World English Bible translation
9:6Now these things having been thus prepared, the priests go in continually into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the services, 9:7 but into the second the high priest alone, once in the year, not without blood, which he offers for himself, and for the errors of the people. 9:8 The Holy Spirit is indicating this, that the way into the Holy Place wasn't yet revealed while the first tabernacle was still standing; 9:9 which is a symbol of the present age, where gifts and sacrifices are offered that are incapable, concerning the conscience, of making the worshipper perfect; 9:10 being only (with meats and drinks and various washings) fleshly ordinances, imposed until a time of reformation.
This section of the Epistle to the Hebrews concerns a comparison of the covenant and sanctuary of the Law of Moses and the Covenant of Christ. The author has begun to describe the tabernacle that Moses was instructed to build when he went up on Mr. Sinai. There was a mention of some of the items that were found within the tabernacle: the lampstand, the table with the show bread and the golden altar of incense.
In Today's Scripture, there is the description of the two major areas of the tabernacle. In the outer portion of the tabernacle, what the author here calls the "first tabernacle," was the altar where the priest served daily. Every priest waited for his appointed time to serve in the altars of the tabernacle and the temple that followed it. The day in which the priest was able to offer up sacrifices for the people or when he was allowed to trim the lampstand was a day that would be the highlight of his life. There were many priests in Israel, so each priest must wait to serve his turn.
But into the second part of the tabernacle only the high priest could enter. In the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant and the lid of the Ark was called the Mercy Seat. Only the high priest could enter here, and that only once a year. On the Day of Atonement, after much preparation, the high priest would enter this most holy area twice. The first time, the high priest would sprinkle the blood of a bullock (or a bull) on and before the Mercy Seat. The blood of the bullock was a sacrifice offered for the sins of the high priest and his own family. Later in the same day, the high priest would return and offer another sacrifice of the blood of a goat for the sins of the nation.
Our author tells his audience that God's purpose in these things was to express to Israel that while the Law of Moses was in place, the way into the Holy Place was closed to them. The gifts and sacrifices that were being offered in the tabernacle were "incapable of making the worshipper perfect." The gifts that were offered were only "fleshly." Because of this, the sacrifices had to be offered over and over.
But the Law of Moses looked forward to a time of reformation. That would be a new covenant that God would make with the nation of Israel. He would put His laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. The Law looked forward to the day when Christ would come. Until that day came, the Law would be the caretaker for the people.
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