The former system had instructions as to how to worship, and an earthly sanctuary. The first room in the Tabernacle housed the candlestick, the table, and the sacred bread. This was called the Holy Place. Past the second veil in the Tabernacle was the room called the Most Holy Place. This contained the golden altar of incense, the gold-covered “agreement chest.”* Inside this were the golden pot containing manna, Aaron's rod that had produced buds, and the stone inscriptions of the agreement. Above this were the glorious angel cherubim covering the place of reconciliation. We can't discuss all of this in detail now.
Once all of this had been set up, the priests would go in regularly to the first room of the Tabernacle to perform their duties. But only the high priest went into the second room, and only once a year. Even then he had to make a sacrifice involving blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins of ignorance.
By this the Holy Spirit indicated that the way into the true Most Holy Place hadn't been revealed while the first Tabernacle still existed.§ This is an illustration for us in the present, showing us that the gifts and sacrifices that are offered can't make the worshiper's conscience clear. 10 They're just religious regulationsabout food and drink, and various ceremonies involving washing—which were put in place until the time of God's new way of relating to him.
11 Christ has come as a high priest of all the good experiences we now have. He went into the greater, more complete Tabernacle that wasn't made by human handsnot part of this created world. 12 He didn't enter through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood. He entered once, for all time, into the Most Holy Place, setting us free forever.
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow sprinkled on those who are ritually unclean make the body ceremonially clean, 14 how much more does the blood of Christwho offered himself in his sinless life to God through the eternal Spiritclean your consciences from your past sinful lives so you can serve the living God?
15 This is why he is the mediator of a new agreed relationship. Since a death has occurred to set them free from the sins committed under the first agreed relationship, now those who are called can receive the promise of an eternal inheritance. 16 For a will to be implemented, the person who made it must be dead. 17 A will is only valid when there's been a deathand is never applied while the person who made it is still alive. 18 That's why the first agreement was established with blood.
19 After Moses had given all the commandments of the law to everyone, he took the blood of calves and goats, and together with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, sprinkled the book* itself and all the people. 20 He said to them, “This is the blood of the agreed relationship that God has told you he wants with you.” 21 Moses sprinkled the blood in the same way on the Tabernacle and everything used in worship. 22 According to ceremonial law, almost everything is made clean with blood, and without shedding blood nothing is made ritually free from the stain of sin. 23 So if the copies of what is in heaven needed to be cleansed in this way, the things in heaven needed cleansing by better sacrifices.
24 For Christ hasn't entered a Most Holy Place constructed by human beings that is only a pattern of the original. He has entered heaven itself, and now appears on our behalf, speaking for us in God's presence. 25 This was not to repeatedly offer himself, like a high priest has to enter the Most Holy Place year after year, offering blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. No: just this one time at the end of the present age he came to remove sin by sacrificing himself. 27 Just as human beings die only once, and then are judged, 28 so too for Christhaving been sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people, he will come again, not to deal with sin, but to save those who wait for him.
* 9:4 Traditionally translated “ark of the covenant,” a wooden box symbolizing the place of meeting, reconciliation, and agreement between God and his people. 9:4 Usually believed to be the stone inscriptions of the ten commandments. 9:7 Blood is a frequent theme in the latter part of Hebrews. It is a shorthand symbol for life, and the shed blood of death, and while the original context of the sacrificial system is certainly literal, its use in Hebrews when applied to Christ is primarily as a symbol of what he accomplished by his life, death, and resurrection. § 9:8 The meaning of this statement is the subject of much debate. It could be generally concluded that in the light of the new revelation of God through Jesus, which is the focus of the New Testament and particularly the Book of Hebrews, that this passage is referring to Jesus as the full revelation of God, providing “access” to him, and that this had not happened under the old system (reference Jesus' statement in John 14:6). * 9:19 The book of the law. 9:20 Quoting Exodus 24:8.