Passage: Hebrews 9, 10, 11 (RSV)

Hebrews 9

1Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary.
2For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place.
3Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies,
4having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
5above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
6These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties;
7but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people.
8By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary is not yet opened as long as the outer tent is still standing
9(which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper,
10but deal only with food and drink and various ablutions, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)
12he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
13For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh,
14how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
15Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.
16For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.
17For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.
18Hence even the first covenant was not ratified without blood.
19For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,
20saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you."
21And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship.
22Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
23Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
24For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
25Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own;
26for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment,
28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Hebrews 10

1For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near.
2Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered? If the worshipers had once been cleansed, they would no longer have any consciousness of sin.
3But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year.
4For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.
5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body hast thou prepared for me;
6in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure.
7Then I said, `Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God,' as it is written of me in the roll of the book."
8When he said above, "Thou hast neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law),
9then he added, "Lo, I have come to do thy will." He abolishes the first in order to establish the second.
10And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
12But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
13then to wait until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet.
14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
15And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,"
17then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more."
18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,
20by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful;
24and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
26For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
27but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries.
28A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses.
29How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?
30For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people."
31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
32But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,
33sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.
34For you had compassion on the prisoners, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.
35Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
36For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised.
37"For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry;
38but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him."
39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls.

Hebrews 11

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
2For by it the men of old received divine approval.
3By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear.
4By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he received approval as righteous, God bearing witness by accepting his gifts; he died, but through his faith he is still speaking.
5By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God.
6And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
7By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, took heed and constructed an ark for the saving of his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness which comes by faith.
8By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go.
9By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
10For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
12Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
13These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
14For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
15If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.
16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
17By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son,
18of whom it was said, "Through Isaac shall your descendants be named."
19He considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
20By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.
21By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.
22By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his burial.
23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.
24By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,
25choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
26He considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked to the reward.
27By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king; for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
28By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the first-born might not touch them.
29By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land; but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.
30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
31By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given friendly welcome to the spies.
32And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets --
33who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
35Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life.
36Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment.
37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated --
38of whom the world was not worthy -- wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised,
40since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

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