On verses 1-14: Verses 1-7 give us a good visual of what worshiping at the tabernacle in the Old Testament looked like. Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place, an inner room representing God’s presence. There he would offer the blood of bulls and goats as a sacrifice for his sins and the people’s sins (v7).
As detailed, ornate, and organized as this Old Testament system was, the writer of Hebrews points out an important fact: there was a curtain that separated the people from the Most Holy Place (v3). Other than the high priest, people could not see or enter the Most Holy Place because of the curtain. Despite the priests sacrificing hundreds of thousands of bulls and goats over the centuries, that curtain never opened. No one could access the Most Holy Place except the high priest. It wasn’t until Jesus sacrificed Himself and shed His blood that the curtain supernaturally tore in two and everyone in the temple could now see into the Most Holy Place (Matthew 27:51; Mark15:38; Luke 23:45).
The fact that the curtain did not tear when bulls and goats were sacrificed but only tore when Jesus shed his blood shows us that the blood of goats and bulls had no real cleansing effect on people’s lives or on their consciences (v9). These sacrifices of bulls and goats only had a ceremonial, external purpose (v10, 13) but they failed to show us the way to truly enter God’s presence. As verse 8 says, “The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.”
In contrast, when Jesus Christ died, the curtain was torn and we now know how to access God’s holy presence: it’s through Jesus’ blood.
What can we learn from this? Through Jesus’ blood you now have full access to God’s presence. When you trust that the blood of Jesus has paid for your sins, it has a cleansing effect on our conscience (v14), knowing that God no longer holds our sins against us. As verse 14 says, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”
Here’s another point worth mentioning. A big theme in Hebrews is that the Old Testament worship system is just a shadow and an imperfect copy of the real thing in heaven. Whereas the high priest entered the tabernacle’s Most Holy Place, which was a symbol of God’s holy presence, Jesus actually entered heaven itself (v24) for us. As verse 11 says, “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.”
Lord Jesus, thank You for shedding Your precious blood for me. Your precious blood is my key into God’s presence and my key to a clear conscience. Thank You that because of Your blood the curtain has been torn. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!