“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) He entered once for all into the Holy Place taking not the blood of goats and calves but His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:11-14
These are four of the most encouraging verses in all of Scripture because they give us such assurance and confidence in the grace of God as shown through Jesus ministry of reconciliation. In these verses we are introduced to the once for all ministry of Jesus as contrasted with the temporary Levitical ceremonies and sacrifices of the Old Covenant.
Jesus entered, “once for all into the Holy Place taking not the blood of goats and calves but His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” This passage of Scripture is rich in hope, assurance and grace. The term, “blood”, which is pivotal to the author’s argument, is being used in a sacrificial sense. It is the life of Jesus poured out in death that brings us redemption.
Under the Old Covenant an offering of bulls and goats was required for the annual atonement sacrifices. “Aaron carried the sacrificial blood into the Holy of Holies and offered it there. Christ, however, entered the Holy Place not by means of the blood of animals, but by His own blood.” Letter to the Hebrews, Peter O’Brien, p.321 F.F.
F.F. Bruce comments, “When on the cross He offered up His life to God as a sacrifice for His people’s sin, He accomplished in reality what Aaron and his successors performed in type by twofold act of slaying the victim and presenting its blood in the holy of holies.” Hebrews, p. 213, 214
What these two men are saying is that in the Old Covenant it was necessary for the sacrificial blood to be shed first in the outer court and then brought into the Holy of Holies, there is no division, however, of the Lord’s sacrifice into two divisions in the New Covenant.
Let me quote from O’Brien once again, “Because Christ’s sacrifice was perfect, He entered the Holy place once for all thus obtaining eternal redemption. In contrast to the Levitical high priest’s obligation to present himself before God repeatedly, Christ’s entry was definitive and unrepeatable- once for all. Since His crucifixion required no repetition or renewal, His exaltation and entrance into the heavenly sanctuary were final and complete.” p. 322
Our redemption is through the “blood” of Christ who became our “eternal redemption.” Redemption is a word that was used for the buying back of slaves (Ex. 21:30, Lev. 25:48). Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28) and His death brings redemption from sin. Paul teaches that we have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23), and that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13)
Now, if you’ve followed me this far here is another important aspect to what we are being told in verses 11-14. Redemption is equated with the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14; Eph. 1:7) because it involves our rescue from God’s just judgment on our sins. (See Hebrews 9:15) The redemption of Jesus is perfect in nature and eternal in its effects because it is the once-for-all offer of forgiveness of sins promised under the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:34.
Hebrews is not an easy book to understand because so much of it is rooted in Old Covenant and Old Testament language and references. It is however, a very important book for us to understand because it brings us assurance and peace because it focuses upon the ministry of Jesus our great high priest and His work for us in the heavenly sanctuary.
Let me see if I can sum up what I’ve been talking about in this post. In the old covenant, the one made at Sinai, the sacrifice of bulls and calves was never adequate because they had to be made continually and only pointed forward to the true sacrifice. In Jesus substitutionary atoning sacrifice our sins have been forgiven and we enter into eternal life. This sacrifice of Jesus had to only be made once and when we accept it we are freed from the power of sin over our lives that leads to death.
Jesus sits at the right hand of God to make intercession for us and encourage us on our spiritual walk. He is in the Holy of Holies and through His blood we have redemption. There is nothing that we need do to earn salvation. It is a gift and we simply take a hold of it by faith. I may live each day in assurance of my redemption because Jesus is both my High Priest and Savior.
God the Father and Jesus are not in heaven plotting how to trip us up and cause us to loose our salvation. They are not up there going over sins to see who has been naughty or nice. They are not searching for un-repented or overlooked sins so they can use them against us to keep us out of Heaven. They love us and simply long for us to come home and accept their love for us. They are actively working to do all in their power to draw us close to them.
If we accept their love and trust in the merits of Jesus we will live eternally and if we reject God’s love we will miss out on the benefits of knowing God. The choice seems clear to me.
* Please remember our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for their faith. Some of their stories can be found at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/