Every Jew was familiar with the Tabernacle God told Moses to erect in the wilderness. It was the place the people were to meet with the Lord, and its design was highly symbolic. From the fabrics and woods used in the construction to the colors and images used in its decor, everything had a meaning. The floor plan of the Tabernacle was most important. There was an outer court, an inner court called the Holy Place, and an innermost section called the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies (v.2-3). It was in the Holy of Holies that the high priest would go only once a year (on the Day of Atonement) to sprinkle blood on the “mercy seat”, the lid on the ark of the covenant (v.4-7).
At this point in the chapter, the writer of Hebrews departed from what would have been familiar to Jewish people and assigned a new gospel meaning to it. Under the old covenant, the only acceptable way to approach God and to be cleansed of sin was through the ritual of sprinkling the blood of an animal on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. And the high priest, who was himself a sinner, had to repeat the ritual perpetually, year after year — the sacrifice was only temporarily effective. Consequently, the blood of the atonement ritual accomplished only a “surface” cleansing of sin; it could not cleanse deeply, down in the soul of a person, the conscience where sins are born (v.9).
But when Jesus came, He fulfilled and perfected every shortcoming of the old covenant and ushered in a better way, a new covenant to replace the old. As the ultimate high priest, He offered the ultimate sacrifice, His own blood (v.12). He accomplished ultimate redemption — salvation that lasts forever through a sacrifice that never has to be repeated (v.12-13, 26). And the offering of His blood had the ultimate effect, cleansing the very souls and transforming the very hearts of those who believe in Him.
As the mediator of this new covenant (v.15), Jesus came the first time to deal with the curse of sin, reversing it by bearing the sins of the world (v.28). He will “appear a second time” for all those who have been redeemed to save us out of this world which has been cursed by sin — and to take us to a place where sin has no power or influence (v.28)!
Are you redeemed? Are you “eagerly awaiting” the second coming of Christ? Are you telling others about the sacrifice He made for them?