The Old Pattern of Worship
9 Now in the first covenant there were specific rules for worship including a sanctuary on earth to worship in. 2 When you entered the tabernacle you would first come into the holy chamber where you would find the lampstand[a] and the bread of his presence on the fellowship table.[b] 3 Then as you pass through the next curtain[c] you would enter the innermost chamber called, the holiest sanctuary of all.[d] 4 It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of covenant mercy, which was a wooden box covered entirely with gold. And placed inside the ark of covenant mercy was the golden jar with mystery-manna inside,[e] Aaron’s resurrection rod, which had sprouted, and the stone tablets engraved with the covenant laws. 5 On top of the lid of the ark were two cherubim, angels of splendor, with outstretched wings overshadowing the throne of mercy.[f] But now is not the time to discuss further the significant details of these things.
6 So with this prescribed pattern of worship the priests would routinely go in and out of the first chamber to perform their religious duties. 7 And the high priest was permitted to enter into the Holiest Sanctuary of All only once a year and he could never enter without first offering sacrificial blood for both his own sins and for the sins of the people.
8 Now the Holy Spirit uses the symbols of this pattern of worship to reveal that the perfect way of holiness[g] had not yet been unveiled. For as long as the tabernacle stood 9 it was an illustration[h] that pointed to our present time of fulfillment, demonstrating that offerings and animal sacrifices had failed to perfectly cleanse the conscience of the worshiper. 10 For this old pattern of worship was a matter of external rules and rituals concerning food and drink and ceremonial washings which was imposed upon us until the appointed time of heart-restoration had arrived.[i]
The Heavenly Pattern of Worship
11 But now the Anointed One has become the King-Priest of every wonderful thing that has come.[j] For he serves in a greater, more perfect heavenly tabernacle[k] not made by men. 12 And he has entered once and forever into the Holiest Sanctuary of All, not with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the sacred blood of his own sacrifice. And he alone has made our salvation[l] secure forever!
13 Under the old covenant the blood of bulls, goats, and the ashes of a heifer were sprinkled on those who were defiled and effectively cleansed them outwardly from their ceremonial impurities. 14 Yet how much more will the sacred blood of the Messiah thoroughly cleanse our consciences! For by the power of the eternal Spirit he has offered himself to God as the perfect[m] Sacrifice that now frees[n] us from our dead works[o] to worship and serve the living God.
15 So Jesus is the One who has enacted a new covenant with a new relationship with God so that those who accept the invitation[p] will receive the eternal inheritance he has promised to his heirs. For he died to release us from the guilt of the violations committed under the first covenant.
16–17 Now a person’s last will and testament can only take effect after one has been proven to have died; otherwise the will cannot be in force while the person who made it is still alive. 18 So this is why not even the first covenant was inaugurated without the blood of animals. 19 For Moses ratified the covenant after he gave the people all the commandments of the law. He took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and a hyssop branch, and sprinkled both the people and the book of the covenant,[q] 20 saying,
“This is the blood of the covenant that God commands you to keep.”[r]
21 And later Moses also sprinkled the tabernacle with blood and every utensil and item used in their service of worship. 22 Actually, nearly everything under the law was purified with blood, since forgiveness only comes through an outpouring of blood.
23 And so it was necessary for all the earthly symbols[s] of the heavenly realities to be purified with these animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves required a superior sacrifice than these. 24 For the Messiah did not enter into the earthly tabernacle made by men, which was but an echo of the true sanctuary, but he entered into heaven itself to appear before the face[t] of God in our place. 25 Under the old system year after year the high priest entered the most holy sanctuary with blood that was not his own. But the Messiah did not need to repeatedly offer himself year after year, 26 for that would mean he must suffer repeatedly ever since the fall of the world.[u] But now he has appeared at the fulfillment of the ages to abolish[v] sin once and for all by the sacrifice of himself!
27 Every human being is appointed to die once, and then to face God’s judgment.[w] 28 But when we die we will be face-to-face with Christ, the One who experienced death once for all to bear the sins of many![x] And now to those who eagerly await him, he will appear a second time; not to deal with sin, but to bring us the fullness of salvation.[y]