Hebrews 9:1-12

The New Covenant


Pink opens this chapter with this observation:

The apostle had closed the 8th chapter by pointing out, "Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." In those words the Spirit had intimated the unescapable inference which must be drawn from the oracle given through Jeremiah. He had predicted a "new covenant," which received its fulfillment in the establishing of Christianity. The ushering in of the new order of Divine worship necessarily denoted that the previous economy was "old " and if so, its end must be nigh. The force of #8:13 is as follows- "In that He says a ‘new’": God would not have done so unless He had made the first "old." The "He hath made the first old" has an active significance and denotes an authoritative act of God upon the old economy, whereby the calling of the other "new" was the sign and evidence. God did not call the Christian dispensation "another covenant," or a "second covenant," but a "new" one thereby declaring that the Judaic covenant was obsolete.

The “old covenant” was the old manner of worship as required in the Temple.

Note the term, "Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." "is ready" is the key. The date of the Epistle is probably the second half of 63 A.D. In other words, Christ had risen the dead making the Hebrew economy old and useless. But the Temple was still standing, and the old Hebrew economy was being kept alive by the now apostate Levitical priesthood, and it was luring the new Hebrew Christians back into it. The author of Hebrews is forewarning of the very soon coming physical destruction of the old Hebrew economy, so the new could be firmly established.

Jeremiah promises a “new covenant”, not because it is newly made, for it was made from eternity past, and Christ, from eternity past was the everlasting mediator of it. The promises and blessings of grace were put into his hands before the world began. Nor is it newly revealed in Christ, for it was made known to Adam, and in some measure to all the Old Testament saints. Its administration is new, and will never be out of date as was the old manner of administration. The covenant was with God’s elect, those who were Jews inwardly, and was newly expanded to include all of God’s elect from all the earth, “Jew and Gentiles” lost their individual distinction in the new covenant. "I will make," signifies, I will consummate, or finish, or end, or fulfil it; which shows the perfection of this covenant, and the imperfection of the former; and that what was typified in the first is fulfilled in this; and that it is now established and ratified by Christ; and is so finished, as to the manifestation and administration of it, that there will be no alteration made in it, nor any addition to it: the time of doing all this is called "the days to come"; the last days, the days of the Messiah, which were future in Jeremiah’s time: and a "behold" is prefixed to the whole, as a note of attention, this being an affair of great moment and importance; and as a note of demonstration, or as pointing to something that was desired and expected; and as a note of admiration, it containing things wonderful and marvellous. (John Gill)

It is not a “new covenant” in the since of a new agreement, for that agreement was made among the Tri-Une God; rather, it is new in the since of the manner of worship. We will develop this as we go along.

An interesting observation: the "great heat" referred to by both Peter (2 Peter) and St. John in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, were both written before the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. They both, and thus the old Hebrew economy, vanished away with a very fervent heat in 70 A.D.

The church today has ignored the importance of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. The Roman general Titus, who finalized the destruction, said he was doing the will of God against the Jews. That destruction was an earth shattering and world-changing event. It was the turning point of history.

The new covenant was not another covenant nor a second covenant. Rather, it replaced the old Judaic covenant which was sealed with the blood of bulls and goats. The law of the covenant remains the same, the command – word of God. The blood of Christ sealed the new covenant. A new covenant people now known as the gospel church and made up of all nations, replace the old apostate covenant people from the one nation.

Hebrews 9:1-12

V. 1 “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.” {ordinances: or, ceremonies?}

“[H]e calls it a worldly sanctuary, because there was no heavenly truth or reality in those rites; for though the sanctuary was the effigy of the original pattern which had been shown to Moses; yet an effigy or image is a different thing from the reality, and especially when they are compared, as here, as things opposed to each other. Hence the sanctuary in itself was indeed earthly, and is rightly classed among the elements of the world, it was yet heavenly as to what it signified.” (Calvin)

The sanctuary is called worldly in contrast with what is heavenly or divine -- one made with hands, and the other made without hands. “Worldly” does not mean sinful, but something pertaining to this life.

V. 10 “Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.” {ordinances: or, rites, or, ceremonies?}

Carnal : That which pertained to the flesh, or to external ceremonies. The object was to keep the outside ceremonially clean, externally pure, but all of those ordinances, rites and ceremonies could not produce a clean heart, nor clean the conscience.

Hebrews is addressed to those who desired to depart from the new faith in Christ as the sacrificial lamb, and return to the Temple worship at Jerusalem. The author is showing the foolishness of that desire, and the eternal danger of apostasy.

Vv. 1-9, summarize the earthly Holy place and the Holy of Holies made by human hands as instructed to Moses, and mentions a little about the items contained therein.

The issue in Hebrews is the human or worldly tabernacle made with hands at Jerusalem compared with the spiritual tabernacle in the heavens made without hands. The earthly, carnal or worldly tabernacle was only a dim shadow of the heavenly. The heavenly tabernacle was establish from the foundations of the earth, and was prepared to receive the blood of the Lamb of God, typified by the blood of an animal, in the fullness of time. (Rev 13:8)

Under the authority of the “carnal” tabernacle, not only yearly offerings of the blood of bulls and goats were required, but many “carnal ordinances”, e.g., ceremonial washings, were also required. All they could do was ceremonially cleanse the outer man. In contrast, the reality in heaven was made at the foundation of the earth. Moses was told to carefully make the earthly tabernacle according to the pattern shown to him in the mount. That heavenly tabernacle made without hands did not have the needed blood sacrifice yet.

Pink comments:

Wonderful indeed were the pictorial fore-shadowings which the Lord gave in the days of Israel’s kindergarten. The importance of them was more than hinted at by God when, though He took but six days to make heaven and earth, He spent no less than forty days when instructing Moses concerning the making of the tabernacle. That clearly denoted that the work of redemptive grace, which was prefigured in Jehovah’s earthly dwelling place, was far more glorious than the work of creation. Thereby are we taught to look away from the things which are seen, and fix our minds and affections upon that sphere where the Son of God reigns in light and love. (Pink)

The human mind cannot grasp the glories of “the work of redemptive grace". Because we will still be finite in heaven, we will be able to grasp it fully there. Thus, we are instructed to look away from the things which are seen, and fix our minds and affections upon that sphere where the Son of God reigns in light and love.

Colossians 3:1 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

There were several rituals attached with the tabernacle.

Liturgy/rituals. What is the difference?

Liturgy (leitourgia) is a Greek composite word meaning originally a public duty, a service to the state undertaken by a citizen. Its elements are leitos (from leos = laos, people) meaning public, and ergo (obsolete in the present stem, used in future erxo, etc.), to do. From this we have leitourgos, "a man who performs a public duty", "a public servant", often used as equivalent to the Roman lictor; then leitourgeo, "to do such a duty", leitourgema, its performance, and leitourgia, the public duty itself.

A liturgy is literally a public work or service, something open, something public. Religion was once a department of state, and that’s why the word liturgy was developed to describe the public worship of the church in its entirety. It was a service to gain the favor of the gods of the state, and the word in origin was Greek. The word was taken over by the church.

A ritual: "is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized by formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism, and performance”. (Wikipedia)

Liturgy was developed to worship the gods of the state, and absorbed by the church.
Rituals are carefully prescribed gestures, words and actuals that must be preformed according to law for them to be valid.

From what I understand, law school spends more time teaching the rituals of the courtroom than it does teaching law. Not following the courtroom ritual will ruin the case. How many clear-cut cases have been thrown out because the proper ritual was not followed? (Rite, ritual and arithmetic come from the Greek and Latin, and are all related. RJR )

Accordingly, the rights or rituals of the tabernacle had to have mathematical precision for them to be accepted by God.

The specific concern in Hebrews is with the ritualistic act of atonement and the repeated actions of the high priest. Their rituals had to be precisely repeated yearly, or the atonement was of none effect. Furthermore, if not precisely followed, the high priest would die when he entered the holy of holies to offer the blood of atonement.

Hebrews tells the reader that all of those rites and rituals given by Moses and were still being practiced in the Temple of the day only foreshadowed the High Priest that came, Jesus Christ. He fulfilled the rituals once and for all; he fulfilled all the law perfectly, and now those activities in the Temple were contrary to the gospel they had professed to believe. If they go back, they are in danger of eternal apostasy. (Heb 10:10)

Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: {by: or, for?}8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

The Hebrews are told that a ritual is for repetition, but the work of Jesus Christ’s atonement cannot be repeated. So the Temple rituals are now totally null and void. More than useless, actually---they are an abomination to God. Note that the Church of Rome claims to sacrifice Christ over and over in the Mass.

A liturgy is related to a rite. The term liturgy can take on a broad meaning, e.g., it can include a sermon, public celebration, liturgy of marriage and the Lord’s Supper.

The author’s concern in Hebrews is the rite of atonement, the foundation being the first covenant, which went back to the covenant made in the Garden, and formalized in the law given to Moses. The Levitical rituals of the sanctuary included things like the thank offerings were meaningless if the rite of atonement was left out. In some way, the earthly sanctuary was a dim reflection of the heavenly one.

Vv. 2, 3. The sanctuary as it existed in Israel, had two key parts -- the Holy place and the Holy of Holies.

Vv. 2-5 list the key required furnishings within these two areas. V. 6, the priests had to go continually into the Holy place to accomplish his service to God: sacrifices, incense, trimming the lamp, &c. All entrance was forbidden other than when their duty required their presence.

Nor could any man go into the Holy place without clean priestly garments and his body ceremonially clean through various rituals, e.g., washings.

V. 7, the second place, the Holy of Holies within the Vail, where only the high priest could go to offer the yearly atonement.

John Gill:

Ver. 7 But into the second went the high priest alone, once every year, &c.] Though this is not expressed in so many words in Le 16:2 only it is said that "Aaron came not at all times into the holy place within the vail"; yet it is the constant and generally received sense of the Jewish writers, in agreement with the apostle here, that the high priest went into the holy of holies but once a year {q}, on the day of atonement, which was on the tenth of the month Tisri, and answers to part of September; not but that he went in more than once on that day, for he went in no less than four times {r}; the first time he went in to offer incense; the second time with the blood of the bullock, to sprinkle it; the third time with the blood of the goat; and the fourth time to bring out the censer {s}; and if he entered a fifth time, they say he was worthy of death; wherefore Philo the Jew {t} seems to be mistaken when he affirms that, if he went in three or four times on the same day, he suffered death, nor was there any pardon for him; and as it was but one day in a year he might enter, so when he did, no other man, either Israelite or priest, might go in along with him; he went in alone without any attendance: the Jews say {u}, that a cord or thong was bound to the feet of the high priest when he went into the holy of holies, that if he died there, the rest might be able to draw him out; for it was not lawful for another priest to go in, no, not an high priest, none besides him on the day of atonement. Pausanias {w} makes mention of a temple of Minerva into which the priests entered once every year; which very likely was observed in imitation of this custom of the Jewish high priest; who in it was a type of Christ, and of his entrance into heaven, and of his constant and continued intercession there:… (Gill)

The point being that the Levitical high priest had to go into the holy of holies many times on that one day a year in order to make the atonement, and he could not enter without blood. Moreover, if he did not follow the required ritual or rite with mathematical precision, he would die.

Moreover, he had to offer a blood sacrifice for his own sins as well as for the sins of the people of Israel.

V. 8, everything pertaining to the Tabernacle was the Holy Ghost Himself speaking through the many rites and rituals, making it clear that true and free access to the Holy God was not yet clear, and would not be as long as the sanctuary required by the Law was standing. 8:13 told the Hebrews that the old covenant as established by the blood of bulls and goats and as practiced in the Temple had to vanish away. It did vanish in just a few short years after this warning was issued to the Hebrews, 70 A.D.

We cannot comprehend the shock of the Apostle’s words that everything the Hebrews so reverenced and depended upon for access to the Father had to go for the reality of the shadow to appear. They were being told that instead of having to go through the priesthood of Aaron for access to atonement, they now have free and perpetual access through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ any time and from anywhere.

V. 10, until the time of reformation.


carnal ordinances: which belonged to the flesh, and not the spirit or soul, and therefore could not affect that; besides, these were only imposed on them until the time of reformation; they were enjoined the Jews only, though by God himself; and were put upon them as a burden, or a yoke, and which was on some accounts intolerable, but were not to continue any longer than the time of the Gospel, here called "the time of reformation," or of "correction," and emendation;* in which, things that were faulty and deficient are amended and perfected, and in which burdensome rites and ceremonies are removed, and better ordinances introduced: or rather of direction: in which saints are directed to Christ, the sum and substance of all types, shadows, and sacrifices, and in whom alone perfection is.

* EMENDA'TION, noun [Latin emendatio.] The act of altering for the better, or correcting what is erroneous or faulty; correction; applied particularly to the correction of errors in writings. When we speak of like and manners, we use amend, amendment, the French orthography.
1. An alteration for the better; correction of an error or fault.
The last edition of the book contains many emendations. (Webster, 1828)

The New Covenant simply corrected or updated the faulty Old Covenant.

Observe: Christ changed nothing of the covenant made with Adam and Eve, and which he confirmed to the saint of old. Rather, he reformed, or corrected it by removing the things which were faulty and deficient, i.e., various rites, rituals, ceremonies and ordinances. He did not replace the covenant, but reformed it by his sacrificial work on the cross.

Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

First, the newness of the covenant: 1) its location in the heart; 2) its confirmation, the blood of Christ; 3) its people, the new Israel of God, or the Gospel Church. The true Israel of God, the Gospel Church started in Genesis 3:14, 15, and was made up of the elect, those who trusted in the coming One Who would bruise the head of the serpent. In some way, the gospel of the Messiah was preached to the saints of old.

John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

It is made up today of the elect, those trust in the One Who did come and who bruised the serpent’s head. He broke the serpent’s power over men, and took away the power of sin over His people.

Second, “triumphing over them in it”. He bruised the serpent’s head according to his promise to his promise to Eve. He striped the serpent of his armour wherein he trusted, demolished his works, freed his people from the serpent’s power, and publically revealed the serpents powerlessness over death and hell.

Third, he removed the burden of the Covenant of Redemption by fulfilling all the burdensome laws that foreshadowed the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

Fifth, Christ’s triumph over the very power of his enemy, death, established him as the undisputed King of the whole earth, who through his intercessory, mediation work, empowers his people to overcome the world, flesh and the devil. Psalms 110:1, is one of the most quoted Old Testament passages in the New Testament. (See John Gill)

V. 10, the time of Christ was the time of reformation. His coming swept away all of the things that spoke of his true sacrifice for sin.

V. 12, he entered into the heavenly sanctuary not made with hands, and there, once for all, he offered not the blood of goats and calves, but his own blood for the atonement for the sins of his people.

There are three aspects of Christ’s present work as our High Priest.

First, he is our intercessor to the uttermost in the Tri-Une God, 7:25. He has no limits. He is the only intercessor for the sins of his people, 9:24.

Second, he carries our prayer and our praise to the throne of God.

13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Praise is a form of sacrifice, where we turn our attention to God’s goodness to us rather than our demands of him. We surrender our concerns in exchange for a grateful rejoicing in our God.

Third, 4:6, his atoning blood makes us a new creation and members of His new humanity.

Fourth, his new humanity is his new army to wage his war against the serpent and the powers of darkness. He is the Lord of Hosts, the Capitan of his new, empowered army that must wage war against his already defeated enemy, Ezekiel 37. His new army does not use the sword as did his army of old. Rather, it uses the new weapons of warfare as provided by the resurrected Christ. 2 Cor 10:4, Eph 6.

Fifth, we have access in full assurance of faith, because by His work we have a cleansed conscience, 10:19-22. Thus, his army is equipped to be as bold as a lion in the warfare before them:

And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Heb 2:15)
The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion. Pro 28:1)

Sixth, his new army is assured of victory because of his victory over death.

Note that we see 2:15 fulfilled today by the thousands of Christians who face death at the hands of the Muslims.

The author is proving to the Hebrews that Christ and his work replaced the Temple. Christ alone is the true sanctuary, and redeemer.

We could continue at great length, but we will stop on this note:

Because of the Redemptive and interceding work of Christ for his new nation, we are more than conquerors through him that loved us, and gave himself for us. (Rom 8:37)

By His Sovereign Grace Alone,

Bro Need