Summary of Hebrews Chapter 9

The book of Hebrews stands as a testament to the early Christian community’s struggle to reconcile their Jewish roots with their newfound faith in Jesus Christ. Hebrews 9 dives into the relationship between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, emphasizing the supremacy and efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice. 

This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure for more details.

What Is the Meaning of Hebrews 9?

In this Bible study of Hebrews 9, we will take a look at the Tabernacle. When God made a covenant with His people at Mt. Sinai He gave instructions for constructing the Tabernacle. This would be the place where God would meet with His people. This earthly tabernacle was constructed only a copy of the true tabernacle in heaven. It was designed to point us to Jesus and teach us what it means to worship God.

The Earthly Tabernacle and Its Limitations 

The chapter begins by describing the layout and function of the earthly Tabernacle.

Hebrews 9:1-5

Now even the first covenant had regulations for divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was equipped, the outer sanctuary, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the sacred bread; this is called the Holy Place. Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Most Holy Place, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron’s staff which budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the atoning cover; but about these things we cannot now speak in detail. Hebrews 9:1-5

The earthly Tabernacle was a physical representation of God’s dwelling among His people. The author explains the division between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, and the specific pieces within each of these tents.

If you are unfamiliar with the structure of the Tabernacle it may be helpful to read about the specific details described in Exodus 25-27.

Holy Place:

  • Lampstand
  • Table of Sacred Bread

Holy of Holies:

  • Altar of Incense
  • Ark of the Covenant
  • Cherubim of Glory 

The specific details of the Tabernacle show us that there is a specific way God has ordained for us to worship Him. There were regulations for divine worship.

We cannot come to God on our own terms. We must draw near to Him according to His way. Keep this in mind as we continue through this chapter.

Hebrews 9:6-7

hebrews bible study

Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship, 7 but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.

The priests would enter the outer courtyard and the holy place each day to perform priestly functions such as offering daily sacrifices, tending the lampstand, and replacing the showbread. 

The Holy of Holies was where the presence of God would dwell. This place was only entered once a year by the High Priest. This day was called the Day of Atonement. 

Today, when we think of coming into the presence of God, we do it to enjoy His presence. We find peace, comfort, and strength when we come before Him in prayer and worship. 

This was not what this Day of Atonement was about! It was not a time when the priest would have fellowship with God. It was a day of atoning for the sins of himself and for the people of Israel committed in ignorance. It was an act that was done with great reverence. If the Priest did not properly prepare himself, he would fall dead in the holy presence of God. 

Such a great reminder of how set apart God’s holiness is. He cannot dwell together in the presence of sin. Sin must be atoned for before entering His presence.

This day was for atoning for sins that were committed in ignorance. Known sins were atoned for during the daily sacrifices and offerings.

Hebrews 9:8-10

The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food, drink, and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.

A new covenant could not be inaugurated while the outer tabernacle (the Holy Place) is still standing. It had to fade away. We will see in a moment how this fading happened.

Also, the author states that it was a symbol for the present time. In ancient greek, this word for symbol is ‘parabole’, which means “fictitious narrative (of common life conveying a moral), apothegm or adage:—comparison, figure, parable, proverb.” 

Sound familiar? Its where we get the word ‘parable’. Jesus spoke in parables when talking about the Kingdom of God. These parables that Jesus used were an earthly story that were meant to explain a heavenly truth.

Isn’t that cool!

The Tabernacle was a parable. It was an earthly design made to point toward the heavenly one.

We should also notice that the gifts offered in this heavenly copy could not make the worshipper perfect in conscience.

Perfect: G5048 – to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end

Conscience: G4893 – co-perception, i.e. moral consciousness:—conscience (the soul as distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter, commending one, condemning the other).

The Heavenly Tabernacle 

Bible Study Worksheet Kits

Now, lets compare what we have learned about the earthly Tabernacle to the heavenly one!

Hebrews 9:11-12

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things having come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands, that is, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption. 

The focal point of this section is Christ’s role as the High Priest of a superior covenant. Christ did not enter into a Tabernacle made by men but into the very throne room of heaven.

He did not bring the blood of goats and bulls, but rather, He gave the atoning sacrifice of Himself. Animal sacrifice was acceptable for temporary cleansing of sin but only a perfect sacrifice could purchase eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:13-14

13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will 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?

Our conscience is a wonderful tool from God. But it isn’t perfect. Our conscience can be…

The idea behind dead works is probably of sin in general, in the sense of “works that bring death.” But it must also speak to the vain continuation of Old Covenant sacrifice, which is certainly a dead work — and the very type of thing these discouraged Jewish Christians were tempted to go back to. – David Guzik

Christ’s sacrifice offers a cleansing of our conscience so that we are able to serve God. The very thing that kept us from an intimate relationship with God has been removed. Our sin no longer separates us from His presence. We have been set free from sin’s penalty and are now free to live for Him.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all time; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So you too, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. – Romans 6:8-11

The Mediator of a New Covenant 

Hebrews chapter 9 now moves into how Jesus is the mediator of a new and better covenant.

Hebrews 9:15-22

For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a covenant, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when people are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. 18 Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. 22 And almost all things are cleansed with blood, according to the Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

The word “mediator” is the translation of mesites which refers to one who intervenes between two, to make or restore peace and friendship, to form a compact, or to ratify a covenant.

We learned back in Hebrews chapter 3 that Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession and we discussed what that means. As an Apostle, Jesus represents God to us, as a High Priest, He represents us to God. He is the mediator of the New Covenant between God and His people. It is through Him and through His blood that our relationship with God is restored.

The word “covenant” means a disposition, or arrangement, of any sort, which one wishes to be valid, the last disposition which one makes of his earthly possessions after his death, a testament or will.

The author also uses the imagery of a will or testament to emphasize that without blood-shedding, there is no forgiveness of sins. Christ’s death inaugurated the New Covenant, cleansing the sins of the past and opening the way to God’s grace for all generations.

Cleansing Through Christ’s Sacrifice 

summary of Hebrews chapter 9

Back in Hebrews 9:8 we saw that the way into the Holy Place (the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence dwelt) was not disclosed while the outer tabernacle was standing. 

This outer tabernacle had to fade away first before God’s people could enter His presence. So, how did this fading happen?

Hebrews 9:23-26

Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these things, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made by hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 

Each piece of the outer Tabernacle was designed to point us to Christ. 

  • The veil represented Jesus’ flesh: Matthew 27:45-51; Hebrews 10:20
  • The bread represented Jesus as the giver and sustainer of life: John 6:33-51
  • The lampstand represented Jesus as the Light of the world: John 8:21
  • The doorway into the outer tent represented Jesus as the way to the Father: John 10:9
  • The incense before the veil represented Jesus as our intercessor: Hebrews 7:24-25

Remember that the Tabernacle was designed to be the means by which Israel worshipped God. Our worship of God depends on Jesus. He is the reality of various things foreshadowed by the earthly Tabernacle.

There is no longer any need for the outer Tabernacle. It had faded away in Christ!

Christ’s entry into the heavenly sanctuary, once and for all, represents the ultimate atonement. His sacrifice doesn’t need to be repeated as the Old Covenant sacrifices were. 

Hebrews 9:27-28

And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

The mention of Christ appearing a second time without reference to sin underscores the finality of His redemptive work and the hope of His return for believers.

Hebrews Chapter 9 is a theological masterpiece that contrasts the limitations of the Old Covenant’s earthly tabernacle and its rituals with the efficacy and finality of Christ’s sacrifice in the New Covenant. The author beautifully highlights Christ’s role as the High Priest who enters the heavenly sanctuary with His own blood, providing eternal redemption and true cleansing of conscience. Through this summary of Hebrews 9, believers are reminded of the centrality of Christ’s sacrifice, the significance of the New Covenant, and the call to live by faith in light of these profound truths.

Related Posts and Resources: