23 Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Messiah did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Messiah also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
Heb. 9:23-28 (NASB)
Yahshua’s Atoning Blood
“Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these” (Heb. 9:23). At this juncture in the letter, the writer to the Hebrews elaborates on the necessity of the holy objects in the Tabernacle, along with the people and the Book of the covenant, be cleansed as atonement by prescribed ingredients of blood, water, scarlet wool and hyssop. After these events, Moses and 73 others were allowed to ascend Mount Sinai and enter into Yahveh’s presence (Ex. 24). The Tabernacle objects were “copies of the things in the heavens,” and the cleansing prefigured the work of the Messiah bringing His precious blood into the True Holy Place, as would the High Priest to present blood before Yahveh on behalf of himself and the people for sins committed in ignorance (Heb. 9:7). In like manner and more importantly, Yahshua as High Priest and as the perfect Sacrificial Lamb whose blood was shed ascended into His Heavenly Father’s presence to present His atoning blood for all mankind.
The earthly High Priest once a year, on the Day of Atonement, would enter the Holy Place of the Tabernacle with blood not his own. This rite was observed year after year for ages. Yet, if the earthly High Priest prefigured the Heavenly High Priest, would it also be necessary for Yahshua, as the Sacrificial Lamb, to offer Himself “often?” Indeed not, as the writer to the Hebrews explained; 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Consummation of the Ages
The writer used the time phrase “consummation of the ages” as commensurate with the redemptive act of Yahshua, that is, “the sacrifice of Himself.” The “consummation of the ages” is synonymous with the phrase the writer used in Heb. 1:2 “the last days” in which he also identifies this fixed point of time in connection with Yahshua’s incarnation and ministry when He “spoke to us,” (i.e. the first century believers). “Consummation of the ages” or “end of the ages” refers solely to an end of an epoch in which Yahveh’s longsuffering and forbearance toward His covenant people, Israel, came to an end due to Israel’s failure to keep the covenant conditions (e.g. Mt. 13:39, 40, 49; Mt. 24:3). On several occasions Yahshua addressed His people in a corporate way as “a wicked and adulterous generation” (Mt. 12:39). Israel during that time was reaching the apex of “filling up the measure of the guilt of their fathers” (Mt. 23:32). Their rejection of the covenant and of their Messiah, coupled with the guilt of having the blood of the prophets and of the righteous on their hands, fitted them to become vessels of wrath ready for destruction (Rom. 9:22). This imminent destruction would suspend the central form of government that focused on the Temple and priests, and end that current age of the polity in Israel. However, Yahveh’s longsuffering towards those prepared for His destruction was also an opportunity to make known His riches of glory upon the vessels of mercy, the Jews and Gentiles who were the faithful believing remnant (Rom. 9:23-26). While the ecclesiastical polity (priestly system) of Israel came to an end in one form, it nevertheless continued under a new Priesthood covenant in which Yahshua mediates “having become a High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6:20).
The New Covenant of the Priesthood
At this point it would be helpful to interject some thoughts to further clarify what the phrases “consummation of the ages” or “end of the age” mean. First, it is not to be equated with the end of the Mosaic Law; for the Law or Torah is truth (Ps. 119:142, 151, 160) and truth is eternal (Isa. 40:8; Ps. 111:7, 8; 119:89, 144, 152, 144). Scriptures never intimate the end of the Law of Moses. It is an erroneous assumption on the part of mans’ faulty interpretations of certain Scriptures which they believe advances this view. (See teaching: The Works of the Law vs. The Law of Moses.)
The writer’s point in his letter is, as he says, “Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a High Priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,… But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the Mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.” (Heb. 8:1, 6) Many have assumed that the writer was emphasizing the superiority of the New Testament’s economy over the Old Testament. However, a more careful look at the unity and context of the letter (chapters 5 – 9), we see that the writer was propounding the superiority of the covenant of Yahshua’s Priesthood which was greater than the covenant of the Aaronic priesthood because Yahshua, as a Son (Heb. 5:5) of the tribe of Judah, a tribe not associated with the priesthood (Heb. 7:14) was called by the Heavenly Father who had sworn an oath that He would be priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:17).
The covenant of the new Priesthood mediated by Yahshua had become a better priesthood and was guaranteed because the Person had become “the guarantee of a better covenant” (Heb. 7:22) for the reasons that “He continues forever,” and “holds His Priesthood permanently” (Heb. 7:24). Therefore, the end of the Mosaic economy was not the thesis the writer of Hebrews was propounding, but rather the “reshaping or transformation (metathesis) and transference” of the Aaronic priesthood and system over to Yahshua the Messiah. “For when the priesthood changes, there must also be a change of regulation” (nomotheteó) (Heb. 7:11, 12). The “regulation” was the physical requirement that priests be of the tribe of Levi. However, Yahshua became High Priest not according to this physical requirement or “law” (regulation) “but according to the power of an indestructible life” (Heb. 7:16).
When the land of Canaan was divided by lot for the tribes of Israel, Joshua said to the people, “the Levites have no portion among you, because the priesthood of Yahveh is their inheritance” (Josh. 18:7a). However, all the Israelites were called to be a “holy nation” and a “Kingdom of Priests” (Ex. 19:6). Yahveh wanted Israel as a nation to be centered and led by a priestly theocracy serving and worshipping Yahveh and adhering to the written Torah, instead of serving a worldly political system. The coming of Yahshua did not cancel this calling out for Israel as the Apostle Peter attests, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellences of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (I Pt. 2:9, 10). The writer to the Hebrews also explained to his readers that believers, as priests, may enter the holiest place through “the veil” and draw near to the throne-room of Yahveh (Heb. 10:19-22). Yahshua, the ultimate High Priest who was undefiled, inaugurated a new and living way for all believers based on this new covenant of the priesthood. Yahshua obediently did His Father’s will throughout His life; “ then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second” (Heb. 10:9). Truly, the first covenant of the priesthood, the first order, was taken away, and a new priesthood system was established. In the Greek text, the ordinal numerals “first” (proton) and “second” (deuteron) are in the neuter form; no particular substantive is understood with these numerals. Therefore, using the rules of context and inference, the writer undoubtedly continues on his main point, namely, that Yahveh took away the “first” covenant of the priesthood under Aaron and his descendants, and established the “second” covenant of the priesthood under the new Mediator, Yahshua Messiah.
Nehemiah, during his days as governor, faced many difficulties in Jerusalem as he led the people in restoring the city after its destruction by the Babylonians. They experienced enemy opposition, discouragement, devious plots to stop their work, and other hardships. One of Nehemiah’s discouraging discoveries was that mixed marriages had taken place among the priests, violating Yahveh’s command. Nehemiah prayed “Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites” (Neh. 13:29). Because all have sinned and come short of Yahveh’s holy standard of righteousness, earthly priests sin and are also prevented from serving continually due to age and ultimately death. For this reason, the writer to the Hebrews says, “For it was fitting for us to have such a High Priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;” (Heb. 7:26).
Promises of Yahveh Toward Israel
Continuing… “the end of the age” is by all means not the annihilation of the Jewish race. For the promise of Yahveh concerning Israel, “who fixed the order of the moon and the stars for light by night, decreed if the fixed order departs then Israel will also cease being a nation before Him forever” (Jer. 31:35-36). This promise, though conditional, was based on the faithfulness and “sake of their fathers” namely, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, etc. This promise continues to be effected through the faithful believing and obedient remnant “who follow in the steps of the faith of our (their) father Abraham…” (Rom. 4:12; 11:1, 2, 5, 28, 29; Ps. 105:8-11).
During the reign of Jehoram, Yahveh considered destroying Judah because Jehoram did evil in the sight of Yahveh for he walked in the way of the Kings of Israel just as Ahab had done. Jehoram introduced the worship of Baal into the kingdom of Judah through the influence of Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah, whom he had married. “However, Yahveh was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David His servant, since He had promised him to give a lamp to him through his sons always” (II Kgs. 8:19; c.f. Ps. 89:20, 24, 28-37; I Kgs. 11:36; 15:1-5). The natural judgment that would have fallen upon Jehoram’s kingdom and house was not executed upon him because of Yahveh’s promise to David and to his house that He would give him “always a light, (and) to his children,” that is, give him a successor from his family to rule on the throne “until Shiloh comes,” the Messiah Yahshua (Gen. 49:10).
In like manner, the generation existing during the time of the Messiah, were ripe for the “coming wrath” (Lk. 3:7), however, “for the sake of the fathers,” the Jewish people were not to be annihilated and destroyed forever, and the city of Jerusalem was not to be forsaken forever. Yahveh’s lovingkindness and mercy endures forever toward His people and the city which was called by His name – Yahrushalayim (Jerusalem). In His wrath He remembers mercy (Hab. 3:2). Note: see other “the sake of” references; Isa. 37:35; 43:25; 48:9, 11; 62:1; I Kgs. 11:13, 32; II Kgs. 19:34; Ezk. 36:22.
Coming of the Son of Man
Hebrews Chapter 9 closes with these two verses: “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Messiah also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him”(Heb. 9:27-28). The writer partially quotes Isa. 53:12 stating that Yahshua would “bear the sins of many.” Having mentioned Yahshua’s entrance into the true Holy Place to present His blood before the Father (Heb. 9:24), Yahshua will now reappear from the Holy of Holies as did the earthly High Priest from the Tabernacle on the Day of Atonement.
It has been said there was much joy when the people saw the High Priest appear outside the Tabernacle for they recognized that both Priest and atonement blood was accepted by Yahveh. Similarly, the writer explains to his readers that Yahshua also will leave the true and heavenly Tabernacle and “will appear a second time,” not in connection with saving people from sin as Sin-Bearer, but will appear again to “save” or “deliver” those who were “intensely and eagerly waiting” for Him. The Greek term (apekdechomenios) is a compound word meaning “to wait for expectantly, intensely, anxiously.” This was the attitude of heart and the frame of mind these first century believers had in their generation at “the consummation of the ages,” for they were about to enter their expected “Sabbath rest” (Heb. 4:9). Had not the Savior said on two different occasions to this generation? “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom… Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Matt. 16:28; 24:34).
The writer to the Hebrews condensed the phrase “consummation of the ages” into one word – “end.” He exhorted his readers, after stressing Yahshua’s faithfulness as a Son over His house – whose house we are, “if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end” (Heb. 3:6). This “hope” is described in Titus, “looking for the Blessed Hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Messiah Yahshua…” (Titus 2:13). The writer admonished them to “encourage one another lest they be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Heb. 3:13). He then stated, “For we have become partakers of Messiah, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” (Heb. 3:14). The writer reiterates repeatedly in his letter on this “hope” of deliverance at the “end.” And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,” (Heb. 6:11).
It is apparent they were all anxiously anticipating a particular Day of much significance, however, at this time in Biblical history, believers were enduring much tribulation and consequently persecution was having a tremendous affect on their will to continue persevering (Heb. 10:32-35). Therefore, the writer inspires them to further endurance that they would receive the promise of deliverance from their soon coming King, for the Consumation of the Ages was nearing its closing days (Heb. 10:36 37).
“May Yahveh bless you and keep you, may Yahveh make His face shine on you and show you His favor, may Yahveh lift up His face towards you and give you Shalom.”