The work of Jesus is superior to the work done by Levitical priests. This is set forth in three chapters (Hebrews 8-10). In this writing, we will consider Hebrews chapter nine.
1. Earthly Sanctuary
“Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary” (Hebrews 9:1).
The first covenant had ordinances of divine service. The people were not left to themselves to decide how to worship and serve God. There were ordinances.
The first covenant provided ordinances for an earthly sanctuary, or tabernacle, and how things were to be done in it (Exodus 25:8-9, ff). This tabernacle was prepared (Hebrews 9:2 cf. Exodus 26:40; Exodus 40:16-38).
2. Earthly Service
“Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance” (Hebrews 9:6-7).
There were two parts of the Tabernacle (and also later the Temple). (1) The first part was known as the Holy Place (Exodus 26:33b-35). There was daily and weekly work to be done in this place. There were: lamps to be kept burning (Exodus 27:20-21; 30:8; Leviticus 24:1-4); Incense to be burned (Exodus 30:1-8); Showbread to be set out (Exodus 25:23-30; Leviticus 24:5-9); and daily sacrifices to be made (Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:1-8); (2) The second part was known as the Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place (Exodus 26:33b-35). This place represented the dwelling place of God [Consider: (a) Exodus 25:22 cf. 26:34; (b) Exodus 25:22 cf. 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chronicles 13:6; Isaiah 37:16; (c) Leviticus 4:5-6; 4:16-18; 16:2 cf. 16:12-13, etc.] There was only one day anyone was allowed to enter this place (Leviticus 16:2 cf. 16:27-28; Numbers 29:7-11). This was The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). There was only one who was allowed to enter on this day, and he was the high priest (Leviticus 16:3, 17, 32) [Note: It seems that he entered more than once on this day (a) Leviticus 16:12-13; (b) Leviticus 16:14; (c) Leviticus 16:15].
“the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing” (Hebrews 9:8).
The word “tabernacle” is being used to represent the whole of the Mosaic system (Tom Wacaster, Studies in Hebrews). The common Jew did not have access into the Most Holy Place under the Mosaic system.
However, now it is different. We can now enter into God’s presence by the blood of Jesus, and through the veil of His flesh (Hebrews 10:19-20).
“It was symbolic for the present time… until the time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:9-10).
The Tabernacle and priestly work associated with it were symbolic (parabole, a parable). They were “the copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5 cf. 10:1; Colossians 2:16-17). Here are a few examples: The sacrifice of animals was a type of the sacrifice of Jesus (cf. John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:19-20). The Most Holy Place is a type of heaven (cf. Hebrews 4:14; 6:19-20; 9:11-12, 24). The Holy place is a type of the church on earth (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:5).
The gifts and sacrifices offered under the Mosaic system did not bring perfection (Hebrews 9:9 cf. 6:1; 7:11; 7:19; 10:1-2). There was no once for all sacrifice for sin.
There were many fleshly ordinances under the Mosaic system. There were clean and unclean foods, sacrificial foods and drink offerings, and various washings (Hebrews 9:10 cf. 13:9). These things were until the time of reformation. Vincent comments, “’The time of reformation’ is the Christian age, when God made his people a better covenant” (Marvin R. Vincent, Vincent’s Studies, studylight.org). Robertson comments, “Definite statement of the temporary nature of the Levitical system already stated in Hebrews 7:10-17; Hebrews 8:13; and argued clearly by Paul in Galatians 3:15-22… Christianity itself is the great reformation” (A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures, studylight.org).
3. Heavenly Sanctuary
“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation” (Hebrews 9:11).
The words “not made with hands” is a phrase which appears several times in the Bible (e.g. Daniel 2:34; 2:45; 8:25; Colossians 2:11-12). This means that this tabernacle was not built by men’s hands (cf. Hebrews 8:2; 9:11-12; 9:23-24; Acts 7:48; 17:24).
4. Heavenly Service
“Not with the blood of goat and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).
Christ has offered a superior sacrifice. It was (is) a once for all sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:12). It does not need to be repeated year after year (Hebrews 9:25-28).
“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, not to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).
Tom Wacaster comments, “Being of the tribe of Judah, not Levi, our Lord never once entered into that earthly tabernacle. But He has entered into that heavenly tabernacle into the very presence of God” (Tom Wacaster, Studies in Hebrews). He entered into heaven itself, not into the earthly symbolic representation of heaven.