Now we are confronted with one of the most amazing things about Christ's heavenly priesthood. We are told why He would take His blood into the presence of God for us. "It was necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these: but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." Hebrews 9:22-24.
Here we are assured that just as the earthly sanctuary needed cleansing, so the heavenly also needed cleansing or purifying. Paul makes the astounding statement that "it was ... necessary" for the patterns in the heavens to be cleansed. This explanation of Christ ministering His own blood to cleanse the heavenly sanctuary can be understood only as we know how the sanctuary became defiled in the first place. It seems very strange indeed that there could be any defiling factor in the sinless atmosphere of heaven.
But the words are there and we cannot ignore them. Something needed to be cleansed in heaven, and the blood of Jesus accomplished it as He ministered in the most holy place. We know it was done in the second apartment because of the next verse, "Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Hebrews 9:25,26.
These words declare that Christ is now fulfilling the ancient shadow that occurred every year on the Day of Atonement in Israel. That was the solemn ceremony called "the cleansing of the sanctuary." It constituted one of the most important ministries ever carried out in the tabernacle. As Paul indicates in Hebrews, it had to be done each year by the high priest. It was the only day of the year that anyone could go through that veil separating the holy place from the most holy, and only one man could do it— the high priest. Paul declared that Jesus would not need to go through that veil every year like His earthly counterpart. But He would do it only "once in the end of the world." He would not need the blood of animals, but His own blood, to accomplish the necessary cleansing.
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