The symptoms of a guilty conscience plague fallen humanity. Both the old and new covenants confronted this burden—but only one did so effectively. Hebrews 9 highlights how these covenants contrast with and complement each other. Both, Alistair Begg explains, point to the glory of Jesus and the ministry of His divine priesthood. The Savior’s blood opened a new and living way to cleanse the conscience and reconcile sinners to God.
1Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2For a tent1 was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence.2 It is called the Holy Place. 3Behind the second curtain was a second section3 called the Most Holy Place, 4having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
6These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9(which is symbolic for the present age).4 According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,5 then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify6 for the purification of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our7 conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Copyright © 2020, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.