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Hebrews 9:1-7 & Exodus 26:34-35 by Robert Dean
Also includes Exodus 30:1-6, Leviticus 4:1-6
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 9 secs

Hebrews Lesson 140  November 20, 2008


NKJ John 17:17 "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.


Tonight we're going to get into the first part of Hebrews 9 again.  But, the class is called "Corrections and Conclusions."  So we're going to correct a lot of stuff you thought you knew about the Tabernacle - after 4 months of studying the Tabernacle, you're going to find out is wrong.  So we've got to start over. 


We are in Hebrews 9:1 and we're going to start looking at these verses and work our way through verse-by-verse which is our normal plan.  This is starting to move into an exhortation section.  I think chapter 9 is a transition from chapter 7 and chapter 8 which are talking about the shift in the covenant from the from the old covenant to a new covenant established by the Lord Jesus Christ which establishes a new priesthood and now the writer concludes or begins:


NKJ Hebrews 9:1 Then indeed, even the first covenant


(which was the Mosaic Law)

had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.


NKJ Hebrews 9:2 For a tabernacle


So now what he is doing is he is going to go back to the Tabernacle regulations for worship and he's going to develop those and make application for the Church Age. 

"For" - explanation of the sanctuary. 


He's going to talk about an outer one and an inner one.  What we call the holy place is the outer room or vestibule; and then the inner room in the Holy of Holies – the holy place and the Holy of Holies. 


was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary;


NKJ Hebrews 9:3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle


So he's viewing this as two tents or temporary dwelling places.

which is called the Holiest of All,


NKJ Hebrews 9:4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;



NKJ Hebrews 9:5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.


Okay.  Tonight is "Corrections and Conclusions."  We have to go back and wrap up some things that we've studied on the Tabernacle that are misconceptions.  Some things it's just so obvious.  It's sort of like - why didn't I ever do this before? 


The first thing we're going to learn is that a brazen altar never existed.  It never did.  Yeah!  A brazen altar never existed.  You'd think after all these years that someone would take the time to just look up the word brazen.  Brazen is an English word that means it's made of brass.  It's not what the Hebrew word means.  This entered into English translations back during the late Middle Ages probably with the original Tyndale translation and then with the King James Version because about 80% of the words used in the King James Version came out of the Tyndale. 


The Hebrew word is which is nihosheth which means it's made copper or bronze – not brass.  Bronze is a metal alloy made up of copper and tin.  Brass is made up of copper and zinc.  Brass is not found in the Middle East until the intertestamental period.  So it was a bronze altar. 


In fact, most of your modern translations have all fixed this.  There are even some that in the heading (which whoever edits the study Bible in the little italics heading where they give you an outline), they'll call it the brazen altar.  But then they use the word bronze all the way through.  If you go back and listen to the lessons I did on it, I would switch between bronze and brazen.  So many people think that brazen means bronze.  It doesn't.  So we have to clean up everything. 


That's the beauty of being able to go off to someplace like Goodseed and teach in an intensified way with no other distractions something you've already taught because you get to go back and kind of chase down all these little details that somehow got away from you when you were teaching it the first time because you didn't have enough time to run it all down.  I kept thinking about this for three days before.  When I got on the airplane I got out my computer and that was the first thing I checked. 


When I told John Cross about that he sort of stopped.  He went and grabbed his book Stranger on the Road to Emmaus and said, "I've got to change it." because he would have brazen in one place and bronze in another. 


It's all through the literature.  It's in the Bible encyclopedias and in your Bible dictionaries.  It's this thing that we picked up from the King James Version.  The King James Version consistently calls it brass.  But it's not brass; it's bronze. That is interesting in itself, there is a spiritual application. 


One other archeological note, it's been discovered that in the middle second millennium BC (which is about 1400 - 1500 BC roughly the time of the Exodus) that the Phoenicians coming out of the area around Tyre and Sidon (modern Lebanon) and they sailed all the way over the ancient world.  There's evidence that they had several tin mines operating in Cornwall in southwestern England.  They would mine the tin and then they would bring it back to the area of the Labat around the Mediterranean in order to make bronze. 


What was the age that preceded the Iron Age?  Brass Age, right?  No, it was the Bronze Age. So that's the era.  So it's a bronze altar.  I really had to work hard all weekend trying to make sure I didn't say brazen altar.  So it's the bronze altar. 


Now why was it bronze?  You ought to remember this.  Why was it bronze?  Both articles of furniture in the outer courtyard are made of bronze.  Now that was interesting.  Why are they both made of bronze?  All the furniture inside the Tabernacle is made of gold over acacia wood; but the metal that's used in the outer courtyard is bronze over acacia wood so that all of that blending of the metal and the wood speaks of something about the Lord Jesus Christ in terms of His humanity and His deity.  But the bronze on the bronze altar is there because bronze can handle the heat that gold can't handle.  Gold will melt.  So the bronze handles the heat which is a picture as I taught of the Lord Jesus Christ being able to handle the heat of the punishment for our sins on the cross.  So bronze speaks also of judgment. 


Now we're going to go to the next piece of furniture that's in the outer courtyard.  That was the laver.  This isn't a correction; this is an addition. 


Once I started focusing on that, something else occurred to me.  You have the bronze altar that is made for washing and it's put between the bronze altar and the tent according to Exodus 37:18. 


But, it Exodus 38:8 we read:


NKJ Exodus 38:8 He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.


So you have 3 things about the laver.  Number 1, it's bronze and bronze speaks of judgment.  It's made of the shiny polished metal that the women used for mirrors.  Now in the ancient world they used silver and they used copper and they used bronze and they used gold – a variety of metals for mirrors.  But they took only the bronze mirrors which tells me that that was important that it was bronze.  So the bronze speaks of judgment. 


The mirror speaks of what?  You look in the mirror you see yourself.  It is self-analysis, self-examination.  Paul uses the words "examine yourselves" in I Corinthians 11.  So there is judgment.  There's self-examination and then there's the water for cleansing.  These are the elements that you have in confession of sin.  There is self-reflection and self-judgment.  Then we confess our sins and there is cleansing. 


So you have this tremendous picture of the whole process and significance of confession that has to be gone through before the priest can go into the tent of meeting itself. Otherwise, he's going to die.  God makes it very clear that confession or cleansing from ongoing sin is very important.  So it's self-judgment, self-reflection, self-analysis, confession, cleansing.


Now that takes us to the next element.  My second point that we're going to get a little clarification on - there is an order in the offerings.  Now when you go back – way back to May when I did the offerings that were performed at the bronze altar; there are five offerings that are mentioned in Leviticus 1-6.  First of all there is the burnt offering, the olah from the Hebrew word alah meaning to go up.  I've noticed that current writers on the subject are calling this the ascension offering because the focus is on that which goes up.  Everything was consumed on the altar.  The picture there is that the offeror is stating symbolically that all that he has, all that he is belongs to God.  So there is a statement of commitment.  But even more basic than that is the whole concept of substitutionary atonement that is pictured by everything that happens on the bronze altar - that Christ died in our place.  It's a reflection upon the fact that who we are and what we have is because Christ died for us. 


Okay.  So we're at the bronze altar.  The bronze altar has these 5 sacrifices - the burnt offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, the guilt offering and the trespass offering. Those are the 5 offerings.  Now the first three (the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the peace offering) were sweet savor offerings.  The last two are non-sweet savor offerings.  They had to do with primarily willful sin. 


Now I'm going to challenge you tonight.  It's 8:16 (17) and we're going to come back to dealing with these inadvertent sins versus willful sins or sins of the high hand when we get to the last point.  But the last two dealt with inadvertent sins and physical uncleanness.  They didn't deal with willful sins or what is called in the text "sins of the high hand".


Moses' sin when he got angry the second time the children of Israel (right before they went into the land) when they complained about the lack of water and – the first time remember they're coming out of Egypt God said, "Strike the rock."  The second time He said, "Speak to the rock."  But Moses lost his temper with the people and he got angry.  It's not so much that he struck the rock (although there are a lot of people who want to make a typology there); it is that he got angry and he raised his hand. The terminology that's used there is the same basic terminology and idiom you have for the term "sin of the high hand". He gets mad, he raises his hand, and he strikes the rock.  He is willfully disobedient to God.  That's the sin that is the reason he cannot go into the Promised Land. 


So we have to answer the question - if the guilty offering trespass offering take care of inadvertent sins, what takes care of the sins of the high hand?  We'll think about that.


Okay.  So you have these sacrifices.  Now the interesting thing is every time you go through Leviticus and Numbers and on into Samuel and Kings and you're dealing with these different sacrifices, they don't appear in the order that you have them revealed.  That is a logical order.  The burnt offering is logically the foundational offering. The others are all variants of that.  So it's logically laid out in Leviticus – burnt offering, grain offering, peace offering, and then you go to the trespass offering.  But, every single time you see more than one of those in operation; it's always first the sin offering, then the burnt offering and then the fellowship offering (the peace offering).  Why is it done in that order?  It's the same thing we do every time we're going to pray and we get back in fellowship.  First we have to confess our sins.  There's an admission.  There has got to be cleansing from the sin.  So the sin offering pictures that. 


We recognize - I John 1:7 says:


NKJ 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.


Now that doesn't mean that you don't have to confess your sin.  Some people take it that way – that…  There is some guy names Bob George who's been on the radio since I was in seminary.  His whole ministry is built on telling people you don't have to confess your sin and he gets everybody all confused. He always goes to 1 John 1:7 and says, "See 1 John 1:7 says the blood of Christ continually cleanses you from all sin."  I've heard this from other people. 


Well, if the blood of Christ continually cleanses you from all sin and you don't need to do anything else; then what is John talking about two verses later? Is he just stupid?  Is he just all of a sudden he's older and he just forgets that he just said that the blood of Christ cleanses you from all sin and now he's going to tell you - you have to confess your sins to be cleansed.  No, he's laying out the positional reality which is what happens at the altar in the Old Testament that every time the priest went in he has to perform the sin or the guilt offering and confess because it's a picture of the fact that what ultimately covers us and cleanses us is the death of Christ on the cross.  But then what does he have to do?  He also goes to the laver and he has to wash his hands and his feet.  So they work together.  Both depict different aspects of the whole process of the confession of sin. 


So first there is the sin offering and then there's the burnt offering.  The burnt offering is a picture of the fact that - you know we don't say this when we confess our sins but this is sort of what's implied in the process. 


We're saying, "Father, I committed this sin.  This sin is covered by the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross and I'm confessing my sin because I want to be in fellowship with you and I recognize that if I'm going to live my life so it has any kind of spiritual or eternal value; then I have to live it totally committed to you." 


Now we don't say it like that and I'm not using "commitment" there in the way the revivalists do.  But, that's what's implied there.  That's what's depicted in the burnt offering. 


Then the next offering is the peace offering which pictures fellowship with God.  So it just pictures what we've been learning all our lives – that you have to confess your sins to have fellowship with God.  When you confess your sins it is a recognition that you know you can't live walking by the flesh and you have to be filled with the Spirit. 


So those three offerings work together and they're always in that same order – always in that same order and that is such a tremendous picture for the necessity for the confession of sin before fellowship. 


Then you have the whole imagery of what happens as you go into the tent.  Remember those outer two things are both made of bronze and what's inside the tent is made of gold.  Those outer two things speak of judgment.  What goes on outside of the courtyard has to do with getting back in fellowship so that you're back in right relationship with God.  Well, after there's been that reflection on the fact that Christ died for my sins and I'm cleansed; then I go inside the tent.  The priest goes inside the tent.  He's inside the tent and outside the tent it doesn't look like much because the outer covering was that badger covering and the outer covering doesn't look that beautiful.  Nobody saw it.  But once you get inside there's all that beautiful embroidery work and the cherubim and all those brilliant colors.  It's absolutely gorgeous. 


It's - on the left hand side you have the golden menorah which pictures the light of God.  The illumination we receive from God from the light of His written Word and the light of the Living Word which is the Lord Jesus Christ.  And because - it's teaching that we can't have a relationship with God, we can't worship Him or serve Him or learn about Him apart from the light that He provides on the one hand and ongoing fellowship which is pictured by the table of showbread on the right hand side. 


So what's happening right there is a picture of the Christian life.  It's based on the Word of God and fellowship with God in the Church Age.  The fundamental issue there is going to be the filling of the Spirit.  So that's what we see happening in the pattern of the sacrifices.  It's not that what I taught was wrong.  I'm just bringing out some new elements there. 


But, now we have something new that we have to get into in Hebrews 9:3.  This is the third point I'm making tonight and this has to do with a correction.  That is the location of the golden altar, the altar of incense.


In Hebrews 9:3 we read and I pointed this out when we were studying this early on in the study - behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies.  So now we are going from outside to inside.  The question you have to ask, answer is - what's the perspective here?  Where's the person standing who says "behind the veil?"  Is he standing in the Holy of Holies or is he standing outside?  He's outside - here. 


He says:


NKJ Hebrews 9:3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All,


What does it have? It has a golden altar of incense.  Wait a minute!  How's that inside the Holy of Holies?  Every picture I've ever seen of the Tabernacle and the Temple has the altar of incense - and every picture I've ever used - has the altar of incense out in the holy place.  Did the writer of Hebrews just have a glitch?  He uses the preposition meta which can't mean anything other than – it's used in this construction to indicate location and it's after or behind.  So you can't change the meaning.  Behind the second veil there is a Tabernacle that has a golden altar of incense and the Ark of the Covenant covered on all sides with gold. 


So this sets up a major conflict and scholars have tried over the years to try to figure out what is going on. 


I offered what I thought at the time was the best solution to this - is that there is such a tight connection between the altar of incense and the Ark of the Covenant that the function of the altar of incense on the Day of Atonement is that as the priest brings incense to burn on the coals of the altar of incense; it's supposed to fill the Holy of Holies will smoke to the extent that he can't get a real clear view of the Ark lest he die – Leviticus 12:13. 


God says, "If you have a clear shot (100% visibility) on the Ark of the Covenant you're going to die."


So we have to make sure that the whole Holy of Holies is filled with smoke so that the function is what I pointed out and I thought that was the best solution. Well, when I was up in Canada, John Cross and I talked about this a lot. 


He said, "Well, I hadn't heard that take on it.  I'd just heard the view that because they were associated with the  Day of Atonement because the priest was supposed to put blood on the Mercy Seat and also put blood on the 4 horns of the altar of incense that that connects them together so they were just viewed that way." 


He said, "I like what you say because the functionality is a little stronger."  "But," he said, "I'm still not satisfied."


I said, "Well, I'm not either."


So on the way back I started doing a little work and then I guess it was Tuesday morning or Wednesday morning - I was working out early in the morning and I kept thinking about this.  I said, "I need to go home and start digging through these prepositions again in Hebrew back in Exodus 25." 


So I came up with another option, but it's not original with me.  I hadn't read anybody else so I sort of came up with it.  But, others have as well and I didn't realize that.  But it's not a well-known option.  So let's work through this. 


What we have from the writer of Hebrews is a very clear statement where he puts the altar of incense in the Tabernacle inside the Holy of Holies - not out in the holy place.  So we have to figure out what he means by that. 


Now one problem that people have is that they come to this thinking about this on the basis of what is said in Hebrews 9:7 in relationship to the work of the high priest. 


Hebrews 9:6 says:


NKJ Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests


That's all the Levitical priests, not the high priest. 


always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services.


NKJ Hebrews 9:7 But into the second part


That is into the Holy of Holies.


the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance;


And so we read that and what we see it saying is that the high priest can only go into the Holy of Holies once a year for the Day of Atonement.  He can't go in there any other time. 


What's interesting is that word "only."  That word only is the Greek word monos.  It is an adjective.  In Greek – just like Spanish or French or German – the adjective has to agree with the noun in case, number and gender - or at least case and number.  Now "year" has a different word with it.  It has the word hapax which indicates once – once a year.  But, the "only" is a masculine nominative and year is a masculine genitive.  So the "only" isn't talking about "only" once a year. It's talking about "only" the high priest can go in there on the Day of Atonement which is the focus of Hebrews 9. 


What the writer is saying is only the high priest can go in on the Day of Atonement and do this.  He's not talking about the fact that high priest can only go into that room once a year. 


There's another problem that we have and that's seen in a verse in Leviticus.  Leviticus 16:2 says:


NKJ Leviticus 16:2 and the LORD said to Moses: "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die;


Serious punishment!


for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.


Now that also appears to mean that the high priest can't go in there at any time.  But is God saying in the context of Leviticus 16 which is the regulations on the Day of Atonement – is God saying you can't go in there at any time or you can't go in there at any time and do the ritual of the Day of Atonement?  Is the "at any time" related to the function of the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement or is it related as a universal principle that you can only go in there on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.


I think that the context indicates that it's only – it's saying that he can only do the Yom Kippur sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.  He can't do that at any time.  When there are sin offerings, there is the suggestion (you can't be dogmatic about it, but there is an indication) that the sin offering he's got to go in - for the sin offering of the high priest he has to go into the Holy of Holies. 


So let's stop a minute and see where we're going here.  What this does is it sets up a problem that we have to resolve by some close analysis of Scripture.  As I pointed out there are several different solutions that are made or attempted.  One is the idea that it's because of the close association of the altar of incense and the Ark of the Covenant and because the function is related to the Holy of Holies the writer of Hebrews is saying that.  But, he's using a preposition of location and it's awfully strong if the altar is out in the holy place and he's just talking about the smoke going into the Holy of Holies. 


One of the reasons that we look at it this way is that we have examples from the first century of Philo of Alexandria who was a Jew in northern Egypt and Josephus who both state that the altar of incense in the Second Temple (that's what's important) in the Temple they saw the altar of incense was in the holy place.  But what I'm going to argue is that was true for the Second Temple.  But it wasn't true for Solomon's Temple and it wasn't true for the Tabernacle. 


Now the other option which you have which I sort of dismissed is that the writer of Hebrews is completely unfamiliar with how the Temple is laid out.  That just doesn't fit the scenario.  He knows too much detail about other things. 


So, you can't say, "Well, he's just an Alexandrine Jew and so he's ignorant." 


Franz Delitzsch of the Keil and Delitzsch commentary fame said, "It would have been a monster of ignorance and forgetfulness to be capable of such a mistake."


Now there's another way in which this is handled and that is because the Greek word that is used there to translate the "altar of incense" isn't the normal word for altar of incense. The normal word that is translated altar of incense is the word thusiasterion.  The word that you have here is thumiamatas


So some people have said, "Well, see that word is translated censer in some places." 


But the problem here is that in Hebrews 9:4 it's called a golden altar of incense.  But if that word translated altar (which is sometimes used for censer) should be translated censer then it would be the golden censer.  A censer is a firepan.  That's what you carry the hot coals in from the bronze altar inside to the altar of incense.  But there were no golden censers or golden fire pans in the Tabernacle.  They only had bronze firepans to handle the heat.  You didn't have gold.  You didn't have gold until you got into the Temple.  So that sets up a problem. But you also have a realization that both Josephus and Philo used the term for censer to talk about the altar of incense.  So it's a word that was used as a synonym for altar. 


Also, in the 2nd century versions of the Old Testament (the 2nd century Greek versions) of Exodus 30 of Theodocian and Semicus, they both use the word for censer for the altar of incense.  The Septuagint uses both words for the altar of incense calling it the thusiostereon thumiamatas.  In other words both words are used in the Septuagint to describe the altar of incense.  Then in the end of the 2nd century into the early 3rd century both Clement and Origen used the term thusiasterion to refer to the altar of incense.  So thumiamatas is the word for censer and thusiasterion - I think I got that reversed a minute ago.  Thusiasterion is the word for altar.  Clement and Origen used the word for censer as a synonym for the word for altar.  So just because it uses a word that can be translated censer doesn't mean anything due to the fact that there is this usage going on. 


Now let's look at the Old Testament for a minute.  Turn in your Bibles to Exodus 26 – Exodus 26:34.  God is giving Moses instructions on how to arrange the things (the furniture) in the Tabernacle. 


In Exodus 26:34 He says:


NKJ Exodus 26:34 "You shall put the mercy seat upon the ark of the Testimony in the Most Holy.


The mercy seat was just the lid.  Where is my Ark of the Covenant over here?  Here's the Ark of the Covenant. The mercy seat is just a solid gold lid – one piece that sat right on top of the Ark of the Covenant. 


So God is saying:


NKJ Exodus 26:34 "You shall put the mercy seat upon the ark of the Testimony in the Most Holy.


NKJ Exodus 26:35 "You shall set the table outside the veil,


Okay, now listen.  Where are you standing if the table of showbread is standing outside the veil?  What is the perspective here?  You're inside the Holy of Holies.  That is crucial to this. 


and the lampstand across from the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south; and you shall put the table on the north side.


Now let's turn to Exodus 30.  Turn in your Bibles to Exodus 30.  While your turning there let me explain the structure of Exodus.  In Exodus 25 it begins with God telling Moses how he's basically going to raise the money and get all the materials to build the Ark - Exodus 25.  The offerings begin - the first 9 verses.  Then he describes the construction of the Ark of the Covenant down to verse 22.  Then he describes the construction of the table of showbread in verses 23 to 30.  Then he describes the construction of the golden lampstand (the golden menorah) in verses 31 down to 40.  What's he left out?  He hasn't talked about the altar of incense yet.  Then he starts talking about the veils, all the curtains, all the fabrics in chapter 26 all the way down through the end of chapter 26.  Then chapter 27 - we're outside with the altar of the – the bronze altar.  Then there's the outer court and the outer court hangings.  Then there're descriptions of the care of the lampstand and then chapter 28 talks about the priesthood and its ephods and its robes and breastplate and the other priestly garments. In chapter 29 we talk about Aaron and his sons being consecrated to the priesthood and the instructions on the daily offerings.  It's not until we get to chapter 30 that it talks about the altar of incense and the bronze laver.  They are separated from the other furniture. 


Now what's important – the other thing that's important to understand here is there is a reason why the description of the Tabernacle begins with the most important piece because the focal point of the Tabernacle is on our worship of God.  So it starts with the Ark of the Covenant.  So the orientation (the perspective) is from the Ark of the Covenant which is at the center of the Holy of Holies. 


Now look down to 30:1.


NKJ Exodus 30:1 "You shall make an altar to burn incense on; you shall make it of acacia wood.


NKJ Exodus 30:2 "A cubit shall be its length and a cubit its width -- it shall be square -- and two cubits shall be its height. Its horns shall be of one piece with it.


So it's not very big.  It's the tallest thing in there as I've pointed out before.  It's a foot and a half wide – I mean a foot and a half square and about 3 feet high. 


Then look down to verse 6.  Now the New King James says:


NKJ Exodus 30:6 "And you shall put it before the veil that is before the ark of the Testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the Testimony, where I will meet with you.


Now where are you standing?  You're standing - the perspective is from the Ark of the Covenant.  But it's not before the veil.  The Hebrew preposition there is a compound of le plus panehPaneh means face.  So it is "to the face of" or in front of.  So it should be translated "and you shall put it in front of the veil that is before the Ark of the Covenant."  Now if you're standing in the middle of the Holy of Holies and the table of showbread is outside the veil and the altar of incense is in front of the ark, where is it in relation to the veil?  It's inside of the Holy of Holies.  This should be translated "you shall put it in front of the veil" not behind the veil.  Behind the veil would be over in the holy place.  So it's in front of the veil that is before or in front of the Ark of the Covenant.  When you have that same phrase "in front of" used in Leviticus 16, it's used in the description of what the priest does on the Day of Atonement.  He goes into the Holy of Holies and he puts blood on the mercy seat.  Then he splatters blood 7 times in front of the mercy seat - same prepositions, same phrase.  Where is "in front of the mercy seat?"  It's in the Holy of Holies.  It's not in the other room.  So when it says in front of the mercy seat, it's right there.  There is the close proximity between these two things – the altar of incense and the Ark of the Covenant. 


Now Aaron is supposed to burn incense on it – a perpetual incense.  He is to go in there every morning and every night.  Notice verse 9.


He says:


NKJ Exodus 30:9 "You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it. 


You're not going to go get the incense and the coals from someplace else.  You're going to get it from the coals from the burnt offering that are out at the bronze altar.


Then, verse 10:


NKJ Exodus 30:10 "And Aaron shall make atonement upon its horns once a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement;


That's the four things on the corners here that indicate the direction of the prayers.  Horns usually stand for power and the power of the intercessory prayer.  So Aaron is also once a day on the Day of Atonement going to put blood on the horns of the sin offering of atonement.


once a year he shall make atonement upon it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD."


Okay.  So what I've said is that the Exodus passage indicates (because the perspective is from inside the Holy of Holies) that when it talks about putting the altar of incense in front of the veil, it means right there in the Holy of Holies. 


Now let's turn over to Leviticus 4 – Leviticus 4.  Leviticus 4 is talking about the procedures for the sin offering.  It begins with the sin offering to the priest.  You have sin offering for different levels of people within the society of Israel.  The priest is the most important and so the instructions come out at the beginning. 


NKJ Leviticus 4:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'If a person sins unintentionally


So the sin offering had to do with dealing with unintentional sin, inadvertent sin. 


against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and does any of them,


First example:


NKJ Leviticus 4:3 'if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering.


NKJ Leviticus 4:4 'He shall bring the bull to the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD,


Now, what does that mean?  That means that he comes to the front entryway – outside the holy place.  He presents the sacrifice. He doesn't kill it. He offers it.  He sets it up before God.


"Here Lord!  Here's the sacrifice.  It fits your qualifications."


lay his hand on the bull's head,


Identification of his sin


and kill the bull before the LORD.


NKJ Leviticus 4:5 'Then the anointed priest shall take some of the bull's blood and bring it to the tabernacle of meeting.


NKJ Leviticus 4:6 'The priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before the LORD, in front of the veil of the sanctuary.


Where is in front of the veil?  We saw that same term in Exodus.  In front of the veil - a lot of people will say he goes into the holy place and he just splatters it on the ground.  But I think that what he's doing because he's the high priest and because it's his sin, he goes into the altar of incense which is in the Holy of Holies and he is splattering the blood in front.  It would be the same ground.  If you've got the Ark of the Covenant here and the altar of incense here and out there is the holy place and I come in here and I'm the high priest and I'm splattering the blood 7 times on the ground, it's in the same place, right?  It's not that big in there folks. You're going to be splattering the blood in the same place.  This is the sin offering for the priest. 


Now let's go to the Day of Atonement.  Turn over a few chapters to Leviticus 16.  This is the other element in this and this is an important element.  In the process of all the things that he has to do on the Day of Atonement after he has the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people; he begins the process of sacrificing the goat.  He hasn't sent out the scapegoat yet.  It's right in the middle of the process.


NKJ Leviticus 16:12 "Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the LORD,


Now what altar is that?  That's the bronze altar. 


with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil.


So now he's inside the Holy of Holies. 


NKJ Leviticus 16:13 "And he shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD,


It's pretty clear where he is, isn't it?  He's inside the Holy of Holies. 


that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die.


Now if the altar of incense is out in the holy place and there's a veil between the holy place and the Holy of Holies; it's going to be a lot smokier in the holy place than it is in the Holy of Holies.  Right? 


But we have an even greater problem.  Hold your place there and go to 1 Kings.  We've been there a few times lately.  Isn't it interesting how all this stuff starts coming together? 


You go over to 1 Kings 6 which describes the construction of the Temple.  We're going to start with verse 18.


NKJ 1 Kings 6:18 The inside of the temple was cedar,


So that's the inside of the main center building which is comparable to the tent of meeting. 


carved with ornamental buds and open flowers. All was cedar; there was no stone to be seen.


NKJ 1 Kings 6:19 And he prepared the inner sanctuary inside the temple,


Inner sanctuary means Holy of Holies.  He prepared the Holy of Holies.  So what's he talking about in verse 19?  Holy place or Holy of Holies?  Holy of Holies


to set the ark of the covenant of the LORD there.


NKJ 1 Kings 6:20 The inner sanctuary


What's he talking about in verse 20?  The Holy of Holies


was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high.


Or, 30 feet by 30 feet.


He overlaid it with pure gold, and overlaid the altar of cedar.


NKJ 1 Kings 6:21 So Solomon overlaid the inside of the temple with pure gold. He stretched gold chains across the front of the inner sanctuary, and overlaid it with gold.


What's he talking about?  What room?  The Holy of Holies - Holy of Holies 19; Holy of Holies 20; Holy of Holies 21. 


NKJ 1 Kings 6:22 The whole temple he overlaid with gold,

That's outside.


until he had finished all the temple; also he overlaid with gold the entire altar that was by the inner sanctuary.


Where is he now?  He's back in the Holy of Holies.  Where's the altar?  It's in the Holy of Holies.  He never talks about the holy place at all here. 


Then what's really interesting is he talks about these two huge 15-feet winged span cherubs that he puts inside the Holy of Holies. 


Then skip down to verse 31. 


NKJ 1 Kings 6:31 For the entrance of the inner sanctuary


That's the Holy of Holies. 


he made doors of olive wood; the lintel and doorposts were one-fifth of the wall.


Wood doors, walls - not a veil.  The word veil is never used.  Poreketh is never used in 1 Kings.  Not once!  There's no veil in the Solomonic Temple.  So now you have two rooms separated by a wall with a big wooden door. 


If the altar of incense is in the holy place, how much smoke is going to get into the Holy of Holies?  None!!  Not unless they cut a ventilation shaft.  It's going to be real hard to figure out how to get enough smoke in there so he can't see the Ark of the Covenant.  So see we've just been wrong all of this time. 


Now when I started working my way through this and looking at this I decided to something.  I had done it through one source, but I had not done it in another source.  I wanted to search all my Hebrews commentaries (and I picked up a few more since then) in my Logos program to see where what was said about Hebrews 9:3 and "behind the veil."  What I discovered is that there were two commentaries that wrote in detail about this and took this same position.  One was written by somebody at Dallas Seminary named Dwight Pentecost who is now 93 years old and still teaching the Bible at Dallas Seminary.  That's Dr. Pentecost to you.  The altar of incense in the Tabernacle and in the Solomonic Temple was in the Holy of Holies.  It was not in the holy place. 


Now what happens is when the Jews come back from captivity and Zerubabbel builds the Temple, there's something that's missing.  Remember what was missing?  They didn't have the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark of the Covenant may have been buried directly below the foundation stone, but they didn't have the Ark of the Covenant.  So if they don't have the Ark of the Covenant, they aren't concerned about all the smoke filling up the Holy of Holies.  So they probably put the altar of incense into the holy place which is where it was in 63 BC when Pompey conquered Jerusalem and he wanted to see the Ark of the Covenant so he marched into the Temple and into the Holy of Holies and he said it was just an empty, dusty room. Nothing there! 


So in the Second Temple the altar of incense is in the holy place but not in the Holy of Holies as it was in the First Temple and also in the Tabernacle. So that gives us a slightly different perspective. 


Now why is it there? It's there because in the process of the Day of Atonement there is this intimate connection between the ongoing prayer for Israel pictured by the incense and the blood on the mercy seat because on the Day of Atonement once a year, every year the high priest goes into the Holy of Holies and he puts blood on the Mercy Seat – splatters it 7 times on the ground in front of the Ark of the Covenant and then he puts blood on the four horns on the altar of incense.  It's that picture of that blood (the death of Christ) that is the foundation for prayer and for propitiation.  So they link together there. 


Now the fourth point. The fourth point has to do with the order of events on the Day of Atonement.  Now I have taught this three times.  Maybe I'll get it right this time. 


When I taught this three or four weeks ago – it's terrible when you've got 9 points.  They did it this way.  You've worked over and over it and you get half way and you go, "Wait a minute I know I missed it."  So I redid everything, thought I had it right, missed it the other night when I taught it.  I didn't miss it by much. When I went back and looked at it and had only one thing out of order.  So we're going to try it one more time. 


The Day of Atonement is described – the actions of the priest are described in Leviticus 16 – Leviticus 16.  This is the center chapter, centerpiece of the book of Leviticus – is what happens the Day of Atonement. 


NKJ Leviticus 16:1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the LORD, and died;


Remember that was Abihu and Nadab because they brought the strange fire into the altar of incense. 


NKJ Leviticus 16:2 and the LORD said to Moses: "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.


See you've got to have before the mercy seat in there.  It can't come at just any time related to the mercy seat sacrifice.  There was only one time a year he could do that and that's on Yom Kippur.  So when he comes in on Yom Kippur the first thing he has to do is he has to select a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.  That's what's indicated in verse 3.


NKJ Leviticus 16:3 "Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering.


But see that's not the first thing that happens.  He doesn't sacrifice him first.  That's what gets confusing.  This is just a summary of the basis for his being able to do all of this is the shed blood of those two things because it's not until you get out of verse 11 and afterwards that he actually sacrifices it.  So it is easy to get confused.


The basis is the sin offering - the bull for the sin offering and a ram for the burnt offering.  Notice the order – sin offering first, burnt offering second.  Atonement is made in this passage to cleanse the furnishings of the Tabernacle.  One time it's mentioned in verse 20.  The atonement was made for the high priest himself and his family four times in verse 6, verse 11, verse 17 and verse 24.  Atonement was made for the people three times in the chapter in 16:10, 16:17, and 16:24. 


The other thing you should notice as background is all the other feast days of Israel – the Passover, the Feast of First Fruits, the Feast of Pentecost, the Festival of Booths - these are all celebrations; but Yom Kippur wasn't a celebration.  Look down at verse – right there at the end – in verse 29. 


NKJ Leviticus 16:29 " This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls,


That's not the normal terms you use for a pardon.


and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you.


NKJ Leviticus 16:30 "For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.


NKJ Leviticus 16:31 "It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever.


It's a day of reflection.  It is a day of being somber and thinking about sin and think about what God has done for you.  Sound like something we do?  It's like the Lord's Table.  It is a time for quiet reflection.  So Yom Kippur is a day of solemn rest to teach humility.  So he comes in.  He offers or presents for approval as it were a bull for sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 


So I have – I'm going to run through the 14 steps very quickly.


  1. First, he gathers the bull for a sin offering and the ram for a guilt offering.  He goes out and picks them make sure they are without spot of blemish.  Then he brings them in as it were presents them before God.
  2. Second, he is to wear the holy linen tunic and undergarments.  He doesn't wear his high priestly garb.  It's absolutely gorgeous.  It is brilliant.  It's spectacular.  The colors are impressive, but it sets him apart from the people. What does he have to do?  He has to take that off.  He washes himself and he just puts on linen garments just like everybody else.  The thing I thought of was what I say every month when we have the Lord's Table.  What the Lord's Table does is it's the focus of humility for everyone of us because no matter who we are, no matter how wealthy you are, how poor you are, how talented you are or how much talent you lack, no matter how smart you are, educated or uneducated - we all have to go to the cross to get saved.  Everybody – no matter what your natural talents are!  You all get to heaven the same way and that's trust in Christ.  That's what's happening here.  He has to strip off all the outer manifestations of his office and he dresses in a very common way in the linen undergarments and then he can move forward. 
  3. The third thing that happens – he presents but doesn't sacrifice the bulls. He walks in.  He's got the bull and ram.  He goes through the whole washing thing; then he takes them before the tent of meeting for approval as it were.  He offers them, but he does not sacrifice the bulls as a sin offering for himself in verse 6.  He doesn't sacrifice it until verse 11.  And he presents it to make purification or atonement for himself and his family. 
  4. Then having done that he goes back out.  He gets two goats - one will be the scapegoat and one will be the sin offering.  He just brings them in at this point.  He also brings with him the ram for the burnt offering.
  5. Next he sacrifices the bull as the sin offering in verse 11.  The ram is still alive; the two goats are still alive.  Now this has all been outside in the outer courtyard.  Now he's going to take his first trip inside.


NKJ Leviticus 16:11 " And Aaron shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the bull as the sin offering which is for himself.


  1. Then he takes the firepan (the censer full of coals) and two hands full of incense to go inside the veil to put the incense on the fire to begin to filling the Holy of Holies with a cloud of incense.  That's going to take time.  Then he goes back out so he is outside again (a second time). 
  2. Then he takes some of the blood of the bull which he's already sacrificed.  Now he's got to butcher the bull.  That takes time.  (Having just gone deer hunting and having done that, I forgot how long it takes.  It takes awhile.)  So he has to butcher the bull and he takes the blood of the bull and now he goes inside for the second trip and he puts the blood on the mercy seat first on the east side which is the front side sprinkles it 7 times with his finger just like this on the ground in verse 14.  Then he goes out and he's out in the courtyard for a third time. 
  3. Then he sacrifices the goat of the sin offering which is for the people and now he takes the blood of the goat inside the veil and puts a splatter on the mercy seat and then 7 times with his finger in front of the mercy seat for the people.  That's in verse 15.

In verse 16 we read:


NKJ Leviticus 16:16 "So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.


  1. Then he goes back out – this is the fourth time he's in the courtyard.  He goes out and he makes purification of the altar.  Ah!  But what altar is this? 


NKJ Leviticus 16:18 "And he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD,


What altar is that?  That's the bronze altar. 


 and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around.


Now most commentators will connect that putting the blood on the horns of the altar with Exodus 30.  At the end it said:


NKJ Exodus 30:10 "And Aaron shall make atonement upon its horns once a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement; once a year he shall make atonement upon it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD."


But in Leviticus there is only one time the word altar means altar of incense.  It says the altar of fragrant incense at the beginning of Leviticus 4.  In the other 80 times that the word altar is used in Leviticus, it refers to the bronze altar.  So what he's saying here is – so what happens is he's going to put blood on the horns of the altar of incense because of the Exodus passage and he's going to put blood here.  This is the purification of the bronze altar and he'll put blood on the horns of the bronze altar. That was the 9th point.

  1.  When he finishes all that he then takes the live goat, confesses over it all the sins and iniquities of the sons of Israel (that must have taken awhile) and releases it into the wilderness.  That's verse 21. 
  2. Then he removes his garments, leaves them there, bathes his body completely, and puts on his regular priestly garments.
  3. Then he offers the ram as his burnt offering.  Verse 24
  4. Then he offers up the fat of the sin offering from the bull on the altar.  Verse 25
  5. The bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering – that's what's left – are taken outside of the camp.  The hides are burned.  The flesh and refuse are burned in a fire.  The one who burns them (which isn't the high priest but probably another priest) has to wash all of his clothes because they've been identified with this impurity that's on the sin offering.  He has to take off all of his clothes, wash his clothes, and bathe his body completely before he can come back into the camp.  So it pictures complete removal of sin which is what Christ did on the cross.  He completely removes the sin.


But, what about those intentional sins?  See there were the sacrifices for the unintentional sins.  But, what about David when he sins with Bathsheba and he has a conspiracy to murder and eventually accomplishes the murder of Uriah?  That's a sin of the high hand.  He has to go directly to the Lord on the basis of the blood on the mercy seat on the Day of Atonement.  That's what covers the sins of the high hand. 


There is forgiveness for every sin.  There's a sin offering and trespass offering for those that are unintentional.  But the only thing that handles it is that yearly blood that's put on the mercy seat.  Now all of that is important for when we continue our study in Hebrews 9 which we'll get to next time and we'll continue to go through this. 


We'll review this again and again because that's what Hebrews 9 is all about – is applying that to what is happening in the spiritual life.  We see those patterns there even though we're not sacrificing.  We still need to be cleansed and our life after salvation is based on understanding the realities of what these Old Testament pictures depict so that we can press on.  That was the problem with the Hebrews.  They didn't want to press on in their Christian life. 


Okay, we'll come back to that next time.  Let's close in prayer.