In this part of Hebrews we come, in my opinion, to the pinnacle of the entire book. Here we find the service of Christ, our Great High Priest, in His sacrificial, effective, one-time, unblemished ransom-offering. Without shedding blood He would always be welcome in heaven in His own righteousness, but by His blood He was qualified to enter heaven to represent sinners in the Presence of God, since He had atoned for them on earth. There Jesus continues to serve.
Here we also find the benefits to His own: His blood cleanses the conscience and thereby enables the true worship of God. As the Mediator of the new covenant Who died for His people’s unfaithfulness, Christ alone – and not the people by their faithfulness – has secured eternally their promised inheritance. The eternal redemption (9:12) secures the eternal inheritance (9:15). This passage is also the clearest in the Bible on the meaning of the blood of Christ.
Many Biblical themes converge in this passage, one that shows that the death of Christ is the crucial act of God in history and the means by which all the blessings of salvation come to us. The gospel of Christ is fused with human history. The Christian faith is not just a message; it rests squarely on the event of our Savior’s death at a specific location on earth. It also rests on His current advocacy for us in heaven. The gospel message cannot exist apart from God’s actions. It is more than a nice idea.
9:11,12 The ceremonial ministries of priests on earth are no longer valid. The new time has come (9:10), so this verse speaks not of good things yet to come, but good things already here, such as a cleansed conscience.
Christ came as High Priest. In a different Scripture, Jesus asserted His calling as Priest when He said of His impending offering, “for this reason I came into the world” (John 12:23-28).
The priestly work of Christ
is given in the format of the priests who were types of Christ. Thus, Christ
has gone “into the inner
place behind the curtain” (6:19,20). The greater tabernacle “not
of this creation” is heaven (9:11). In 9:12 the
often entered the
It is important to understand that a type in the OT will not be
identical to its fulfillment in the NT, just as shadow of a hand is not like a
hand in every respect. In the OT the high priest carried the blood with him;
the NT never says that Jesus did that. 9:12 does not say Jesus entered with
blood as some translations say.
The language that Jesus entered by means of
His blood or by His blood, is that His
bloodshed on the cross is what gave Him the right to appear before God as our
Priest. He does not appear there for us by means of,
for example, some false argument that we have not sinned. He does not intercede
by means of a plea that we should be forgiven
apart from justice – as if God could overlook sin! He went by means
the satisfaction that His sacrifice had made for us. The figurative way to
speak of that sacrifice is to call it His blood, because He shed His blood when
He offered Himself (9:25). The literal blood itself was left on the ground at
the foot of the cross. His appearance in heaven to represent us is genuine,
effective and legitimate because what He had done for us on the cross was all
that was needed for redemption and acceptance by God. It is in this sense that
He entered the
Having obtained eternal redemption The language here is in a past tense. That shows that before His entrance into heaven, Christ had already obtained the eternal redemption. This is important because if we miss that the obtaining was accomplished prior to His entrance, we might wonder if something happens in heaven that causes redemption. If so, that would again argue that the redemption is not accomplished only in the sacrifice on the cross and could occur later and elsewhere. Redemption always has in it the idea of a payment. (In Revelation 14:3,4, redeemed = purchased.) Since this is so, we must see that the death of Christ is a redeeming death (1Peter 1:18) and avoid all suggestion of any later redeeming activity in heaven. The fact of one event as the sole basis of eternal redemption fits the truth that Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary once, and that the redemption Christ obtained on earth is eternal. Thus there is no later act in heaven or on earth to secure redemption. Our faith does not redeem, the Lord’s Supper does not redeem; there is no continuing purging of sin. Redemption was finished by one payment on the cross. He has freed us from our sins by His blood (Revelation 1:5), by one sacrifice (10:14: 7:27). God has accepted that sacrifice and requires nothing more.
Since the redemption is eternal and Christ has obtained it, it is a certainty. It cannot be altered or affected by any other factor. It is not contingent on the response of faith; rather, it secures the needed faith, because we are redeemed (i.e., set free) from the sin of not believing. Redemption rests on one base, not two; it was acquired for us by Christ in His work as our Priest. His accomplishment will bring about its results in the lives of all sinners who are saved. That redemption is in fact what saves them. (See the comments related to 9:15 below.)
9:13 The writer now mentions that the blood of bulls and goats made a person to be outwardly clean. To this he adds the ashes of a heifer, which in Numbers 19 was used for those who had touched a dead body so they could be declared clean. Such a ritual cleansing did not cleanse the conscience.
9:14 The blood of Christ is the offering of an unblemished Person, one Whose entire ministry was the result of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, including making an offering of Himself. It is contrary to human nature to do such a thing, yet it was the will of the Father. Jesus’ Messianic obedience was supported by and completed in the Spirit’s power. Jesus obediently offered Himself. Thus by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus as a man was able to offer Himself as a morally pure man.
The “much more” is crucial to Hebrews. It contrasts Jesus with the animals of 9:13. One must consider Who it is Who offered Himself. The animals were not filled with the Spirit, nor did they voluntarily die. Their blood was not precious as was the blood of Christ. (His blood was precious not because it was different in kind from the blood of other men, but because it was His.) To return to the religion of shadows and copies, and to sacrifices of mere animals and away from Christ is to move from much more to much less. It is always this way with apostasy.
The new covenant promises to faith a radical change of heart (8:10). This is the cleansed conscience, a benefit which comes because the blood of Christ the Mediator cleanses. Christ is not a Mediator Who simply passes on information from God. He is One Who has acted to change His people so that they will be the transformed people Jeremiah predicted under the new covenant.
The Contrast “Acts that lead to death” (like 6:20) – or better dead works – is a way to look at sin from one angle. As transgression, sin disobeys; as defilement, sin is unclean. To speak of cleansing as 9:14 does, is to view sin as filth. Death is sin’s consequence. It is the execution of the sentence of condemnation. Death is a broken communion with God; its beautiful opposite is to “serve the living God.” The word serve is commonly used for worship. The OT priest could offer sacrifices of blood, and had to do so. With forgiveness and cleansing from sin secured by Christ, we may approach to offer the sacrifice of praise (13:15). This is a kind of service common to all of God’s people as a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5).
& Moses Christ is the Mediator of a new covenant.
Moses was the mediator of the old one (Galatians 3:19; see also the contrast in
Hebrews 12:18-29). Moses could not guarantee any inheritance.
Our Mediator is the Guarantor (7:22) of the new covenant.
Unlike Moses, Christ does bring His sons to glory and also makes them holy
(2:9-11). With Christ, it is not that two get in (Caleb and Joshua), but that
none will be lost (John 6:39; Jeremiah 23:4-6).
The Promise 9:15 does not elaborate on the promised inheritance. 6:13 and 11:9,11 speak of the promise to Abraham. This promise was covenanted (Genesis 15). The law in Moses’ day did not replace the earlier promise to Abraham (Galatians 3:15-18). As law-breakers they could never inherit the land, but that was not what settled the issue. Receiving the inheritance was certain because God had promised it to Abraham and his children. Since obedience is required and found nowhere else, the condition is fulfilled by the covenant keeping of Christ. We are heirs only because we are joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Christ is the promised Seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). All who belong to Christ are Abraham’s true seed since they have been joined to the One Who is the Seed of Abraham. That is all that is needed to guarantee to them as heirs the promise to Abraham (Galatians 3:29; 4:28-31).
The new covenant is also promised in Jeremiah (Hebrews 8:6-13), but this is different from the promise to Abraham only in detail, not in kind. To Abraham and his children, God promised to be their God (Genesis 17:7,8).  In the new covenant the Lord repeats that He will be their God (8:10). In sending Christ, God remembered “his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (Luke 1:72-75). This revelation makes clear that the covenant with Abraham, and the new covenant promise of access to serve the living God, are both fulfilled in the covenant Mediator, Christ.
The Great Surprise In any covenant God makes, He requires absolute obedience. Disobedience is always punishable by death. The great question is how a holy God can take into a covenant relationship with Himself people who are sinners. It is not that He takes in people who may become sinners later; the surprise is that each person after Adam is already worthy of death at the time he or she enters a covenant with the Lord. This kind of covenant – a holy God with a sinful creature unable in himself to obey – is astounding to imagine (Habakkuk 1:13). Such a bond could never even begin unless God already had in mind a comprehensive remedy. He has one in Jesus, our most unusual Mediator! This Mediator of the new covenant is the reason those who are called receive their inheritance.
Christ & Adam To see the big picture, one must step back to see the original covenant God made with man. In that covenant God was one party and Adam the other. There was no third party, no mediator; none was needed. Then Adam sinned and the sanction of the broken covenant fell on him: Adam died and all who were in him died to God because of Adam’s transgression (Romans 5:15,17). Yet in the beginning of our history, God promised a Savior (Genesis 3:15); He would put a Mediator between Himself and us (1 Timothy 2:5). Ages later (9:26) Jesus as that Mediator inaugurated a new covenant. Sinners cannot meet the unchanging requirement of obedience, and the penalty for disobedience we can bear only by suffering for our sin in hell forever. The only way this new covenant succeeds is that God is on both sides of it. He is faithful as covenant Lord, and He has been sent as the new covenant Man from heaven (Isaiah 42:6; 49:8; 1 Corinthians 15:47), Who when tested proved to be faithful (2:17; 3:1-6). We must not miss how very gracious it is that God would have a covenant with sinners where all the covenant requirements fall back on the Lord Himself – yet not on the Lord as God, but on the Lord God as our incarnate covenant Man (Romans 5:19). This is the only way the necessary faithfulness can be found on both sides of the covenant.
The Blood of the Mediator Making a covenant in Hebrew idiom is “cutting” a covenant. When a covenant was made, an animal was slaughtered and its blood, as in Exodus 24:8, was an objective sign to ratify the covenant, i.e., to begin it officially. This ritual would impress on the mind that covenant breaking would result in death. When Jesus inaugurated the new covenant, He too used blood to ratify it when He said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). No blood was sprinkled on the disciples that night; no threat of their bloodshed was made!! Instead the cup of the Covenant Keeper’s blood was passed to covenant-breakers, men whose blood He did not spill in judgment, men He would redeem with His blood. Just as eating and drinking sustains life, they benefit from the blood shed for them on the cross. The new covenant placed their sins on the Mediator! God Himself bore human sin for sinners. (Such grace is unheard of!) Within hours of that meal Jesus in death would drink the cup of wrath for them, but those who deserved it drank a cup of blessing (1 Corinthians 10:16). For Jesus to give thanks for that cup and give it to them, was unlike other covenants in blood. It was for His people the very opposite of a covenantal curse for a potential infraction. The cup of His blood implied that He would die as a ransom to set them free from the curse that the first covenant pronounced on sin. The new covenant pronounces no curse for those in it; it speaks a better word (12:24) – the forgiveness of our wickedness (8:12). In the new covenant, blessing and cursing are not combined (note James 3:9-12). Because Christ is the Guarantor of the new covenant’s success, its fulfillment rests on Him alone. God cannot curse the faithfulness of Christ, and His is the only human faithfulness in view in the new covenant, a faithfulness which, in turn, secures ours.
Until the last Passover Supper, old covenant ritual was an obligation for God’s people; then there at the same table and time, Jesus finished one ritual with animal blood and inaugurated the new covenant in His. That night the new order began. The old order (with animal blood) ceased; never again would they be required to keep the Passover with the bloodshed of a lamb. Christ our Passover has been sacrificed (1 Corinthians 5:7). A new worship obligation replaced the old one. The “Do this in remembrance of Me” sacrament replaced a do-this-in-anticipation-of-Me Passover. In the new covenant, we are not under the old covenant in worship, practice, sacrifices, or threat. This is not to deny the lasting validity of the covenant of works. Sin brings death. Those apart from Christ face God without a mediator. For the person who is in Christ, the covenant of works has also been satisfied in the death of Christ so that no threat remains (Romans 8:1).
Eternal Inheritance (9:15) – Eternal Redemption (9:12) 9:15 deals with receiving an inheritance, sin which loses inheritance, and the redemption necessary to preserve it. Had Adam obeyed he would not have lost the world he was given. By means of his obedience, he would have kept the inheritance he entered at creation. Had Jesus not died as a ransom, Abraham and his children could not receive the promised inheritance that still awaits us (11:8; 11:39). The meek – who do not make a false claim of faithfulness – will inherit the earth as a gracious provision (Matthew 5:5). Adam lost the world, but Abraham would become heir of it because of the righteousness (of Christ) that he would receive by faith (Romans 4:13). Since he received it, such righteousness was not his native obedience. Abraham died in faith rejoicing he would see the day of Christ (John 8:56), Who would gain the inheritance for him. The eternal inheritance of 9:15 would require first the eternal redemption of 9:12.
Those Who Are Called Those God loved in advance (the meaning of “foreknew”) and chose in eternity, He also in our history called, justified, and glorified (Romans 8:28-30). The eternal inheritance is based on an eternal redemption for those whom God in His eternal purpose called to salvation (Ephesians 3:11). (See Appendix H: For Whom Did Christ Die?)
When those who are called believe in Christ Who died for their covenant breaking and obeyed for their covenant faithfulness, we may speak sincerely such covenant language as “God is our God, and we are His people”. In Christ we have all things graciously secured for us (Romans 8:32): an accomplished redemption in the past, forgiveness in the present, and a future inheritance both certain and eternal.
9:16-22 A Necessary Death The emphases of 9:14,15 has been on benefits that come from the death of Christ. Next, the writer gives other reasons a death was necessary. Two examples follow, one of which (vv.16,17) is unusual for Hebrews since it does not come from the Old Testament. A will is not in force unless the one who made that will has died. Death releases the benefits in a will. While the testator is alive the beneficiary receives nothing. This simple point is that apart from Christ’s death, no promised benefit can come to anyone unless Christ’s ransom settles the debt of sin.
Then with a death drawn from the Old Testament, the
writer reminds them that covenants were sealed in blood. The old covenant at
Sinai was put into effect when blood was sprinkled on the people and the place
(Exodus 24:3-8). For this ratification to happen, animals died so their blood
could be used that way. With such a ritual it was official and public that
The Ministries of Christ and the Levitical Priests
His own blood
Cleansing of the conscience
Of Levitical priests
Sanctuary on earth
Blood of goats and calves
External cleansing of the body
9:23 one of the puzzling verses in the book of Hebrews.
We should face this verse certain of these things:
Hebrews speaks of two cleansings: one external and ceremonial and the other a
cleansing of the conscience. The Day of Atonement had a cleansing rite even for
Two puzzling things appear in 9:23:
1.) the reference to the work of Christ with the plural word “sacrifices” (“better sacrifices”).
2.) the statement that the heavenly things are purified.
Both are solved if we remember that it is quite natural when making a comparison or contrast to repeat words even where they do not fit in an identical way. This is intended to make the parallel more obvious.
An illustration: in one school, uniforms are required, and in the other one they are not. A boy may say, “You have school uniforms, but my uniform is whatever my mother gives me.” Note that the boy uses the word “uniform” the second time to indicate that he does not have a uniform! This happens so often in our speech that we do not notice it. We say things we do not mean literally in order to heighten a contrast.
In Hebrews we are told many times that there is one sacrifice for sin (10:10,12). V.23 simply contrasts sacrifices by using comparison language the way the boy does in the illustration above. Hebrews means something like this, “These sacrifices are better than those sacrifices.” The text is NOT being specific as to number but to promote the contrast, it maintains parallel language.
The cleansing of the heavenly things is more difficult and has been met with many suggested solutions. Some will say that the “heavenly things” refer to the redeemed people. That is a way of solving the problem by changing the meaning of “the heavenly things”. That will not work; the context is clear (as in v.24) the expression the heavenly things refers to the heavenly sanctuary.
The solution I suggest is that we ought not to press any analogy too far. If we were to press the analogy that Christ and His church are Husband and Bride, we would end up with ridiculous conclusions. The shadows of the OT were not intended to give detailed parallels. Instead of reasoning that something in heaven is in need of cleansing, we should back up to firmer ground and view this in light of all the book has said so far. If we do, we may end up with a conclusion like this:
Just as the OT priest
worked in the setting of earthly things – offering sacrifices to cleanse the
earthly sanctuary – on the other side of this comparison, we move from mere
copy to the heavenly sanctuary itself. This other reality is referred to as
“the heavenly things”. Associated with the heavenly place is better blood than
Levitical priests brought to cleanse the
I may be wrong, but I understand the verse this way:
It was necessary, then, for the copies [on the earth side of the analogy] of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but [on the other side of this analogy] the heavenly things themselves [also have an important purification concerning them which was done] with better sacrifices [i.e., Christ’s, but the plural maintains the parallel] than these [animal sacrifices].
We must consider the verse in its context: The ransom death sets free from sin (9:15). For benefits in a will to be released, a death is necessary (9:16,17). To inaugurate a covenant, there must be a death to provide the blood of that covenant (9:18-20). Likewise, blood was necessary to purify many other things (9:21,22); it is, in fact, a general rule of OT ritual. But when it comes to forgiveness of sin, the rule without exception is that there must be bloodshed (9:22). It is the same way with heavenly things: just as blood was required to purify the copies, purification by Christ’s blood is necessary in the forgiveness that occurs in the non-physical heavenly sanctuary. The point of the context is that death is essential. We will be sidetracked with no context to help us if we delve into a question of how the heavenly sanctuary itself might be the object of some necessary purification different from the one required for our sin. Hebrews give no evidence of any other kind of cleansing.
25 The Lord Jesus never served at the altar
connected to the temple in
Note in light of v.23, that we have again an example of saying one thing in terms of the established ritual, so well known under the old covenant. Jesus did not offer in heaven, nor did he go with blood (see notes on 9:12 above). The established imagery in the readers’ minds is what went on in the Old Testament; Hebrews reflects from that standpoint. Jesus did not make an offering in heaven; His offering was on earth. The writer keeps up the parallel long enough to state sharply the major differences now being addressed: a different sanctuary, a different number of times, with different blood. Hebrews moves from the familiar ritual to its substance, substance the ritual was designed to portray.
9:26 If Christ’s offering were not effective in one offering, He would have to offer again and again. If one offering for all time is not adequate, then the sins of all times, including the earlier ones, would have needed multiple offerings. If one offering by Christ is insufficient, His multiple offerings would need to begin whenever sin began right at the beginning of our history. Such is one implication of not having one effective atonement.
Christ did not appear at the beginning of human history, or when the first promise was made about Him. He appeared at the end of those previous ages. This shows that His sacrifice was effective for the salvation of those He saved before He ever came to earth. (How were sins forgiven in the Old Testament? By the blood of Christ.)
To do away with sin Hebrews does not look on the atonement as a provision of God that is made effective by the response of the sinner. It is the work of Christ itself that does away with sin. This includes doing away with the sin of unbelief, hardness of heart, and whatever sinful resistance is found in those God calls. Since the sacrifice truly does away with sin, it surely saves those Christ died for. Sin is not put away by our faith; it was put away by His sacrifice.
9:27,28 The emphasis on the necessity of this death has merged into its one-time aspect. This, as is typical of Hebrews, was mentioned early (7:27) and not developed at that point. Now in 9:12,25,26 it has much more attention. (This demonstrates that repetition of important themes is vital to sermons.) The necessity of Christ’s death was given with a number of parallels; now the writer parallels the “once only” of His death to the fact that men die only once. (The animals sacrificed under the old covenant died only once too.) So too, Christ would die one time. One can only wonder if those who rejected the sacrifice of the Messiah, might have argued that such a death would need to be multiple as it was with the sacrifices of the old system. Maybe this is why Hebrews argues that such an idea is contrary to the situation with other human deaths; men die once and then face judgment. (We are not certain of all the error Hebrews was written to refute.)
One additional benefit of this verse is to set straight the sober truth that after a man’s death, he will face the judgment. It counters the false view of a “second chance”. It also says that we are appointed to death. Death for man is a firm decision by the Lord; He has appointed death for all men. In giving eternal life to His children, death is the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26). We in Adam participated in his sin. Christ is our “second chance”; there will be no third.
Hebrews teaches by making contrasts – another feature in this model of good preaching. The writer’s sense that Christ was sacrificed but once, leads naturally to pointing out a plural. Jesus’ death is the one-time sacrifice of one Man for the many sins of many persons. It is likely that the death-then-judgment way of speaking suggests that Christ’s sacrifice was a judgment on Him for us. It does say (again) that it was for the removal of sin. It says in 9:28 that He bore sin, so what could He bear but sin’s judgment? The text moves from saying men die once, to Christ’s singular death. I think this is a double parallel: men die once and then judgment, and He died once as a judgment. We can be forgiven because Jesus Who bore our sins was not forgiven for them.
When a priest would enter the
Hebrews 9 In 9:15 Jesus died to set free from sin a specific group of people described as “those who are called.” The description, the “called”, is not of the total population of the world; it refers only to the ones who receive the promised eternal inheritance. Those set free from sin, those who are called, those who inherit, and those for whom the ransom was paid are the same persons. Further, the text assumes that those for whom He died as a ransom to set free are indeed set free. It would be foreign to this verse, and an insinuation of failure, to suggest that Christ died to set a group of people free, when some never are.
1) What of the Bible’s use of “all” as the ones for whom Jesus died? (This word in 2:9 appears in others places such as 2 Corinthians 5:14,15). In 1 Corinthians 15:22 – “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” – the two uses of all do not refer to the same people. Thus the word must be distinguished by its context.
2) What of Jesus’ death for “the whole world” (1 John 2:2)? A Jewish believer aware that Christ’s death was not for the sins of just “us Jews”, could speak of the enlarged scope of salvation which includes Gentiles as being for “the whole world”. In the same epistle (1 John 5:19) the words “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (ESV) cannot refer to every man on earth, because not all are under the control of the devil, according to Hebrews 2:14,15. So in 1 John 2:2 “whole world” does not need to mean each and every person in the world. It must mean though the broad range of persons in all the world in every language and culture. (See also John 12:19 for a sweeping use of this term that cannot include everybody. It is also from the pen of the Apostle John.)
Effective or Ineffective? The choice is whether the atonement is limited in its power – i.e., He died for all, but His atoning death does not actually save all those for whom the sacrifice was made. OR, the atonement is particular and intentional in its scope of redemption – i.e., He died for all His own (whom He also calls), and His death effectively secured the salvation of each one. I urge that the sacrifice of Christ was intentional in its goal and that God delivers the salvation to His elect by bringing them and only them to Christ. I decline the view that the work of Christ becomes effective by the response of the sinner. Salvation occurs at God’s initiative because Jesus died as a ransom to set free the ones God has called (Romans 8:28-30).
In John 10: Sheep vs. Not My Sheep The Lord Jesus spoke of sheep which were not yet brought in, but which He would also bring, v.16 (election, because He has them, and irresistible grace, because He will bring them). They will hear, v.27 (effectual calling) and follow, v.27 (perseverance). They will never perish, v.28 (preservation). No one can snatch them out of my hand v.28, and my Father’s hand, v.29 (preservation). Some are not His sheep, v.26 (reprobation). Concerning others: My Father … has given them to me (election). Of others, “You do not believe because you are not part of my flock”, v.26 (depravity implied). The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep, v.11 (particular atonement).
In John 10, if not given by the Father, such a soul will not believe. All persons given by the Father will believe. These are His sheep, and are known to be so by their response of hearing and following. The others are not His sheep. He lays down His life for His sheep. “For His sheep” in John 10 is a phrase which excludes the rejecters addressed in that chapter. Christ did not lay down His life for them. The Bible does not teach a universal atonement or an ineffective one.
 I often recommend the New King James Version. Here it disappoints when it says , “with His own blood He entered…”. The Greek preposition in 9:12 is dia not syn. Did Jesus go with His blood, meaning that His shed blood accompanied Him to be presented before God? No. The NKJV undoubtedly does not intend to convey that thought, but the translation allows it. The King James itself did not use with but by!
 It is an aorist participle. The English Standard Version renders this: “thus securing an eternal redemption.” I think “having secured” is better. This securing is related to Christ’s blood, so it is not necessary to take the ESV to mean that the securing of eternal redemption happened after the cross. Nevertheless, the aorist in 9:12 refers to a past action.
Philip E. Hughes points out that this may have appealed very much to those in
the Qumran community who did not recognize the temple worship in
 Genesis 17 is the first specific wording that God would be Abraham’s God. He did worship and call on the Lord prior to this explicit language in chapter 17. It is interesting that Melchizedek’s benediction was that Abram should be blessed by God Most High. Possibly the Holy Spirit has shown by this that having the covenant relation is a blessing conferred by priestly intercession. In the new covenant as developed by Hebrews this is surely so.