A “Present Tense” System: Hebrews 9:6-10
“6) Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, 7) but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. 8) The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9) which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10) since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time or reformation.” Hebrews 9:6-10
This text and the full context of Hebrews 9:1-10 illustrates the futility of the temple system. They needed many priests because they kept dying off. The needed many sacrifices because the blood of bulls and goats did not take away human sin. They needed the veil to separate God from the people because the temple system did not make people holy.
But I want to use this text for proof of another theory I presented when talking about Hebrews 6:1-8. At that time, I made the point that those who fell away were not Christians who sinned and lost their salvation. Not at all. Rather those verses were referring to Jewish people who witnessed the public ministry of Jesus Christ, the crucifixion and resurrection, and even the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and still turned back to the temple system. They rejected the gospel in favor of the Old Covenant.
So why is Hebrews 9:6-10 pertinent to this discussion? Simply because these verses are describing a “present tense” sacrificial system. The physical pattern upon which the tabernacle was build was still functioning in the temple at the time the book of Hebrews was written. The writer was describing a sacrificial system that was still intact and being practiced at the time of his writing.
Keep in mind, the sacrificial system ended in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed. That is when the priesthood ceased to function and the sacrificial system was abandoned by the Jewish nation. When you put the dates together, the temple system overlapped with the birth and spread of the gospel for about 40 years.
Understandably, this transition period must have been very confusing for the Jewish people. Those who rejected that Jesus Christ was the Messiah could fall back on the old covenant and the sacrificial system.
But let me make another point, though the temple was eventually destroyed and the whole system ended, it was still a copy or shadow of the heavenly system. There is much to learn by studying the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy and the whole Old Testament.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global