Summary: A study of the book of Hebrews chapter 9 verses 1 through 15

Hebrews 9: 1 – 15

His Blood Cleanses Our Sins – Part A

1 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lamp stand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. 11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He Is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Let me ask your opinion on a particular situation. Suppose you came by the church office during the week. After greeting you I asked you to do me a favor. Since I was the only one in the office, I asked you to man the phones for me while I ran down the block to grab a sandwich. In fact being so appreciative that you came in and would help me, I said I would buy you something also.

As soon as I left, of course, the phone rang. The person on the other end wanted to ask a question. You most likely quickly responded that the Pastor just stepped out of the office and would be right back if the caller would call back in about 10 minutes. The person on the line didn’t have time to call back and wanted your opinion to a question. The called asked if you were a Christian. You responded that you are. So then the caller was even more interested in your opinion and wondered why you wouldn’t answer. So, you tell the person that you will give your best answer.

The question is this said the caller, ‘Do all paths [religions] lead to God?’

In your mind you are probably thinking that this is the last time you come in to see me. You might also be thinking that the question poses no difficulty to you since you would never come to visit me. Remember this is just a hypothetical situation. How would you then answer this person’s question?

In today’s Scripture we find some awesome truths. Two which I really love are these two verses;

. 22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

To answer the callers question there is one more great verse and it comes from the book of 2 Corinthians chapter 5, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

As you know 100% of all who are now alive will die unless you are blessed to be alive during the 2nd Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ back to earth.

When anyone dies there are two actions that will happen and both paths lead to God. For all who have placed their trust in the shed blood and death of our Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf for our sins will face our Lord and His words will be which our Master told us in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25, ““His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'

For everyone else the last words they will here also come from the Gospel of Matthew and spoken by our Teacher Adoni Yeshua in chapter 7, “21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

The fact of ‘Jesus the Son’ as our great High Priest having been established as the great reality, and the ministry of the old covenant having been established as copies and shadows, our Lord Jesus’ ministry is now described in contrast with that ministry of the first covenant and the first Tabernacle. It is done with due reverence for what was of the past. The first is not diminished; it is rather demonstrated to have been a ministry of copies and shadows, a preparation for the greater glory that has now come.

The main emphasis of this chapter is a comparison of the great Jewish Day of Atonement which was such a solemn feature of the cult, and occurred year by year, a day which had burned its way into the consciousness of the people, and was for many the greatest and most solemn day of the year, for it was the day each year when the sins of the year past were finally seen as laid to rest, with the once-for-all heavenly Day of Atonement of the new heavenly High Priest which achieves its purpose once for all, and never needs to be repeated, making the other redundant.

9. 1 ‘Now even the first covenant had ordinances of divine ministry and its holy sanctuary of this world.’

Even under the first covenant there were ‘ordinances of divine ministry’, and a ‘holy sanctuary’ and they were admittedly genuine. But they were nevertheless ‘of this world’, they were made with hands. Thus they could not be as good as the reality. Nevertheless it must be accepted that they were both of God, and that for hundreds of years they had shaped the worship of God’s people. On the other hand it should be clear to all that being fulfilled on earth in things that were made by human hands; they could only be preparatory until something better should come. However glorious they were, they were still earthly. They could not enter Heaven itself. They were ‘afar off’.

9.2 ‘For there was a tabernacle prepared, the first, in which were the lampstand, and the table, and the showbread, which is called the Holy place.’

The ancient Tabernacle is now described and seen here as split into two sections; the first ‘the Holy Place’, and the second ‘the Holy of Holies’. In the first were the lamp stand, the table, and the showbread. And this is called the Holy Place, the place set apart for God, separated to His use. This Holy Place was the place which only the priests could enter, and they only when on holy service. Here they tended the golden lamp stand twice daily (Exodus 25.31-40). The selected priests also replaced the showbread weekly on the Sabbath (Leviticus 24.5-8), twelve baked cakes of which, were placed in two rows on a table of acacia wood covered with gold (Exodus 25.23-30). And here they approached the altar of incense to offer incense, again twice daily (Exodus 30.7-8).

The lamp stand represented the glory of God as dimly revealed to man outside the Holy of Holies, so that he might have some conception of what was within. Its sevenfold nature revealed the divine perfection that the light portrayed. It also represented the witness to God that Israel was intended to be, a reflection of God’s reflection.

The twelve cakes of showbread represented the constant gift to His people (the twelve tribes) of all God’s provision as the Feeder of His people, and their re-offering to Him of the bread as a symbol of, and in gratitude for, that provision. It was to be eaten by the priests in a holy place

9.3-5 ‘And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holy of holies, having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, in which was a golden pot holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant, and above it cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat; of which things we cannot now speak severally.’

The second part of The Tabernacle was called ‘The Holy of Holies’, the only entrance to which was from the Holy Place. It was a place so holy that none could regularly enter.

You studious Bible students might discern something that seems amiss here. We read here that the altar of incense is connected with the Holy of Holies. It stood against the veil probably between the two protruding staves which bore the ark (1 Kings 8.8), (for it would be central), and thus, although it was on the side of the veil facing the Holy Place, (so that priests could approach it) it was clearly seen as an essential part of the Holy of Holies (compare 1 Kings 6.22 where it is said to ‘belong to the oracle’, that is to the Holy of Holies). Note the way it is expressed, ‘having a golden altar of incense’. It does not say that it was in it, only that it belonged to it. It was the one place throughout the year where, as it were, the Holy of Holies could be continually accessed, by means of the odor of the incense that pierced the veil, and annually the blood of the sin offering of atonement would be applied to its horns in order to atone for it (Exodus 30.10). It was most holy to Yahweh. And each year it was effectively borne into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement in the form of its golden censer.

The golden altar of incense was physically placed in the Holy Place ‘before the veil’. But it was carried annually into the Holy of Holies in the form of the censer which was filled from it, the only thing from the Holy Place that ever went in to the Holy of Holies. And in fact the exact literal translation of the Greek here is ‘the golden censer’, the altar being named after its most important function. A censer was a vessel which bore coals on which incense was burned. The altar was thus seen as there for two reasons, for offering incense on the fire which burned on it (acting continually like a huge censer), and in order to fill the censer which bore the coals on which the incense was burnt before Yahweh when the High Priest ventured into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. The altar and the censer together could thus be called ‘a golden censer’.

The actual censer, filled with coals taken from the golden altar of incense, into the very ‘presence’ of God, into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16.12-13). And these came from the golden altar, so that the whole was seen as in some way a part of the Holy of Holies, although spending most of their time in the Holy Place. For the golden altar of incense was in an ambiguous position. It had to be in the Holy Place in order that the priests may offer the incense on it daily at the time of the morning and evening sacrifices, but it’s essential function was to offer incense before Yahweh with its sweet odor penetrating the veil to reach the throne of Yahweh. And by means of the censer it actually ‘went in’ to the Holy of Holies annually. It was placed immediately against the veil behind which was the Ark of the Covenant.

The other things that are mentioned are the ark of the covenant overlaid roundabout with gold, a chest 4 feet by 2.5 feet by 2.5 feet (Exodus 25.17), in which was a golden pot holding the manna (Exodus 16.32-34), and Aaron's rod that budded (Numbers 17.1-11), and the tablets of the covenant (what we call the ten commandments - Exodus 25.16), and on which was the mercy-seat (Exodus 25.17-18, 21), the throne from which God dispensed His mercy, and above it cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat. All these were kept within the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle, but the pot and the rod appear to have disappeared by the time of the building of Solomon’s Temple. 1 Kings 8.9 tells us that, "There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone".

These were all symbolic of the old covenant. They stressed God’s promises and goodness under that old covenant, His provision of manna in the wilderness, the reminder that it was He Who had established the Aaronic priesthood (the rod that budded), and the very tablets containing the written covenant. And above all was the mercy-seat with the ‘cherubim of glory’ hovering over, which declared His Kingship, His mercy and His glory as watched over by the cherubim. It was on and before the mercy seat that blood was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16.14-15). But the writer stresses that these are things he does not intend to go into. They are now of the past, and such as then survived would soon be of the past literally.).

Some may say that something else here is stated that seems wrong. The pot holding the manna is nowhere said to be golden in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, but The Septuagint and Philo both describe it as such, and as gold predominated in the Holy of Holies such was most fitting and most likely.

Have you ever watched any films relative to the search of the lost Ark and Tabernacle? Having read these verses you can come to a nice conclusion that they will never be found.

9.6 ‘Now these things having been thus prepared, the priests go in continually into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the services.’

The things in the Holy Place having been ‘prepared’ according to God’s instructions to Moses, the priests ‘go in continually’ to fulfill their responsibilities and fulfill the many services required of them. This busy activity is in deliberate contrast with the next verse. All their efforts are expended outside the Holy of Holies. They cannot come into the direct presence of God.

9.7 ‘But into the second the high priest alone, once in the year, not without blood, which he offers for himself, and for the errors of the people.’

Into the second part of The Tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, even the priests have no entry. Note the deliberate contrast between ‘the priest go in continually’ and ‘the High Priest alone once in the year’. The Holy of Holies existed in solitary splendor along with its accoutrements, in total darkness except for when the light of God shone there (no earthly light was allowed), only to be entered once a year and that by the High Priest alone. On that day there were two brief, but memorable and awesome, visits, by the High Priest, one for himself and one for the people, and those only after the offering of special sacrifices of sin offerings of which the blood was to be presented, sacrifices which were offered on the Day of Atonement both for the High Priest’s sins and the sins of the people (see Leviticus 16).

Please note the word ‘Offers.’ It is done not as a sacrifice but as evidence that the ritual has been carried through correctly, ensuring the overall atonement for himself and the people for another year. The word ‘offering’ does not appear with respect to the Holy of Holies in the ritual for the Day of Atonement. The word used there is ‘sprinkled’ which indicates application of the blood. It demonstrated that the necessary sin offerings had been made. It also confirmed that atonement had been made.

Did you also catch the unique description of sins?- ‘The errors (or ‘ignorance’) of the people.’ Man’s sins are a mixture of error, folly, willfulness and ignorance. I am sure you can add a few more descriptions. The end result is that all had to be atoned for.

Just take a moment and think about the fact of the proper ceremony if you were the High Priest. This day was looked on as especially holy, and the rightness of the preparations had to be carefully ensured. It was a fearsome experience for a man even though he be the High Priest. First the tabernacle would be emptied of all personnel. Only the one who was fully ritually prepared could be allowed in the sanctuary without the veil fully pulled across.

He would previously have carefully clothed himself in the High Priestly garments, knowing that any mistake would be his last. A rope would be tied to his ankle so that if the Lord smote him in the Holy of Holies, he could be pulled out. So then you could see why fearfully and tentatively he would move through the sanctuary towards the veil, take the golden censer and fill it with coals from the altar of incense, and place incense on them. Then he would draw a portion of the veil aside and enter alone through the veil into the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies where no man but he would ever go while he was still alive. The tension would be horrific.

The glowing ashes for the burning of incense which he carried in his censer would provide the only dim light, and by that dim light he would approach in almost sheer darkness the dim shape of the Mercy Seat that he could make out before him, with all that it signified of the presence of the holy and invisible God, in order that he might present the incense and the blood of bull and goat. He would at the same time be filled with fear that one mistake might mean his end, that one moment of God’s displeasure could strike him down.

It was always with great relief that he would finally, after two such visits, first to make atonement for himself, and then to make atonement for the people, withdraw again the second time, grateful to be alive and could recognize at last that what he had done had been accepted. The people and the priests would meanwhile have been waiting in silent awe all through the process, filled with tension until he reappeared, and at that point there would be huge jubilation. Atonement had been satisfactorily accomplished for another year. All the sins of Israel for a whole year had been ‘covered’.

9.8 ‘The Holy Spirit signifying this that the way into the holy place has not yet been made manifest, while the first tabernacle is yet’

What did all this indicate? It indicated that while the first tabernacle was still standing, there was no way for His people into His very presence. The way was barred. They could come so far but no further.

It indicated that God was so holy, and His people so sinful, that they must keep a safe distance and remain out of range of His glory. Even all their offerings and sacrifices were not sufficient to enable them to approach near to God. Both they and their representatives were forever barred from His very presence. No entry was available into the Holy of Holies. No man could approach God publicly. God must be ever apart from man.

There was but the one concession, that their representative the High Priest alone could himself enter once a year, after the most elaborate preparation, and once the sanctuary had been emptied of priests and the High Priest had been covered with his High Priestly garments, for that one specific holy task of yearly atonement. He went in as their representative bearing their names on his clothing, and that brief time once a year was the only time when Israel could even by proxy directly approach their God. And the process was carried out with awe and great fear.

Apart from him all, even the favored priests, had to at all times remain outside the veil, while the people could not even enter the sanctuary. For their sacrifices and offerings could not achieve the purpose of making either Israel or themselves truly holy. They were simply an ordained provision by the mercy of God until the true sacrifice could be offered. But the lack of full effectiveness of their offerings and sacrifices is evidenced by the fact of their being refused access to God in this way. What a contrast that is, says the writer, to what is now true (10.19-20).

This is not, of course, to deny that men could as it were enter His presence in private prayer, and know that He watched over them. The Psalmists make that clear. But that was the spiritual entry of a forgiven ‘saint’, and had nothing to do with the Holy of Holies. But publicly the stress was on the fact of God’s unique ‘otherness’ so that none could approach where He was depicted as being, in the holiest place on earth (although all were aware that He was in Heaven, and that His presence there on earth was but partial).

9.9-10 ‘Which is a figure for the time present, according to which are offered both gifts and sacrifices that cannot, as touching the conscience, make the worshipper perfect, in the matter of meats and drinks and divers washings, carnal ordinances, imposed until a time of reformation (making straight).’

So exclusion from the Holy of Holies was a ‘parable’, a figure, an illustration, an acted out prophecy, speaking to ‘the present time’, to those who had not, as Christians, entered the ‘age to come’, demonstrating that the way to God was still barred. It revealed that all the gifts and sacrifices, could not purify the conscience by providing a genuine dealing with and removal of all sin. It showed that they could not thus give the worshipper that perfection which would be necessary for him to enter God’s presence with a clear conscience. And this was something which each worshipper would well know in his or her’s own conscience.

For in his conscience was the recognition that he was deeply sinful and unworthy to meet God, and that all these gifts and sacrifices and rites had not and could not suffice to put him right - For they were merely carnal, earthly ordinances. All they could do was avert God’s wrath, God’s aversion to sin, for a time.

They involved among other things the eating of meat from certain sacrifices and the eating of parts of meal offerings, in the drinking of drink offerings, and in many kinds of washings. They may have thought in this that they were eating before Yahweh (Exodus 24.11) or partaking of sacred food and drink before Him, or washing themselves clean from their earthiness, but it produced no means of real purity or genuine access into God’s presence. These gifts and sacrifices were merely provided by God as a sign of His watch over them and of what was to come, until there came the time of reformation, the time of ‘putting things straight’, when all would be put right, and there would be a new Eden and men and women would truly ‘eat and drink’ in God’s presence (Isaiah 11.6-9).

Now as a great composer and having established the temporary nature of the old Tabernacle and its ministry and offerings, Christ’s superiority is now brought out in a number of ways.

• 1) In that He officiates in a more excellent, a heavenly, Tabernacle (verse 11).

• 2) In that He has offered to God a far superior sacrifice (verses 11, 14).

• 3) In that He has entered a more glorious Holy Place (verse 12).

• 4) In that He secured a more efficacious and eternal redemption (verse 12).

• 5) In that He has acted through a more excellent eternal Spirit (verse 14).

• 6) In that He obtained for His people a better cleansing (verse 14).

• 7) In that He has made possible for them a nobler service (verse 14).

He Is superior in every way.

9.11 ‘But Christ having come a high priest of the good things that have come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation,’

Now the Great News that time has come. For the Messiah King had come as the High Priest of those good things promised by the prophets, which have now arrived, and having offered a once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of men, He has entered, not into that earthly sanctuary with its gloom and darkness, but into the greater and more perfect sanctuary, one not made with hands (Acts 7.48), into Heaven itself. And this mention of it not being made with hands does not simply indicate that God made it, but that it is totally non-earthly. It is ‘not of this creation’. It is the true sanctuary in which is the true presence of God.

These are the good things that have already come in the enjoyment of The Lord Jesus Christ in this life and the gifts of His Holy Spirit, which are the evidence of the enjoyment of the Paradise to come, both being provided through our great High Priest.

9.12 ‘Nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.’

Nor did He enter it through the blood of mere goats and calves, as was true of the earthly High Priest on the annual Days of Atonement. That but spoke in shadows and would not be effective in Heaven. It was never fully satisfactory. Rather He entered through the efficacy of His own blood, shed on earth for the sins of men, but heavenly in its effectiveness. And through that shedding of blood He entered once for all, never having to withdraw, into the heavenly Holy Place, having through His sacrifice of Himself obtained eternal redemption for those who are His own. Satisfaction was complete. No other sacrifice would ever be required, and He now had permanent presence there as the Representative of His own people in order to act on their behalf.

Look with me again at the awesome words ‘Eternal redemption.’ That is, it was an act of redemption of His own true elect people (Mark 10.45) that would have eternal effects, and result in eternal life, through His sacrifice on the cross and the shedding of His blood. It is the redemption of ‘the age to come’. It includes the thought of deliverance from slavery, payment of their debts as their Kinsman Redeemer and deliverance through the paying of a price. And this redemption was accomplished once-for-all prior to His entry into the heavenly sanctuary. His once-for-all sacrifice has provided full and complete atonement and is a ministry of representation for His people.

Thus we have the emphasis that there was one sacrifice offered once-for-all, one entry into God’s presence made once-for-all, and one redemption accomplished once-for-all. Apart from His continuing intercession His High Priestly work was complete. There was no shortfall in what He had accomplished.

9.13 ‘For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling them that have been defiled, sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh,’

These ordinances could never cleanse within, they could only cleanse the outward flesh. They could never be truly effective. They set men and women apart as outwardly ‘holy’, making them ‘clean’ outwardly so that they had acceptance in the congregation of Israel. They were, by God’s appointment, a way of restoration, but they were not a way of being transformed within. For they could never purify the heart, making men clean within. They were a picture of what would be, not a genuine means of purifying (1.3), of propitiation (2.17), of dealing with sin (7.27) and cleansing (1.3). That awaited the great High Priest to come.

9.14 ‘How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?’

We see these important facts now put together. If those old rites could be effective in dealing with the external problems of sin and defilement, how much more could the blood of the Messiah, Who offered Himself without blemish to God through the eternal Spirit, truly cleanse and purify inwardly from all ‘dead works’, (useless fleshly works which can only result in death). And we may note that in this case this is not just because of God’s appointment, but because of the intrinsic worth of the sacrifice. Thus are men and women cleansed, not outwardly but deep within, in the very heart and conscience of everyone who comes to Him, resulting in the possibility of true and fully acceptable worship and of spiritual service to the living God.

Here was the effective remedy of which the past ordinances had been but shadows. This was not just outward but reached into man’s deepest heart and conscience, for it totally removed and made satisfaction for all sin both without and within. The effect of the shedding of the blood of the new covenant would purify, justify and work righteousness within men’s lives in accordance with the new covenant that they might serve in the very presence of the living God.

Remember it is all about ‘The blood of Christ.’ This signifies what the shedding of His blood accomplished, through His meeting in full, by the shedding of blood, the requirements of the Law on behalf of all His own, and its sufficiency was now made available to them in full forgiveness and atonement.

The eternal Holy Spirit further enabled Him to offer Himself as a sacrifice to endure death, so that He might face death fully for every man. The Messiah and the Spirit worked as one

And it is because He so died for us without blemish, that our consciences can be cleansed from our past works, works which could only produce death, with the result that, coming out of spiritual death with a cleared conscience, and made free from all the defilement of death-producing sin, through the shedding of His blood, we are able to face God without fear. This then results in our being able to come into the presence of ‘the living God’, The One who calls to account, and serve and worship Him in His presence. The whole of the eternally living, Triune Godhead was thus active in our deliverance. Through Him life comes from death so that we can enter the presence of the living One.

9.15 ‘And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.’

As a result of His death for us Christ Is now the Mediator of the New Covenant already mentioned (8.8-12). Not only are our sins dealt with but He works in us His perfect work. A mediator is One Who comes on behalf of two parties in order to establish terms with both and arrange all necessary fulfillment of any requirements, in order to bring about between them what is desired. From God’s point of view He recognizes the necessity of the shedding of blood for sin, indeed because of His holiness demands it, while from man’s point of view He offers Himself as a sacrifice as representative Man.

It is because as High Priest He offered Himself to death as an unblemished sacrifice that He Is demonstrated to be the Mediator of the New Covenant. We read in the book of 1 Timothy 2.5-6 "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time". And this death took place ‘for the redemption of the transgressions which were under the old covenant’. Without that death we would yet be left in our sins. We could have no part in the covenant. But having been delivered by His covenantal death as Mediator by the shedding of His blood we can now enjoy His life, provided as our inheritance in that new covenant.

The idea of redemption is again prominent here. The idea is of the Kinsman Redeemer who pays off the debts of one of his family (Leviticus 25.47-49), redeeming them from their transgressions under the old covenant by the payment of the required price. Here in Hebrews the idea is that they are ransomed by Him and set free. This then releases them from the old covenant so that they can participate in the new.

But if a ransom is paid, to who is it paid? The final answer is, to God and the requirements that result from what He Is. For man was enslaved by sin, bound by guilt, and was under sentence of death because he had failed to pay his due to God. And this was all owing to what God Is. By His very nature God had to require it of man. So, until God’s sentence on man could be averted by being fully satisfied, man could only remain in that state. Thus the price of sin had to be paid, guilt had to be removed, and the sentence of death satisfied, and then man could be released. Redemption vindicated the moral law, the moral nature of God.

Once the redemption has taken place the ‘called’, those chosen (Ephesians 1.4) and called by God (2 Timothy 1.9), receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, eternal life. To ‘receive the promise’ means to enter into enjoyment of it. In this regard it should be noted that the initial element of this inheritance is received now as well as being enjoyed even more wonderfully in the future in God’s eternal kingdom. Thus it is even now ‘the age to come’. It is the consequence of our eternal redemption.

This use of the idea of inheritance is significant. An inheritance is something that comes to you as a gift. In its basic idea it is not earned, it is not bought, it is not worked for. It comes as a result of the undeserved grace of the giver. It brings out the fact that what God’s people will receive in the future is not their deserts but the giving of blessings by a gracious God.

So the picture is of our great High Priest, our Kinsman Redeemer, Who acting as mediator, and having died for us, applies to us the benefits of His death and grants to us eternal life, the eternal inheritance, which is granted to us by the grace of God, and ‘bought’ for us through His blood.