This; Earthly Tabernacle Hebrews IX

a often capitalised :  a tent sanctuary used by the Israelites during the Exodus

b archaic :  a dwelling place

c archaic :  a temporary shelter : 

= The body is a temporary shelter and dwelling place for the spirit.


John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Destroy this temple, [body] and in three days I will raise it up.’

raise = egeiro = to rouse up from sleep.  Pass., to awake.  Occurs 141 times, of which seventy refer to resurrection.  See (e.g.) Matt. 10:8; 27:63, 64; Luke 20:37; 24:6, 34; 

John 12:1, 9, 17; Eph. 1:20; 5:14, &c.


2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly [body] house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

this tabernacle = the tent only here and verse 4. It is the Gen of Apposition. Ap 17 The Genitive of Apposition. 

 Here the "of" is equivalent to "that is to say", or, "consisting of".  Gen. 2:7, "The breath of life" = the breath, that is to say, life.  John 2:21, "The temple of His body" = the temple, that is to say, His body.  Rom. 4:11, "The sign of circumcision" = the sign, that is to say, circumcision.  2Cor. 5:1, "The house of our tabernacle" = the house, that is to say, our tabernacle.  2Cor. 3:17, 18, "The spirit of the Lord" = the spirit, that is to say, the Lord (Christ) Who is the life of the old covenant, as the body without the spirit is dead (Jas. 2:26).  1Pet. 1:1, "Sojourners of the Dispersion" = sojourners, that is to say, the Dispersion.


The writer now proceeds to demonstrate the third point in his main theme. He has already shown that Christ is the ideal High Priest exercising His ministry in an ideal sanctuary. He now sets out to prove that He offered the ideal or perfect sacrifice. The chapter falls naturally into the following sections:

1.      A description of the earthly tabernacle (vv1—5).

2.      The fatal effects of its worship (vv6—10).

3.      The ideal sacrifice offered by Christ (vv11—14).

4.      The necessity and value of that sacrifice (vv15—22).

5.      The relation between the ideal sacrifice and the ideal sanctuary (vv23—28).


1—5 The Description of the Earthly Tabernacle.

The contrast between the Old and New Covenants is developed in the account which is now given of the tabernacle which is called a sanctuary of this world in contrast to the heavenly sanctuary which was the scene of the ministry of Christ. It was not because it lacked the means of worship that the Old covenant failed. On the contrary, the tabernacle was magnificently equipped with the most exquisite and ornate furnishings. It contained:

1.      The candlestick. i.e. a golden lampstand with seven lamps. (Ex 25:31—40) which stood in front of the sacred table.

2.      The table itself. (Ex 25:23—30) It was made of Acacia wood overlaid with pure gold and with a golden crown around it.

3.      The shewbread. literally, bread of the setting forth. (Ex25:30. Lev 24:5—9). The shewbread consisted of twelve cakes which were set out in two rows on the table of the Lord. Only Aaron and his sons were allowed to eat these sacred cakes, although, on one account (1 Sam 24:4—6), which is referred to by Jesus (Mark 2:26), David, when he and his men were hungry, “ate the shewbread which is not lawful to eat save for the priests, and gave also to them that were with him.”

Such was the furniture of the first division of the tabernacle known as the holy place.


Exodus 25:31—40

31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.

32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:

33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.

34 And in the candlesticks shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.

35 And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.

36 Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.

37 And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.

38 And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.

39 Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.

40 And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.


Exodus 25:23—30

23 Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.

24 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about.

25 And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about.

26 And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof.

27 Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table.

28 And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them.

29 And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them.


30 And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before Me alway.


Leviticus 24:5—9

5 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.

6 And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the Lord.

7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord.

8 Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.

9 And it shall be Aaron's and his sons'; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the Lord made by fire by a perpetual statute. 


1 Samuel 24:4—6

4 And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily.

5 And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt.

6 And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord's anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.


Mark 2:26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?


The Holy Place was separated by a veil (Exodus 26: 31—33) from the more sacred part of the tabernacle, which is called “the Holy of Holies” and is the innermost sanctuary. The contents of “the holy of holies” are enumerated follows:

Exodus 26:31—33

31 And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with Cherubims shall it be made:

32 And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver.

33 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.


1.      The Golden censer.

2.      The Ark of the covenant, (Exodus 25:10—12).

3.      A golden pot holding Manna. (Exodus 16:32—33).

4.      Arron’s rod that budded. (Numbers 17:1—10).

5.      The tables of the covenant. (Deuteronomy 10:2—8.

6.      The cherubim of glory over the mercy seat. (Exodus 25:17—22).


The mercy-seat was the lid of the Ark, and was a square slab made of wood.  It was sprinkled with blood on the day of atonement, and hence it obtained its name “means of propitiation” [an atoning sacrifice]  (this is the literal translation of the Greek words), or mercy-seat. The Cherubims are the two winged figures placed on either side of the ark. They symbolised the presence of God, and the mercy-seat indicated His compassion and readiness to forgive sin.The content of the tabernacle were therefore, rich in meaning, however; the writer of Hebrews says that it is impossible for him to discuss the significance of the symbolism.


The word translated errors (v 7) is a special term and denotes sins of ignorance—sins which have been committed unwittingly. This arrangement was ordained by the Holy Spirit (v 8) to show there was no free access into the presence of God under the order of worship connected with the tabernacle. The right of approach was confined to the high priest on one solitary occasion in the year. Moreover, the arrangement is a kind of parable which is to teach us a lesson (v 9)

and the lesson is this:

The gifts and sacrifices offered by the priests cannot possibly make the conscience of the worshipper’s perfect, since they are external ordinances (material laws) and do not therefore affect the inner spirit of men, because they only deal with the question of food and drink and actual washings. They have, therefore, only a temporary value and have been imposed until a time of reformation, i.e., until the new covenant with its new order is established.

The point of the paragraph is this:

The Jewish Law broke down on two fundamental issues. One purpose of religion is to secure access to God, and Judaism failed in achieving this end, since it only provided for a rare and occasional communion on the part of the high priest alone.

Another purpose of religion is to discover the means of moral regeneration, and here too Judaism failed, since its regulations and ordinances were little more than external acts of ritual and never touched the conscience and inner life. Judaism therefore, is a temporary makeshift, and not a final religion.


Hebrews 9: 7—9

7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;


The Ideal Sacrifice Offered by Christ.

The writer now proceeds to show how Christ has made good the defects in the Jewish Law. As Moffatt puts it, “Christ came on the scene and all was changed.” He became the High Priest of the happier age (the good things) that was to be. It is a little uncertain (since the MSS vary) whether the writer means “the happier age that was to be” or “the happier age which has now been realised.” The same phrase occurs in 10:1 where the reference is unmistakeably to the future, but that does not necessarily imply that the writer must have said the same thing here, as the words are used in a different context.


Hebrews 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.


Many scholars think that “the happier age which has now been realised” is what he wrote here. From the writers standpoint the realisation of the good things was no longer a future dream. It had already come to pass, and was the inheritance into which every Christian entered. The writer now produces the facts which constitute his argument to prove that where Judaism failed, Christ had succeeded. His success was due to two things:

1.      He (Christ) entered into the heavenly sanctuary—not into the holy of holies of the tabernacle like an ordinary high priest, but into the ideal sanctuary in the heavens—a sanctuary not made with hands, and not belonging to the world of created things. Many of the Christian Fathers took the phrase through the greater and more perfect tabernacle (v 11.) Hebrews 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; to refer to the perfection of the human nature of Christ. Hebrews 10:20 By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;

2.      He offered the perfect sacrifice—His own blood –and not an imperfect sacrifice like that of goats and calves. Moreover; this sacrifice which Christ offered needed no repetition unlike the sacrifices of the Jewish Law. It was offered once, and for all, and wrought an eternal redemption. The effect produced by the sacrifice of Christ, therefore, transcended in value the sacrifices of the Jewish Law. (Christ showed all of us that we would relinquish this flesh body, and to be born into the spiritual realm, living forever with Jehovah and Christ. Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. 1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.


The writer of Hebrews does not deny that the ordinary had a value of a kind. They sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh. In this phrase he refers to the type of sacrifice  described in Numbers chapter 19.


Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:


There were certain things, e.g. contact with a dead body, which rendered a man ceremonially unclean. The Law of purification required that a red heifer should be slain and its blood sprinkled seven times towards the sanctuary. The body and blood of the beast were then burned with cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet wool. The ashes were mixed with water, and this was sprinkled on the body of the man who had been contaminated. But this rite affected only ceremonial uncleanness and merely cleansed the body.

The sacrifice of Christ, however; was much more potent in its efficacy (the power to produce an effect). It cleansed the conscience from dead works to serve the living God.


Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?


The writer in (v14) gives the grounds upon which he attaches supreme value to the sacrifice offered by Christ. He assumes that sacrifice is an eternal necessity. He assumes that shedding of blood is essential to sacrifice. Compare the statement in verse 22.


Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.


These are the two postulates (hypotheses) upon which his argument is built up. On the assumption that these postulates are true the writer argues as follows.

1.      The value of the sacrifice of Christ rests upon the fact that He offered Himself and not an external sacrifice. (material; of this fallen earth). It was the surrender of His own life that counted.

2.      This sacrifice fulfilled the condition that the sacrifice must be without blemish since He was “holy, guileless, undefiled, and separated from sinners.”

3.    It was offered through the eternal Spirit. It is generally assumed that the meaning of the phrase is identical with the words in Hebrews 7:16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

The efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ depended on the fact that He was not mortal, like an earthly priest, but possessed a Spirit which was eternal. He belonged to an eternal order and His sacrifice therefore had eternal value.  d. "for evermore." (and we shall be alike)


in Hebrews 7:2 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.


The Necessity and value of the Sacrifice of Christ.

He begins by emphasising again with the idea which is the theme of  8:6—13, that Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant.


Hebrews 8: 6—13

06 But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

07 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

08 For finding fault with them, He saith, ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:’

09 ‘Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in My covenant, and I regarded them not,’ saith the Lord.

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ saith the Lord; ‘I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people:’

11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”’

12 ‘For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.’

13 In that He saith, ‘A new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.’


There is no mention of a sacrificial death, for instance, In Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant  quoted in;


Jeremiah 8:8—12

08 How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.

09 The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?

10 Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for everyone from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.

11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.


Yet the writer of Hebrews regards the death of Christ as essential to the New Covenant which He hath established: A death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first Covenant.


Hebrews 9:15  And for this cause He is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.


How can the necessity for this be proved? In two ways, argues the writer.

1.      The word covenant also signifies a “will” or “testament,” and a will only comes into force when the testator is dead (vv15—18). While the testator is still alive the “will” does not operate. So the death of Christ was necessary, in order that His testament might come into effect.

2.      By a swift transition to the other meaning of the word (vv 19—22), the writer argues that even the first covenant was designated by the shedding of blood. The reference is to the statement in Exodus 24:3—11. After sacrificing burnt-offerings of oxen unto the Lord, “Moses took half of the blood, and put it into basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled unto the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, “All that the Lord hath spoken will we do, and be obedient.” Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it unto the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you.”

In spite of the variance in the details , the main point of the contention of Hebrews is fully proved—sacrifice was certainly used in the establishment of the first covenant. It is in keeping with the absence of any distinct reference to the Eucharist in the Epistle.


1 Corinthians 11:25 After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, “this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 


The paragraph ends with a general statement. I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission (A lessening of intensity or degree; abatement) (v22). The writer qualifies his general statement by the phrase, I may almost say, because under Jewish Law those who were too poor to offer animal sacrifice might be assured that their sins might be remitted without it. With this qualification, however, the writer regards it as a fundamental axiom (statement accepted as true as the basis for argument or inference) of religion that sacrifice is essential to the remission of sin.


Luke 24:26 “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?”


The Relation Between the Ideal Sacrifice and the ideal Sanctuary.

The writer now returns to the Platonic argument which he has used with such cogency (the quality or state of being convincing or persuasive) in (8:1—2).


Hebrews 8:1—2

1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.


Reticence (restraint) Concerning Times and Seasons.

Paul here sounds a warning which later millenarians would do well to heed. No one could know the times and proper seasons when these things should take place, for, as Jesus had repeatedly assured His disciples (Mk13; 32 =Mt 24:36; Mk 13:33—37; &c) and Paul had taught the Thessalonians, the day of the Lord (O.T. phrase is applied to Christ’s Advent for the purpose of judging the world and vindicating His own) was to come unexpectedly as a thief in the night. The inescapable punishment would fall when least anticipated. But the Christian, prepared for the Judgement through righteous living, need not fear. The phrase thief in the night suggests to the apostle an interesting and apposite (appropriate) figure. The Christian is living in the light of day. He not only need not fear the thief in the night but he must live in the light of day. He must be neither drunken nor asleep, as people are at night, but awake and sober. Clad in the Christian’s armour of (Eph 6:13—17) he is sure of his rescue from sin and punishment, for God has chosen him, and Christ died for him.

The earthly sanctuary which is an image of the heavenly had to be necessarily cleansed by the sacrifices offered under the Jewish Law. However, the heavenly sanctuary needed better sacrifices than these, because an ideal sanctuary demands an ideal form of sacrifice.

The sanctuary of Christ is not like the earthly tabernacle which was made by human hands and was only the shadow and reflection of the heavenly reality. It was the heavenly sanctuary itself, and when He entered it He came into the very presence of God. However; more questions emerge:

·        What right have we to assume that the sacrifice of Christ was final and will never be repeated?

·        Wherein does it differ in this respect from the sacrifice offered by the high priest which needed to be repeated every year?


In this paragraph the writer attempts to answer the questions, and he uses two arguments to prove that the sacrifice of Christ was final and complete.

1.      It has already been stated in v15 that the sacrifice availed for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant. It covered; therefore, all the past, or else Christ must often have suffered since the foundation of the world and if all the past, it may be assumed that it will cover the future too.

2.      Death comes only once to men. It is always the final issue of life. Christ too was subject to the same law. He could be subject to death only once. In the case of men death is followed by judgement; in the case of Christ, it was by His re-appearance on earth in triumph. Moreover, there is no time left for the repetition of the sacrifice in the future. Christ died at the end of the ages v 26, and the final consummation is near at hand. Like practically all the other N.T. writers, our author firmly believes in the speedy return of Christ.


Hebrews 10:37--38

37 For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.