The background for the text in Hebrews 9:24 lies in the context of the Old Testament and the sacrificial system established by God for the Israelites. In the Old Testament, God commanded the construction of the tabernacle, a portable sanctuary, and later, the temple in Jerusalem, as places of worship and sacrifice. These physical structures served as places where the Israelites could come into the presence of God and offer sacrifices for the atonement of their sins.
However, in the book of Hebrews, the author presents the idea that these earthly tabernacles and temples were mere copies or representations of a greater, heavenly reality. They were symbolic and temporary in nature, pointing to a more significant and eternal spiritual truth. The author of Hebrews explains that the earthly holy places made with human hands were designed as a visual aid to teach and prepare the people for the coming of Christ, who would fulfill and surpass the old covenant system.
The text in Hebrews 9:24 specifically declares that Christ, as the ultimate high priest, did not enter into the holy places made with hands, which were copies of the true things. Here, “the true things” refer to the heavenly sanctuary, the dwelling place of God. It is portrayed as the ultimate and genuine reality in comparison to the earthly copies.
The concept of the earthly tabernacle and temple being copies of heavenly realities can be understood in several ways:
- Foreshadowing and Preparation: The physical tabernacle and later the temple, with its rituals and sacrifices, foreshadowed the coming of Christ and His redemptive work. They pointed to the ultimate sacrifice that would take place in the heavenly sanctuary.
- Symbolism and Representation: The earthly holy places symbolically represented the heavenly reality. They provided a tangible way for the Israelites to approach God and understand His holiness and their need for atonement. The rituals and ceremonies conducted in these places were symbolic of the greater spiritual truths and realities.
- Impermanence and Transience: The temporary nature of the earthly tabernacle and temple highlighted their insufficiency and the need for something greater. They served as a reminder that a more perfect and everlasting solution was required to address humanity’s sin and restore a lasting relationship with God.
Thus, the author of Hebrews explains that Christ, as the perfect high priest, entered not into the copies of the true things but into heaven itself, presenting His sacrifice in the true heavenly sanctuary. This emphasizes the superiority of Christ’s work and His access to the presence of God on behalf of humanity. The earthly tabernacle and temple were shadows and copies of the greater spiritual reality fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who brought a new covenant that surpassed the limitations of the old covenant system.
Hebrews 9:24 reveals several aspects of God’s character and provides us with important lessons:
- God’s Holiness: The verse highlights God’s holiness by emphasizing that Christ entered into heaven itself, the true sanctuary in the presence of God. It underscores the idea that God’s dwelling place is holy and perfect, surpassing any earthly representation. This reminds us of the absolute purity and holiness of God, which calls for reverence and awe.
- God’s Provision: The verse showcases God’s provision for humanity. By sending Jesus Christ as the ultimate high priest, God made a way for us to have access to Him. Christ’s entry into the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf demonstrates God’s desire to bridge the gap between Himself and humanity, providing a means for salvation and reconciliation.
- God’s Love and Mercy: The verse reveals God’s love and mercy through Christ’s intercession on our behalf. Jesus, as our advocate and mediator, stands before God, representing us and pleading for us. It displays God’s compassion and willingness to extend His mercy and grace to us, despite our weaknesses and shortcomings.
- The Superiority of Christ: Hebrews 9:24 underscores the supremacy and uniqueness of Jesus Christ. As the true high priest who entered the heavenly sanctuary, He surpasses all other intermediaries and sacrifices. This verse teaches us that there is no other name or way by which we can approach God and find redemption, emphasizing the exclusivity and sufficiency of Christ’s work.
Lessons we can take from this verse include:
- Our Approach to God: The verse encourages us to approach God with reverence, recognizing His holiness and the significance of Christ’s role as our mediator. We can draw near to Him confidently, knowing that Christ has paved the way for us to come before the throne of grace.
- The Permanence of Christ’s Work: The verse reminds us of the finality and efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice. It teaches us that there is no need for repetitive sacrifices or human-made rituals to find forgiveness and restoration. Instead, we can trust in the finished work of Christ, knowing that His sacrifice is sufficient for all time.
- Our Identity in Christ: Understanding Christ’s role as our high priest enables us to grasp our identity as forgiven and redeemed children of God. We can find comfort and assurance in knowing that Jesus intercedes for us, empathizes with our weaknesses, and presents our needs before the Father.
- God’s Faithfulness: The verse serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises. Throughout history, God had been preparing the way for Christ’s redemptive work, and His plan of salvation was ultimately accomplished through Jesus. This reassures us of God’s unwavering commitment to His people and His perfect timing in bringing forth His salvation.
In summary, Hebrews 9:24 reveals God’s holiness, provision, love, and mercy, while emphasizing the superiority of Christ’s sacrifice. It teaches us valuable lessons about approaching God, trusting in the permanence of Christ’s work, understanding our identity in Him, and recognizing God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises.