Menu Keys

On-Going Mini-Series

Bible Studies

Codes & Descriptions

Class Codes
[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
[c] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.

Scripture References

Scripture references on this site can be viewed by hovering your mouse cursor over the reference to see a pop-up window with the verse displayed. If you wish to use a different version of the Bible, you can make that selection below.

 

Bible Options

 

If you have Logos Bible Study Software installed, you can check Libronix to bring the scripture reference up in Logos.

Hebrews 9:11-15 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:59 mins 41 secs

 Hebrews Lesson 146   February 5, 2009

 

NKJ Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

 

We are in Hebrews 9. We've been moving through the paragraph on Hebrews 9:11-15 and we'll start off tonight going back into Hebrews 9:11 just to pick up the context: where we've been and to make sure we have a proper understanding of what is going on in that passage.

 

Hebrews 9:11 reads:

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:11 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.

 

Reading on into verse 12:

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

 

Now this is not translated well at least as it stands in the New King James which is what I have up on the screen. The New American Standard does a better job of it based on the Greek text because you have these various idiosyncrasies in different translations. Every translation has different little nuances; different things that the translators chose to do in making their translation. So you always have to understand what those are to deal with them. 

 

One of the things that I've been trying to do for several years is an in-depth study of the history of the English Bible because you don't get a lot of this material unless you dig through about 300 pages of material and you find three things that are really helpful. That's just the nature of the animal. But it's very interesting that one of the nuances, one of the idiosyncrasies of the King James translation was that they tried to make every verse an independent sentence. If they couldn't do it, they tried to get as close as they could; and they would try to make it appear as an independent clause or at least try to get a sentence into two verses or sometimes three. But that breaks down the thought structure that you have in the Greek text. 

 

Verses 11 and 12 are really one sentence in the Greek. Verse 11 builds off of a participial clause; verse 12 gives us your main verb - He entered the most holy place. So that tells us that the key thought here is Christ's entry into the most holy place in heaven. He's talking about the heavenly temple here.  Everything else that we have in verses 11 and 12 is designed to expand that idea and to focus on this contrast between the limitations of the sacrificial system in the Old Testament in the Mosaic Law and the completedness of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. So we have to pick up a couple of things in terms of the grammar because it isn't even clear in the better translations.

 

The "came" that you have there that appears in both New King James; and New American Standard, I think, translates it "but when Christ appeared." It seems in English as if that's your main verb. It's not. It's just a participle. You have to identify the kind of participle that it is because it's not objectively clear in the Greek. You have to work through two or three options to see what logically makes the most sense in the structure of the sentence. 

 

The main idea if you look ahead down to verse 12 is that idea that He entered the most holy place. But before He entered the most holy place, which has to do with His ascension into heaven and session where He sits at the right hand of the Father, He came as High Priest. The coming as High Priest is an aorist participle. Aorist participles will precede the action of an aorist verb. The "He entered" is an aorist indicative verb. So the participle (the aorist participle) means that the action of the participle precedes the action of the main verb. So the coming as High Priest is something that preceded His entry into heaven. That's important to understand because the New American Standard translates it "but when Christ appeared as High Priest He entered." The problem with that is it looks like His appearing as High Priest happens at the same time as His entry into the heavenly temple. But He appears as High Priest at the incarnation. But I think what the writer is really focusing on is His work as High Priest on the cross. That's the context of this whole section and the key word – I mentioned it last time and we'll see it some more tonight. 

 

But the key word that runs down through this section and into chapter 10 is this idea "once for all." Christ's sacrifice was once for all. It's completed as opposed to the continuing or the ongoing nature of the Old Testament sacrifices. That first participle paraginomai means to come. Its prefix para, the prefix on ginomai means to arrive or to come or be beside. It should be understood as a temporal participle – "after Christ came, He entered heaven." After Christ came as High Priest, He then in verse 12 will enter the most holy place in the heavenly temple. It's the idea of not just coming but arrival or appearing. The idea of when He performs that work as the High Priest. So we should translate it "but after Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come." 

 

Now the New American Standard does a good job of picking up the main verb "He entered" out of verse 12 and inserting it into verse 11 so that it makes better sense. They repeat it. They have it in both places, but it should be in both places. Christ came as High Priest. He entered. That's your main idea. It fits well here. 

 

Before I get to that, "the good things to come" is ginomai. It introduces something new that is coming into existence of the good things coming into being. 

 

It's so important to understand the time factor after Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come. The high priest of the good things to come is all one thing; and it precedes His entry into heaven. It's focusing His ministry as High Priest of the good things to come on the earth. But there's a little bit of a problem there because in some of the older texts it uses the word ginomai but in the majority text there's a textual variant. Instead of the verb ginomai, you have the verb mello. Now mello is used in Hebrews 10:1 as I pointed out last time and the significance of that is that in 10:1 it says:

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.

 

Now the law is prefiguring or is foreshadowing something that's going to happen later called "the good things to come". So the Law in the Old Testament is really a foreshadow of something that's going to happen in the future. That thing that it's depicting in the future is called "the good things to come". The whole phrase has to be understood as this label. It's the good thing to come. What was the good thing to come that the Law, the sacrifices (specifically the Day of Atonement) depicting? The cross. So when the writer in chapter 9 says that Jesus after He came as High Priest of the good things to come, he's not talking about good things to come from our current post-cross perspective. He's talking something in the far distant future. He's talking about the fact that Christ on the cross is performing the action of the good thing to come. The good thing to come is a term that refers to the redemptive atoning expiatory work of Jesus Christ on the cross. That's what was foreshadowed by the Old Testament sacrifices. So He performs His work as the High Priest. He is sacrificing Himself, and that is the good thing to come. It is a good thing to come from its perspective of what the Old Testament Law envisioned and foreshadowed. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,

 

That whole phrase focusing on His work on the cross. He then enters – this is the ascension and entry into heaven. 

 

with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.

 

Now that word "perfect" isn't the word for flawless, it's the word complete or whole or actually the prototype. There is a heavenly temple called the tabernacle referred to with word tabernacle in Hebrews referred to as the heavenly temple in the book of Revelation. That is the prototype of the earthly tabernacle and temple. God allowed Moses to see the blueprint and it is from that that Moses could give guidance to those who were constructing the Tabernacle. Also we know from Chronicles that God showed the plan to David for the Temple. So both are based on this heavenly prototype here called the greater and more perfect skene or dwelling place. 

 

Skene is the Greek word for a dwelling place or tent. It is a word that has that idea of dwelling. The Greek word really comes etymologically from the Hebrew which is the word shakan for the verb, Shekinah for the noun, the dwelling place. Shekinahskn –that's the same consonant pattern that you have in skene. You can find skene even in Russian for dwelling and several other languages in that area have borrowed that word. So skene or Shekinah, shakan, the mishkan was the word in the Old Testament for tabernacle. That's the dwelling place. It refers to the heavenly dwelling of God that is not made with hands, that is not of this creation; it is the heavenly tabernacle. 

 

So the focal point here is on what Christ is doing at the cross.

 

Now, verse 11:

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:11 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.

 

So it is the complete or perfect prototype – the complete prototype that is in heaven. Now how did He enter? What was the basis of His entry? That's what's described in verse 12.

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:12 Not with the blood of goats and calves,.

 

So here we have the contrast. In the Old Testament the priest entered the earthly tabernacle on the basis of the blood of animal sacrifices, goats and calves, specifically on the Day of Atonement. That's the ritual that's in the background here. But Jesus in contrast to that enters the complete heavenly prototype dwelling place of God the heavenly tabernacle, the heavenly temple on the basis of His own blood. 

 

Now we've studied the Doctrine of the Blood of Christ and how this terminology of blood is used all the way through the Scriptures as an idiom for death because the life was in the blood. The blood, the presence of blood indicates the presence of life. Shedding of blood was an idiom for the taking of life or death. So when we read any of these phrases that talk about the shedding of blood, then that has to do with death. We'll also see the phrase here "the sprinkling of blood." That is simply the vivid imagery from the tabernacle worship depicts the application of death to something. That's the picture from the blood. 

 

but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption

 

This is the Greek verb eiserchomai. It's an aorist indicative, it simply summarizes the action in the past and it means to come in or to go in or to enter some place. The place that He is entering here is the most holy place in heaven. It is not the earthly holy place; but it is the heavenly holy place, the throne of God. 

 

Now we see a number of places in Scripture where the idea of the blood is emphasized. The entry here – and that's the emphasis here - is He entered with His own blood, or literally by means of His own blood.

 

Just a couple of passages to remind us and show some connections here: first of all, in Matthew 26:28 Jesus said:

 

NKJ Matthew 26:28 "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

 

This is when He is having the Passover meal, celebrating the Passover meal with His disciples the night before He goes to the cross. He's going to reinvest the wine and the bread with new meaning in relationship to the work He's going to do on the cross.

 

Now what I want to point out in this passage is the connection between blood and covenant. Now when you're looking here as we go through this preview of coming attractions, when we get to verse 15 tonight we'll see:

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

 

See, there's your connection. It's the same idea that He is stating in Matthew 26:28 that His death is the basis for the covenant.

 

Then when we get to verse 16:

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.

 

It goes on to talk about that. So we see the connection between blood or death and covenant. So Jesus makes this same connection and it's present every time we celebrate the Lord's Table. We are symbolically representing this connection between His death and the establishment of the covenant. Now just another thing to note from this statement that Jesus makes in Matthew 26:28: 

 

NKJ Matthew 26:28 "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

 

There we see the use of that noun form for forgiveness aphesis which is the same word that I focused on in Ephesians 1:7 and in Colossians 1:14.

 

NKJ Colossians 1:14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

 

The idea there is aphesis the noun indicates a wiping out of a debt, the erasing of the debt. If you go to the bank and you are in a indebted relationship and for some reason they decide to wipe out the debt, that's called forgiving the debt. You owe money to somebody. They say, "That's okay. You don't have to pay me back." That' is called forgiving a debt. It no longer exists. It is wiped out. It is cancelled. That's the same imagery that we talked about in our study of Colossians 2:14 that the forgiveness that we have at the cross is related to the cancelling of the debt that was nailed to the cross. Now this is so profound because what Paul is talking about in Colossian 2:12-14 is the same thing that the writer of Hebrews is talking about here: that is guilt is removed. 

 

Now we have all kinds of people running around all the time who are plagued by guilt. Some people are more prone to guilt than others because of their sin nature. But there are some people who always feel guilty about something even though there is nothing to feel guilty about. It is real easy to manipulate people like that because you blame them for something; and they automatically assume that they're guilty. Then there are other people who have seared their conscience at some level and they don't ever feel like they're guilty about anything even when they are. But those are subjective guilt feelings. 

 

That's not what we're talking about in these passages. We're talking about real legal guilt. A sentence has been adjudicated and you are under condemnation. You are legally guilty. Just because you're legally guilty doesn't mean that you feel like it. There are all kinds of people in this world who are legally guilty from the Supreme Court of Heaven for sin and they even deny that the court exists and that God exists; they have no sense of anything being wrong. As I pointed out there are others who are just the other way. Just because you don't feel like you're guilty doesn't mean you're not. 

 

I've never once felt guilty about speeding. It's a flaw in my character. I remember when we first moved to Connecticut. I had to spend a lot of money that first year on traffic fines supporting the state because the roads up there that would be comparable to certain roads here in Texas would have a speed limit 15 to 20 miles slower than the comparable roads in Texas. So I'd be going down some country road doing 60 and the speed limit was 40. They had horrible fines that were completely irrational – going down the interstate. When we first moved up there, the speed limit on I guess it was still 55. How barbaric!  55 miles an hour on a major interstate! Well, the police officer did not appreciate the fact that I was doing 80. I was just trying to get somewhere. They used to always complain about the people in Connecticut that they never really understood the purpose for a motor vehicle was to get from point A to point B in the most expeditious manner possible. They wanted you to take as long as possible. 

 

One day I was stopped by a police officer. After he gave me a ticket he said, "Sir, is this your car?" It wasn't. It was Pam's. She was sitting next to me. 

 

I said, "No, it's her car."

 

He said, "Well, I was just wondering because we're looking for a car like this because of a robbery. By the way, what do you do?"

 

I said, "Well, I'm a pastor."

 

He went, "Oh, no. God always watches out for me so I want to watch out for His people so I never give tickets to rabbis or pastors or priests. But I've already given you your ticket. There's nothing I can do about it. But when you go to court, sign "Reverend Dean" and when they read that in the book the judge will take care of it so you won't have to pay a fine and it won't go on your record."

 

That was the best thing I'd ever heard. I didn't get any more tickets after that either. 

 

But I never felt guilty. That's the difference between emotional or psychological guilt and real guilt. There are a lot of people who always feel guilty and they're not for whatever it is they are feeling guilty over they're just prone that way. Other people don't ever have that sense of guilt, those guilt feelings; but they are guilty of something. This is talking about the fact that we are all guilty and under condemnation. We're guilty of Adam's original sin, which has been imputed to every single human being. 

 

So when Jesus is on the cross, He is going to do the work. His death is going to be the basis for wiping out the guilt so that there is real forgiveness. As we saw in Colossians 2:12-14 this is a forgiveness for all sins for everybody. It is that objective cancelling of the debt done before the Supreme Court of Heaven; it is not the subjective application to each person in terms of their application of Christ's death. That's what we'll see in this passage in terms of the concept of the imagery of sprinkling.

 

Another key verse is Romans 3:25

 

NKJ Romans 3:25 whom God set forth

 

That's talking about Jesus Christ on the cross. 

 

as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

 

Propitiation means to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God. Again, just as His work on the cross is god-ward in terms of satisfying in terms of making the payment so God can cancel the debt. It's God-ward so God can cancel the debt. So His propitiation His work propitious or satisfies the justice of God so He can do that. He can cancel the debt. So we see how propitiation and forgiveness work together and are a part of that objective work toward Supreme Court of Heaven, the supreme justice of heaven. 

 

NKJ Romans 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified

 

So Paul's writing to the believers in Rome in terms of the present reality that we have.

 

by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

 

See that's application. That's subjective. You're not justified until you believe in Christ as your Savior at which time God imputes to you the perfect righteousness of Christ. That's the difference between the idea of universalism (that everybody just gets saved because Christ died for everybody) and the idea of a limited application. The atonement is unlimited in its scope because it redeems all men (pays the redemptive price). All mankind's sins are cancelled (forgiven at the cross) and God is propitiated for all. But the application - justification, the regeneration - occurs only to a limited number: those who are believers.

 

Another thing I want you to notice here is you can even see this in the English that the tense of the phrase "having now been justified" is a past tense. "We shall be saved" is a future tense. That shows the difference between - you thought you got saved when you trust in Christ, didn't you? But see in Pauline terminology you were justified when you trusted Christ and you will be saved when you are glorified. So it shows that Paul uses the term "saved" in Romans primarily as a phase 3 term (a glorification term), not a phase 1 justification term. 

 

Dr. Earl Radmacher used to always like to sort of shock and confuse people by saying that you were saved, you were getting saved every day (every single morning I wake up I am being saved again.), then I will be saved. That is trying to emphasize the point that the word saved is used in three different senses – one for justification, one for our spiritual lives, and one for our future glorification. 

 

Ephesians 1:7, like its counterpart Colossians 1:14, says:

 

NKJ Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness

 

There is that word again, aphesis – the cancellation of debt. 

 

of sins, according to the riches of His grace

 

Then one more verse:

 

NKJ 1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,

 

NKJ 1 Peter 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

 

See the connection there with that imagery of the sacrificed lamb, the blood of the lamb, the death of the lamb is the basis. So again and again we see that blood is the payment price for sin. But it's actually death. It is that death of a qualified sacrifice that pays the penalty, the judicial penalty so that when Christ is on the cross and God imputes to Him the sins of man between 12 noon and 3 pm before He ever dies physically; that is when the Father is the Supreme Court of Heaven adjudicates man's sins and judges Christ. The Holy Spirit wants to make it clear. So at the end of that in John 19, first the gospel writer - first John says:

 

NKJ John 19:30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

 

Using a perfect tense emphasizes the completed action.  He repeats the same verb form a perfect tense of teleioo. That repetition in those two verses is designed to put a big boldface on that terminology indicating that Christ's work on the cross completes the salvation so that nothing more can be done, nothing more can be added to it. 

 

Now back to Hebrews 9:12. The contrast is between the death of animal sacrifices and the death of Christ. The animals do not have the same value. Their lives do not have the same value as that of Christ because Christ is the eternal Second Person of the Trinity who was without sin. The contrast is between the limited effect of the death of the animal sacrifices with His death. It's on that basis He enters the most holy place once for all. 

 

Here's that word ephapax once for all, never to be repeated again. That's going to be the contrast that is going to be picked up by the writer all the way through the rest of this chapter and into the next chapter. 

 

We see it again down in verse 28.

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

 

Once, once, once, all the way down through here into the next chapter that Christ died once and it's completed and it's finished in contrast to the fact that the Old Testament priests it was ongoing – continually, again and again and again. Every morning there was the morning sacrifice; every evening the evening sacrifice. 

 

Now remember the main verb in this passage, in this verse is "He entered". It's an aorist indicative, which means it's a simple past tense form of the verb.  There are several forms of past tenses in the Greek. 

 

Now that last phrase "having obtained eternal redemption" is another participle. It's the verb heurisko which means to find, to discover something. It's an aorist participle. The grammar there is important because when you have an aorist participle connected to an aorist verb the action of the participle precedes the action or comes before the action of the main verb. The grammar says that He obtained redemption before He entered the most holy place. So His action of going to the most holy place is subsequent to the completion of His redemptive work. So He completed the redemption on the cross. 

 

The redemption is referred here with the noun form lutrosis which is related to apolutrosis. In Colossians 1:14 and Ephesians 1:7 you have the form apolutrosis with the prepositional prefix there which intensifies the meaning of the noun which means to purchase out of. So apa emphasizes that application of bringing it out. Lutrosis indicates redemption, deliverance or release. It's often used in the imagery of a slave market in that picture of buying or purchasing the freedom of a slave. Agorazo is another word that is used. It's from the Greek noun agora, which is the market place. Every now and then you'll hear about somebody that's agoraphobia and they don't want to go out of their house, be out in public or in open spaces because it's a fear of the marketplace (agora). That was the marketplace. So agorazo means to buy something in the marketplace. These are the two words that are normally translated redemption. So you think of that word redemption, the word you should associate with it is purchase, to buy something. All through these words that are used for salvation we have words related to economics, to purchasing, to buying, to paying a price, to cancelling a debt.

 

So he obtains. The word used there (heurisko, to find) is used as an idiom for discovering something or finding or purchasing something. He obtains eternal redemption. It's eternal. It's permanent. It's a cancelling. It's that objective payment of the price that satisfies the righteousness and justice of God so that Christ can be said to have redeemed everyone in that objective sense that He has paid the price. 

 

The writer is going to go back and forth between what Jesus did and what was done in the Old Testament. Leviticus 16:3, 5 emphasize the role of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. 

 

NKJ Leviticus 16:3 "Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering.

 

NKJ Leviticus 16:5 "And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering.

 

He would take the blood of the bull. He would take it in and he would sprinkle it once on the front of the mercy seat and 7 times on the ground in front of the mercy seat. Now that's interesting because a lot of have gotten this idea that he covers the top or he puts a bowl up there. But he just sprinkles the mercy once and 7 times in front of the mercy seat. It depicts the satisfaction of God for the payment price the blood price, the blood sacrifice; and so His justice is satisfied. That sprinkling depicts the cleansing. 

 

Then he is going to go back out after he does the bull for the sin offering, he goes back out and kills the ram for the burnt offering, comes back in does the same thing again. Then he comes back out and takes that same blood and sprinkles it on the altar, the bronze altar out in the courtyard and then puts it on the horns of that altar.

 

Now there is confusion over that because in Leviticus 16:12 the instructions are to sprinkle the blood on the altar which is before the Lord. Every time you have that phrase "the altar before the Lord" in Leviticus with one exception, Leviticus 4, it's always the bronze altar. Everywhere else in the Old Testament it's always the bronze altar except for that one exception Leviticus 4 where it clearly states the altar before the Lord in the Holy of Holies. It states that in the tent. Then it's referring to the altar of incense. But everywhere else it refers to that bronze altar.

 

So this is the contrast between the high priest who offered a sin and a burnt offering for himself first and then for the people, and Jesus who enters Himself as the acceptable sacrifice. Aaron had to do this every year. He would go in and perform all the rituals on the Day of Atonement and that cleansed or wiped out the sin problem (the guilt) from all the sins from the previous year. So you go from September all the way around the calendar and all these sins that would pile up all year long would then be dealt with on the Day of Atonement, the sins for the whole nation. Then they would have to do that every year, one year after another

 

But, Romans 6:10 tells us that the death that Christ died He died to sin once for all.

 

NKJ Romans 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

 

This is again repeated in Hebrews 7:27. What Christ did in the last phrase, the last two lines up on the screen…

 

NKJ Hebrews 7:27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

 

In Hebrews 9:12 which is our passage, Hebrews 10:10:

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 

This is the whole point in this passage.

 

Now in verse 13 we would go on to read:

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,

 

In verse 14 we go on to read:

 

NKJ Hebrews 9:14 how much more

 

It's an a fortiori argument. 

 

shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

 

The comparison between the limited efficacy of the death of an animal verses the permanent efficacy of the death of Jesus Christ. We covered part of this last time. I've gone back, studied some more things, and added a few things to it. The blood of bulls and goats is a reference to the animals that were sacrificed on the Day of Atonement. 

 

The ashes of a heifer refer to this unique sacrifice called the red heifer offering. A lot of people have some different ideas about the red heifer offering because not a lot is said. It seems somewhat mystifying because the descriptions are a little bit unusual and it only occurred twice in the Bible - Moses and later Ezra with the Second Temple after the Babylonian captivity. It happened 7 other times depending on the source you read – maybe 5 other times. Some say there were only 7 red heifer offerings, other say there were 9. The Mishnah tractate that deals with this says there were 9 so we'll accept that. It might have been 7 because it attributes two to two different high priests in the intertestamental period. The blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifies for the purification of the flesh.

 

Now last time we looked at the passage in the Scriptures related to the red heifer. I'm just going to summarize that again, bring out a couple of other points.  It's a unique and rare sacrifice, like I said only 9 (maybe 7) in all of history. It has elements of a sacrifice; but its primary purpose was for purification after serious sin and in several cases we know it involved death or it involved the ceremonial or ritual defilement of all of the people. 

 

One reason it's unique is because the animal has to fit a certain color – red heifer complete, no other color of hair. It has to be solid red. According to the Mishnah if there were two white hairs or two black hairs it was disqualified. The animal was taken outside the Tabernacle for the sacrifice. Then the blood was splattered on the ground again toward the tent of the meeting but still outside the camp. That is a picture that is picked up by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 13:12. When he talks about Jesus' death on the cross he says:

 

NKJ Hebrews 13:12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

 

So the sacrifice of Christ on Golgotha was outside the gate. Now there's a lot of controversy historically over just exactly where that was located. I don't want to spend a lot of time on that tonight. We could spend a clear hour talking about it, but the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which usually turns off most Protestants because it's two or three different chapels built over this site where they believe Jesus was crucified and buried. It really surprises most people because the distance from they believe Jesus was crucified to where He was buried is about the distance from where I'm standing to our front classroom up by that front door in the back section over there. That's not very far away, is it? It's really close and it surprises everybody. But that's the distance. I think that there's good historical documentation that this would be the location. One of the reasons it wasn't accepted for centuries was because they believed that that this location wasn't outside the gate. But it wasn't until about 20 or 30 years ago that they were doing some excavating in a Russian Orthodox Church just about maybe 30 or 40 yards east of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and they went down to the basement and discovered the foundation of the wall. They even have a gate there that has been restored. You can go down to the basement of the church and see the foundation of the wall. That meant that the site of the Holy Sepulcher was indeed outside the gate. This is where they would crucify criminals. 

 

Now the word that is used here in verse 13 for sprinkling is the Greek word rhantizo which simply means that.  It's a general word to splatter, to sprinkle, to scatter something.  It's distinct from words like bathe (luao which we talked about) or to wash your hands. That's the word nipto.  This is a more narrow sense to sprinkle something on something. It picks up the idea from the Hebrew in the Old Testament. Now in the Hebrew in the Old Testament there were two words that were used and I don't have these up on the screen. One was the word nazah; the other was zaraq, and they're virtually indistinguishable. Possibly zaraq indicated a little more forceful splattering, maybe sprinkling with one finger for the first one and using the whole hand the second one. But that's not even clear. Most believe that the words are virtually interchangeable. 

 

And this picks up the imagery that occurred with the ashes of the red heifer. The heifer had to fit certain qualifications that are outlined in Leviticus 19:2. It had to be unblemished. Now a heifer is about 3 years. According to the Mishnah you would wait until the heifer was three years old and has never given birth to a calf and has been yoked (never been used for labor.) It's during those 3 years that the heifer is evaluated. Some would compare that to the approximate 3 years of the ministry of the life of Christ. I'm not sure that's the imagery there. That may be taking typology just a little too far. But the sacrifice, the animal was to be unblemished and unyoked with no defect. Then the entire animal would be burned – hide, flesh, intestines, everything mixed with cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet, Leviticus 19:5-6. Then these ashes were to be kept. You didn't keep the ashes of any other sacrifice. You keep the ashes of this sacrifice and mix it with spring water. It couldn't be still water; it had to come from a live spring. Otherwise, if it's just sitting in a pond or something that would be considered – it's not moving. It had to be a live spring and mixed with that water and then would be splattered on those, sprinkled on those who were unclean who had been contaminated ritually by touching a dead body. This would happen on the third day and then again on the 7th day with the ritual be coming clean. The priest who would sprinkle the person who was unclean would then himself become ritually unclean until nightfall. Then he would be clean. 

 

So it picks up that imagery of sprinkling the unclean. You have other examples in other situations in the Old Testament where there were a number of times when sprinkling occurred. For example in Moses first dedicates the Temple. He is going to take the blood of the sin offering and he's going to splatter it on all the items of furniture in the Temple – on all the vessels, on all the curtains, on everything because that sanctifies it. It sets it apart for the service of God. 

 

So that picture of sprinkling is then applied. That imagery is applied to us. For example, by Peter, that when we are saved we are sprinkled by the blood of Christ, which sanctifies us. It's simply talking about applying the death of Christ to the person who believes on Him as savior and that is then the basis for our positional sanctification. 

 

So the person who is unclean here… using the Greek word koinoo meaning to be ritually unclean. It then sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh.  Sanctification there is from the Greek verb hagiazo, which is the counterpart to the Hebrew word kadash meaning to sanctify or set apart for the purification (katharotes) of the flesh. See the sacrifices did something. They really did cleanse for ritual observance. There was limited but real application. But it only lasted for a short amount of time; it didn't have any sort of permanent value. 

 

Now let me just say a couple of more things about this red heifer sacrifice. The red heifer sacrifice was only used twice in the canonical period each time when they are dedicating service in the Temple after a time of tremendous sin and a period when the Temple Mount would have become unclean due to death. That would have occurred when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple the first time. There were many that were killed on the Temple Mount so that rendered the land ceremonially unclean. When they came back from the Babylonian captivity, they would have to cleanse the Temple. They would have to kill the animal across the way. 

 

Let me see if I have a picture here. Here's a modern red heifer. They're trying to breed one now, but they haven't been successful. As I pointed out this is a rare sacrifice and it's extremely rare in history that a pure red heifer has ever been born. The problem with this is you've got folks who are trying to manipulate prophecy and you've got a couple of fundamentalists in Texas and in Alabama who have been trying genetically to produce a red heifer. That's the silliness of a lot of evangelicals and fundamentalists who think that somehow they're going to speed up the process. They can't do it. 

 

There will be a Temple that is built during the Tribulation period. It might even be built before the Tribulation period, but before it can be functional the Temple Mount is going to have to be cleansed. To do that according to the Law they are going to have to have a pure red heifer that fits all the qualifications – born in Israel, born in the land, meets the rabbinical qualifications; and it's going to be evaluated and tested and is then going to be sacrificed. The ashes of the red heifer will be used for the purification of the Temple Mount. But that will only happen when it is God's timing just as in the past a red heifer was only born when it was needed. That's under the control of God. 

 

Now in the first temple period when they would have a red heifer sacrifice…  See in the distance there you have the Temple. We're on the east side of the Temple. The valley in between is the Kidron Valley. They built an altar on the Mount of Olives for the sacrifice of the red heifer because they had to walk across this purified bridge so that they didn't touch any ground that had to be defiled by dead people - by a body in a war, something of that nature - so they built this special rampart across the Kidron where they performed the red heifer sacrifice across on the Mount of Olives.

 

The last thing that I want to say about this is, today there is a lot of talk. Every now and then you hear people say that something comes up about they are trying to breed a red heifer and people get all excited about it. But all the things that are happening in Israel – reconstruction of Temple furniture, the desire with the Temple Mount Faithful and the Temple Institute to rebuild what would be the third temple. That's all stage setting. It doesn't mean that we're any closer to the rapture than we were 200 years ago. It just means that Israel is closer to being prepared for the things that will happen after the rapture. But it doesn't tell us that we're any closer. 

 

The best analogy I think of is that if you walk into the theater and there are no props on the stage, you know that before the play can begin the stage hands have to come in and get all the furniture and all the props out on the stage. So you must be a certain distance from the action of the play. Now if you come in and everything is set and ready to go, it looks like you're ready and it could start at any minute. But it may still be several hours before it actually starts. So we don't know. The rapture is immanent. It is a signless event. Nothing has to transpire before that. But there are certain things that are going to happen after the rapture. 

 

There was a writer in the early part of the 20th century by the name of Clarence Larkin. Some of you have read his book and seen his chart books on dispensational truth. Clarence Larkin said that if the rapture occurred in his generation, it would probably be 75 to 100 years before the Tribulation could begin because the Jews weren't even back in the land at that point. They had no temple built on the Temple Mount. None of these other things that would be necessarily in place at the beginning of the Tribulation were ready. He saw that there was going to be a gap between the rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation of 75 or 100 years. Well it's a 100 years later now and many, many of these things are in place. But just because many things are in place doesn't mean Jesus is coming next month, next year, or in 50 years. It's sad to see so many evangelicals have bought into a sort of pop-prophecy eschatology that they think that because these things are there that Jesus is going to come back. 

 

"So, well let's not contribute to our retirement. Let's not worry about the future or let's not get involved in politics. Let's just sit back and watch Rome burn because Jesus is going to come back and this is the inevitable judgment on the cosmic system."

 

Well, unless they have a pipeline to God and God's told them stuff He hasn't told anybody else; we can't say that. We don't know what would happen. God has given us volition and we're to exercise our responsibility in every area of life and live in one sense as if Christ is going to come back tomorrow and we will have to give an answer for our lives at the Judgment Seat of Christ tomorrow; but He may not come for another 500 years or 50 years and most of us won't live to see it. So we have to prepare for our future as if Jesus isn't coming back for another 100 years. That sort of seems like a little bit of a contradiction for believers, but that's how we are to live.

 

So next time we'll come back. We'll wrap this up – this paragraph up down to verse 15. We have just about everything that needs to be covered. We still need to talk about what it means that Christ has cleansed our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. That's the purpose of the cleansing. It is for us to serve God. So we'll come back and look at that next time.

 

Illustrations