The outer sanctuary is the place where preparations are made for the entry to the inner Holy of Holies. And so we learn about Christ’s ministry in the heavenly Holy of Holies through the activity in the outer sanctuary, that is, the time of the Old Testament.
“For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you. Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 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” (Heb. 9:16-28).
Given the nature of “testaments,” a death is necessary in order for the will and testament to take effect. The author of Hebrews shows us here that a comparison exists between a testament and a covenant. In just the way that a death is necessary for a testament, so also death was necessary for the ratification or dedication of the first covenant. Remember that a covenant is a “solemn bond, sovereignly administered, with attendant blessings and curses.” When the covenant is between God and man it is a “solemn bond, sovereignly administered, sealed in blood, with attendant blessings and curses.”
This brings us back to the sprinkling of blood. In the earlier part of this chapter, the author has spoken of baptisms. Here he gives some examples of these baptisms. Moses sprinkled blood on both the people and the book of the covenant, as well as the articles used in the ministry of worship. Everything was purified with blood. According to the law, without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. We must therefore emphasize that the Christian faith is a religion founded on blood sacrifice. Moreover the shedding of blood in the older covenant was not intended to be efficacious, but rather typological. The Christian faith is built on the foundation of a human sacrifice. If sin is to be dealt with, blood must flow. To the modernist, this seems barbaric—but it deals with the fact of sin. The only way to avoid blood sacrifice in religion is to traffic in wishful thinking.
Scripture teaches us here that the tabernacle in the heavens needed to be purified. Because it is in the heavens, only the blood of Christ would suffice to accomplish this. The blood of bulls and goats could purify the tabernacle here, but in the heavenlies only the true and ultimate sacrifice was worthy.
And this relates to our sense of Christian finality. Christ came at the “end of the ages.” An air of finality attends His arrival, His ministry, His work. His work was to put away sin. Christ was offered one time in the same way that each man dies one time. First is the death, an event in history, and after the death follow the consequences of the nature of that death. Christ died for the many, and after that death, their sins were put away. Each man dies in history, and after that follows the judgment. Nothing is more certain than the inevitability of your death, and nothing is more certain than the judgment that will follow that death. The questions each one of us must ask ourselves regularly is this—do we have a High Priest who has put away our sins? Do we have a sacrifice in the heavens? Do we have Christ?