Redemption through far Better Blood and Sacrifice
24For 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. 25And 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. 26If 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. 27And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, 28so also Christ was offered 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.Hebrews 9:24-28
Here are the readers’ questions for this section.
He has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin – I am confused with the comment appearing at the end of the age to remove sin. What does “the end of the age” refer to? 9:26
I don’t think I really understand Hebrews 9:27. Could you explain that please Ian?
What does He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him mean? When are we saved? I thought we were saved when we accepted Christ. 9:28
Yes this section of Hebrews can be confusing. We need to understand that there is a gap between the end of the age and the coming salvation. The readers’ questions above highlight the need for understanding. We need also to understand a couple of other things hidden in this section which connect to other parts of this whole pericope.
He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. 25And 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.Hebrews 9:24-25
Do you see the power of that statement I have plucked from the whole passage? Notice that Jesus entered heaven (i.e. the heavenly Tabernacle) ‘to appear now before God on our behalf’. Where is Jesus now? Well I am sure we would all answer, “He is seated at the right hand of God in heaven.” So if he entered heaven itself to appear now before God, that is where He is NOW! So when was the moment of entering ‘at the end of the age’? It is not at “the end of the age” that I suspect most of us think about. That is, the author is not meaning at the end of the age when Jesus comes back again. He is meaning at the end of age when He came the first time. He is not talking about Jesus’ coming at the end of the age, the second coming of Christ. He is talking about the end of the age (the time period) when Jesus appeared in order to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice. That is the end of His first coming when He was crucified and died and rose again. He is talking about that end of the age or time period!
Notice also that “Jesus entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.” Where is Jesus now? He is still there, beholding the face of God, the Father. Unlike the High Priest of the Old Order who was protected by smoke and incense from beholding the face of God full on, Jesus is seated there in the Father’s presence in the midst of Father’s full glory. Jesus is still seated, unlike the Old Covenant system which required all priests to stand in the presence of God continually on behalf of the people and their need for priestly intercession in multiple ways. Our Great High Priest is seated in the heavenly Tabernacle before God. Notice the contrast of these verses.
11Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. THEN HE SAT DOWN IN THE PLACE OF HONOUR AT GOD’S RIGHT HAND. 13There he waits UNTIL HIS ENEMIES ARE HUMBLED AND MADE A FOOTSTOOL UNDER HIS FEET.Hebrews 10:11-13
Do you comprehend what the writer of Hebrews has told us? Our Great High Priest has not yet come out of the Tabernacle. He waits! Do you remember what I said about the people having to wait for the High Priest to re-emerge from the Holy of Holies to know if the sacrifice for their atonement had been accepted and they were covered for another year in Gem 2122? That is the image that we need to hold in our minds now along with its significance. The role of the High Priest under the old system is very clearly being contrasted to Christ in all the ways highlighted above. The fact that Jesus is sitting while under the old system the priests stood just accentuates the fact that the words Jesus sitting indicates He has completed His work. Now He is waiting for the moment when He reappears from the Holy of Holies in the heavenly sanctuary. When that happens it will mirror the moment the High Priest of the Old System reappeared and the people knew their sins were covered for another year.
What did Jesus do before he ascended to the Father as the blood sacrifice for the atonement of sins once for all? He descended to remove the sin of those Old Testament saints whose sin had only been covered beforehand. Now their sin has been removed once for all as well. Christ’s sacrifice was all encompassing. What are we waiting for now? Given the fact that Jesus is still in the original Tabernacle in heaven seated at the right hand of the Father in the Holy of Holies, we are waiting for Him to re-emerge from that Tabernacle bringing salvation for all who eagerly await for Him. Oh yes, we know that our sins are removed as far as the East is from the West but we await His return for the consummation of our salvation.
Let’s hold that thought and explore what else the writer of the letter has for us before we wrap it up. It goes without saying that there is more to come. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.
Now I will address the matter of Hebrews 9:27. The author is appealing to the normal process of life for all human beings generally. We live life once and then we die at which time we face the judgement of God. Lazarus died twice and there were two others who didn’t die at all, Enoch and Elijah. They were the exceptions by the specific intervention of God. This verse makes it very clear that reincarnation is not an option. Just as men were appointed to die once Jesus was offered once for many in order to remove their sin which included the Old Testament saints as well. When He returns, He will not come to remove sin but to bring salvation to all who eagerly wait for Him.
I think the writer of the letter to the Jewish Christians has made it abundantly clear why Jesus Christ is SO MUCH GREATER as the Great High Priest of the New Covenant. The way he has spelt out the details and the comparisons he has drawn leave us in no doubt as to the purpose of what he was wanting his fellow Jewish believers to understand. Now of course we are brought to a much fuller understanding of his intent and the ramifications of what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf as well. These truths are not just for Jewish Christians but for all Christians to understand the depth of what Jesus has done for us as our Great High Priest.
But there are still some loose ends to tidy up. Don’t go away.
Take any truth of Scripture and suck it like a sweetie. Mull it over in your mind and you will find the Holy Spirit will take you deeper into that truth than ever you imagined. Class, there is always more when it comes to the Word of God.Dr Basil Brown
Run after the thing that scares you the most; God is in the deep end.Judah Smith
My Relationship with God is Only as Deep as My Relationship to His Word.Robb Thompson
Do you drink deeply at the fountain of living water or just rinse and spit?Ian