Hebrews Study Lesson 31: The Law Was Not Enough :: By Sean Gooding

Chapter 9:1-10

Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation” (NKJV).

Happy New Year to you all. I pray that all is well with you. We had a busy time, as I am sure most families did. And, to top it off, my wife and I became quite ill over the New Year’s weekend, and we are both still gradually getting over the illness. God is good, and He continues to make Himself known to us and shows us His love and care. I pray that you are seeing Him as well in your life and that you are more confident in your faith from day to day.

The last lesson we looked at, before the Christmas one, was about the New Covenant written in our hearts when we receive the Holy Spirit. God puts His Spirit in us, and He constantly reminds us of what is right and good, reminds us of God’s character, and is in the process of forming the person of Christ in us.

Galatians 4:18-19, NKJV “Nevertheless, it is good to be zealous if it serves a noble purpose—at any time, and not only when I am with you. My children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…”

  • The Tedious Tabernacle, verses 1-5

When one takes the time (and I am reading through the book of Exodus right now with a group of other pastors as we read through the Bible in 90 days) to see the intricate details laid out about the Tabernacle and its details: how to make the wood, the curtains, the tables, and the Ark of the Covenant, when we see the very costly materials that were necessary to make the covering and the utensils, we can see that the Tabernacle was unique in its construction. It took hundreds of people to care for it and transport it as the Jews made their way through the Wilderness. It was burdensome and required constant care, required one to watch it and the Priests to make sure that the things in it were ceremonially clean and ready to be used by God all the time. It was a tedious task, one that required hundreds and hundreds of man-hours to make it all work.

  • The Tarnished Priests verses 6-7

The priests were all flawed men at best. Aaron was the first to fashion an idol for the people to worship when Moses stayed too long on the mountain while getting the Law. These human priests had to offer sacrifices for themselves before they could intercede on behalf of the people. These men struggled with their flesh. In contrast, Jesus is our Perfect priest. He never sinned, never failed, and never erred – not even once. We are told this in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV):

“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

These men could not save us eternally with all their sacrifices. The Old Testament saints were never saved by observing the Law. They were saved when they believed the promises of God; they looked forward to our Messiah. They did perform the observances and ordinances of the Law in submissive obedience to the Lord but never to earn salvation. One CANNOT earn the gift of eternal life. Abraham, we are told, believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. He is the father of all who believe in Jesus as Savior.

  • The Temporary Fix, verses 8-10

The Holy Spirit, we are told, indicates to us that the tedious works of the law and the tarnished men working as priests could not get the participants permanent perfection. The annual sacrifices on the Day of Atonement, the time when the High Priest would enter the inner part of the Tabernacle, were only good until the next year when the ritual had to be performed once again. The daily sacrifices were temporary fixes that appeased a righteous God for a time.

Their rituals, these laws and their observances, were not able to save the participant or able to make him or her perfect. This is what is required – perfection (see verse 9). We are told that these laws could not make one ‘perfect in regard to the conscience.’ The law cannot make you and me perfect. The endless sacrifices could not make you and me perfect. God requires perfection for Him to fellowship with anyone. The temporary sacrifices covered the sins of the people temporarily; even the Passover had to be re-enacted yearly.

In verse 10, we are told that these rituals were there until a certain time happened. Next week, we will look at that time. You may wonder why we seem to be going over this time and time again. Well, Satan knows the importance of the pure Gospel, and he is always at work in every generation, trying to pollute it. One of the main ways that he tries to pollute it is to add works to belief in salvation – one must keep the law to be saved. This is heresy, and it is important that we refute and debunk this so that people can truly be saved.

The purity of the Gospel is the number one responsibility of the local church. Without it, we are powerless.

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

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