Messianic Jews 9:1-10
Letter to the Messianic Jews
In my last post, we began to examine Messianic Jews 9:1-10 the Temporary Levitical Sacrifices as we compare the Old and New Covenant Sacrifices. In this post, we continue to explore Messianic Jews 9:1-10 the Temporary Levitical Sacrifices.
Temporary Levitical Sacrifices
“1 Now the first covenant had both regulations for worship and a Holy Place here on earth. 2 A tent [Tabernacle]was set up, the outer one, which was called the Holy Place; in it were the menorah, the table and the Bread of the Presence. 3 Behind the second parokhet was a tent called the Holiest Place, 4 which had the golden altar for burning incense and the Ark of the Covenant, entirely covered with gold. In the Ark were the gold jar containing the man, Aharon’s rod that sprouted and the stone Tablets of the Covenant; 5 and above it were the k’ruvim representing the Sh’khinah, casting their shadow on the lid of the Ark — but now is not the time to discuss these things in detail. 6 With things so arranged, the cohanim go into the outer tent all the time to discharge their duties; 7 but only the cohen hagadol enters the inner one; and he goes in only once a year, and he must always bring blood, which he offers both for himself and for the sins committed in ignorance by the people. 8 By this arrangement, the Ruach HaKodesh showed that so long as the first Tent had standing, the way into the Holiest Place was still closed. 9 This symbolizes the present age and indicates that the conscience of the person performing the service cannot be brought to the goal by the gifts and sacrifices he offers. 10 For they involve only food and drink and various ceremonial washings — regulations concerning the outward life, imposed until the time for God to reshape the whole structure.” ~ Hebrews 9:1-10 (CJB)
The elements mentioned in verses 2 and 4 (see my previous post) already call to mind the duties of the cohanim in the outer tent (the Holy Place) in verse 6. They included keeping the menorah continually lit (Exodus 27:20-21, Leviticus 24:1-4), placing fresh loaves on the table (Leviticus 24:5-9) and burning incense on the golden altar (Exodus 30:7-9), as did Z’kharyah the father of Yochanan the Immerser (Luke 1:9-11).
The author mentions these activities only to contrast their regularity with the cohen hagadol entry into the inner tent (the Holiest Place), which is permitted only once a year on Yom Kippur. He must bring the blood of a slaughtered animal as a sin offering, as a reminder that death is the penalty for sin. He must offer for himself since he too is a sinner, and his offering for the people is only for their sins committed in ignorance. These requirements are outlined in Leviticus 16.
Every year this ceremony had to be gone through again. Everyone but the cohen hagadol was barred from the presence and even he entered in terror. The cleansing was a purely external one with baths of water. The sacrifice was that of bulls and goats and animal blood. The whole thing failed because such things cannot atone for sin. In it, all the author to the Hebrews sees a pale copy of the reality, a ghostly pattern of the one true sacrifice ~ the sacrifice of Yeshua. It was a noble ritual, a thing of dignity and beauty; but it was only an unavailing shadow. The only priest and the only sacrifice which can open the way to God for all men is Yeshua HaMashiach.
This arrangement showed that during the time before Yeshua’s first coming, when the first Tent, the Tabernacle established by the Mosaic Covenant, or any of its replacements, such as the First or Second Temple, had standing, the way into the Holiest Place, that is, into God’s presence, was still closed to people in general and was open only to the cohen hagadol.
Humanity was still not able to come into God’s presence. The parokhet had to be destroyed!
The present age refers to the period after Yeshua’s first coming, yet before the Mosaic Covenant’s system of cohenhood and sacrifice has altogether disappeared. The sacrifices go on, but, in the light of what Yeshua has accomplished, what they signify is that the conscience of the person performing the service cannot be brought to the goal by obeying regulations concerning the outward life. And if so, how much less can the sacrificial ritual bring the consciences of those for whom the service is performed to the goal of being, both in fact and in feeling, cleared of guilt.
Non-Messianic Judaism has never supposed that the mechanical performance of ritual acts causes God to forgive sin. Instead, since the destruction of the Temple, Judaism has taken a different tack, teaching that neither sacrifice nor cohenhood is necessary for God to forgive sin. The author expresses the view that sacrifice and cohenhood are indeed essential, that the Mosaic system was imposed until the time for God to reshape the whole structure and thus prefigured the system established by Yeshua the Messiah.
In my next post, we’ll continue our mini-series on Yeshua: His Better Covenant which will cover Messianic Jews 9:11-14 ~ The Eternal Heavenly Sacrifices of Yeshua.