In this lesson we will continue the theme of Jesus’ more excellent ministry. The author has introduced the subject of the tabernacle in the previous chapter and taught that our great High Priest is the Minister of the true tabernacle. Now he goes into greater detail to show how the priestly ministry on earth is a type of the superior ministry of Christ.
Did You Know...?
1. Lampstand (9:2): “Lampstands as receptacles for light-giving vessels were part of the sacred furniture in the central Israelite shrines or sanctuaries described in the Bible. The light given off by the lamps served to illuminate the interior of the sanctuary, and it also functioned as part of a set of ritual objects or acts, appealing to all the senses, that were part of the established priestly ritual…”
2. The table and the showbread (9:2): “Made of acacia wood overlaid with gold, it stood on the north side of the Holy Place (Ex 40:22). On it were twelve loaves, arranged in two rows of six (Lev 24:5-6).” [ref] “Since the sanctuary is next to the holy of holies, the bread is separated only by a curtain from Yahweh’s immediate presence. In this important location, the loaves symbolize the covenant between God and his people Israel (Lev 24:5–9).” [ref]
3. Golden censer (9:4): A container for holding burning coals and fragrant incense, which the high priest offered before the Lord in the Most Holy Place (Lev 16:12).
4. Ark of the covenant (9:4): “A chest made of acacia wood, overlaid inside and out with gold (Ex 25:10 16).” [ref]
5. Cherubim of glory (9:5): “Two winged figures made of pure gold, of one piece with the atonement cover, or mercy seat, and standing at either end of it.” [ref]
6. Mercy seat/Atonement cover (9:5): “Fitting exactly over the top of the ark of the covenant, it was a slab of pure gold on which the blood of the sin offering was sprinkled by the high priest on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:14-15).” [ref]
Diagram A Plan of the Tabernacle
- Layout of the Tabernacle (9:1-5)
- Services in the Tabernacle (9:6-10)
- Christ in the True Tabernacle (9:11-12)
In which paragraph does the passage begin to introduce Christ?Hide Answer
Refer to diagram A for the plan of the tabernacle. How does verse 1 introduce the verses that follow?Hide Answer
Verse 1 introduces the subject matter of the first two paragraphs. Verses 2-5 are about the earthly sanctuary, and 6-10 are about the divine service.
What does the sanctuary represent? (Ex 25:8)Hide Answer
It represents God’s dwelling among His people.
Why was the sanctuary and the divine service an integral part of God’s covenant (1)?Hide Answer
God’s covenant defines His relationship with His people. But in order for God to establish a relationship with man, He must provide a means through which sinful man may come to His presence. This is why the tabernacle and the divine services form an integral part of the covenant. The tabernacle represents God’s presence among His people and the ordinances of divine services gave people access to God, although such access was an indirect one. Central to the divine services is the atonement for sins, without which sinners cannot come before God. Thus, the tabernacle and divine services were the means through which God entered into a relationship with His people.
How many parts (rooms) were in the tabernacle?Hide Answer
Two—the Holy Place and the Holiest of All (i.e. Most Holy Place).
What separated these two parts?Hide Answer
A veil (3).
What does this symbolize? What happened to it when Jesus died on the cross (Mt 27:50-51)?Hide Answer
The veil symbolized God’s separation from man and was a prefiguration of the body of Christ (10:20). Sinful man could not come into the presence of the Holy God. But this veil was torn in two from top to bottom when Jesus gave up His spirit. Christ has accomplished the work of salvation and opened a new and living way through His body so that we who believe in Him may now draw near to God (10:19-20)
What articles were in the outer part?Hide Answer
The lampstand, the table, and the showbread (2).
What articles did the inner part have?Hide Answer
The golden censer and the ark of the covenant (4). Note: “There are problems about the expression translated ‘the golden altar of incense.’ The word thymiaterion denotes something connected with the burning of incense (thymiama), and in the LXX it is always used of a censer. Some (e.g., KJV, RV, Snell) favor this meaning here. But the word is also used by Symmachus, Theodotion, and others of the altar on which incense was offered (Exod 30:1-10 …” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol 12. p. 81). For our purpose, we will understand this term to refer to the golden censer, since the censer had an important part on the Day of Atonement, which the context of this passage focuses on.
The description of the golden censer seems to contradict Exodus 30:6, which tells us that the altar of incense was placed in the Holy Place outside the veil. But we should note that the author of Hebrews does not say that the censer was in the Most Holy Place, but that the Most Holy Place “had” the golden censer. The golden censer was connected to the Most Holy Place because on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar, bring it with the sweet incense into the Most Holy Place, and offer the incense on the fire before the Lord (Lev 16:12-13). Hence, it would be appropriate to consider the golden censer as belonging to the Most Holy Place (cf. Ex 40:5; 1Kgs 6:22).
The connection between the golden censer and the Most Holy Place is even clearer when we take it to a spiritual level. Through the atoning death of Jesus Christ, we may now draw near to God in the Most Holy Place and offer our prayers to Him. There is no longer a veil that separates believers from God. The prayers of the saints rise up directly to the very presence of God (cf. Rev 8:3).
What were in the ark of the covenant?Hide Answer
The golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant (4).
What divine attributes are manifest in the Holiest of All (5)?Hide Answer
God’s glory and mercy.
Compare the ministry of the priests and the high priest.Hide Answer
The priests went into the first part of the tabernacle, but only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place. The priests entered the Holy Place daily, but the high priest entered the Most Holy Place once a year. The priests served in the Holy Place without blood, but the high priest went into the Most Holy Place with blood.
What is the purpose of entering the Most Holy Place?Hide Answer
What was lacking in the service of the earthly tabernacle?Hide Answer
The way into the Holiest of All was not made manifest (8), and the gifts and sacrifices could not make man perfect in regard to the conscience (9). The ceremonial cleansing under the first covenant only purified the external, but it could not remove sins or set free a guilty conscience.
How is Christ superior to the earthly high priest in terms of a. The place of service (11) b. The sacrifice (12) c. How often the sacrifice is offered (12) d. The effect of the sacrificeHide Answer
a. Christ has entered the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands and not of this creation. He has gone into heaven to appear in the presence of God (9:24).
b. Instead of offering the blood of goats, He entered the Most Holy Place with His own blood.
c. Whereas the priests offered sacrifices continually, Christ offered His blood once for all. Because His sacrifice was perfect, He only needed to offer Himself once.
d. The blood that the high priests offered could only purify the flesh, but the blood of Christ brings eternal redemption.
What is “eternal redemption”?Hide Answer
Redemption denotes purchasing with a ransom in order to set one free. With His own blood, Christ has paid for our sins once for all.