These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but 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 unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. (Hebrews 9:6-10, ESV)
The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. (8–10, NIV 84 and TNIV)
Older versions use the word “signifying” where “indicates” and “showing” appear in v. 8 above. I prefer plain words so that no mistakes are made in understanding things. Little things may amount to big things.
A. T. Robertson (still worth paying some attention to for his scholarship), stated that the word “signifying” as used in verse 8 means “to make plain.” James Strong’s concordance states it the same. This makes some difference in the way I might understand this verse. I note that typically the word for “signify” is defined as “to indicate,” coming from the word that literally means: to make a sign – to identify. That is what that word means in most occurrences in the NT. But that is not this word.
Here it means that the giving of the Holy Spirit has made it plain one covenant has been superseded by the other. This should be clearly understood by the fact that the Holy Spirit had been given to mankind by Christ. It means the way into the presence of God by all (not just by the High Priest) and entrance into the true Most Holy place was not available as long as the Law of Moses remained in force; and as long as the Tent of Meeting or the Temple stood. But the gift of the Spirit coincided with the beginning of the dissolution of the old way, and a new way was being opened up on earth and in heaven.
That may be obvious to some of our readers; but to me it is a remarkable statement. It is evidence that things had to change. Something had to go and something else was to take its place. And it all leads to the promise of salvation in Christ. Old Testament tents, temples, and priests everyone had to be taken away. On that day in Jerusalem long ago, they no longer had any value to serving God, and that is exactly what the writer of Hebrews stated. I know that would remain true even if someone laid claim to Old Jerusalem starting tomorrow and built a new temple. It simply would not matter. A new covenant had taken force.
The Holy Spirit has been given to all flesh just as the Apostles had said; and the Spirit brought the final certified product when he came – the Word of God. Once the removal of the old took place beginning with the death and resurrection of Christ, as verified and sealed in His New Testament, the Way would be clearly distinguished. The wisdom of God would be on prominent display once and for all time.
I had just noted in a recent post that the Spirit never operated on his own, but only with a charge from The Father. The writer states in Acts 2:32 and 33 that God the Father gave to Jesus the promise of the Holy Spirit, and then Christ poured out the Holy Spirit on all flesh that day long ago. So the process began.
In his letter to Titus Paul stated these things similarly:
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (3:4–7)
Therefore, the Spirit’s presence and the gift of the Spirit meant, as the veil separating the Most Holy portion of the temple had been torn down upon the death of the testator Christ, that the New Testament, the new and living Way, was being opened to all who would set their sights on entering that Holy of Holies found in the heavenly places. All who come may stand with boldness in the presence of God in the New Jerusalem. Not here, but there with God and Christ at home.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is salvation through Christ our savior.
I have set the LORD always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in the place of the dead,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.