Through His shed blood Yeshua gives defiled human beings access to undefiled heavenly things.
Hebrews 9:1-14 reminds the reader of the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting) it’s serving priests and its articles, showing them to be replicas that point to the original Mishkan in the heavens. The mercy seat of the heavens being the place where Yeshua the Great High Priest has sprinkled His blood in order to affect eternal atonement for all who receive Him and His saving work. The writer points out that if the blood of goats and bulls (Num. 16), and the ashes of the heifer could affect temporary outward cleansing of the body, then how much more can the blood of Messiah (which is everlasting) purge the soul of a human being, removing the decaying deeds of the sinful nature (yetzer hara).
The “goats and bulls” relate to the High Priest’s duties on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) relating to both his cleansing and the cleansing of the community of Israel from sin. The ashes of the red heifer mixed with water and applied with hyssop relate to the ritual cleansing of one who has touched a dead body. In both cases death, which is the fruit of sin, is associated to the rites. The writer of Hebrews is intentionally using these examples in order to solidify his point that the physical practices of the earthly sacrificial system cannot save the inner person from the just consequences of sin.
With regard to the ashes of the red heifer it is worth noting that the ashes mixed with water for the ritual cleansing of those who touch the dead (a metaphor for touching the fruit of sin), is called “water of separation” (Num. 19:13) because it cleanses ritually cleanses the person from that which “separates” them from God. The writer of the Book to the Hebrews inspired by the Holy Spirit uses this temporal earthly example to point to the fact that Yeshua’s sacrificial death and the sprinkling of His blood (ashes) mixed with water (life) truly and eternally cleanse the inner person of those who receive Him. This has been accomplished and is now offered to all until His return, at which time “separation from sin” (Heb. 9:28) will not be the subject of His coming but to reign in fullness over Judah, Israel and all the nations (those who have received Him).
In our previous study we noted that the ark of the covenant (Aron Ha-Briyt) was not present in the holy of holies during the earthly ministry of Messiah in the first century C.E. And that Yeshua never entered the holy of holies on earth but the holy of holies, or the holiest place in the heavens. We also learned that the book of Revelation tells us where the original Aron Ha-Briyt of God is located and that the vein pursuit of the earthly ark that can never affect redemption is an act of idolatry.
“Then the Temple of God in heaven was opened, and the Ark of His Covenant appeared in His Temple. And there were flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder and an earthquake and heavy hail.” -Revelation 11:19 TLV
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have become defiled, unclean, sanctify as a means of purifying, cleansing the carnal form, flesh, body, 14 how much more will the blood of the Messiah, Who through the eternal Spirit offered, presented, sacrificed His soul without blemish, mark, spot to God; purge, cleanse, purify your conscience, moral consciousness, heart, core being, inner person from dead, necrotic works, deeds, doing, in order to serve the living God?
Before we continue we note again that while Yeshua’s unique priesthood is “like” that of Melki Tzedek (the mortal king and priest of ancient Salem), Yeshua’s practice of atonement is likened to that of the high priest of the Levitical priesthood. Therefore, as previously stated, Yeshua’s priesthood over all peoples presents a convergent likeness that combines elements of both earthly temporal priesthoods. We thus glean understanding from both.
BOOK TO THE HEBREWS Chapter 9:15-28 (Author’s translation)
15 And through this He is the mediator, reconciler, go between, messenger advocate of a new covenant, so that, by means of His death we are found redeemed, atoned, purged of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, so that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. [alt. Hebrew text translates as, “that the elect might receive the promised eternal land.”] 16 For where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary. 17 For a covenant is valid upon death, because it has no strength while the one who made it lives. 18 Nor was the first covenant consecrated, dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moshe[H] (drawn out, resurrected one) had spoken every commandment to all the people individually and collectively according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, he received/took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the Scroll itself and all the people individually and collectively, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” 21 Likewise he sprinkled, threw the blood on both the Tent of Meeting and all the vessels, utensils, implements of the service. 22 And with few exceptions all things individually and collectively are purged, cleansed, purified with blood, according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom. 23 Therefore it was necessary, right for the copies, patterns, warnings of the things in the heavens to be purged, cleansed, purified with these things, but the heavenly things themselves with better, more excellent sacrifices than these. 24 For the Messiah did not enter a holy place/sanctuary made by human hands, a copy, representation, figure of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us; 25 nor must He offer His soul often, repeatedly, many times like the high priest who enters the Holy place, sanctuary year after year with blood of others. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the beginning, foundation, conception of the world; but now once at the goal of the ages, generations, the world, forever He has been revealed, manifest to put away, cancel, abolish sin [missing the mark set by God’s holiness] by the sacrifice of His soul. 27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once, and after this, the judgment, 28 so Messiah also, having been offered once to bear, carry the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to, separation from sin, to those who look for, eagerly await Him.
HEBREWS 9:15-28 (line upon line)
15 And through this (dia touto[G], zot[H]) He is the mediator, reconciler, go between, messenger advocate (mesitēs[G], malakh meiliytz[H]) of a new covenant (kainos diathēkē[G], labriyt hachadashah[H]), so that, by means of His death (Thanatos[G], umoto[H]) we are (nimtza[H]) found redeemed, atoned, purged (apolutrōsis[G], lechaparat[H]) of the violations (parabasis[G], haposhiym tachat[H]) that were committed under the first covenant (protos diathēkē[G], habriyt harishonah[H]), so that those who have been called (kaleō[G]) may receive (lambanō[G]) the promise (epaggelia[G], et-havtachat[H]) of the eternal (aiōnios[G], olam[H]) inheritance (klēronomia[G], nachalat[H]). [alt. Hebrew text translates as, “that the elect might receive the promised eternal land.”]
15 And through this He is the mediator, reconciler, go between, messenger advocate of a new covenant, so that, by means of His death we are found redeemed, atoned, purged of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, so that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. [alt. Hebrew text translates as, “that the elect might receive the promised eternal land.”]
“And through this…” Through His blood, the sacrifice of His unblemished soul, the eternal Spirit of God (v. 14).
“He is the mediator of a new covenant” In one sense Moses was mediator of the former covenant, but ultimately Yeshua is mediator of both covenants. However, only Yeshua could mediate the new covenant because it is a covenant that requires eternal blood atonement, something that Moses could never have provided.
The Greek diathēkē is equivalent to the Hebrew briyt. However, while the Greek diathēkē can mean “covenant” or “testament”, the Hebrew briyt does not carry both meanings in the same sense. There are other Hebrew words like edut (witness, testimony) that better convey the Greco-Roman idea of “testament”. This being said, one of the names of the ark of the covenant is Aron Edut “Ark of Testimony” (Ex. 25:22). Therefore, both meanings are valid.
However, the context of the present text denotes a covenant purchased by blood atonement and not a “will” or “testament” signed in anticipation of the death of the other party. Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) makes a similar drash in his writing to the Galatian believers (Gal. 3:15-18). The Jewish recipients of the Book to the Hebrews understand “covenant” and not “testament” as in “last will and testament”.
Sadly the majority of Christian scholars and commentators (and some Messianics) miss the point entirely by reading into the text a Greco-Roman or modern western understanding of the word diathēkē, seeing it (in spite of the context) as referring to “last will and testament” rather than “Blood Covenant”. Which, based on context, is the intended meaning of the Hebrew writer of this work.
Messiah Yeshua is Mediator of the new covenant:
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and people, the man Messiah Yeshua; Who gave himself as a ransom for all, this has now been witnessed to at the proper time.” -1 Timothy 2:5-6 (Author’s Translation)
NB: These verses and many others refute the modern scholarship lie that says Messiah’s sacrifice is not a substitution. It clearly is, one who pays with his life a ransom for someone else, is by definition a substitute.
Messiah Yeshua’s blood inaugurated and perpetuates the new covenant:
“For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” -Matthew 26:28 (Author’s Translation)
Messiah Yeshua’s sacrificial, substitutionary death purges those who believe from all that the Mosaic covenant could not:
“Let it be known unto all of you therefore, both people, and Jewish brothers and sisters, that through this man (Yeshua) is preached unto all of you the forgiveness of sins: And by Him (Yeshua) all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Torah of Moses.” -Acts 13:38-39 (Author’s Translation)
“so that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” In order to properly understand the impact of this statement we must understand the Biblical historic weight of it. The Hebrew translation of this same statement reads:
“that the elect (chosen) might receive the promised eternal land”.
While it is true that all who believe both of the Jews and the nations, are given access to the eternal promise of inheritance in the family of God, it is nonetheless a secondary understanding. First and foremost, as understood by the first century Jewish recipients of this work, the “promise of eternal inheritance” relates to the fulfilment of the covenant promise made by God to Avraham and conferred upon Isaac and Jacob and thus the descendants of Jacob, Israel, the Jewish people. That eternal promise being for the inheritance of the land.
The word "inherit" (leishtah[H] [to inherit], from the root yarash, yaresh)is first used in the Tanakh (OT) in connection with the promise concerning the land:
“He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to inherit (leishtah[H]).” -Genesis 15:7
The covenant for the land was made by God while Avram (soon to be Avraham) was unconscious. Therefore, the fulfilment of the promise for the land is entirely incumbent upon God, Who in faithfulness will bring about its eternal outworking.
“As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him… When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land,” -Genesis 15”12, 17-18 NIV
The fact that God’s giving of the land to Israel (through Avraham) is eternal is testified to by Scripture:
“The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” -Genesis 17:8 NIV
Therefore, reading the present text (Heb. 9:15b) as a first century Jewish believer, we understand the meaning as “that the elect (descendants of Jacob who are in right standing with God through faith) might receive the promised eternal land”.
We must keep in mind that the terms “elect” and “chosen” when used by the new covenant Jewish writers, are understood to be speaking first and foremost of the chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen). This is not an act of pride on the part of the writers but a matter of Biblical fact. While it remains true that all regardless of ethnicity are welcomed into the eternal inheritance of God through Messiah Yeshua, that is not what is first being said here. It is often the case that our election and stubbornness as Jews is used by God to protect us from apostasy, as is alluded to by Messiah in Matthew 24:24.
Rabbi Shaul’s (Paul) letter to the Galatian believers (Galatians 3-4), both Jewish and Gentile, is a superb commentary on Torah, election and faith as observed through the lens of the writer of the Book to the Hebrews. It illuminates the application of these ethno-religious promises to all believers providing the order of the promises are respected and access to them is understood as a privilege in Messiah Yeshua and not an opportunity to do away with the chosen (elect) descendants of Jacob to whom they were first given and continue to be first offered (Rom. 1:16).
16 For where there is a covenant (diathēkē[G], briyt[H]), the death (thanatos[G], mot[H]) of the one who made it (diatithemai[G]) is necessary (anagkē[G]). 17 For a covenant (diathēkē[G], briyt[H]) is valid upon death (epi nekros[G], hamavet[H]), because it has no strength (ischuō mepote[G]) while the one who made it (diatithemai[G]) lives (zaō[G], bechayeiy[H]). 18 Nor was the first covenant (protos diathēkē[G], habriyt harishonah[H]) consecrated, dedicated (egkainizō[G], chanukat[H]) without blood (aima[G], dam[H]).
16 For where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary.
“For where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary.” The death of the one who made it refers to the death purchased on behalf of the one who made it. There is no instance in the Torah where a person entering a covenant with God is required to give their own blood (life) in order to affect that covenant. Even Isaac received a substitutionary reprieve (Gen 22).
The covenants of the Tanakh (OT) with few exceptions (and then by inference) are ratified in blood. The blood shed is shed on behalf of the life of the one who is entering the covenant. Therefore, “where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary”, means, the vicarious death of another (an animal) on behalf of the one (a human being) entering the covenant.
This verse does not refer to a “last will and testament” or covenant in the sense of “Testament” as so many conclude in error. It cannot, because the preceding and proceeding verses speak specifically of a blood covenant ratified according to the practices outlined in Torah and according to those covenants entered into by our forebears from Adam to Noah, to Abraham, to Jacob, to Israel. To misunderstand this covenant as referring to a last will and testament is to entirely misunderstand the meaning of the text.
17 For a covenant is valid upon death, because it has no strength while the one who made it lives.
“a covenant is valid upon death” The death of a substitutionary animal is required in order for a covenant to be ratified (Gen. 8:20; 9:9; 15:9, 17-18; 17:11; Ex. 24:1-8). That animal dies on behalf of the one entering the covenant. Therefore, it is as if that one has died. In the case of the new covenant Messiah Yeshua is the substitutionary sacrifice, and His blood causes the one who enters this new covenant to become dead to sin and alive in Messiah.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.” -Leviticus 17:11
“it has no strength while the one who made it lives.” No covenant is binding without a substitutionary sacrifice of blood made on behalf of the one entering it. It is the vicarious death of another that gives a covenant strength (according to Torah).
18 Nor was the first covenant consecrated, dedicated without blood.
This verse shows that a Biblical covenant is being referred to by the writer and not a Greco-Roman “last will and testament”.
The “first covenant” refers to the Mosaic covenant, which was, like the new covenant, ratified with blood. Did Moses die in order for the Mosaic covenant to become of affect? Of course not. Was it the blood of the people of Israel that was shed in order for the Mosaic covenant to be ratified? Of course not. But it was the blood of animals that was shed in their place, so that the covenant might be ratified through the vicarious death of animals representing the death of the people who entered the covenant (Exodus 24:1-8). Therefore, the same is true of the new covenant which is established through the substitutionary sacrifice of Yeshua, whose blood is of everlasting affect.
19 For when Moshe[H] (drawn out, resurrected one) had spoken every commandment (entolē[G], mitzvah[H]) to all the people individually and collectively (pas ho laos[G], kol ha’am[H]) according to the Torah, Instruction, Law (ho nomos[G], haTorah[H]), he received/took (lambanō[G]) the blood (ho aima[G], hadam[H]) of the calves (moschos[G], va’agaliym[H]) and the goats (tragos[G], se’iyriym[H]), with water (hudōr[G]) and scarlet (Kokkinos[G]) wool (erion[G]) and hyssop (hussōpos[G]), and sprinkled (rhantizō[G]) both the Scroll (biblion[G]) itself and all the people individually and collectively (pas ho laos[G], kol ha’am[H]), 20 saying, “This is the blood (ho aima[G], hadam[H]) of the covenant (ho diathēkē[G], habriyt[H]) which God (Theos[G], Elohiym[G]) commanded (entellomai[G], tzivah[H]) you.”
19 For when Moshe[H] (drawn out, resurrected one) had spoken every commandment to all the people individually and collectively according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, he received/took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the Scroll itself and all the people individually and collectively, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.”
“3 So Moses came and told the people all the words of Adonai as well as all the ordinances. All the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which Adonai has spoken, we will do.” 4 So Moses wrote down all the words of Adonai, then rose up early in the morning, and built an altar below the mountain, along with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He then sent out young men of Bnei-Yisrael, who sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings of oxen to Adonai. 6 Then Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins and the other half he poured out against the altar. 7 He took the Scroll of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. Again they said, “All that Adonai has spoken, we will do and obey.” 8 Then Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which Adonai has cut with you, in agreement with all these words.” -Exodus 24:3-8 TLV
Moses sprinkled the scroll of the Torah in order to acknowledge its requirement for blood atonement (Lev. 17:11). He sprinkled blood on the people to show that blood had been shed on their behalf so that they had died symbolically according to the vicarious blood of the animal sacrifices. We note that the blood is of the covenant, meaning that blood shed is an intrinsic and necessary part of binding covenant. This is attested to throughout the Tanakh (OT).
While it is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture that Moses sprinkled the Torah scroll, it is nonetheless mentioned here. Objections to the truth of the present text are a rejection of its inspiration and therefore a rejection of God’s Word.
21 Likewise (homoiōs[G]) he sprinkled, threw the blood (ho aima[G], hadam[H]) on (rhantizō[G], zarak[H]) both the Tent of Meeting (skēnē[G], ha-Mishkan[H]) and all the vessels, utensils, implements (skeuos[G], keleiy hashareit[H]) of the service (leitourgia[G]). 22 And with few exceptions (schedon[G]) all things (hakol[H]) individually and collectively (pas[G]) are purged, cleansed, purified (katharizō[G], yithar[H]) with blood (aima[G], badam[H]), according to the Torah, Instruction, Law (ho nomos[G], haTorah[H]), and without the shedding of blood (aima[G], dam[H]) there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom (aphesis[G], eiyn slichah[H]). 23 Therefore it was necessary, right (anagkē[G], nachom[H]) for the copies, patterns, warnings (hupodeigma[G]) of the things in the heavens (ho Ouranos[G], hashamayim[H]) to be purged, cleansed, purified (katharizō[G], letaheir[H]) with these things, but the heavenly (epouranios[G]) things themselves with better, more excellent sacrifices (thusia[G], toviym mei’eileh[H]) than these.
21 Likewise he sprinkled, threw the blood on both the Tent of Meeting and all the vessels, utensils, implements of the service.
While it is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture that Moses sprinkled the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting), Leviticus 18:15, 19 speak of sprinkling blood on both the altar and Aaron the high priest, and thus infer the sprinkling of the Tent and utensils. Additionally Josephus the first century C.E. historian writes that consecration was made upon “the Tent and the vessels which belonged to it, both with oil that had first been incensed, and with the blood of bulls and rams." (Antiquities of the Jews 3:8:6)
22 And with few exceptions all things individually and collectively are purged, cleansed, purified with blood, according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom.
“And with few exceptions” Some things were purged by water and some by fire (Numbers 31:23). The exceptions relate to ritual uncleanness and not to the atonement of sin committed either in ignorance or by wilful intention. Therefore, the exceptions do not relate to the remission of sin. This is why the writer makes clear that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission (forgiveness) of sin (Exodus 29-30; Leviticus 1-9, 14-17).
“all things individually and collectively are purged, cleansed, purified with blood, according to the Torah, Instruction, Law” The Torah states explicitly, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.” -Leviticus 17:11
“without the shedding of blood there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom.” The life is in the blood, whereas sin entered the world and brought death with it. In order to remove death, life is required. But the blood of animals could never do more than temporarily and symbolically cover sin. What is needed is not a temporary picture of redemption through blood but an eternal blood transfusion of the life blood of God. Sin cannot be removed any other way. There is no forgiveness or the freedom it brings without the shedding of blood.
Jewish tradition agrees, saying “eiyn kaparah alay badam” (no atonement except that made in blood) [Talmud Bavliy Yoma, fol. 5. 1. Zebachim, fol. 6. 1. & Menachot, fol. 93. 2.].
“Does the placing of hands atone for one’s sins? Isn’t atonement accomplished only by the sprinkling of the blood, as it is stated: “For it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life” (Leviticus 17:11)?” -Talmud Bavliy Yoma 5a. 2. Sefaria translation
In light of modern medical research the transfusion analogy is poignant. It has been observed that in cases where leukaemia patients receive bone marrow transplants, that their blood DNA changes to replicate the donor’s blood DNA. In the case of Messiah we receive a spiritual transfusion in His blood that purges our DNA of sin and causes us to take on, in a spiritual and transcendent sense, His genomic DNA, thus, becoming brothers and sisters who share in His sinless humanity.
23 Therefore it was necessary, right for the copies, patterns, warnings of the things in the heavens to be purged, cleansed, purified with these things, but the heavenly things themselves with better, more excellent sacrifices than these.
The earthly copies of the heavenly things required cleansing, but the heavenly things themselves are made accessible to sin affected humanity by more excellent sacrifices than those of animals.
"and thou shalt take the anointing oil, and thou shalt anoint the tabernacle, and all that is in it; and thou shall sanctify it, because of the crown of the kingdom of the house of Judah, and the King Messiah, who shall redeem Israel in the latter days.'' -Targum Yonatan Exodus 40:9
The heavenly things did not need purging or purifying, rather through His shed blood Yeshua gives defiled human beings access to undefiled heavenly things.
24 For the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) did not enter a holy place/sanctuary (hagion[G]) made by human hands (cheiropoiētos[G], biydeiy adam[H]), a copy, representation, figure (antitupon[G]) of the true one (ho alēthinos[G]), but into heaven itself (ouranos[G], hashamayim[H]), now (nun[G]) to appear before the face (prosōpon[G], peneiy[H]) of God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) for us; 25 nor must (hina[G]) He offer (prospherō[G], lehak’riyv[H]) His soul (et nafsho[H]) often, repeatedly, many times (pollakis[G]) like the high priest (ho archiereus[G], Kohen hagadol[H]) who enters the Holy place, sanctuary (ho hagion[G], el-hakodesh[H]) year after year with blood (aima[G], dam[H]) of others (allotrios[G], acheiriym[H]).
24 For the Messiah did not enter a holy place/sanctuary made by human hands, a copy, representation, figure of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us;
“Messiah did not enter a holy place/sanctuary made by human hands” Yeshua never entered the holy of holies of the second temple. Rather He entered the Holiest Place of which the earthly Mishkan (Tent) and Mikdash (Temple) were temporal replicas.
“now to appear before the face of God for us” Yeshua is “now” before the face of God for us. This is an eternally present statement that gives us assurance of everlasting security in Him. This statement was true for the first century C.E. recipients and remains true for all who receive Yeshua.
“My children, I am writing these things to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Intercessor with the Father—the righteous Messiah Yeshua. 2 He is the atonement for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.” -1 John 2:1-12 TLV
25 nor must He offer His soul often, repeatedly, many times like the high priest who enters the Holy place, sanctuary year after year with blood of others.
Messiah’s sacrifice is of eternal affect. Unlike the high priests of the Levitical priesthood He need not offer sacrifices for Himself because He is sinless, without blemish. Therefore, He has died once for all and stands perpetually before the face of God to intercede on behalf of those who have received His vicarious sacrifice.
26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer (paschō[G]) often since the beginning, foundation, conception (katabolē[G], meireishiyt[H]) of the world (kosmos[G], haolam[H]); but now (nun[G]) once (hapax[G], echat[H]) at the goal (sunteleia[G]) of the ages, generations, the world, forever (aiōn[G], hadorot[H]) He has been revealed, manifest (phaneroō[G]) to put away, cancel, abolish (eis athetēsis[G]) sin (hamartia[G], et hacheite[H]) [missing the mark set by God’s holiness] by the sacrifice (thusia[G], bezevach[H]) of His soul (nafsho[H]). 27 And just as it is appointed (apokeimai[G]) for people (beneiy adam[H]) to die (apothnēskō[G], lamot[H]) once (hapax[G], echat[H]), and after this, the judgment (krisis[G], hamishpat[H]), 28 so Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) also, having been offered (prospherō[G]) once (hapax[G], echat[H]) to bear, carry (anapherō[G]) the sins (hamartia[G], cheite[H]) of many, will appear (optanomai[G]) a second (deuteros[G], sheiniyt[H]) time for salvation (sōtēria[G], liyeshuah[H]) without reference to, separation from (chōris[G]) sin (hamartia[G], cheite[H]), to those who look for, eagerly await (apekdechomai[G], yeiraeh[H]) Him.
26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the beginning, foundation, conception of the world; but now once at the goal of the ages, generations, the world, forever He has been revealed, manifest to put away, cancel, abolish sin [missing the mark set by God’s holiness] by the sacrifice of His soul.
Because of His perfect sacrifice Messiah need not die many times, over and over again. Nor has He need of somehow retrospectively atoning for the righteous ones of our past. Yeshua the Messiah is resurrected and transcendent unbound by time and space and is therefore able to save all (from Adam to the last human born into time and space) through His blood.
“19 but with precious blood like that of a lamb without defect or spot, the blood of Messiah. 20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” - 1 Peter 1:19-20 TLV
“8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” -Revelation 13:8 NIV
“but now once at the goal of the ages, He has been revealed, to abolish sin by the sacrifice of His soul.” Now (in the first century C.E.) and now (in the present), Yeshua is manifest as the Goal of the Torah (Rom. 10:4), the mediator of a better covenant in His blood, one that brings eternal atonement and everlasting life for all who receive Him. So that both those who “now” received Him in the first century C.E. and those who “now” receive Him in our time, have already passed from death into His eternal life. Our spiritual DNA has changed.
27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once, and after this, the judgment,
This verse puts death to the false claims of those who say they have died and literally been to heaven and have come back to shared their experiences. While according to Scripture (2 Cor. 12:2-4) one can claim to have experienced a vision of paradise (Gan Eden, Bosom of Abraham ref. Luke 16:19-31) as convergent with the third heaven (not heaven but a part of Sheol), one cannot legitimately claim to have actually, physically or metaphysically entered the heaven of heavens (John 3:13; Heb. 9:27; Luke 23:43)[note that Elijah was taken into “hashamayim” the heavens pl. and not into the heaven of heavens in particular (2 Kings 2). Also in the case of Enoch who “was not”, heaven is not mentioned (Gen 5:24).
The Scripture does not say “it is appointed to human beings to die and spend time in heaven and then come back for a while and die again etc…” But, “It is appointed to human beings to die once and then the judgement”, not “and then some other things and then the judgement”, but “and then the judgement” which by necessity precedes what Christians mistakenly call “heaven”, but is actually the Olam haba (world to come). Only following the judgement do we dwell forever in the Olam Haba (World to come), prior to that the redeemed await the judgement in Paradise (Bosom of Abraham, Gan Eden). Those Scriptures used to support the counterfeit experiences of those who have “passed” and been revived, when examined closely, affirm the present text rather than being divergent in their meaning.
This verse also puts to death the false idea of the ghosts of human souls, which in reality are demonic spirits (false elohim [gods]) masquerading as departed human souls. This is extremely important in light of the many foolish misinterpretations of Hebrews 12:1 and 1 Samuel 28:3-21.
According to this verse there are two steps between the present temporal life and the Olam Haba (world to come) [mis referred to by Christians as “heaven”]:
1. The death of the human being as a result of the sin affected world
There are no intermediary stages mentioned, nor does the wealth of Scripture support such stages. Those who teach otherwise teach apostasy.
***For Additional Study***
An explanation of the verses commonly used in an attempt to circumvent the truth of Hebrews 9:27.
My commentary on 1 Samuel 28:3-21
The allusion to the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 is referring back to the list of those witnesses to God’s faithfulness who are listed in Hebrews 11, commonly known as the Faith Chapter. These witnesses, as can be seen from Hebrews 11, are the now deceased patriarchs and heroes of the Jewish faith. The writer of Hebrews, a Jew and a Kohen (Priest), knows that the witnesses he is referring to are deceased and that many of them are buried throughout the land of Israel, and that they are therefore uncontactable according to the teaching of Scripture regarding the dead (Hebrews 9:27).
In the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16) Yeshua explains that while the dead are conscious, they are not able either to traverse the chasm between Gehinnom (torment) and Gan Eden (Paradise) nor (re: Lazarus etc. once they are finally deceased [Hebrews 9:27]) are they able to traverse the distance between Sheol and the present world. In my article on Saul, Samuel and the Witch of Eyndor, I explain why the events of 1 Samuel 28:3-21 are not describing the dead spirit of Samuel called up but rather an evil spirit that fools both the witch and Saul, and is subsequently used by God to condemn Saul (ref. see link above).
The writer of the book of Hebrews is using the deceased Jewish witnesses of Hebrews 11 as a figurative example. When he says:
“Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses lying around us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, focusing on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith.” –Hebrews 12:1-2a
He is making a drash (inquiry/comparative teaching) regarding how we should act in light of the figurative (not literal) cloud of witnesses that are buried throughout the land of Israel. We must remember that the writer is probably writing from the perspective of a priest living in the Land of Israel prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E (A.D). He then qualifies this teaching by instructing us, not to focus on the cloud of witnesses, but on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of our faith (The faith that our Jewish forebears shared in the coming Messiah Yeshua).
We cannot engage with this cloud of witnesses because they are deceased and according to Scripture (Hebrews 9:27) they are uncontactable. Those who do seek to speak to the dead are in fact speaking with demonic forces rather than the spirits of dead people (1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Corinthians 10:20-21; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.” –Deuteronomy 18:10-12
Therefore, not only are we unable to engage with the dead witnesses of Hebrews 11-12, we are also commanded by God not to attempt to speak with the dead.
1 Peter 3:14-21
“If you suffer for righteousness' sake, be glad: and don’t be afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify (Kiddush) HaShem (Merciful) Elohiym (Judge) in your core being (heart): and be ready always to give an answer to every human being that asks you the reason for the hope that is in you with humility and reverent awe: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conduct in Messiah. For it’s better if God’s will is that you suffer for doing well than for doing evil. For Messiah also at one time suffered for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Ruach (Spirit). By Whom (The Spirit) He also went and made proclamation to the ruachiym (spirits) in prison (phulake: foo-lak-ay). Who were formerly disobedient, when at one time the longsuffering God waited in the days of Noach (Comfort), while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight souls (nefesh) were saved by water (mikveh: gathering of water). This figurative likeness being a representation of the immersion (baptism) that now also saves us (not the washing of the flesh but the earnest seeking of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah.”
–1 Peter 3:17-21
In the context of Peter’s letter, the community of believers is being encouraged to share their faith with anyone who asks, and not to shy away from suffering if that is what God’s will entails. Peter then offers Yeshua as an example of One Who suffered and shared His message in the Spirit of God. It is explained that Yeshua’s suffering puts to death the sinful practices of the flesh and resurrects each believer in the life giving Spirit of God. It is by this same Spirit that the resurrected Messiah (not in Sheol) transcends time and space, and thus traverses time and space by the Spirit, to proclaim His saving work to those spirits of human beings who were still living in the flesh at the time of Noah prior to the flood. The text explains that during the time of Noah only eight imprisoned spirits heard Yeshua’s message received it and were delivered through the figurative tevilah immersion (baptism) of the flood, which the author shows to be a prefigure of the same tevilah immersion (baptism) that believers in Messiah have received unto salvation.
From the p’shat (plain) meaning of the text and the subsequent, remez (hint), drash (comparative) and sod (mystery), we see that it does not place Yeshua in Sheol in relation to His proclamation but shows that it is by the Spirit of God following His resurrection that He spoke to the imprisoned spirits of humanity past. This text is not teaching anything even remotely to do with communicating with imprisoned dead people or angelic spirits. To the contrary, it simply teaches that God is just and that all humanity from Adam to the end of days has and will have an opportunity to either reject or receive the message of Messiah. This text shows how in the Spirit (of God), the resurrected Messiah transcends time and space and manifests the supernatural reality that He was both literally and figuratively slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
2 Corinthians 12:1-5
Boasting is necessary, though it is not beneficial; but I will go on to visions and revelations [a]of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ, who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. -2 Corinthians 12:1-4 NASB
V.1 Boasting is necessary, though it is not beneficial; but I will go on to visions and revelations [a]of the Lord.
What Rav Shaul (Paul) is about to speak of is a “vision”, a “revelation” and not a physical or metaphysical event. Therefore, based on the very nature of either a vision or a revelation, the events described are already presumed unreal, not actual, neither physical nor metaphysical, but instead, something seen in the imagination, mind’s eye or spirit.
V2. I know a man in Christ, who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.
Rav Shaul is possibly speaking of himself in the guise of apologetic self-promoting rhetoric like that employed elsewhere in his works. Alternatively he is relaying the vision experience of a trusted fellow believer, perhaps one of his brothers among the Jewish Church fathers.
He states clearly “whether in the body I don’t know, or out of the body I don’t know, God knows…” He is describing the experience of a vision. Those who experience visions have all kinds of feelings and sensory adventures but are not literally in the places they are visioning. Rav Shaul is not espousing “out of body experience”, which is an occult practice connected with Gnosticism, transcendental meditation and other false religious beliefs. To the contrary, Biblical Judaism abhors this idea viewing it as a form of witchcraft. Instead, Rav Shaul is alluding to the difference between experiencing a vision as if it were inside us verses experiencing a vision as if we are looking outwardly at it (both occurring within the mind’s eye or consciousness but neither occurring outside the body). In neither case does the spirit leave the body. Biblical Judaism teaches that the human soul (Body, mind, spirit etc.) is a unity unseparated until death when the spirit leaves and goes to Sheol.
The Greek harpaso is poorly translated here by the NASB. In the context of this vision it means “caught away” and not caught up.
Rav Shaul is right to give the interpretation to God, saying “God Knows”. Yes, God does know, in fact, so as to avoid confusion God has authored His word to say, “No one has ascended into heaven, except He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.” (John 3:13), and “it is appointed for people to die once, and after this, the judgment…” (Heb. 9:27).
V.3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows..”
He repeats, “whether in the body I don’t know, or out of the body I don’t know, God knows…” because he is bewildered by the vision experience he is referring to and rightly understands that it was not a tangible, literal experience. Neither a physical or metaphysical reality. In Biblical Hebrew thought and interpretation something repeated is firmly established. Therefore, Rav Shaul has firmly established that he doesn’t know where the “man” was. As explained, the Scripture tells us where he was not.
V.4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
The Greek harpaso is again poorly translated here by the NASB. In the context of this vision it means “caught away” and not caught up. We know this because the Jewish writer refers to paradise (Gan Eden, the Bosom of Abraham), which is a part of Sheol, meaning that the qualification of heaven, written as “third heaven” refers to the convergent presence of the Messiah in both the heavens and paradise simultaneously, following His resurrection. Following His resurrection the King Messiah being unbound by time, space, situational and locational being etc. In short, regardless of the issue of traversing the heavens as believers, this text is referring to a convergent form of paradise (in Sheol) and not to the heaven of heavens.
Therefore, the text of 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 does not teach that a person (perhaps Paul) ascended to the heaven of heavens, something that would contradict the words of Yeshua and the teaching of Hebrews 9:27.
Regarding the Resurrections of Lazarus, the Son of the widow of Nain etc.
All (those temporally resurrected) had not yet passed into Sheol but were in transition sleep. Meaning unconscious but the spirit had not left the body according to ancient Jewish tradition (3 to 4 day period of unconscious sleep, the first stage of death/passing). This means that the person cannot communicate with the living, nor are they yet in Sheol (When Yeshua says "Today you will be with me in paradise" to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43) I believe the word "today" is used in an eternally present sense. Alternatively, some pass over more quickly than others, although with regard to time and space how could we even begin to determine the measure by which we could access such a process?)
In all these cases of temporal resurrections (they are exceptions, and include Elijah raising the woman's son) the resurrected are resurrected within four days of death, and their spirits have not entered death finally with regard to entering Sheol.
"Appointed unto man once to die" regards the spirit's entry into Sheol and not the transition period of soul sleep (a euphemism used by Yeshua [John 11:11]). No one in transition sleep (first stage of separation) can communicate to the living. Therefore, the point I made regarding ghosts being demons remains the same, ghosts are not wandering human spirits.
Additionally, Hebrews 9:27 makes both Karma and Reincarnation untenable concepts:
Hebrews 9:27 of course also refutes the false beliefs of karma and reincarnation. Those who claim “sowing and reaping” to be the same concept as “karma” do so by ignoring the Scriptures that qualify sowing and reaping. Sowing and reaping applies to the temporal actions and outcomes of this life and to the cumulative actions of this life and their eternal outcome following judgement. It does not seek to solve the problem of injustice by perpetuating injustice, as is the case with karma and reincarnation. Karma attempts to provide a solution for evil by offering a cycle of lives that provide an opportunity to act rightly in order to become perfect, divine. The flaw in this delusion is that an inherently sinful person can never act perfectly, not in any life, nor can an evil act which has already been done, be undone by a good act. Ample evidence against the delusion of karma is recorded throughout human history for all to see. What’s more, karma says that a suffering destitute person (of a lower class) should be left to suffer in order to perfect their karma for a better reincarnation, this in direct opposition to the teaching of Scripture, which admonishes us to help the destitute and suffering.
There is no justice in karma. It offers nothing more than a perpetual prison of impossible restitution and the false promise of (counterfeit) divinity. Whereas the God of justice has made restitution on behalf of all who will receive His loving sacrifice through Yeshua, and promises eternal life in Him (the Divine One).
28 so Messiah also, having been offered once to bear, carry the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to, separation from sin [ref. Num. 19:13], to those who look for, eagerly await Him.
“Messiah also, having been offered once” Just as the life of a human being ends in death (of the body) once, so too the death of Messiah occurs once in order to carry upon Himself the sin and death of many, and produces eternal life as a result.
“to carry the sins of many” This is a quote from Isaiah 53:12, and is part of a Messianic prophecy spanning Isaiah 52:13-53:12. It is also alluded to in Mark 10:45 and a different portion of it is quoted in Acts 8:32-35.
Notice that Messiah carries the sins of many, not all. God Who is all-knowing seeing the end from the beginning, sent Messiah to atone for all who would receive Him. The sins of the willfully unrepentant remain unatoned and thus, they will suffer the just punishment for their sins eternally as the antithesis to eternal living (Hebrews 6:2; Daniel 12:2; Mark 9:44-48; John 5:29; Matthew 25:41, 46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 20:10).
“will appear a second time for salvation without reference to, separation from sin [ref. Num. 19:13],” His second coming does not address the issue of sin, which has already been solved in His death and resurrection. Rather His second coming brings the fullness of the promise of eternal life made manifest in the new heavens and new earth for all who have received Him and been reconciled to God in right relationship.
That Messiah will return is certain (Mark 13:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
“to those who look for, eagerly await Him.” With regard to the first century Jewish believers who are the recipients of this work, they are to await Yeshua just as the people of Israel awaited the return of the high priest from the holy of holies on Yom Kippur. The distinction of “those who look for and eagerly await Him” is important. The writer has already addressed the issue of disobedience and those Israelites who failed to enter God’s rest (Heb. 4), now he gives a gentle reminder to his hearers, admonishing them to remain focussed on Yeshua and His promised return.
Rav Shaul teaches rightly that not all ethnic-religious Jews are truly Jewish in soul, that is, not all ethnic-religious Jews have chosen to receive Yeshua’s redemptive work (Romans 9:6). Rav Shaul’s writing on this matter specifically refers to Jews (ethnic) and does not refer to the spiritual condition of non-Jews (as some foolishly misinterpret). As I’ve said on many occasions, the context of Romans 9 relates to Jews who are Messiah followers (true Israelites), and Jews who are ethnically Israel but are not Messiah followers. All examples given in Romans 9 relate to Jews, Gentiles are not mentioned in relation to the inward spiritual condition of a Jew. Therefore, it is utter nonsense for a Gentile to call himself a “spiritual Jew”. The only “Spiritual Jew” is an “ethnic Jew”, given that “Jew”, and “Israel” are ethnic nouns describing the descendants of Jacob (they are never used in Scripture to describe Gentiles, physically, spiritually or otherwise). As I have said many times, a Gentile calling himself a “Spiritual Jew” is comparable to a Briton calling himself a “Spiritual Navajo”. The same applies to a Church that claims to be Spiritual Israel. That Church is apostate.
By way of Hebrews 9:28 being applied as a universal principle, applicable to all who truly believe: as disciples of Yeshua our faith is an ongoing walk of looking to Him, hoping in Him, eagerly awaiting Him. He is present and returning, and in Him we have returned to the eternal present.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.