Hebrews 9:24-28 (NLT)
24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. 25 And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. 26 If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice. 27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, 28 so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.
V24, Christ’s sacrifice was better than sacrifices made under the Mosaic covenant because Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary, which was a copy; instead, He entered the true sanctuary, which is in heaven—the very presence of God.
V26, If Christ had made repeated offerings, that would have meant repeated suffering, since His offering was His own life. It is unthinkable that He should have suffered the agonies of Calvary periodically since the foundation of the world! And unnecessary too!
Under the New Covenant, there is:
Positive finality—He has appeared once for all. The work never needs to be repeated. A propitious time—He appeared at the end of the ages, that is, after the Old Covenant had conclusively demonstrated man’s failure and powerlessness. A perfect work—He appeared, to put away sin. The emphasis is on the words put away. It was no longer a matter of annual atonement. Now it was eternal forgiveness. A personal sacrifice—He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. In His own body He bore the punishment which our sins deserved.
V27–28, “Destined (appointed) . . . to die once.” Every person has but a single life before eternal judgment. This repudiates reincarnation and any idea that there will be a second chance to believe after death, since immediately after the reference to the fact of death comes the phrase “and after that comes judgment,” with no hint of any intervening opportunity for change of status. The final judgment will take place when Christ comes again—he died once as an offering for the sins of many, and he will appear a second time in judgment, when he will save his followers. those who are eagerly waiting for him. This clear anticipation of Christ’s return (see 10:25; cf. Rom. 8:19, 23, 25; 1 Cor. 1:7; Gal. 5:5; Phil. 3:20) calls all who hope for salvation to expectant perseverance.
V28, The New Covenant introduces the infinite sacrifice of Christ; He was offered once to bear the sins of many. It presents the blessed hope of His imminent Return; to those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time. But when He returns, it will not be to deal with the problem of sin: He finished that work at the cross. He will come to take His people home to heaven. This will be the culmination of their salvation; they will receive their glorified bodies and be forever beyond the reach of sin.
The expression, those who eagerly wait for Him, is a description of all true believers. All the Lord’s people look for Him to return, though they may not agree on the exact order of events connected with His Coming. The Bible does not teach that only a certain group of especially spiritual Christians will be taken to heaven at the time of the Rapture. It describes the participants as “the dead in Christ” and “we who are alive and remain” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17); this means all true believers, dead or living. In 1 Corinthians 15:23 the participants are identified as “those who are Christ’s.”
It has often been pointed out that we have three appearances of Christ in verses 24–28. They may be summarized as follows:
Verse 26: He has appeared. This refers to His First Advent when He came to earth to save us from the penalty of sin (the past tense of salvation).
Verse 24: He now appears. This is a reference to His present ministry in the presence of God to save us from the power of sin (the present tense of salvation).
Verse 28: He will appear. This speaks of His imminent Return when He will save us from the presence of sin (the future tense of salvation).
Are you eagerly awaiting His return? What does that look like to you? Do you know what the scripture says about this? Revelations is a great book to read to help you understand.