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Lowell Brueckner

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The Heavenly Sanctuary



Chapter 9

 1. Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.

2. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary;

3. and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All,

4. which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;

5. and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.


The earthly sanctuary

 One of the reasons that I believe that every Christian should study the entire Bible, Old Testament and New, is because through it, God is revealed to us. That is its main purpose and nowhere outside the Bible is there a reliable revelation of Him. There is only one God and He does not change; The God of the Old Testament is the same God, who is manifested through Jesus in the Gospels. A. W. Tozer said that the most important issue in the life of the individual and the church is the concept of God.

 While we study, we learn to know the ways of God, which will seem very strange to us in the beginning, because His ways are totally different from the ways we have learned in the world. No secular school offers a course on the ways of God and even Jesus’ closest disciples had great difficulty in understanding His ways. In order to function as a Christian, each one of us must learn to walk in them. One of my favorite verses is Psalms 77:19, because it shows the complex nature and impossibility of finding His ways by natural means: “Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, and Your footsteps were not known.” Spiritual insight is required. 


Then, we need to know the complete, revealed plan of God. It is presented to us in two parts – the natural and the spiritual. 1 Corinthians 15:46 teaches us: “The spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” The progenitor of the first creation is Adam, the natural man, and then came the One, whom Paul called, the second Man or the last Adam (1 Co.15:45, 47). He wrote the Galatians: “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal.4:4). I mentioned earlier that Paul accused the Galatians of functioning by the flesh, because of their attempt to keep the law. So we see that the first presentation given in the Bible involved fleshly, natural, physical, visible and material things.

 That brings us to our study today in chapter 9. Involved in God’s plan are two covenants, the Old and New Testaments, which we studied particularly in the last chapter. Whether old covenant or new, God was central to the life of His people, and in the first verse of this chapter, we learn of divine service in an earthly sanctuary. It was prepared in the middle of the camp and the tens of thousands of tents were pitched around it. The writer gives us a brief outline of its contents and, without giving details, he goes into his lesson.

6. Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services.

7. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;

8. the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.

9. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience-

10. concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.


Fleshly service

The tabernacle was divided into two parts: 1) The Sanctuary or the Holy Place and 2) the Holy of Holies and it contained various items involved in Israel’s worship (2-5). Only the priests were allowed entrance into the tabernacle to attend to the articles placed there (6). The bulk of the people never entered. The  two parts of the tabernacle were separated by a veil and, behind the veil was a forbidden area, where only the high priest could enter, and he only once a year. 

 Many find it offensive that from the clothing of Adam and Eve to the cross of Christ, blood is required. The book of Revelation shows that, when the cross is ignored, man’s blood flows in judgment. Even before the altar of sacrifice was erected in the court of the tabernacle, Moses’ wife accused him of being a bloody man (Ex.4:25). The high priest must enter the Holy of Holies with blood, or he would die. The blood atoned for his sin and the sins of the people (7).

As is his manner, the writer of Hebrews attributes the Holy Spirit as the Author and Teacher of Scripture. He ordered the details of divine service in the tabernacle and He inspired the writer of Exodus as he recorded the work. He now indicates through the writer of Hebrews that the way into the Holy of Holies was not yet open in the time of the tabernacle. This is the word of God, not of man! There is a way into the Holy of Holies and it is God’s way, not man’s (8).

 No one except the high priest was allowed access once a year, and he entered, because he represented the perfect High Priest, who was to come to open the way, once and for all, that all, who will, might enter. When Jesus said, “It is finished!”… the veil in the temple that protected the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom (Mt.27:51, Mk.15:38, Lk.23:45). God tore it from the top, satisfied with the sacrifice of His Son for sin, and opened the way into His holy presence. This is God’s way and it’s the only way. 

 The old way was symbolic of the present reality, but symbols do nothing to bring real change. The gifts and sacrifices performed then, did not transform man’s conscience (9). The nagging consciousness of his sin still plagued him after the animal’s blood was spilt and was correctly offered. It was done rightly, but it didn’t bring divine life into his spirit. How many people, buried in their religion, are careful to do everything properly, but no life is imparted? They continue, dead in their trespasses and sins, according to the ways of the world, directed by the prince of darkness (Eph.2:1,2), all the while hoping that God will accept their miserable service.

 Notice the word fleshly in verse 10: I am trying to make the point that this is fleshly religion, which is physical, visible, natural and outward… foods, drinks, washings, and rules. Stay away from every form of dogma, which emphasizes these kind of things. We do understand Christianity manifests on the outside that which is true on the inside, but the external is not the focus. The old way of worship was temporal and imperfect and awaited the time of reformation (10).  It symbolizes outwardly, what is spiritual in real Christianity, which is sent from heaven and transforms the conscience, soul, and spirit of the believer.

11. But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.

12. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

13. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,

14. how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?


But Christ!

 The next two words denote the marvelous difference between the old and the new… but Christ! God caused Israel to understand that they still were not living in reality. The pages of the Old Testament shone with promises of a coming Messiah, who would intervene in their dilemmas. The prophets spoke to the people about Him and they knew well that better things were coming. The Holy Spirit gave Peter understanding, concerning their spiritual mindset: ¨The prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things which angels desire to look into” (1 P.1:10-12).

 A few verses later, he declared, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 P.1:20). All Christians need to see clearly that God had a plan established before the worlds existed. The biblical chronicler records the sad story of the loss of their homeland, being taken away into captivity: “They mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy” (2 Ch.36:16).

 There was no remedy in Israel for their situation in Jeremiah’s time, but yet there was hope. Their only hope was a coming Messiah. Jeremiah gave them that hope by buying land in Israel, just before the Babylonians invaded, and delivered this word from the Lord: “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt” (Jer.31:3,4).  Malachi the last Old Testament prophet promised that the next event on God’s calendar was a forerunner, followed by the Messiah Himself: “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant…” (Mal.3:1). He came over 400 years later.

 He not only brought a new covenant, but also a new creation. All that the old covenant contained had to do with the first creation. When God created Adam, He breathed into him and Adam became a living soul. When Jesus completed His work and rose from the dead, He gathered His disciples around Him and breathed the life of the Holy Spirit into them (Jn.20:22). This creation is heavenly in nature and we are born into it from above. Our citizenship is in heaven. Its great and perfect sanctuary is not made with man’s hands (11).

Christ entered the Holy of Holies in heaven by His own blood and His sacrifice will never again have to be repeated. It was perfect and eternal, buying us from the slavery of sin, to be His own possession for eternity (12). The writer is speaking in legal terms, according to the ceremonial law. The priest and his people were made legally clean by sprinkling the blood of animals upon them (13). But see the trinity at work in verse 14! Christ, through the Holy Spirit, offered Himself in sacrifice to the Father. His redemption is more than a legal deed, it penetrates into the depth of a believer’s being, freeing his conscience from the weight of guilt that it carries. The dead works, performed by one who is dead in trespasses and sins, bound him to a lifelong slavery of efforts, to make himself right before God. Do you know what Christian liberty is? It is freedom from sin, so that sin’s former slave, through the efficacious blood of Christ, is free to serve God.   


15. And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

16. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

17. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.

18. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.

19. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,

20. saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.”

21. Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.

22. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

23. Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

24. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;

25. not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another –

26. He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

27. And as it is appointed for me to die once, but after this the judgment,

28. so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.


A complete work, once for all


There is so much to cover in verse 15; first, Christ is the Mediator of the new covenant. Paul wrote to Timothy: “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 T.2:5). This is inerrant truth, plain and simple. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn.14:6). Peter preached, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Ac.4:12).

 This eliminates all other religions, as means in which to come into eternal life. It establishes the gospel that Jesus preached as the exclusive pathway to salvation. It removes every work, good or bad, performed by men and given by teachers of a false Christianity, in addition to Christ and His work. It does not allow for any other person as co-redeemer, such as Mary, wrongly placed in that position by Roman Catholics. All are damning deceptions and lies of the devil to deviate seekers from the only Way. It is in opposition to His word. I lay before you a formula, by which you may avoid error: Jesus plus anything or anyone equals nothing. “Enter by the narrow gate,” said Jesus in Matthew 7:13, “For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.”

 Secondly, the New Testament has much to say about the eternal inheritance for children of God and we will let it speak to us. We come into the inheritance of sons by faith: “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith” (Gal.3:26). Then, in Romans 8:17: “And if children, then heirs – heirs of God.” No testament is in force, the writer of Hebrews reminds us in verse 16-17, until the testator dies. Paul writes again in 2 Corinthians 5:19: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself…” The cross holds mysteries that we will never uncover. Charles Wesley wrote:

“Tis mystery all, the immortal dies…

Amazing love, how can it be,

that Thou my God shouldst die for me.”

 The God/Man was destined to die from birth and one of the gifts of the magi was myrrh. Whether they saw the significance in it, as an ointment for the dead, we can only speculate. Matthew Henry does notice further that the magi had some spiritual understanding, as “they found that a cottage was His palace… They fell down and worshipped Him. We do not read that they gave such honor to Herod… but to this babe, not only as to a king, but as to a God.”

 A testament requires death and a covenant requires blood besides (18). Moses gave the terms of the old covenant to the Israelites, then took the blood of animals, along with water, scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled it on the book of the covenant and on the people (19). He named the blood as the requirement of God for His covenant with them (20). He sprinkled the tabernacle and every instrument, which was to be used in service to God (21). According to the law, you see, blood denoted legal purification, and the use of anything else would be illegal for the remission of sins (22).

 These were symbols of true, eternal, heavenly things and to properly illustrate them, blood must be shed and applied. The conjunction but, in verse 23, takes us back to verse 11, to show us that the true heavenly things required more. There had to be blood, that requirement holds, but better blood… infinitely better and precious blood. When I use the word precious, I am thinking of Peter’s statement about the precious blood of Christ. That word has to do with price and signifies incalculable worth, in this case, far beyond silver or gold (1 P.1:18-19).

 Verse 24 takes in all that we have learned about what is manmade, material, fleshly, and temporal, when it shows us that, into which Christ did not enter. He repeats that these things were types and symbols. He then assures the reader, through the Holy Spirit, that Christ, the perfect High Priest, went into the true, perfect place, which is heaven itself. That is where he appears and shows His nail-scarred hands and feet to the Father. His blood has been shed and sprinkled upon us… yes, that is the pronoun… us! And that is the principle behind His timeless intercession for those, who trust Him and His purifying blood. My friend, this is reality and it is meant for you, if you have entered in.

Verse 25 reaffirms the completeness of Christ’s work, in comparison to the work of the Old Testament high priest, who offered blood year after year. His work was never done and he could not offer his own blood, because it was tainted by his own sin. He went into the Holy of Holies with animal blood. Sin was committed by the first human beings and they demanded blood. God told Adam, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen.2:17). From that time to the present, for remission of man’s sin, he needed a bloody substitute to take his place. For his sin and for all the sins of the Israelites under the Old Testament, Jesus came, at the beginning of the last days, to put away all sin, by sacrificing His sinless life. It was a timeless sacrifice that could cover sins that were past, as well as present and future sins (26). He did it once for all.

 Every man faces death, because of his sin, and after death his destiny will be forever determined (27). But the judgment and its sentence against mankind were borne by Christ. Because He did that for us, we eagerly await His return. He will come a second time for His own, sin having been cast into a bottomless sea, behind the back of God’s forgetfulness. It will be out-of-the-question and non-existent. Only salvation lies ahead to be enjoyed, body, soul and spirit, at the return of the Lord for His church (28).


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