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THE BLOOD OF CHRIST

Hebrews 9:1-9:22
Key Verse: 9:14

We thank and praise God for the new covenant, in which the holy and righteous God forgives our sins and remembers them no more. In this grace each of us can come to know him personally: he is our God and we are his people. And we can have a living relationship with him through the laws written in our hearts and minds by the indwelling of the Spirit. In today’s passage the author juxtaposes the work of Christ and that of earthly high priests. In particular, there is a vivid comparison between the blood of animals and the blood of Christ in effectiveness, and so between outward cleansing and conscience cleansing. He then affirms that Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant. In this study we can go deeper into the marvelous grace of our great high priest Jesus.

First, the limitation of the first covenant (1-10). In verse 1, “Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary.” Worship is the core of the life of God’s people. Worship was done in the earthly sanctuary. The author then writes about the earthly sanctuary and the things in it. In verse 2, “A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread.” On the lampstand, seven lamps were set up so that they lighted the space in front of it (Ex 25:37). And on the table was the consecrated bread, the bread of the Presence (Ex 25:24). The first room was called the Holy Place. Then verses 3-4a say, “Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant.” About the altar of incense is written in Exodus 30:10, “Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the LORD.” Then in verses 4b, the author writes more about the ark. “This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tables of the covenant.” The gold jar of manna was there to be kept and preserved for the generations to come (Ex 16:33-34). Manna reminded the Israelites how God provided them with the bread from heaven in the wilderness for forty years. That Aaron’s dried staff budded showed God’s almighty power (Num 17:8). It was to be kept as a sign to the rebellious and put an end to the Israelites’ grumbling against God, so that they would not die (Num 17:10). And the stone tablets of the covenant were in the ark (Ex 25:21) and through them the people could remember their covenant relationship with God. Then in verse 5, “Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover.” Interestingly, the author uniquely wrote, “the cherubim of the Glory.” Why? Most probably it was because God would meet there, spoke from there and be enthroned there. And surely it was also because the cherubim were overshadowing the atonement cover, which would reveal God’s mercy to atone man’s sins. The atonement cover was the “mercy seat” where blood was sprinkled and sins forgiven on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:14-16).

Thus verses 2-5 are about the earthly sanctuary, tabernacle. Then the author said, “But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.” Certainly, the author did not want to be sidetracked, but get to the main point.

Then it is written in verses 6 and 7, “When everything had been arranged like this, the priest entered regularly into the outer room to carry out their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.” Why such regulations? Various regulations? Is God the God of regulations only to make people’s life difficult? Did the system have to go only in that way? At that time, who could understand the reason of such regulations? Generation after generation, 1600 years must have passed with such an endless question, “Why?” Then verse 8 says, “The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first covenant was still standing.” The system of the regulations was to disclose something amazing so that the people might know the value of the thing that would be revealed. God is the God of revelation to help human beings to be somehow convinced by God’s astounding work. Then in verse 9, “This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.” Now the word “conscience” appears here in Hebrews, and later three more times (9:14; 10:22; 13:18). God gave man conscience. No one can truly deny or deceive his conscience. After man’s fall, guilty conscience became a serious problem. Then clearing the conscience of the worshiper is of paramount importance. The whole system shows that the offerings of gifts and sacrifice were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. This was the conclusion of the first tabernacle after such a long period of time. Verse 10 says, “They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.” In this part we can say that God is the God of preparation and revelation to help mankind to clearly know what was coming in the new order.

Second, Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant (11-22). Now in verse 11, “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already her, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.” The author makes clear that Jesus did not go through the earthly tabernacle, but the greater and more perfect tabernacle, that is, not a part of this creation. What Christ did is beyond the earthly scope, beyond this creation of the earth, the visible world.

Then verse 12 says, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” The word blood comes first here in Hebrews except the expression “the children have flesh and blood” in 2:14 (and is written 10 times in chapter 9 out of 20 times in Hebrews.) In verse 12 the blood of goat and calves and his blood are contrasted. His own blood is the blood of the one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners. How precious his blood is! How can we compare the blood of animals and our own blood or our children’s blood? This is disgusting. Then how about the comparison of goats’ blood and the blood of the holy, blameless, pure and innocent one? It is unthinkable. Yet, the comparison was made so that we may grasp and know what had been done in the spiritual realm. The blood of goats and calves enabled the high priest to enter the Most Holy Place, in the inner room, in the earthly sanctuary. But that blood was not effective at all for the greater and more prefect tabernacle. Christ entered the Most Holy Place in the heavenly tabernacle with his own blood. His own blood meant his own life. The blood was very effective, acceptable to God. In 6:19b-20a is written, “It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.” Then here in 9:12, is written the way how he entered the inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. Again it was with his own blood, the only blood acceptable to God, while even the blood of the whole animals and humans would not be acceptable to God. How powerful and effective his blood is! When he entered the Most Holy Place, it is likely that the flow of curse ceased and the flow of all blessing opened wide for sinful mankind.

Look at verse 12 again, “…he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood…” And also it is written, 7:27b, “He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” And in 10:12, “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” In Hebrews and in the whole Bible, “once for all” is a very important term. The meaning is one time event in history, but effective in the whole history. As you know, the New Testament was written in Greek, which was the most popular language at that time. I was amazed that there was such a word in Greek. God is truly God of providence. That’s why the event of Jesus’ death on the cross and thus his entering the Most Holy Place with his own blood is relevant to us who are living in this 21st century also. He shed his blood for me. No one but he shed his blood for me. Truly he is the most important person to me. And he offers such an intimate relationship.

Then it says, “having obtained eternal redemption.” Redemption is the forgiveness of sins, and also the purchasing with the payment and changing of the ownership. By redemption through his blood those slaves to sin and Satan are purchased and become possessions to God. Christ Jesus obtained such redemption and it is eternal redemption. It is forever a change in our belonging. Can you imagine to become slaves to sin and Satan forever, finally to be thrown together into the fiery lake of burning sulfur to suffer eternally? Praise God for the eternal redemption in Christ Jesus. Apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 1:18, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” We praise Jesus who entered the Most Holy Place once for all with his by blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” The transaction was done.

Now there is one more very significant comparison between the blood of the animals and the blood of Christ for each one’s effectiveness. In verses 13 and 14, “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.” Here outward cleansing and conscience cleansing are compared. Outward cleansing can be seeming cleansing in the eyes of people. But conscience cleansing is inward cleansing before God. The blood of Christ cleanses our consciences. What a power! As we thought of, no one can cheat one’s own conscience. No one can cleanse himself from a guilty conscience. But the blood of Christ can. 1 John 1:7 says, “…if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. And 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Whenever our conscience is not clear, we can come to Jesus and rely on the blood of Christ, recognizing and confessing our sins. Then the power of the blood of Christ cleanses our consciences.

In this generation many people young and old are addicted to pornography. This is a very powerful tool of sin and Satan. The people have become slaves to this power. No power can free them from that addiction. But the blood of Christ can, when they repent of their desire to enjoy it and cut the desire off, relying on the blood of Christ Jesus. In many cases unsolved sin problem or unrepentant sins make our conscience unclean and unclear. Then our view is unclear. However, when we think of the blood of Christ shed for us, it urges us to repent of our sins for the cleansing of our consciences. The blood of Christ can clear our consciences from any sin. By relying on the power of the blood of Christ, we can truly pray for others to be cleared in their consciences.

There seem to be many believers who just remain in outward cleansing. They are staying in the outer room living just among people. They live according to their desires. They don’t want to come to the inner room and be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. They are just comfortable with their merely believing status. Then they cannot have real fellowship with the Lord and with other fellowship believers. They remain in superficial relationship.

Our conscience must be cleared. When our conscience is clear, everything is clear in relationship with any one. When our conscience is clear, nothing matters. We are not afraid of anything or anyone. We can truly serve God. When my conscience was unclear, I did not know how to serve God. With clear conscience, we can truly serve the living God. It says, “so that we may serve the living God!” Serving the living God is the ultimate purpose of our life and is the true worship. It has been the earnest longing in our deep hearts. This is the final reason of our conscience-clearing. Again, the whole point of our Christian life is to serve the living God. The living God is not indifferent to us. He is not far from us. He is very near us. When we serve him, he is very pleased and we are truly happy. Serving the living God gives us true joy and happiness. It is written in 3:12 says, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” Turning away from the living God is a dreadful thing. But serving the living God is a truly blessed life. Right before Jesus’ birth Zechariah prophesied concerning the purpose of Jesus’ coming in Luke 1:74, 75, “to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” Because of the power of the blood of Christ we can serve the living God.

Keith Green was such a talented musician and performer that he was signed to a record contract at age 11, the youngest ever. He was being groomed to be a teen idol. Then Donny Osmond came along and stole the spotlight. Keith was forgotten, and he turned to drugs, eastern mysticism and hippie love. After a bad experience he began to seek God. God’s love in Christ broke through the power of sin and set him free. He found life direction to follow Jesus and live as a shepherd for people. He and his wife Melody opened their home for needy people and cared for God’s flock of sheep with the word of God. And Keith produced music that proclaimed the saving grace of Christ. Though he went to be with the Lord at a young age, his influence continues to be felt.

Verse 15 then says, “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant. Eternal redemption, our consciences being cleared and serving the living God have been hidden disclosed and are now revealed to us. It is because he entered the Most Holy Place one for all by his own blood. For this reason Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant. Finally those who are called receive the promised eternal inheritance. The author wrote about “eternal salvation” in 5:9 and “eternal redemption” in 9:12 and now “eternal inheritance.” All these three are to go together. The promised eternal inheritance is the completion of our salvation and can mean all of the present and future blessings of Christ’s salvation work. And in verse 15, “—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Verses 16-22 explain why Jesus shed his blood. The words translated “will” and “covenant” come from the same Greek work “diatheke.” A will is a kind of covenant, but not all covenants are wills. Here the author uses the word “will” to emphasize that a will is ratified upon the death of the benefactor. This is the principle God used when he made covenants with his people. The first covenant became valid and active when it was sealed with blood. Likewise, the new covenant is in force now because it was sealed with the blood of Jesus. The law required that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness (22). The life of a creature is in the blood. Since the wages of sin is death, the only payment that suffices for sin is life blood. Making atonement for one’s life requires the shedding of blood according to the law (Lev 17:11). This is the reason Jesus had to shed his blood.

We thank and praise God for Jesus who entered the Most Holy Place in the greater and more perfect tabernacle one for all by his own blood. He is the mediator of a new covenant and in him there is eternal redemption and the promised eternal inheritance. The blood of Christ clears our conscience so that we may serve the living God. May we live in this amazing blessedness in Christ Jesus with clear conscience, relying the blood of Christ for us and others.

John 1a message
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