SUMMARY.--The Tabernacle. Its Furniture. The Significance of Its Service. The Greater Tabernacle and Its High Priest. The Two Testaments. When the New Testament Came into Force. The Dedication of the First Testament. This a Pattern of Heavenly Things. Christ, Our High Priest, Hath Entered the Perfect Tabernacle.
1-5. The first covenant had also ordinances of divine service. The two covenants, the Mosaic and the Christian, have been named in chapter 8. Here they are contrasted. The first, or Mosaic, had its ordinances, and a sanctuary, or tabernacle of worship, in this world. 2. For there was a tabernacle made. The tabernacle prepared at Sinai. See Exod. chapter 26. The first. The first room, or division, called the holy place. Wherein was the candlestick. See Exod. 25:31-40. It was made of gold and had seven lamps for burning olive oil. Our space will not allow a discussion of the symbolical meaning of the furniture. Also in the holy place was a table on which were kept twelve loaves of bread, called shew bread. This table was overlaid with gold. See Lev. 24:5-9. 3. After the second vail. The first vail was over the door into the holy place. The second vail separated the holy place from the Most Holy Place, with the innermost recess, the Holiest Place in the worship of Israel. 4. Which had the golden censer. The critics are divided whether the word rendered censer refers to the golden censer or to the altar of incense. Both our versions have adopted censer, which is probably correct. In the golden censer was burned incense in the Most Holy Place, when the High Priest entered it once a year (Lev. 16:12). The altar of incense stood against the vail of the Most Holy Place. The ark of the covenant. See Exod. 25:10-16. This chest, made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold, was the most sacred thing in the tabernacle. Wherein was the gold pot that had manna (Exod. 16:32-34). Aaron's rod (Num. 17:1-11). The tables of the covenant (Deut. 10:1-5). The two stone tables of the law. All these but the tables had been removed before the temple was built (1 Kings 8:9). Many hold that they were by the ark, not in it. See Deut. 31:26; Num. 17:10. The ark itself disappeared when the temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. 5. And over it the cherubim. These symbolic figures, made of gold, hovered over the lid of the ark, called the mercy seat. Cannot now speak particularly. Cannot discuss the significance of each of these objects. The cherubim were angels. See Gen. 3:24.
6-10. The priests go in continually. The present tense used in the Greek as in the Revision. The temple, which was a copy of the tabernacle, was still standing when the Epistle was written. Into the first tabernacle. Into the holy place. The priests went in every day in the service. 7. But into the second. Into the second part, the Most Holy Place, none entered but the high priest alone, he only once a year at the feast of the atonement, and then carrying the blood of the atonement, which he offered for his own sins as well as those of the people. See Lev. 16:11-15; Exod. 30:10-25. The errors of the people. Their sins of ignorance and mistakes. High handed, open defiance of God's law was not atoned for. 8. The Holy Ghost this signifying. The divine arrangement, which suffered only the high priest to enter into the Holiest of all, signified that the way into the Holy of Holies above had not yet been made manifest or revealed to men. It required the Gospel to open the way. The vail was yet over the mystery of redemption. While as the first tabernacle was yet standing. So long as the first tabernacle or temple worship stood as the divine service, the true and living way opened up through Christ was not made manifest. Even the high priest himself could go to the "mercy seat" only once a year. 9. Which was a figure. The Jewish rites were not the true and complete divine service but only figures, types. Both gifts and sacrifices were symbols. Nor could they make the worshiper perfect. They could not cleanse him from all sin, deliver him from all fear, and make his conscience clear. They were not perfect sacrifices but pointed to the perfect sacrifice. The Jewish sacrifices only removed ceremonial impurities and sins of ignorance. 10. Being only. See the Revision, which is much clearer. They pertained to the flesh, were outward, did not renew the spirit, and were temporal, imposed until the time of reformation. That is, until the new covenant was ushered in. Divers washings. "Baptisms" in the Greek. Immersions of the whole body were often required in the Jewish service. For examples see Exod. 29:4; Lev. 16:4; Num. 19:7; Lev. 17:15, etc. These washings were all carnal ordinances for ceremonial purification.
11-14. But Christ being come. The tabernacle service having been described, Christ's work is now placed in contrast. Through a greater and more perfect tabernacle. The high priest below passed through the first tabernacle to the Holy of Holies; Christ, our high priest, through a greater one not made with hands, not a material building. What is meant? Various answers have been given, none of which are entirely satisfactory. It seems impossible to limit the meaning to his body, or to the church, or to the world, as some have done. Rather the reference is to the rites of the true and great tabernacle service by which "good things," heavenly blessings are secured, in contrast with those of the earthly tabernacle. The earthly high priest, by complying with its rites, which were only a figure, entered into the Holiest of all; Christ by his sacrifice, the rites of the greater tabernacle service, entered into the true Holiest of all of which the earthly most holy place was only a symbol. It is shown in the next verse that the reference is to the sacrifice by which he entered. 12. By his own blood. The high priest always carried into the Most Holy Place the blood of the atonement, but Christ carried his own blood when he entered the Holy of Holies above. Obtained eternal redemption. By his offering. His ransom was complete, and for all time. 13. For if the blood of bulls and goats. This was shed for the purification of the people on the day of atonement. The ashes of an heifer. See Num. 19:21. The red heifer was burned, the ashes were put in water, and this water sprinkled on the people for their ceremonial purification. 14. How much more shall the blood of Christ. If the blood of animals had any efficacy to purify, how much more the blood of Christ? Through the eternal Spirit. Led by the Divine Spirit. He was dragged to the sacrifice like the victims, but laid down his own life to take it up again. This he did as God's Anointed, anointed with the Spirit, acting by its power. Your conscience from dead works. Cleanse it from the guilt of works which deserve death. To serve the living God? If the sacrifices of the tabernacle cleansed from ceremonial pollution so that men could engage in its service, will not the blood of Christ cleanse you so that you can join in the acceptable service of the living God? 15. For this cause he is the mediator of the new covenant. Covenant here rather than testament. Diatheekee means both "covenant" and "testament," but here "mediator" shows that covenant is referred to. That by means of death. His own death. Transgressions that were under the first covenant. None under the old covenant could have complete redemption except by the death of Christ. Those who served God under it offered sacrifices which were types of Christ's sacrifices, but they could not be made efficacious without Christ. It is by his death that they which are called, of every dispensation, have the promise of eternal inheritance.
16-17. For where a testament is. An inheritance has just been spoken of (verse 15). That suggests a last will and testament, one meaning of the Greek word diatheekee used in verse 15. A testament has no force until the testator is dead. 17. Is of force after men are dead. As soon as a man dies, his last will and testament comes into force, but has no force whatever while he lives. The application of this is that Christ's testament, the new covenant, came into force when he died. The old covenant was in force to the cross; it was then "nailed to the cross," and Christ having died, the New Testament came into force. It has been urged against this view that the making of wills was not a custom of Israel. It was, however the custom of the whole Roman Empire, and Judea was now a Roman province. The Roman customs had made provinces of the empire familiar with the use of wills.
18-22. Neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. The death and shedding of the blood of Christ was necessary to the inauguration of the New Testament, as has just been shown. Even when the First was inaugurated, Christ died in type and blood was shed. I believe that the apostle means to say that even in the inauguration of the Old Testament death was necessary, the death of a victim, which pointed to Christ's death. 19. For when Moses. For the events alluded to, see Exod. 24:1-8. All that God had proclaimed in the ten commandments and the accompanying precepts (Ex. 21-23) was written in the book of the covenant. This was read to the people, and they promised obedience. Then the book and all the people were sprinkled with blood. 20. This is the blood of the testament. The covenant had been dedicated by blood. It is well to note that this covenant embraced the Decalogue, yet it was the covenant done away to make room for the covenant of Christ. The tabernacle worship had not yet been set up. 21. Moreover he sprinkled with blood. Afterwards, about a year later, when the tabernacle was ready, both it and its furniture were sprinkled (Exod. 40:9-15; Lev. 8:24). 22. Almost all things. See Lev. 16:16, 19, 33. Under the law almost every thing was purified by blood, lest it had been defiled. Without shedding of blood is no remission. Every sin under the law required atonement, and no atonement could be made without blood.
23-26. The patterns of things in the heavens. See chapter 8:5. The tabernacle and all its service were shadows. These were purified, as we have just seen, by blood. The heavenly things with better sacrifices. By the heavenly things are meant all of which the tabernacle was typical. The holy place was a type of the church, which is cleansed with the blood of Christ. Perhaps, too, there is a reference to the redeemed church above, in the heavens, which eternally praises him who cleansed it with his blood. 24. The holy places made with hands. The tabernacle on earth. Figures of the true. Pictures, copies. Into heaven itself. The true Holy of Holies. There, in the presence of God, Christ intercedes for us, as the high priest below interceded before the Shekinah. 25. Nor yet, etc. The high priest entered once a year with the blood of a victim. Not so Christ, our High Priest. 26. For then. In that case he must have suffered many times. But now once. Only once did he offer sacrifice, viz., himself. In the end of the world. At the end of the Jewish dispensation; literally, "the end of the ages," the end of the antediluvian, patriarchal and Jewish ages.
27, 28. As it is appointed unto men once to die, etc. The fixed order for all men is to die once only, and to be judged after death. When they die, finality is stamped, on their life work. 28. So Christ was once offered. Died once as a sin offering. But judgment followed, and he was justified and vindicated by his resurrection. He died once, and after it was the judgment, that made him the King of glory. His work of redemption was done once for all. So unto them that look for him. All the saints who desire his appearing; to them he shall appear a second time, at his second advent, sinless and the mighty Savior. He becomes a sin offering but once, and appears the second time without a sin offering, because he hath done the work once and forever.