Hebrews 9:6-10 Fleshly Ordinances And The Time Of Reformation.
When everything in the tabernacle or temple was prepared according to the law pertaining to the services, the tribe of Levi were given to Aaron to assist in the temple services, even though they were not to “come near the articles of the sanctuary and the altar” (Nu. 18:3 Cf. v. 6). “Their task was to replace the showbread (Ex. 25:30; Lev. 24:5-9), to keep the lampstand burning (Ex. 27:20, 21; Lev. 24:1-4), and to burn fragrant incense twice daily, symbolizing the people’s prayers (Ex. 30:7-9; Luke 1:8-10; Rev. 8:3)” (NGSB p. 1946). However, into the second part, or the Holiest of All, only the high priest was allowed to enter there, “once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance” (v. 7 Cf. 5:3; Ex. 30:10; Lev. 9:7; 16:6). On the other hand, the Son “does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” (7:27).
Obviously, by offering up Himself , a sacrifice without blemish, He was not offering for His own sin, but only for that required for His people (Cf. Acts 20:28; I Pet. 1:19). This is the same as the Passover offering (Cf. Ex. 12:5). The very fact that this was required of these high priests, showed that it was incomplete. These sacrifices would have to continue as long as these high priests had to not only offer for the sins of the people but also for themselves. This is our author’s point-“the Holy spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing” (v. 8). This brings our author back to the central truth that this was a time of transition. The temple was still standing, but its end was approaching, a destruction which was completed in 70 AD, the same time that the canon was closed, the last days were completed, the first covenant was past, and the future was with covenant renewal with the new covenant.
The above realities with the old administration “was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience” (v. 9). “The law made nothing perfect”(7:19a), or complete (10:1). The law was never meant to be a basis of justification of sinful humanity, but one thing it does do is to convict of sin (Acts 13:39; Rom. 3:20; 7:7; Gal. 3:21). Instead we are justified by faith in Christ (Gal. 2:16). This is our “better hope” (7:19b Cf. 6:18-19; Rom. 5:2). By faith in the Son, we are able to “draw near to God” (7:19c Cf. 4:16; Eph. 2:18; Js. 4:8). Only the Son can satisfy the need of our consciences, which will otherwise continually convict us of our sinful state.* This earthly or “fleshly” system was concerned only with ordinances focused on externals, not having any power to perfectly change the heart and purge or purify the conscience. They were simply “imposed until the time of reformation” (9:10).
* The Conscience.
Strong’s defines the word ‘suneidesis’ as moral consciousness, or co-perception. Wikipedia defines conscience as “an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment that assists in distinguishing right from wrong.” It is that which provides an internal conviction that one is right or wrong. Those who brought before Jesus the issue of a woman caught in adultery, were each one convicted in their consciences that they were also complicit with her (Jn. 8:9). Some are in fact guilty of desensitizing their consciences-“seared with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:2). They have defiled themselves (Titus 1:15). On the other hand, Paul testified before the Sanhedrin council that he had “lived in all good conscience before God” (Acts 23:1). We, like Paul, must always “strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:16 Cf. Rom. 9:1; 13:5; II Cor. 1:12; 4:2; 5:11; I Tim. 1:5; 3:9; II Tim. 1:3; Heb. 13:18; I Pet. 2:19; 3:16). Christ alone can purge our consciences “from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14; 10:22).
The conscience is also intimately related to the heart. Paul in fact appealed to this relationship, in his apologetic approach in his letter to Romans. Speaking of Gentiles he wrote that they “show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them” (2:15 I Tim. 1:19; Heb. 9:9; 10:2). On the other hand, those who are “weak” in the faith, do not have a solid or deep understanding of the word, so their consciences are bound by manmade traditions of prohibition (I Cor. 8:7, 10). On the other hand, the strong have a clear conscience, in this case over the question of food that may have been offered to an idol, because they have a better, more thorough, and deeper understanding of the word (I Cor. 10:25, 27-28). The conscience of the weak should not bind that of the strong (I Cor. 10:29). We have “(the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 3:21). This is our justification.