Hebrews 9:11-15 (NLT)
Christ Is the Perfect Sacrifice
11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. 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 young cow 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 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.
V11, Christ has appeared as High Priest of the good things to come, that is, of the tremendous blessings that He bestows on those who receive Him.
His sanctuary is a greater and more perfect tent. It is not made with hands in the sense that it is not constructed of this world’s building materials. It is the sanctuary of heaven, the dwelling place of God.
V12, Our Lord entered the Most Holy Place once for all. At the time of His Ascension, He went into God’s presence, having finished the work of redemption at Calvary. We should never cease to rejoice over those words, once for all. The work is completed. Praise the Lord!
He offered His own blood, not the blood of bulls and goats. Animal blood had no power to put away sins; it was effective only in cases of technical offenses against religious ritual. But the blood of Christ is of infinite value; its power is sufficient to cleanse all the sins of all the people who have ever lived, all the people who are now living, and all the people who will ever live. Of course, its power is applicable only to those who come to Him by faith. But its cleansing potential is unlimited. By His sacrifice He obtained eternal redemption. The former priests obtained annual atonement. There is a vast difference between the two.
V13, To illustrate the difference between the sacrifice of Christ and the ceremonies of the law, the writer now turns to the ritual of the red heifer. Under the law, if an Israelite touched a dead body, he became ceremonially unclean for seven days. The remedy was to mix the ashes of a heifer with pure spring water and to sprinkle the defiled person on the third and seventh days. He then became clean.
The ashes were regarded as a concentration of the essential properties of the sin-offering, and could be resorted to at all times with comparatively little trouble and no loss of time. One red heifer availed for centuries. Only six are said to have been required during the whole of Jewish history; for the smallest quantity of the ashes availed to impart the cleansing virtue to the pure spring water (Numbers 19:17).
V14, If the ashes of a heifer had such power to cleanse from one of the most serious forms of outward defilement, how much more powerful is the blood of Christ to cleanse from inward sins of the deepest dye!
His offering was through the eternal Spirit. There is some difference of opinion as to the meaning of this expression. Some interpret it to mean, “through an eternal spirit,” meaning the willing spirit in which He made His sacrifice in contrast to the involuntary character of animal offerings. Others understand it to mean, “through His eternal spirit.” We rather believe that the Holy Spirit is in view; He made His sacrifice in the power of the Holy Spirit.
It was an offering made to God. He was the spotless, sinless Lamb of God whose moral perfection qualified Him to be our Sin-bearer. The animal sacrifices had to be physically spotless; He was without blemish morally.
His blood cleanses the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. It is not merely a physical purging or a ceremonial cleansing but a moral renewal that purifies the conscience. It cleanses from those dead works which unbelievers produce in an effort to earn their own cleansing. It frees men from these lifeless works to serve the living God.
V15, The previous verses stressed the superiority of the blood of the New Covenant to the blood of the Old. This leads to the conclusion of verse 15—that Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant.
The word “mediator” is the translation of mesites which refers to one who intervenes between two, to make or restore peace and friendship, to form a compact, or to ratify a covenant. Here the Messiah acts as a go-between or mediator between a holy God and sinful man. By His death on the cross, He removes the obstacle (sin) which caused an estrangement between man and God. When the sinner accepts the merits of Messiah’s sacrifice, the guilt and penalty of his sin is his no more, the power of sin in his life is broken, he becomes the recipient of the divine nature, and the estrangement between himself and God, both legal and personal, disappears.
Now those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance. Through Christ’s work saints of the OT as well as of the New enjoy eternal salvation and eternal redemption.
The fact that qualifies believers of the pre-Christian era for the inheritance is that a death has occurred, that is, the death of Christ. His death redeems them from transgressions under the law.
There is a sense in which God saved OT people “on credit.” They were justified by faith, just as we are. But Christ had not died as yet. Then how could God save them? The answer is that He saved them on the basis of what He knew Christ would accomplish. They knew little or nothing of what Christ would do at Calvary. But God knew, and He reckoned the value of that work to their account when they believed whatever revelation He gave them of Himself.
In a sense a great debt of transgression had accumulated under the Old Covenant. By His death, Christ redeemed believers of the former dispensation from these transgressions.
The manner in which God saved them through the still-future work of Christ is known as the pretermission of sins.