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A better covenant
Hebrews 8:7 - 9:14

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Hebrews 8:7–9:14 (Listen)

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

For he finds fault with them when he says:1

  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah,
  not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
    on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
  For they did not continue in my covenant,
    and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10   For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, declares the Lord:
  I will put my laws into their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
  and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
11   And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
    and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
  for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12   For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.”

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

The Earthly Holy Place

9:1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent2 was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence.3 It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section4 called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age).5 According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

Redemption Through the Blood of Christ

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,6 then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify7 for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our8 conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Footnotes

[1] 8:8 Some manuscripts For finding fault with it he says to them
[2] 9:2 Or tabernacle; also verses 11, 21
[3] 9:2 Greek the presentation of the loaves
[4] 9:3 Greek tent; also verses 6, 8
[5] 9:9 Or which is symbolic for the age then present
[6] 9:11 Some manuscripts good things to come
[7] 9:13 Or For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies
[8] 9:14 Some manuscripts your

(ESV)