9 The first covenant had rules for worship. It also had a sacred tent on earth. 2 A holy tent was set up. The lampstand was in the first room. So were the table and the holy bread. That was called the Holy Room. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Room. 4 It had the golden altar for incense. It also had the wooden chest called the ark of the covenant. The ark was covered with gold. It held the gold jar of manna. It held Aaron’s wooden staff that had budded. It also held the stone tablets. The words of the covenant were written on them. 5 The cherubim were above the ark. God showed his glory there. The cherubim spread their wings over the place where sin was paid for. But we can’t deal with those things more completely now. 6 That’s how everything was arranged in the holy tent. The priests entered it at regular times. They went into the outer room to do their work for God and others. 7 But only the high priest went into the inner room. He went in only once a year. He never entered without taking blood with him. He offered the blood for himself. He also offered it for the sins the people had committed because they didn’t know any better. 8 Here is what the Holy Spirit was showing us. He was telling us that God had not yet clearly shown the way into the Most Holy Room. It would not be clearly shown as long as the first holy tent was still standing. 9 That’s an example for the present time. It shows us that the gifts and sacrifices they offered were not enough. They were not able to remove the worshiper’s feelings of guilt. 10 They deal only with food and drink and different kinds of special washings. They are rules that deal with things outside our bodies. People had to obey them only until the new covenant came.
There couldn’t be a clearer contrast than that between the ‘new’ and the ‘obsolete’ in this reading. The ‘new’ is permanent, the ‘obsolete’ is temporary and yet they are interwoven by the Holy Spirit. Even with the many rules and regulations of the old covenant, the Spirit had not ‘disclosed’ the way into the Most Holy Place, the place where God lived.
In order to come into the Presence a person needed to be made holy, and that alone was enough to indicate that ‘external regulations’ were not enough, they merely applied ‘until the time of the new order’.
How privileged we are who have embraced the new order created by the blood of Jesus Christ. If we look back to 8:10 we immediately realise that the new plan of salvation is the unique gift of God. We can’t earn it; we can’t claim any credit for it; we are totally dependent on the grace of God through the ministry of the Spirit. We have to admit that any comparison between the old and the new is futile! As the ‘Message’ puts it, “God put the old plan on the shelf. And there it stays, gathering dust”.
Thank you my God that you made a new and permanent way through the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank you for the gift of faith which empowers me to embrace this new way and to come into your Presence without any of the legalistic rules and regulations of the old covenant. I acknowledge with joy the freedom we have in Christ!
Written by Keith Bennett