Hebrews 9 – The Curtain


The first covenant had rules for worship and an earthly place for worship as well.  A Tent was put up, the outer one, which was called the Holy Place……Behind the second curtain was the Tent called the Most Holy Place. (Hebrews 9 v 1 – 3)

Under the guidelines given to Moses and Aaron the priests would go into the outer Tent every day to perform their duties but only the High Priest could go through to the inner Tent once a year on the Day of Atonement, taking with him the sacrifice for himself and for the sins of the people.  This sacrifice was also intended to cover unintentional sin.

When the High Priest went into the Most Holy Place, he would have a long piece of rope tied around him which the other priests would have a hold of while he went in.  This was so that the body of the High Priest could be pulled out of the Most Holy Place if his sacrifice was not accepted and he died.

An example of this is found in Leviticus 10 where Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorised fire before the Lord against his command and were consumed by Holy fire.    No one was allowed to see the Holiness of God and there were strict instructions on how things were to be done.

We see also in Luke chapter 1 how Zechariah the father of John the Baptist was afraid when the angel of the Lord appeared to him at the alter as he thought he would die.  The people outside thought something had happened because he was in there for so long.  The people would wait outside to see whether the sacrifice for the atonement of sin was received.

All this highlights how imperfect the system was;

The Holy Spirit clearly teaches from all these arrangements that the way into the Most Holy Place has not yet been opened as long as the outer Tent still stands. (v8)

All these sacrifices only dealt with outward purification, they could not change the worshiper’s heart. (see v 10), but as we have seen earlier in Hebrews, Christ came as the perfect High Priest

The tent in which he serves is greater and more perfect; it is not a tent made by human hands; that is, it is not a part of this created world.

When Christ went through the tent and entered once and for all into the Most Holy Place, he did not take the blood of goats and bulls to offer as sacrifice; rather, he took his own blood and obtained eternal salvation for us (v 11- 12)

We see again that the sacrifice of Jesus was ONCE AND FOR ALL, it was not just for the people of Israel but for everyone.  It was final, there was no need for him to come back and keep doing it.

The significance of the curtain in the Tent and later the Temple is demonstrated as evidence of Christ destroying the Old covenant and entering into the Heavenly tent, when on his death, the Curtain in the Temple was torn in two symbolising the tearing up of the old covenant.(Matthew 27 v 51, Mark 15 v 38, Luke 23 v 45)

The disciples were allowed to see him ascend through the curtain of heaven into the MOST Holy Place and then out of sight behind the heavenly curtain where he sits at the right hand of God.

An inheritance cannot be received unless there is a will and a death.

In the case of a will it is necessary to prove that the person who made it has died, for a will means nothing while the person who made it is alive; it comes into effect only after his death. (v16)

This is why even though God had made the promise of our inheritance clear (his will) – we could only inherit it after the death and resurrection of  Jesus.

Christ did not go into a Holy Place made by human hands, which was a copy of the real one.  He went into heaven itself, where he now appears on our behalf  in the presence of God (v24)

Again in verse 26 we see that Christ’s sacrifice was  ONCE AND FOR ALL.

The promise of our inheritance is given again in verse 27;

In the same manner Christ also was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many.  He will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting for him.

So let us wait for him with expectant hearts.

Quotes from the Good News Bible


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