Hebrews 9:12-13

Sermon preached on January 29, 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.

This past summer a friend of mine who owns and operates a very successful business told me that his main business computer got hacked. He didn't tell me all of the details except that that hacker took over his computer and he was locked out of that computer. I believe what happened was one of his employees got an email with an attachment and they clicked on the attachment and that launched a program that took control of the computer. It locked the computer and encrypted the files. My friend wasn't able to use the computer at all. I had heard of this type of attack before. It's called ransomware. A message appears on the screen that gives instructions on how to restore access to the computer. Basically it told him where to send money. Usually that type of attack also gives a countdown timer— which shows the time they have to pay the money, after which, after the timer gets to zero, if the money is not paid, the computer's files are erased and lost forever.

I've heard that these criminals will actually release your computer and give you control of it back if you pay the ransom. It's in their own self interest. Their whole operation would collapse if they didn't release the computers when they ransom was paid. If they didn't release the computers word of it would get around people would stop paying the ransom. So they actually will give you back access to your computer.

One of the other characteristics of these hacks is that the hackers demand payment in bitcoin. Bitcoin is a cyber currency that was invented in 2008. You have to pay in bitcoin. They won't take a check. They won't take a credit card. (Even if they did take credit cards I don't think many people would be foolish enough to give them access to their credit card.) The reason they will only accept bitcoin is because it's almost impossible to trace. It's a secure and untraceable transaction. So the hackers demand that you pay by bitcoin.

That illustrates one of the main points of our text. When it's required that you pay for something only one way—then that's the only way you can pay for it. Our text says of Jesus, (Hebrews 9:12–13)

"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.
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer
sprinkled on those who are
ceremonially unclean sanctify them
so that they are outwardly clean.
How much more, then,
will the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit
offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,
so that we may serve the living God!"

In the Old Testament the high priest, when he entered the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement, had to enter with blood. We see this in verse 7, (Hebrews 9:7)

"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."

The Old Testament high priests entered the earthly sanctuary with blood and Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary with blood.

The great principle we see here is that

blood was required for admittance to God's presence.

It was an absolute prerequisite. The Old Testament high priest could never enter the Most Holy Place without blood. Leviticus 16:11-17 tells us that Aaron was to enter the Most Holy Place twice on the Day of Atonement with sin offerings. The first time he entered he was to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar, two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and the blood of the bull that was slaughtered. That was a sin offering for himself and his household. When he entered he would put the incense on the fire so that the smoke of the incense would conceal the atonement cover so that he would not die. Then he would sprinkle some of the blood on the atonement cover, and then seven times before the atonement cover.

He would then leave the Most Holy Place, slaughter a goat and then enter the Most Holy Place again with the goat's blood. This was also a sin offering and it was for the people. He would sprinkle that on the atonement cover and in front of it, just like he had with the bull's blood.

Our text tells us that Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary with His own blood. It doesn't specifically tell us that it was required—but a look at other New Testament passages that deal with Jesus' death shows us that it was. For example, when in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed for the cup to be taken from Him if it were possible, shows that in order to save us, He had to die. Jesus' words in John 12:23–24 also shows us this. Jesus replied,

"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat
falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.
But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

Then in verse John 12:27 Jesus said,

"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say?
'Father, save me from this hour'?
No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.' "

Then we read, (John 12:28–33)

"Then a voice came from heaven,
'I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.'
The crowd that was there
and heard it said it had thundered;
others said an angel had spoken to him.
Jesus said, 'This voice was for your benefit, not mine.
Now is the time for judgment on this world;
now the prince of this world will be driven out.
But I, when I am lifted up from the earth,
will draw all men to myself.'
He said this to show the
kind of death he was going to die."

Jesus was required to enter the heavenly sanctuary on the basis of His blood. William L. Lane summaries this teaching, (Hebrews 9–13, WBC 47B; p. 235)

"access to God is possible only through the medium of blood."

What is the significance of blood?

Vern Poythress writes, (The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, p. 42)

"the blood signifies the life of the slain animal, it testifies that the animal has been slain and that the value of the death is applied to the designated object."

The significance of the sin offerings was that they were presented to make atonement of sin. After all, the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement. The sin offering emphasized, (Poythress, p. 47)

"the necessity of punishment in the payment for sin. The punishment is borne by the animal instead of the worshiper."

Blood was used to represent death. The Old Testament animals that were sacrificed were put to death. They were killed. The Israelites were taught that their sins required death.

When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden they were told that if they ate the forbidden fruit they would die. Death is the punishment for sin. As the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:23,

"the wages of sin is death"

Death is the consequence, the curse of sin. In order for their to be forgiveness of sin, there had to be death. The sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed to that. Hebrews 9:22 says,

"In fact, the law requires that nearly everything
be cleansed with blood,
and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

The application we should make from this is that

your hope for eternal redemption must be directed to Jesus.

Your hope of heaven, of being in God's presence must not rest of your works, on merit, on law keeping, on your worthiness or anything else like them. It your faith must be directed to Jesus and His work.

Your sins call out for death and the only way they can be atoned for is by death. That's why blood is emphasized so often in Scripture. For example, in Ephesians 1:7 the apostle Paul wrote,

"In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins, in accordance
with the riches of God's grace"

And in 1 Peter 1:18–19, the apostle wrote,

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such
as silver or gold that you were
redeemed from the empty way of life
handed down to you from your forefathers,
but with the precious blood of Christ,
a lamb without blemish or defect."

In Revelation 1:5 John gave greetings to the seven churches of Asia. The second half of it says,

"and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,
the firstborn from the dead,
and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has
freed us from our sins by his blood,"

In Revelation 7:14 one of the elders told John who those in white robes were.

"he said, 'These are they who have come out
of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.' "

Don't be so foolish as to think that your works can get you into heaven. Your sins require death. If you're not in Jesus, if you don't look to Him to save you through His death and resurrection—you will perish forever.

To impress this upon us, the second thing we see from our text that

for eternal redemption, the blood of Jesus was necessary.

Verse 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."

In the first part of the verse 12 animal sacrifices are contrasted with the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ was much superior to the blood of animals in that it did what animal sacrifices could not do—obtain eternal redemption.

The Old Testament people knew that the blood of bulls and goats could not really take away sins. The animal sacrifices pointed to the work of the coming Messiah. As we read in Hebrews 10:1–4,

"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.
If it could, would they not
have stopped being offered?
For the worshipers would have been
cleansed once for all, and would no longer
have felt guilty for their sins.
But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins,
because it is impossible
for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."

To bring us to God, death was required, but no other death than the death of Jesus would do. John Murray writes, (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p. 15)

"We often think of the Levitical sacrifices as providing the pattern for the sacrifice of Christ. This direction of thought is not improper—the Levitical sacrifices do furnish us with the categories in terms of which we are to interpret the sacrifice of Christ, particularly the categories of expiation, propitiation, and reconciliation. But this line of thought is not the characteristic one in Hebrews 9. The thought is specifically that the Levitical sacrifices were patterned after the heavenly exemplar—they were 'patterns of the things in the heavens' (Heb. 9:23). Hence the necessity for the blood offerings of the Levitical economy arose from the fact that the exemplar after which they were fashioned was a blood offering, the transcendent blood offering by which the heavenly things were purified. The necessity of blood-shedding in the Levitical ordinance is simply a necessity arising from the necessity of blood-shedding in the higher realm of the heavenly."

Murray again, (p. 14)

"while the patterns of things in the heavenlies should be purified with the blood of goats and calves, the heavenly things themselves should be purified by the blood of none other than the Son. In other words, there is stated to be a necessity that can be met by nothing less than the blood of Jesus."

It had to be the blood of Jesus. Only He was worthy. As we read in Hebrews 9:23,

"It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things
to be purified with these sacrifices,
but the heavenly things themselves
with better sacrifices than these."

As the Son of God, a member of the Trinity, the Son needed to do nothing to come into the presence of the Father and the Spirit. He was always there. As the eternal Son of God, from all eternity He enjoyed the most intimate fellowship with the Father and the Spirit.

The picture in Hebrews 9 of Jesus entering the heavenly sanctuary is not of that. It's of Jesus, as the God-man entering heaven.
As a human being, the second Adam, He entered the heavenly sanctuary for us, on the basis of His blood. Hebrews 2:14–15 says,

"Since the children have flesh and blood,
he too shared in their humanity
so that by his death he might destroy him who holds
the power of death—that is, the devil—
and free those who all their lives
were held in slavery by their fear of death."

Herman Bavinck writes of God, (Sin and Salvation in Christ, Reformed Dogmatics 3; ed. p. 372)

"in relation to sin, God is not just a creator or injured party who can cancel the debt and forgive as well as forget the insult but is himself the giver, protector, and avenger of the law, righteousness in person, and as such he cannot forgive sin without atonement (Heb. 9:22). In that capacity he cannot nullify the just demands of the law, for we are not speaking here about personal or private rights, which one can relinquish, but about the righteousness, that is, the perfections and honor of God himself."

Herman Bavinck continues, (p. 373)

"He is righteousness in person, does not need to restore justice or nullify it by grace, but lets both justice and grace come to expression in the cross of Christ."

What a difference between the Old Testament sacrifices and the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus work was so much better, on so much a higher level. Philip E. Hughes writes, (Hebrews, p. 360)

"In the context before us we have an unmistakable contrast between the sacrifices of the old system of animals which… became the involuntary, uncomprehending, and passive victims on the altar, and the sacrifice of Christ, who actively, of his own will, and in full consciousness of what he was doing, offered himself, and determined to do so in the eternal realm of his perfect freedom and absolute power. Consequently, the difference between the levitical offerings and Christ's self-offering was infinite rather than relative."

As the God-man He died for us. He died as a human being. Yet His two natures were united in one person. That's why we can have the incredible statement in Acts 20:28 where the apostle Paul said to the Ephesians elders,

"Be shepherds of the church of God,
which he bought with his own blood."

The One who entered the heavenly sanctuary, with His own blood, was the beloved Son, the King of Glory, entering, as a true human being, for us—having obtained eternal redemption. What an amazing Savior.

Only Jesus could obtain eternal redemption for us. Only He could pay the price.

Let me illustrate. I had a really interesting experience about 12 years ago. My brother-in-law invited me to play golf with him at a really exclusive golf club. It was a course that was closed to the public but members could invite a friend to play with them. I'm not sure if I actually offered to pay for my round. But whether I did or not I found out from him that even if I wanted to, I couldn't pay them for my round of golf. He couldn't even pay for it that day. It just went on his bill. But I do remember just before we teed off we went in the little shop there and bought some golf balls and some other accessories. I took out my wallet to pay for my stuff and he smiled at me and said,

"Larry, they won't take your money here. They're not set up for it. It's all on my bill."

So I put my wallet away and we started our round of golf. I was starting to feel a little bit bad by that point and when we came to a lunch counter half way through our round we decided to get something to eat I again took out my wallet and was going to pay for it and my brother-in-law gave me another smiling look. I couldn't pay for anything there. They wouldn't take my money. They didn't have cash registers. They didn't have money boxes. Whether I liked it or not everything was free for me. My brother-in-law paid for everything. That's the way it had to be. I could not pay. I could not contribute. I was there only because he paid.

Jesus, on the basis of His blood, has opened up God's presence to us. It's all because of Him. William L. Lane writes, (Hebrews 9–13, WBC 47B; p. 251)

"The heavenly liturgy of Christ consists in his death, ascension, and appearance in the presence of God, viewed retrospectively as a unity. The consequence of his liturgical action is that every obstacle to union with God has been effectively removed."

When he was dying, the great Scottish theologian Samuel Rutherford, was surrounded by some friends and acquaintances. Faith Cook writes, (Samuel Rutherford and his Friends." The Banner of Truth)

"Many watched round that deathbed in St Andrews, eager to catch the last sayings of a man whose eyes at times seemed to pierce through the skies and see that One 'whose face was more and more his Universe.'Nor were they disappointed; but Rutherford himself saw all his spiritual attainments as worthless to redeem the soul. When reminded of his service to God, he could say, 'I disclaim all. The port that I would be in at is redemption and salvation through his blood.' "

He looked to Jesus, to Jesus' death in His behalf as his only hope. May God also give us grace to do the same.