The Tabernacle and Old Testament Worship
(1) So then, the first (old) covenant had regulations for the worship (service) of God and also an earthly tabernacle. (2) This is how the earthly tabernacle was set up: behind the tabernacle’s first curtain was the first room called the Holy Place where the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread was located. (3) Behind the second curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place, (4) which had the gold-covered ark of the covenant. The ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. (5) Above the ark of the covenant were the cherubim of God’s glory, looking over the mercy seat of atonement. Unfortunately, we cannot explain all these things in detail right now.
(6) When everything had been arranged in the earthly tabernacle, the priests entered regularly into the outer Holy Place to perform their ministry duties. (7) But only the high priest could enter the inner Most Holy Place—and only once a year—to offer blood for himself and for the sins the people of Israel committed in ignorance. (8) The Holy Spirit was revealing by the outer Holy Place that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been opened, as long as the earthly tabernacle was still functioning. (9) This is a symbolic illustration for the present time—indicating that the gifts and sacrifices offered were unable to cleanse (perfect) the consciences of the worshipers of God. (10) They were concerned only about food, drink, and various ceremonial washings—external regulations that applied only until the time of the new order.
Jesus is Our Eternal Sacrifice
(11) But when Christ came as the high priest of the good things that have already come, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle in heaven that is not built with human hands, and is not part of this creation. (12) He entered once for all into the inner Most Holy Place of heaven, not with the blood from goats and cows but with his own blood, thus securing our eternal redemption. (13) For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean could sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean, (14) how much more, then, can the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Holy Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, so we can serve the the living God!
(15) It is for this reason that Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called can receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that Jesus has died on the cross as a ransom payment to set us free from the sins committed under the first (old) covenant.
(16) In the case of a human will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, (17) because a will is only effective when someone has died; a will never takes effect while the one who made it is still living. (18) This is why even the first (old) covenant was not put into effect without blood. (19) After Moses had proclaimed the commandments of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet (bright red) wool, and branches of hyssop (a small bushy plant), and sprinkled the book of the law and all the people. (20) As Exodus 24:8 says, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to obey.” (21) In the same way, he sprinkled the blood on the tabernacle and all the vessels used in worship ceremonies. (22) For the law of Moses requires that almost everything be purified with blood, because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
(23) Therefore, it is necessary for the earthly copies of the things in heaven to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things with better sacrifices than these. (24) For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true heavenly one. He entered heaven itself, now to appear on our behalf in the presence of God. (25) Nor does he need to enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the earthly high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with the blood that is not his own. (26) If this was the case, Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But Jesus has appeared once for all at the end (culmination) of the ages, to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. (27) Just as every person is destined to die once, and after that to face God’s just judgment, (28) so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of those who believe. And he will appear a second time (at his second coming), not to take away sin but to bring salvation to all believers who are waiting for his coming.