The Old Agreement
1The first agreement had rules for worship and a place on earth for worship. 2The Holy Tent was set up for this. The first area in the Tent was called the Holy Place. In it were the lamp and the table with the bread that was made holy for God. 3Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place. 4In it was a golden altar for burning incense and the Ark covered with gold that held the old agreement. Inside this Ark was a golden jar of manna, Aaron’s rod that once grew leaves, and the stone tablets of the old agreement. 5Above the Ark were the creatures that showed God’s glory, whose wings reached over the lid. But we cannot tell everything about these things now.
6When everything in the Tent was made ready in this way, the priests went into the first room every day to worship. 7But only the high priest could go into the second room, and he did that only once a year. He could never enter the inner room without taking blood with him, which he offered to God for himself and for sins the people did without knowing they did them. 8The Holy Spirit uses this to show that the way into the Most Holy Place was not open while the system of the old Holy Tent was still being used. 9This is an example for the present time. It shows that the gifts and sacrifices offered cannot make the conscience of the worshiper perfect. 10These gifts and sacrifices were only about food and drink and special washings. They were rules for the body, to be followed until the time of God’s new way.
The New Agreement
11But when Christ came as the high priest of the good things we now have, he entered the greater and more perfect tent. It is not made by humans and does not belong to this world. 12Christ entered the Most Holy Place only once—and for all time. He did not take with him the blood of goats and calves. His sacrifice was his own blood, and by it he set us free from sin forever. 13The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow are sprinkled on the people who are unclean, and this makes their bodies clean again. 14How much more is done by the blood of Christ. He offered himself through the eternal Spirit as a perfect sacrifice to God. His blood will make our consciences pure from useless acts so we may serve the living God.
15For this reason Christ brings a new agreement from God to his people. Those who are called by God can now receive the blessings he has promised, blessings that will last forever. They can have those things because Christ died so that the people who lived under the first agreement could be set free from sin.
16When there is a will, it must be proven that the one who wrote that will is dead. 17A will means nothing while the person is alive; it can be used only after the person dies. 18This is why even the first agreement could not begin without blood to show death. 19First, Moses told all the people every command in the law. Next he took the blood of calves and mixed it with water. Then he used red wool and a branch of the hyssop plant to sprinkle it on the book of the law and on all the people. 20He said, “This is the blood that begins the Agreement that God commanded you to obey.” 21In the same way, Moses sprinkled the blood on the Holy Tent and over all the things used in worship. 22The law says that almost everything must be made clean by blood, and sins cannot be forgiven without blood to show death.
Christ’s Death Takes Away Sins
23So the copies of the real things in heaven had to be made clean by animal sacrifices. But the real things in heaven need much better sacrifices. 24Christ did not go into the Most Holy Place made by humans, which is only a copy of the real one. He went into heaven itself and is there now before God to help us. 25The high priest enters the Most Holy Place once every year with blood that is not his own. But Christ did not offer himself many times. 26Then he would have had to suffer many times since the world was made. But Christ came only once and for all time at just the right time to take away all sin by sacrificing himself. 27Just as everyone must die once and then be judged, 28so Christ was offered as a sacrifice one time to take away the sins of many people. And he will come a second time, not to offer himself for sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.