Saturday, 12 January 2019
Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. Hebrews 9:23
The word, “Therefore,” is given based on everything mentioned in the previous seven verses concerning the shedding of the blood of the covenant-victim and the purification of the things associated with the tabernacle, its implements, and its rites. Those verses ended with, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” With that understood, he says, “Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens.”
Note: The archaic KJV incorrectly says “patterns” instead of “copies.” This is exactly the opposite of what is occurring. It is the heavenly which is the pattern, and it is the earthly which is a copy. See Exodus 25:9 and Hebrews 8:5. If you use this version, a margin note correcting the error is necessary.
These “copies of the things in the heavens,” meaning the earthly tabernacle and associated implements, “should be purified with these.” The word “these” is speaking of the blood of purification obtained from the covenant-victims. There was defilement in these earthly things, and they required a sacrifice of atonement to cover their defilement. However, this entire process was only typical of Christ’s greater work. As the author notes, “but the heavenly things.” That is referring to those things associated with the true and more perfect tabernacle in heaven which is the pattern for the earthly copies. These are purified “with better sacrifices than these.”
First, the word “sacrifices” is plural. Though Christ died once (see Romans 6:10 and Hebrews 9:26), the author’s intent is to show that His single sacrifice is the fulfillment of all of the various types of sacrifices found under the Old Covenant, and which were typical of His one-time sacrifice. Everything of the past which foreshadowed Christ is summed up in His one act. Secondly, this raises an obvious question – “Why would the heavenly things require sacrifices for purification?” Scholars debate this, and several interesting suggestions have been proposed, but which miss the fact that these are spiritual realities in heaven, not physical things.
Under the Old Covenant, the author has already said that all things were sprinkled with blood in order to purify them, including the people (9:19). As we are the purpose of Christ’s coming, meaning the redemption of man, then it is necessary that we be purified by Christ’s shed blood. Christ presented Himself before the Father to purify those things which will be accepted into His eternal realm – His people, who are being built into “a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).
Though Ephesians is written to the Gentile led church and Hebrews is written to the Hebrew people, the same truth applies to both. A purification is being accomplished in us which was only prefigured in the earthly sanctuary of the Old Covenant.
Life application: The Bible tells of the heavenly dwelling – perfect in all ways, but entrance to it comes at a cost – “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). In order to be accepted into God’s paradise, one must be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. To reject His gracious sacrifice is to remain outside of God’s favor and outside of His eternal dwelling. Come to Christ, be purified through His shed blood, and be reconciled to God once and for all eternity.
Glorious! O God, You are glorious. You have given us access to You once again through the blood of the Lamb. If we are willing to accept the truth of Your word, and to come to You through Christ Jesus, we shall be reconciled to You for all eternity. You have done it all, and You ask us to simply believe. How gracious You are to Your people! Thank You, O God! Amen.