Hebrews 9:11-14 – The Heavenly Sanctuary

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Last time we took a look at the earthly tabernacle constructed by the Hebrews at God’s command given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. In particular, we took a close look at the Ark of the Covenant and its contents. We also examined in some depth the symbolic nature of blood in God’s Word, and why God so values and places such an emphasis on blood. But of course, the earthly tabernacle was only a model of the heavenly sanctuary which we will study tonight, and the blood of the animal sacrifice rituals in the Hebrew tabernacle and later the temple in Jerusalem which served as only a temporary covering for sin, was merely a precursor to the new covenant in Jesus own blood which He poured out at the cross for our perfect and eternal salvation.

Hebrews 9:11-14 – The Heavenly Sanctuary

The Hebrews writer now continues by contrasting the earthly tabernacle and its associated rituals with the perfect, eternal sanctuary built by God, of which the earthly tabernacle was only a model.

11But 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. 12Not 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. 13For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14how 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? [Hebrews 9:11-14 – NKJV]

11But 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. [Hebrews 9:11 – NKJV]
Having given an overview of the layout of the earthly tabernacle and its associated cleansing rituals, the Hebrews writer now finally comes to the main points of the passage – his declarations of the inferiority and ultimate ineffectiveness of the animal sacrifices under the Law carried out under the Levitical covenant as mere models and foreshadowings of the perfect and permanent atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and the superiority of the Heavenly Tabernacle not built by human hands over the tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon which were only models of this perfect, heavenly tabernacle.
 
When the Hebrews author writes of the perfect tabernacle to come that is not of this creation it might strike us as odd that he says that it will not be made with hands. But this strange phrase would have reminded the Hebrew congregations to whom the epistle was written of the prophecy of Daniel in which the prophet gave King Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation of his dream.
31“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. 32This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
36“This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. 37You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 38and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. 39But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. 41Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. 42And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. 43As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. 45Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.” [Daniel 2:31-45 – NKJV]
The writer’s point, of course, is that whereas the earthly tabernacle and temple were made by the hands of skilled craftsmen, the greater and more perfect tabernacle which is to come will be built by God Himself. This heavenly tabernacle is not a part of creation, but exists outside our own present space and time. It is the everlasting dwelling of God Almighty of which the earthly tabernacle and temple were models ordained by God so that mankind might envision our promised eternal dwelling with God. Over the ages, certain men have been granted glimpses of this heavenly tabernacle.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. [Isaiah 6:1 – NKJV]
26And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. 27Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. 28Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking. [Ezekiel 1:26-28 – NKJV]
2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. [2 Corinthians 12:2-4 – NKJV]
1After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
2Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
6Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. [Revelation 4:1-7 – NKJV]

The writer now concludes by contrasting the sacrificial offerings of animals made under the Levitical covenant with the perfect offering of Jesus’ own blood by His sacrifice of His own life on the cross which makes eternal and complete atonement for the sins of all mankind.

12Not 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. 13For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14how 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? [Hebrews 9:12-14 – NKJV]

Aside – The news was reported recently that a red heifer has been born in Israel as part of the Temple Institute‘s program to prepare the way for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the re-inauguration of its ritual animal sacrifices. A red heifer without blemish is an essential element of the sacrificial system in accordance with the ordinances found in Numbers 19. The heifer is needed for purification of the temple and the priests prior to the resumption of the priestly ministries in the temple. To the Christian, the red heifer breeding program – and indeed all of the Temple Institute’s activities – may seem unnecessary and unprofitable. After all, as the Hebrews writer and other New Testament authors repeatedly emphasize, the blood of Jesus shed on the cross has done away with the need for animal sacrifices which are neither necessary nor sufficient to provide redemption from sin. Nevertheless, it is clear from Biblical prophecy that temple sacrifices must be re-instated before the final return of the LORD.

24“Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.
25“Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.
26“And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.” [Daniel 9:24-27 – NKJV]
This prophecy in Daniel speaks of the coming time of tribulation, and of the rise of the antichrist. Obviously, in order for him to put an end to sacrifice and offering, there must be sacrifice and offering taking place. Thus, we can presume that the temple will eventually be rebuilt in Jerusalem, and the animal sacrifices for which the Temple Institute has been preparing will indeed be re-inaugurated before the antichrist is made manifest.
 
In the interest of honest scholarship, it must be acknowledged that many students of Biblical prophecy hold an alternate interpretation of Daniel 9 and associated prophecies such as those in Revelation pertaining to the tribulation period. This eschatological position – called preterism – holds that the events described in Daniel 9 have already taken place in 70 AD when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. Thousands, and perhaps even millions of words have been written in support of various interpretations of Biblical prophecy, and I see no benefit to adding to that heap myself. For the record, I believe the preterist interpretation has serious flaws, and therefore I do not agree with the it at all.
 
In the final analysis though, the argument is purely academic, and irrelevant to the preaching of the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone.
 
The proclamation of the pure Gospel of salvation by faith alone in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for the redemption of all mankind from sin and not by any work of man’s hand is the magnificent crescendo by which the Hebrews writer ends his comparison and contrast of the earthly and heavenly tabernacles.
 

Looking Ahead

Next time, we’ll consider what the Hebrews writer has to say about the necessity and sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for the final and perfect remission of sin.

 

1 thought on “Hebrews 9:11-14 – The Heavenly Sanctuary”

  1. I apologize for the poor quality of this recording, after diligently checking the sound ahead of time, I brilliantly failed to turn the mic back on when it came time to dive into the teaching. Thankfully, the laptop’s built-in mic picked it up and did the recording, but it took quite a lot of massaging to make it readable.

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