Often Jesus told stories to the people who came to listen to his speeches. He called the stories Ďparablesí. By that word, he meant that he was not merely telling stories. Rather, he meant that each of those stories had a particular meaning. Each parable would teach the people something about God, or about themselves.
Here, in Hebrews 9:9, the author uses that same word Ďparableí. He seems to use it to describe Godís house (called the tabernacle or temple), the priests and their work there. Clearly he does not mean that these things were stories. These were real places, real people and real events. Rather, he means that God was using these things to teach an important lesson.
Of course that is so. Mere ceremonies cannot remove a personís sin (wrong and evil deeds). It is good to wash the body, but water does nothing for a personís spirit. And it is in our spirits that we need a right relationship with God. The priests offered the peopleís gifts to God. But nobody should imagine that they can buy a right relationship with God by their gifts to him (Micah 6:6-8). The death of an animal does not pay for a personís sin. (Psalm 51:16; Hebrews 10:4). When God told the priests to offer such gifts to him, he did it to teach people about Christ. People can only be free from the power of sin by the death of Christ.
Before Christ came, Godís people were waiting for him to free them from their sin. They knew in their conscience that the work of the priests was neither perfect nor complete. Like David in Psalm 51, they knew that they needed Godís help.
David knew how God would help them (Acts 2:29-31; Romans 4:6-8). Probably, most of Godís people did not understand it so clearly. But they believed that he would do it. They prepared their own hearts for the day when he would do it (Luke 3:4).
And they were eagerly waiting for that day (Luke 2:25-38; Luke 23:50-51).
Next part: The real house of God (Hebrews 9:11)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.