THE DEDICATION OF THE FIRST TEMPLE BY BLOOD—continued (Hebrews 9:18-22)
Here we may ask the question: what is the idea in Scripture of “dedication.” The term in English is derived from the Lation “dedico“. It is a term which is used especially in religious language. Thus it was already used among the pagans of old. It was used to dedicate, consecrate a thing to a deity or a deified person. Particularly, it was used of dedicating a temple to a deity. This is the term which is here employed in the KJV to translate the Greek term “enkainizoo.” This is a term which is used rarely outside the Greek Bible. Perhaps it can be best translated with the term: innovate. (Thayer) Hence, it could be synonymous with: to initiate, consecrate, dedicate. This is consonant with the Hebrew term “chanach” which means to press in, or to narrow, to limit, that is, limit the usage to a certain cause or end. (Kittel)
With this in mind we can understand how, in the Old Testament, the temple was dedicated (I Kings 8:63; II Chron. 7:5. The temple was dedicated to the Lord by the blood of the altar. Such a dedication made the matter settled and binding, once and for all. With this in mind Luther translated here in Hebrews 9 “gestiftet ward.” The entire matter of the covenant had to be placed on a firm foundation.
Here it is the covenant of God which must be made firm, unmovable and unbreakable. The promise must be sure to those who are called. Those who are called must receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. And this is not done without blood! It is done by the blood of the covenant. Thus it was in the Old Covenant!
The writer to the Hebrews makes special mention of the historic occasion at the time of the law-giving at Sinai. It is of importance to notice that this covenant consisted in words. Moses spoke “every commandment” according to the law. This law was the content of the Exodus 20-23; it was the constitution of God’s new relationship to His people, as this would be perfected in the heavens. The last jot and tittle shall be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but this constitutional law of God shall be established in the hearts of the elect people. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, the Jew first and also the Greek. (Matt. 5:17-20) And this is all in the mind of the Lord at Sinai. That is the spiritual nature and design of the law—of every commandment which was spoken by Moses as the Law-giver. (John 1:17) The spiritual import of this law is the “grace and truth” which became a reality through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.
It is for this reason that Moses, speaking of these commandments, was really speaking the old command which is the new commandment! It is really the “new” commandment which is not new because when it came it was not there before (neos) but it was new (kainos) in the sense that it is new in nature! It was different from the usual, impressive, better than the Old, superior in value and attraction. (Kittel) Had these words of Moses been, in their intention and design, merely some legal precepts written in a book of law, then they could not possibly have been words to which “the people” said “All these things will we do.”
Yet, the first matter that we have here is that Moses speaks “every commandment according to the law.”
It was at this point that Moses takes the blood. It was the blood of goats, oxen mingled with water. It was blood half of which had been placed on the altar. This meant that the blood was dedicated to God. It was a burnt offering, a thank offering. The sin offering had been brought in Egypt on the door-posts. Israel’s Passover had been slain. (I Cor. 5:7) Now they have been brought up out of Egypt. They are God’s peculiar possession—a purchased possession! Hence, here they bring a thank offering. It is the perpetual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. And this blood is accepted by the Lord. He is already (typically-parabolically) propitiated. And thus the law is here given in such a way that the seventy see the God of Israel in gracious theophanic form, and live! And Moses takes the blood here and puts it on the altar, and now takes the blood of the altar and sprinkles the people, the congregation of the redeemed, the purchased possession of the LORD! This makes this people a blood sprinkled people, who can say “Amen” to “every commandment spoken according to the law.” However, Moses also sprinkled the “book.” It was not a large book. It was the content of the chapters 20 through 23 of Exodus. O, no doubt, Moses later incorporated this “book” within the compass of the entire book of Exodus. However, it was a complete book which gives us to see and “to approve what is the will of God, the good and well-pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) It was a book which is blood-sprinkled! That makes these words covenant words. Without the blood they would not have been covenant words, but only a principle of law which could only be a letter which kills. But now are they covenant words. They are sealed with the blood!
Thus was the first covenant, with all the covenant words, dedicated, made strong and fast! This covenant of blood cannot fail. It meant that the blood-sprinkled congregation was entirely set in the service of the altar as a royal-priesthood. Now as the priests of God they will present their lives a living sacrifice of thanksgiving to God at the altar. They will have the law written in their hearts! And their hearts are consecrated, limited in their service and allegiance, to God alone! Pressed into the service of the living God they are with a pure conscience.
Yes, this was all in a typical sense here. It is the “first” tabernacle, the first consisting in types and shadows. It perfected nothing. That is true. Nevertheless, it had in it the full message of good things to come. Wherefore Moses says “this is the blood of the covenant which (covenant) is enjoined unto you.” The term enjoyed (eneteilato) ought to be noticed. It is rather remarkable that the verb in the Hebrew text is “carath,” which literally means “to cut.” The text in the Hebrew should read therefore “Behold blood of the covenant, which hath cut Jehovah with you upon all these words.” The idea here is that when a covenant was made then an animal or animals were sacrificed, and they were cleaved through the middle into two pieces which fit together. Thus Abraham was instructed by the Lord to do as recorded in Genesis 15:12-21. And this is the usage which explains why the Hebrews when they enacted a covenant “cut” a covenant. In this case here in Exodus 24 when Moses speaks to the people, the “covenant cut” refers to the same covenant which God made with Abraham. In this covenant Abraham “believed and was justified.” This covenant was God’s covenant in blood of the Lamb! God went through the darkness all alone in Abraham’s vision, and God ever brings the sacrifice alone. Such is the idea of God’s covenant in Genesis 15. It is interesting to notice that in the Septuagint translation the Hebrew verb “carath” is translated by the Greek verb “to place,” to “place through.” It is the verb form of “diatitheemi.” This means that it is a covenant which God somehow covenanted in relationship to Himself. He will bring it about. He will make the promise of the eternal inheritance to stand, and made sure unto those who are called. For the verb “dietheto” is middle voice. God made this arrangement of salvation is such a way that he emphatically made it. He made it and no one else, and he is the Lord; He will fulfill it.
Still, the Hebrew writer does not follow the Septuagint translation here, but renders the Hebrew “carath” (to cut) with the verb which means to give a charge, to command a new commandment. It means that this covenant is something which we are told “to behold.” Writes Moses in Exodus 24:6-8 “Behold, the blood of the covenant. . . .” No, we must not ask with the Jews of Jesus’ days: “what shall we do that we might work hard the works of God?” (John 6:28) Not at all. That is not implied in this “behold, the blood of the covenant. . . .” What is enjoined is that we believe in God and His sacrifice on the door-posts, and that we believe that we are a blood-sprinkled people, and that we can draw nigh unto the Lord with boldness. “For this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” That is the implication of the “behold, the blood of the covenant” in Exodus 24:6-8, even as it is in the mouth of John the Baptist when he says “Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
Such is the enjoinment of the covenant of blood!
It is really the same as: this is the New Testament in my blood. Drink this cup of the New Testament in remembrance of me! Yes, it is the covenant which God has “cut,” and He has made the arrangement and fulfillment all alone. Now He enjoins us: Behold it in faith! That is our part in this covenant: a walk of thankfulness! And even this faith is the “work of God!” All things are ready; come ye to the wedding feast. . .
For without blood there is not historical realization of forgiveness of sins!
THE NECESSITY THAT THE HEAVENLY THINGS THEMSELVES BE PURIFIED Hebrews 9:23, 24
That blood must be shed, shall there be forgiveness of sins, is a general principle both for the Old Testament and in the New Testament. It is the one thing which makes any covenant of effect and power. This is a universal law concerning all testaments, even of men. Fact is, that with the exception of one or two ceremonies, everything was purified with blood in the Old Testament. It called for the shedding of blood!
There is a God-ordained relationship between the true tabernacle and the type. It is the relation of shadow and body. Here in this chapter the shadow of things to come is denominated: the anti-type! Thus we read of this anti-type as the pattern of the true. All that we read of this tabernacle, which was made by Bazaleel and Aholibah, is that it is merely a pattern. It is made after the pattern shown Moses on the mount during the forty days spoken of in Exodus. It was therefore not the real tabernacle. It was but a shadowy picture, a dim outline of things to come! This shadowy picture-tabernacle was under the necessity of being sprinkled with blood. The tabernacle itself needed to be sprinkled with blood on each great, solemn day of atonement. It was the Day! It meant that priest, people and tabernacle all were clean and purified once more!
Copies, patterns of the true tabernacle needed to be cleansed!
The real tabernacle, the heavenly things themselves, too, need to be purified—with better sacrifices than of goats and bullocks. It calls for a greater sacrifice on a greater Day of atonement!