The first promise had rules for the priests’ service. It also had a holy place on earth.
A tent was set up. The first part of this tent was called the holy place. The lamp stand, the table, and the bread of the presence were in this part of the tent.
Behind the second curtain was the part of the tent called the most holy place.
It contained the gold incense burner and the ark of the Lord’s promise. The ark was completely covered with gold. In the ark were the gold jar filled with manna, Aaron’s staff that had blossomed, and the tablets on which the promise[a] was written.
Above the ark were the angels[b] of glory with their wings overshadowing the throne of mercy. (Discussing these things in detail isn’t possible now.)
That is how these two parts of the tent were set up. The priests always went into the first part of the tent to perform their duties.
But only the chief priest went into the second part of the tent. Once a year he entered and brought blood that he offered for himself and for the things that the people did wrong unintentionally.
The Holy Spirit used this to show that the way into the most holy place was not open while the tent was still in use.
The first part of the tent is an example for the present time. The gifts and sacrifices that were brought there could not give the worshiper a clear conscience.
These gifts and sacrifices were meant to be food, drink, and items used in various purification ceremonies. These ceremonies were required for the body until God would establish a new way of doing things.
But Christ came as a chief priest of the good things that are now here. Christ went through a better, more perfect tent that was not made by human hands and that is not part of this created world.
He used his own blood, not the blood of goats and bulls, for the sacrifice. He went into the most holy place and offered this sacrifice once and for all to free us forever.
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of cows sprinkled on unclean[c] people made their bodies holy and clean.
The blood of Christ, who had no defect, does even more. Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself to God and cleansed our consciences from the useless things we had done. Now we can serve the living God.
Because Christ offered himself to God, he is able to bring a new promise from God. Through his death he paid the price to set people free from the sins they committed under the first promise. He did this so that those who are called can be guaranteed an inheritance that will last forever.
In order for a will to take effect, it must be shown that the one who made it has died.
A will is used only after a person is dead because it goes into effect only when a person dies.
That is why even the first promise was made with blood.
As Scripture tells us, Moses told all the people every commandment. Then he took the blood of calves and goats together with some water, red yarn, and hyssop and sprinkled the scroll and all the people.
He said, “Here is the blood that seals the promise God has made to you.”
In the same way, Moses sprinkled blood on the tent and on everything used in worship.
As Moses’ Teachings tell us, blood was used to cleanse almost everything, because if no blood is shed, no sins can be forgiven.
The copies of the things in heaven had to be cleansed by these sacrifices. But the heavenly things themselves had to be cleansed by better sacrifices.
Christ didn’t go into a holy place made by human hands. He didn’t go into a model of the real thing. Instead, he went into heaven to appear in God’s presence on our behalf.
Every year the chief priest went into the holy place to make a sacrifice with blood that isn’t his own. However, Christ didn’t go into heaven to sacrifice himself again and again.
Otherwise, he would have had to suffer many times since the world was created. But now, at the end of the ages, he has appeared once to remove sin by his sacrifice.
People die once, and after that they are judged.
Likewise, Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of humanity, and after that he will appear a second time. This time he will not deal with sin, but he will save those who eagerly wait for him.