In the first part of Chapter 9 of Hebrews, the writer speaks about the practices of the priesthood as they were performed on behalf of sinners in the Tabernacle.  The only thing these things provided the sinner was an external ritual that had no lasting impact on his guilt and shame. All of the tabernacle practices, procedures and accoutrements simply served as an illustration of what was to come. The one and only High Priest for all mankind, the Priest who came not in the order of Aaron and the Levitical system, but one who came in the order of Melchizedek, was to put the finishing touches on the system illustrated by the tabernacle for all sinners once and for all. Whereas the Aaronic system failed, Jesus succeeded. Hebrews 9:11-12 says, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

Any and all religious systems along with any and all law codes can do nothing to cleanse a violator of their transgressions. These systems of practices, regardless of their nature, offer us nothing but a rigorous routine to follow over and over again. These rituals only have an effect in the here and now. They don’t lay up a ladder for us from earth to heaven. They don’t breach the physical realm and stretch into the plane of eternity. Only Jesus does that! No religion can provide what sinful humans need most. Every ritual, every observance, every sacrifice we offer leads only to another one that will come tomorrow and the day after! Nothing in religious systems is solid and secure. Where religion fails, Jesus succeeds. Brown says, “Our writer’s passionate desire is to expound the gospel against the background of law, the new covenant in the light of the old, all its incompleteness contrasted with the present secure blessings.”[1]

In 1967, Jefferson Airplane sang, “When the truth is found to be lies And all the joy Within you dies, don’t you want somebody to love?” Well, actually, I don’t want somebody to love. I want somebody to love me! Religious leaders lay burdens on people that are too heavy for them to carry. And none of their exhortations and threats can really make a difference in anyone’s life. When one finally realizes that all the religious rituals, rules and regulations do not bring peace with God, what can you do? When religion fails us and we end up broken, forlorn, and repentant, there is only one thing left for sinners. Brown describes it, “He calls to God for help, and this epistle, possibly more than anywhere else in the New Testament, gives the answer to his cry. The blood of Christ is God’s answer to man’s disturbed conscience. He can be cleansed and know he is forgiven.”[2]

[1] Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews: Christ above All, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 152.

[2] Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews: Christ above All, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 158.