Hebrews 9:11-14

Sermon preached on January 22, 2017 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

The year that I studied in Scotland we made a trip to London and visited Buckingham Palace. We didn't get to go in the palace. We didn't even get to go in the gate to the outer courtyard. That area is restricted. We didn't see the Queen. It would have been nice to do that, but I'm pretty sure that even if we asked they wouldn't have let us in.

We also visited the White House once. We were actually able to get in to see part of it because they had tours. But we didn't get to see any of the important rooms. We didn't get to see the Oval Office. That area was restricted. We didn't get to see the President. We were kept out of contact with the important people.

Last week we had the inauguration of a new President. I saw some pictures of the crowds. All the seats closest to the president were reserved. I'm not sure how close the general public could get to him, but from the picture I saw I concluded that most of the crowd probably needed binoculars to get a good view of the President. Some people on the side of the road may have got a closer look at the President when he went by in the presidential limo, but even that was limited as he was behind bullet proof glass. The ordinary people couldn't interact with the President on a personal level. From a distance they could wave and clap or shout.

The text before us is a great passage because it tells us about Jesus' entrance into the heavenly tabernacle. What this means for us is that now we have complete access to God. It shows us that Jesus is exactly the person we need to bring us to into God's presence.

The Old Testament context for our text is the Day of Atonement, about the ministry of the High Priest on that annual occasion. In a very real way, the work of Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament shadows. The work of the high priests then was fulfilled on a much higher level by Jesus. in his commentary on Hebrews, William L. Lane writes, (p. 251)

"The securing of salvation can be described in terms of a forward movement into the presence of God."

One of the biblical images of Jesus accomplishing our salvation is of Him removing the barrier to God's presence for His people. He entered into the heavenly tabernacle and removed the barrier to God's presence. Lane continues,

"Under the old covenant such movement was severely restricted. A tangible expression of this fact was the curtain separating the rear compartment of the tabernacle from the Holy Place. On one day of the year alone only the high priest could pass through the curtain to appear before God (9:7). That he must do so year after year indicated that the atonement he secured was merely provisional in character. The sacrifices he offered were inadequate to accomplish a decisive purgation of the defilement of sin. Against this backdrop the writer contrasts the efficacy of the unrepeatable action of Christ, whose single offering secured eschatological salvation and provided access to the inaccessible presence of God."

When Jesus died on the cross, Matthew tells us that there were three effects. First there was an earthquake. Second, many dead people came to life and went into the city and appeared to many. The third thing was that, (Matthew 27:51)

"At that moment
the curtain of the temple
was torn in two from top to bottom."

The curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was rent in two. The way to God's presence has been opened to us. Jesus has accomplished that for us. No longer are we kept out of God's presence.

So let's look at what verse 11 tells us.

The main thing we see here is that by virtue of His death and resurrection

Jesus entered the heavenly tabernacle.

Our text says that when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, (Hebrews 9:11)

"he went through the greater
and more perfect tabernacle
that is not man-made,
that is to say,
not a part of this creation."

In contrast to the Levitical priests, Jesus didn't enter the earthly sanctuary. Hebrews 8:5 talks about earthly priests. It says,

"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."

The earthly sanctuary was but a copy of the one in heaven. It was a shadow of the heavenly one. When Jesus accomplished His work He entered the tabernacle in heaven itself on the basis of His work.

This tells us something important about the person of Jesus Christ.

It shows us His exalted status and the authority of His person as the result of His death. In other places in Scripture we are told that Jesus received certain rights and privileges on the basis of His death. For example, Philippians 2:8–11 says,

"And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and
became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him
to the highest place and gave him
the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow, in heaven
and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."

Here in our text, we are told about a different result. Because of His work, because He shed His blood, He was able to enter into the heavenly sanctuary. What we see from our text is the absolute worthiness of Jesus to enter heaven. We see that He was preeminently qualified and had a right to enter the heavenly tabernacle as no one else had ever done.

Consider the Old Testament tabernacle. According to the Bible there were two courts. The Outer Court surrounded the whole temple. It was there that the people gathered to worship God. The Inner Court, or the Court of the Priests, was only for the priests. The Inner Court was still outside the temple building. As you faced the entrance to the temple building, on the left was the "Sea" – a metal basin 7 and a half feet high and 15 feet in diameter. It held 12,000 gallons of water for priests to wash in. It was supported by 12 bronze oxen in sets of 3, facing in each direction. On the right was the bronze altar for burnt offerings. It was 15 feet high and 30 feet long and wide.

The entrance to the Temple was on the east side. The first room in the Temple was the Holy Place. It contained the golden altar of incense, the golden table for the bread of the Presence, and 10 golden lampstands, five on the north and five on the south.

A giant curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Inside the Most Holy Place was the ark of the covenant, which contained the two tablets of the Law, some manna, and Aaron's rod that budded. Two massive cherubim stood on either side of the ark, each 15 feet talk and with 15 foot wingspans, with their wings touching each other on one side, covering the ark, and on the other touching the walls.

For our purposes, what's important to note is that these courts and the temple were guarded. In Numbers 18:4–7 we read that God said to Aaron, about some of his relatives from the tribe of Levi, (CSB)

"They are to join you
and guard the tent of meeting,
doing all the work at the tent,
but no unauthorized person
may come near you.'
You are to guard the sanctuary
and the altar so that wrath
may not fall on the Israelites again.
Look, I have selected your fellow Levites
from the Israelites as a gift for you,
assigned by the LORD
to work at the tent of meeting.
But you and your sons
will carry out your priestly responsibilities
for everything concerning the altar
and for what is inside the curtain,
and you will do that work.
I am giving you the work
of the priesthood as a gift,
but an unauthorized person
who comes near the sanctuary
will be put to death."

This was a matter of life and death. The guards had to put to death anyone who came near. If the Levites didn't guard the temple, and restrict access to it, God's wrath would fall on the Israelites.

The Jews took this very seriously. Later, when Herod build the temple, two other courts were added. Outside the outer court was added the Court of Women. Outside of that was the Court of the Gentiles. You'll recall that in Acts 21 there was a great uproar at the temple. Some Jews from Asia saw the apostle Paul there. They seized him. After they seized him they shouted, (Acts 21:28–29)

" 'Men of Israel, help us!
This is the man who teaches all men
everywhere against our people
and our law and this place.
And besides, he has brought Greeks
into the temple area
and defiled this holy place.'
(They had previously seen
Trophimus the Ephesian in the city
with Paul and assumed that Paul
had brought him into the temple area.)"

What happened next shows how zealous they guarded the temple area. (Acts 21:30–31)

"The whole city was aroused,
and the people came running
from all directions.
Seizing Paul, they dragged him
from the temple,
and immediately the gates were shut.
While they were trying to kill him,
news reached the commander
of the Roman troops that
the whole city of Jerusalem
was in an uproar."

They took that responsibility seriously.

But getting back to the Old Testament. We saw from Numbers 14:5 that God Himself guarded His temple. If the Levites failed to guard the temple God told them that His wrath would fall on the nation.

Leviticus 16:2 tells us further that God guarded the temple from Aaron and the other Levites. We read,

"The LORD said to Moses:
'Tell your brother Aaron
not to come whenever he chooses
into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain
in front of the atonement cover on the ark,
or else he will die,
because I appear in the cloud
over the atonement cover.' "

The high priest was only allowed to enter the Most Holy Place once a year, on the Day of Atonement. Hebrews 9:7 speaks of this. It says,

"But the high priest alone
enters the second room,
and he does that only once a year,
and never without blood,
which he offers for himself
and for the sins the people
had committed in ignorance."

The High Priest had to enter the Most Holy Place with blood. Thus we see that the Most Holy Place was guarded so that only the one qualified could enter, and he could enter only at the proper time, and only with the proper instrument—blood.

What's significant about Jesus entering the heavenly tabernacle, the more perfect one, is that Jesus was eminently qualified to do that.

If the earthly sanctuary was guarded against unauthorized access, if the earthly sanctuary was guarded by the Levites and God Himself—how much more was the heavenly sanctuary guarded against unauthorized access. Only one who was qualified would be granted access. Only one who had the right and authority to enter would be allowed to enter.

The fact that Jesus entered shows us that Jesus was eminently qualified. One the basis of His work, His life, His death and His resurrection—Jesus had the right and the authority to enter. He had completed His mission. He had received the authority to enter the heavenly tabernacle.

And just as the Father announced His approbation for Jesus work when He was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist—there can be no doubt that when Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary on the basis of His blood, the Father and all the heavenly host rejoiced at the accomplishment of the beloved Son. The welcome He received was like no other. It had to have been incredibly glorious—one of the greatest, if not the greatest welcomes ever accorded anyone. The risen Christ entered the heavenly Most Holy Place — the place that the ancient Holy of Holies pointed to—the absolute presence of God—to the acclaim of all in heaven.

The last thing I want to draw your attention to about Jesus' entrance into the heavenly tabernacle was that

it was once for all and it was for us.

Hebrews 9:12 says,

"He did not enter
by means of the blood
of goats and calves;
but he entered the Most Holy Place
once for all by his own blood,
having obtained eternal redemption."

Unlike the entrance of the high priest in the Old Testament, who had to enter year after year, Jesus entered once for all. His work had lasting, permanent effects. It didn't have to be repeated every year. It was a once and for all event.

The work of the Old Testament priest in entering the Holy of Holies was on behalf of himself and the people. (Hebrews 9:7) Christ's work, verse 12 tells us, obtained eternal redemption. For whom? For us.

Jesus has obtained access to the Most Holy Place, for us.

This is because we are co-heirs with Him. What He accomplished He accomplished for us. He has gained access to God's presence for us, once for all. He has obtained eternal redemption for us. To use a similitude — no longer are the cherubim of Genesis 3, or the flaming sword, which flashed back and forth, barring us from the presence of God.

This means three things.

First, for Christians, realize that you now have unlimited access to God's presence.

Hebrews 4:14–16 says,

"Therefore, since we have
a great high priest
who has gone through the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God,
let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize
with our weaknesses,
but we have one
who has been tempted in every way,
just as we are—
yet was without sin.
Let us then approach
the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help us
in our time of need."

You have been brought close to God. You belong to His family. You are His sons and daughters. You can have sweet communion with Him because the Holy Spirit lives in you. Indeed, the Father lives in you. He has made His home in you. (John 14:23)

Secondly, this means that, even though for the time being we remain on the earth,

Christ Jesus, the God-man, is in God's presence intercedes for us.

Hebrews 9:24 says,

"For Christ did not enter
a man-made sanctuary
that was only a copy of the true one;
he entered heaven itself,
now to appear for us in God's presence."

Thirdly, for non-Christians, this passage

shows you that you need to be in Jesus or you are lost.

Nothing you can do here outside of Christ can effect your salvation. No one other than Jesus can save you. In order for you to be saved you need someone to enter the heavenly tabernacle, with blood, which signifies death—in order for the curse against your sins to be satisfied. Nothing less will do. Your sins are going to be dealt with—either by you dying eternally, or by Jesus dying for you on the cross 2000 years ago. Which will it be? Go to Jesus. Find eternal redemption in Him.