World English Bible translation
9:15For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, since a death has occurred for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 9:16 For where a last will and testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him who made it. 9:17 For a will is in force where there has been death, for it is never in force while he who made it lives. 9:18 Therefore even the first covenant has not been dedicated without blood. 9:19 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, 9:20 saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you."
9:21Moreover he sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry in like manner with the blood. 9:22 According to the law, nearly everything is cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission.
Jesus has entered the perfect tabernacle in heaven. He entered after the Father had accepted His sacrifice and raised Jesus from the dead. When He entered that tabernacle, He sat down on the right hand of the throne of heaven and there he intercedes for those that express faith in His sacrifice.
It is on the basis of that sacrifice that Jesus has become the mediator of the New Covenant. A mediator is one who settles a conflict by representing two sides to bring them to agreement. Through His incarnation, Jesus represents both man and God. Under the Old Covenant, man could never be perfected because his conscience could not be cleaned. The ordinances of the Old Covenant cleansed the flesh but could not clear the conscience.
Now the next argument could appear to be confusing. Thus far, the line of logic concerning the New Covenant has been easy to follow. But suddenly the logic shifts immediately to speaking about a will. What does a "last will and testament" have to do with "covenant?" Well this can be easily explained when it is understood that the same Greek word is used in both places. The same word can mean, depending on the context, covenant and testament. It is this same sense that the two portions of the Christian Bible are divided into the Old Testament (or Covenant) and the New Testament (or Covenant). Now the primary definition is that of "covenant," but in this portion the author clearly has in mind the secondary sense of "testament" or "will."
A will only comes into effect when the one who has written it has died. The "will" that Jesus mediated went into effect when He died. Even the Old Covenant required that blood be shed to validate it. Moses sprinkled the blood of calves and goats over all the people and over the books of the Law. He even sprinkled the tabernacle and all of the vessels of the ministry with blood.
This portion of the Epistle to the Hebrews ends with an important principle. "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission," (of sin). Sins are not forgiven without a death taking place. The penalty for sin is death. That death must be paid either by the one who committed the sin or by a substitute. Under the Old Covenant, God allowed that an animal could substitute for the sinner. Under the New Covenant, God provided His own Lamb to stand as a substitute. As John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world."
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