which God will be our God and we will be His people). Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant. Chapters 9-10 show how Jesus has fulfilled all of the covenantal obligations we have.
v1-10 - The obligations of the Mosaic covenant were carried out in "an earthly sanctuary (v1)," first the tabernacle, which was a mobile structure that traveled through the desert with the Israelites, and later the temple in Jerusalem. The central feature of both of these was the room in which the Ark of the Covenant was kept (v3-6), called the Holy of Holies. This room, which was home to God's presence on earth, was so holy that only the high priest (who represented all of God's covenant people) could enter once a year after having made atonement (payment for sin) with blood. In this arrangement God was separated from His sinful people by a heavy (several inches thick) curtain, since the priest's offerings "were not able to clear the consciences of the worshipper (v9)."
v11-15- This passage begins with a massively important conjunction: the simple word 'but.' Verse 14 summarizes how different the new covenant is from the old, and the effect this has for you and me. Notice the logic of it:
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit
cleanse our consciences
from acts that lead to death,
we may serve
the living God!
v16-22 - It's hard for us to imagine the bloodiness of old covenant worship, since so many thousands of animals were being sacrificed and having their blood poured out every day to make atonement for the sins of the people. This is why it's important for us to read this stark reminder in v22:
Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
That's why it's so important for our forgiveness that Christ's blood was poured out for the complete forgiveness of all of our sins.
v23-28 - The point of the entire religious apparatus in the old covenant was to provide a graphic representation of what was necessary to make atonement. Temple sacrifices in and of themselves provided no actual forgiveness (we'll read tomorrow that "it's impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (10:4))." It was all "a copy of the true sanctuary" in heaven (v24). This final passage show that Christ entered into this true sanctuary "once [and for all] to take away the sins of many (v28)."
Old Testament Reference(s) -
Exodus 24:1-8 is a good representation of old covenant worship in which the people stayed at a distance, and a mediator brought a blood atonement to the Lord.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: In the original tabernacle, what three items are mentioned as being inside the ark of the covenant (v4)?
Why was blood such a big part of the old covenant worship?
Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament.
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our faithful Father, and covenant God
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for cleansing your conscience through the blood of Christ so that you may serve Him, the living God (v14)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: