“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” (Hebrews 9:23-28).
For a consumer in the free market, it can be challenging to know when to buy a generic product. “Knock-off” brands promise that their product’s quality matches that of name-brand goods, but at a fraction of the cost. While generic products may indeed cost less, they sometimes tend to wear out before their name-brand counterparts. Sometimes it’s just best to spend the extra money and buy the real thing.
In our text, we are told that the “copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these things.” This refers to all of the animal blood sacrifices of the old covenant that were used to purify “the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry” (Hebrews 9:21). Because all of these “holy places made with hands” were but “copies of the true,” they required only the lesser price of animal blood. However, since these copies of the heavenly things were part of the old covenant, the animal blood sacrifices had to be offered repeatedly. For, “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13). Like the generic products that cost less but tend to wear out, Scripture reveals that the sacrifices of the old covenant were repeated because, by God’s design, the things of the old covenant were not made to last. God’s plan of salvation was never about settling for the “knock-off” brand—things made with man’s hands. He wants us to have the real thing—heaven itself!
Since God’s loving intent for mankind was not to provide some sort of temporal salvation, but rather one that would last into eternity, the cost was, of necessity, going to be much higher. Enter Jesus Christ who, as both true God and true man, would not offer “the blood of another,” but rather “He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Jesus’ blood and righteousness is the only payment that could secure for us unworthy sinners heaven itself. And since God has declared Jesus’ divine blood to be all-sufficient, He need not offer it more than once. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Don’t settle for things made with hands. Instead, eagerly wait for Jesus, Who “will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Your spot in heaven has been paid in full, once and for all, by Jesus’ one sacrifice. Sound too good to be true? No, it’s the real thing!
Chad Seybt is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming.