Hebrews 9

The old agreement and the tabernacle

1 The first agreement included rules about how people should worship God. It also spoke about a special place for people to worship God on this earth. 2 Israel's people made a special tent for God. The first room in that tent was called the holy place. The special lampstand was in this room. The special table with the bread which they offered to God was there too.

9:2Exodus 26; 27:9-19 describe the special tent that God told Moses to make.
9:2Exodus 25:31-39; 25:23-30 describe the gold lampstand and the special table for bread.

3 Behind a second curtain, there was a very special room. It was called the Most Holy Place. 4 The gold altar for incense was in there. The Covenant Box was there too. The box had gold on all its sides. Inside the box was the gold pot that contained the special food called manna. The box also contained Aaron's stick that had grown leaves. It also contained the two flat stones on which God had written the rules of his agreement with his people. 5 The shapes of two special angels stood on the top of the box. They were made from gold and they showed that God was there with great power. The angels held out their wings over the lid of the box. That lid was the place where God forgave the people's sins. But we cannot explain everything about these things now.

9:4Exodus 30:1-10 describes the gold table where they burned incense.
9:4Exodus 25:10-22 describes the special Covenant Box.
9:4Exodus 16:14-31 describes how God supplied manna for Israel's people to eat in the wilderness. Exodus 16:32-34 describes how Aaron put some of this special food in a pot to keep it.
9:4Numbers 17:1-11 describes how Aaron's stick grew leaves, flowers and fruit. This showed people that God had really chosen Moses and Aaron to be the leaders of Israel's people.

6 So that was how they prepared the special tent. Then the priests would go into the first room of the tent every day. They went in there to serve God, as his rules taught. 7 But only the special leader of the priests could go into the second room. He went in there only once every year. He had to take with him blood from an animal that they had killed. He offered the blood to God on his own behalf, so that God would forgive his sins. He also offered it on behalf of the people. Then God would forgive their mistakes too.

9:7Leviticus 16 describes how the chief priest went into the Most Holy Place once a year.

8 In this way, God's Holy Spirit was showing that the most holy place was not yet open to everyone. While the tent with its first room was still there, those were the rules for people to worship God. 9 This is like a picture that means something for us today. It teaches us about the gifts and sacrifices that people offered to God, to worship him. When someone gave those things to God, it could not make him clean again in his mind. 10 The old rules taught people about different kinds of food and drink. They taught about how people should wash in special ways. Those rules were about people's bodies. They had authority only until the time when God would make things new and better.

God's new agreement

11 But now Christ has come as our special priest. He brings us the good things that are now here. He has gone into God's own place in heaven. That is a greater and much better tent than the old tabernacle. No person made this tent. It does not belong to this world at all. 12 Christ went into the Most Holy Place on our behalf. He did this once, for all time. He did not take with him the blood of goats or young cows when he went in there. Instead, he took the blood of his own death to offer to God. In that way, he made us free from sin for ever. 13 The old rules said that the priest must use the blood of goats or bulls to make people clean. Or he could burn a young cow and mix the ashes with water. He would then splash the blood or the ashes over the people who were unclean. Then those people became clean again in their bodies, and they could worship God.

9:13Numbers 19:1-22 describes how the ashes of a young, red cow could make people clean for God.

14 But the blood of Christ's sacrifice will do much more than that! Christ offered himself to God, in the power of his Spirit, who lives for ever. That sacrifice was completely good. There was no wrong thing in Christ. He offered his own blood to make us completely clean inside ourselves. We no longer have to do things that lead to death. Instead, we can serve the God who lives for ever. 15 So, by Christ's death, God brings a new agreement between him and his people. God's people receive from him the good things that will be with them for ever. God has promised to give those things to the people that he has chosen. Christ's death has made them free from their sins. God will no longer punish them like the first agreement says should happen.

16 Think about this. A person may make an agreement about who will receive his things after his death. But nobody receives anything until it is clear that the person has really died. 17 The agreement only has authority after the death of the person who made it. It has no authority while that person is still alive.

18 So even God's first agreement with his people needed the blood of an animal. The agreement only had authority after a death. 19 It was like this. Moses read God's laws aloud to all Israel's people. He told them every rule that God had given them. After that, Moses killed some young cows and goats. He took some of their blood and he mixed it with water. He threw some of the blood to drop onto the book of God's laws. He also caused some to drop onto all the people. He used red sheep's hair and some small branches of a plant called hyssop to throw the blood and water. 20 When Moses did this, he said to the people, ‘This blood shows that God's agreement with you has authority.’ 21 In the same way, Moses threw some of the blood onto the tabernacle. He also caused blood to drop onto all the things that the priests used to serve God there. 22 God's Law taught that blood was necessary to make almost everything clean. We see that God does not forgive people for their sins unless there is blood from a death.

9:21Exodus 24:3-8 describes the events that these verses are talking about.

Christ's sacrifice on the cross

23 The tabernacle and the things that were in it needed animals' blood to make them clean. That was a picture of the true place in heaven where people worship God. But the true things in heaven need better sacrifices to make them clean than the sacrifices of animals. 24 Christ did not go into a holy place that people had made on earth. A place like that is only a picture of the true place in heaven. No, Christ went into heaven itself, where God is. Now he is there with God and he speaks to God on our behalf.

25 The leader of the priests here on earth goes into the Most Holy Place every year. Each time, he takes with him the blood of an animal and he offers it to God. But when Christ went into heaven to offer himself to God, he did not do that again and again. 26 To do that, he would need to die again and again, many times since the world began. No! Christ has appeared just once. He has appeared now, when time is near its end. He came and he died as a sacrifice. In that way, he has removed the power of sin. 27 Every person must die once. After death, God will judge each person. 28 Christ also died only once as a sacrifice. In this way, he took God's punishment for the sins of many people. Christ will return to earth a second time, but that will not be as a sacrifice for sins. That time, he will come to save those people who are waiting patiently for him.