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The Earthly and the Heavenly Sanctuaries


Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. 2For a tent was constructed, the first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence; this is called the Holy Place. 3Behind the second curtain was a tent called the Holy of Holies. 4In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot speak now in detail.

6 Such preparations having been made, the priests go continually into the first tent to carry out their ritual duties; 7but only the high priest goes into the second, and he but once a year, and not without taking the blood that he offers for himself and for the sins committed unintentionally by the people. 8By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary has not yet been disclosed as long as the first tent is still standing. 9This is a symbol of the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10but deal only with food and drink and various baptisms, regulations for the body imposed until the time comes to set things right.

11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), 12he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

15 For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. 16Where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18Hence not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19For when every commandment had been told to all the people by Moses in accordance with the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people, 20saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God has ordained for you.” 21And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Christ’s Sacrifice Takes Away Sin

23 Thus it was necessary for the sketches of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves need better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

23. The patterns, or exemplars, etc. Lest any one should object and say that the blood by which the old testament was dedicated was different from that of a testator, the Apostle meets this objection, and says that it was no wonder that the tabernacle which was earthly was consecrated by the sacrificing of beasts; for there was an analogy and a likeness between the purification and the things purified. But the heavenly pattern or exemplar of which he now speaks was to be consecrated in a very different way; there was here no need of goats or of calves. It hence follows that the death of the testator was necessary.

The meaning then is this, — as under the Law there were only earthly images of spiritual things, so the rite of expiation was also, so to speak, carnal and figurative; but as the heavenly pattern allows of nothing earthly, so it requires another blood than that of beasts, such as may correspond with its excellency. Thus the death of the testator is necessary, in order that the testament may be really consecrated.

He calls the kingdom of Christ heavenly things, 157157     By making “heavenly things” to mean things in heaven above, and not in the kingdom of heaven on earth, commentators have been under the necessity of altering the sense of the word “purified.” The tabernacle represented the whole kingdom of Christ, both on earth and in heaven. The sanctuary and the court, where the alter of burnt offering was, represented what Christ has done and is doing on earth; and the holy of holies was a representation of Christ’s kingdom in heaven. The victims were slain in the court without the vail; the shedding of blood was the atonement, but its sprinkling was its purifying and sanctifying effects. All the heavenly things in the Church on earth require purifying by the sprinkling of the blood of the atoning sacrifice once offered by Christ; and it is to this the reference is made here. And having provided means for purification, he as the high priest, by virtue of his sacrifice, entered into the holiest, heavenly things on earth, for the Church here below, in order to prepare it for the holiest above. “In the heavens” may probably refer to two parts of Christ’s kingdom, the one in heaven and the other on earth; and latter, as things which require a sacrifice; and then in the following verse the former part is alluded to, the kingdom above, even heaven, represented by the holy of holies. — Ed. for it is spiritual and possesses a full revelation of the truth. Better sacrifices he mentions instead of “a better sacrifice,” for it was only one; but he uses the plural number for the sake of the antithesis or contrast.

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