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HEBREWS 8:1-9:10 (web)

Christ the Better Sacrifice I

New Reality Replaces Old Shadows

Earthly Ministry a Shadow of the Heavenly

8:1 Now in the things which we are saying, the main point is this.

We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,
8:2 a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.

8:3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices.
Therefore it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer.

8:4 For if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all,
seeing there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law;
8:5 who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things,
even as Moses was warned by God when he was about to make the tabernacle, for he said,

"See, you shall make everything according to
the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain." (Ex 25:40)

The Superiority of the New Covenant

8:6 But now he has obtained a more excellent ministry,
by so much as he is also the mediator of a better covenant,
which has been enacted on better promises.

8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless,
then no place would have been sought for a second.
8:8 For finding fault with them, he said,

"Behold, the days come," says the Lord, "That I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
8:9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, In the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; For they didn't continue in my covenant, And I disregarded them," says the Lord.
8:10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days," says the Lord; "I will put my laws into their mind, I will also write them on their heart. I will be to them a God, And they will be to me a people.
8:11 They will not teach every man his fellow citizen,
{TR reads "neighbor" instead of "fellow citizen"}
Every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' For all will know me,
From the least of them to the greatest of them.
8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness.
I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more." (Jer 31:31-34)

8:13 In that he says, "A new covenant," he has made the first old. But that which is becoming old and grows aged is near to vanishing away.

The Superiority of the New Sanctuary

The Earthly Sanctuary

9:1 Now indeed even the first {TR adds "tabernacle"}
covenant had ordinances of divine service, and an earthly sanctuary.
9:2 For there was a tabernacle prepared.
In the first part were the lampstand, the table, and the show bread;
which is called the Holy Place.

9:3 After the second veil was the tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies,
9:4 having a golden altar of incense,
and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold,
in which was a golden pot holding the manna, Aaron's rod that budded,
and the tables of the covenant;
9:5 and above it cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat,
of which things we can't now speak in detail.

9:6 Now 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 worshiper perfect;
9:10 being only (with meats and drinks and various washings)
fleshly ordinances, imposed until a time of reformation.

Discussion Questions

vs 8:1-5 How might this concept of shadows suddenly make much of the Old Testament more relevant to Christians?
Can you name a number of things in the Old Testament that may be shadows of the New? (Heb 10:1; Col 2:16,17)
What causes shadows to vanish?
vs 6-13 If the Old Covenant was defective and later made obsolete, why do you suppose God introduced it to begin with? (xref Gal 3:17-24)
In what ways do the promises in the new covenant as quoted from Jer 31:31-34 fulfill themselves in the Christian life?
How might the New Covenant promises be divided into two categories representative of two aspects of salvation?
(1. Sanctification - salvation with respect to our attitude and behavior.
 2. Justification - salvation from the guilt of sin)
As a Christian have you experienced the fulfillment of these promises?
vs 12 From this verse what is one possible response to God on judgment day if He asks you why He should let you into His kingdom? (Ask Him if He can think of any reason why not? Like if He can remember any sin you committed)
vs 9:1-10 What does each room and item in the old sanctuary represent for the Christian?
What does it mean to have a clear conscience and how has Christ provided this under the New Covenant?


Much of the Old Testament, while containing a record of actual historical events, is often applied allegorically by the New Testament authors with this idea of "shadows" in mind. The example given in Hebrews 8-10 considers the Law, the old Mosaic covenant, the sanctuary and its ritualistic practices, to be shadows - symbolic illustrations - of what applies to Christians, which is the heavenly reality.

Another clear example of this is given in Galatians

Understanding this concept is helpful to Christians in deriving applications from the Old Testament.


Only a Shadow

Heb 8:1-5 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." (Ex 25:40)

"The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming— not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship" Heb 10:1

A shadow is not only a mere representation, it is also only two dimensional. The Old Testament, while speaking of actual history, it's largely to be interpreted as a shadow. But it's easy to misinterpret shadows. I can make a shadow of a bird with my hands, but the reality is not a bird but two hands. "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." Col 2:16,17 (Something 7th Day Adventists need to take to heart) Interpret the Old Testament in light of the New.

A New Covenant

Heb 8:6-9  But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.  For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord." (Jer 31:31,32)

The Old Covenant was defective, indeed ineffective as noted in Heb 7:18-19, and so was replace by a new covenant. Such was prophesied in Jeremiah. Likewise the ministry Jesus received was superior to that of the Levitical priests who officiated under the Law.

At the last supper after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." Luke 22:20 Jesus himself sealed the new covenant with his blood, which was the offering made to God to pay for the sins of the world. "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood." Rom 3:25a

Heb 8:10-13  This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

There are two aspects to this New Covenant. These may be categorized as Sanctification and Justification. First he mentions Sanctification. Under the Old Covenant the letter of the Law kills. And Paul writes, "He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant— not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." 2Cor 3:6 Under the New Covenant behavior is affected by the regeneration brought about by the Holy Spirit. Right behavior comes naturally to the Christian. Thus John writes, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:9,10 And "those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." Rom 8:5b Under the New each individual believer is given a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ in cooperation with the Spirit of God. "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. 1Cor 2:16 

 Justification, which incorporates the forgiveness of sins, makes that personal relationship possible. For "your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you" Is 59:2 But "In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace" Eph 1:7 Under the New Covenant our sins are not only forgiven but also he will remember their sins no more. If God were to ask you why he should let you into his kingdom, of the many possible answers a Christian can give, he can simply say "Why not?" For sins which God doesn't remember cannot be taken into account on the judgement day. (Now if God forgets our sins and that of our fellow Christians, maybe you should as well!)

The Tabernacle

Heb 9:1-5  Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place,  which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.

See for a detailed study of the old/new tabernacle

Yom Kippur

Heb 9:6,7 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry.  But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.

To this day Jews celebrate the day of atonement, which they call "Yom Kippur", but in fact do not observe it as required under the Law of Moses as the Jews today have no Levitical priesthood and no tabernacle or temple in which to observe this.

But such was merely a shadow made obsolete by the true and effective sacrifice of the Lord Jesus who atoned for sin. "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins" 1John 2:2a Furthermore note that under the Law the day of atonement only dealt with sins committed in ignorance. But the New Covenant deals with all sins through the sacrifice of Christ. "By Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses." Acts 13:39

Now on the day of atonement there were two goats. One is sacrificed, which represents Christ's death atoning for sins. The other is the "scapegoat"  "Aaron is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites— all their sins— and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert." Lev 16:21,22 That goat the Bible calls the "scapegoat" and is where we get the word "scapegoat" today. He represents Christ taking our sins upon himself and taking them away. "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all ... By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken." Is 53:6,8

Ineffective External Regulations

Heb 9:8-10 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings— external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

Col 2:16,17 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Heb 13:9 "Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them."

Many Christians and others get caught up in ceremonialism and consequently sacramental theology. But the Law is largely symbolic. Don't confuse symbolism with substance. And the substance of Old Testament symbols are not New Testament  ceremonies, but rather that which occurs in the spiritual realm. For that which is of the flesh, that which is done to the flesh, is flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit. External regulations neither justify nor sanctify. The new order is one of regeneration and justification is imputed.

"Since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." Heb 10:21,22

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jan 20,2022