Question: Please explain Hebrews 9: 27.
Answer: Hebrews 9: 27: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
This Scripture is misunderstood by many Christians, who assume that this passage teaches that immediately following one’s death, sentence is passed upon the individual regarding his eternal destiny. Instead, the Apostle Paul is giving a lesson on type and antitype. He is comparing the work of the Jewish high priest every year with the work of Christ and telling how these earthly high priests went into the holy of the tabernacle and afterwards into the most holy. The high priest first took with him the blood of a bullock, and then the blood of a goat. He went into the holy, and after the cloud of incense had passed through the second veil and covered the mercy seat, he went into the most holy, representing heaven itself.
The antitype is that the Lord Jesus offered up Himself as the bullock, which represented Jesus as a man; and the goat represented the human nature of the Church. As High Priest, Jesus slew the bullock – at His baptism He offered the sacrifice of His humanity. The typical high priest took his two hands full of incense and crumbled it in the fire on the incense altar, which represented the three and one-half years of Jesus’ ministry. This picture of the incense falling upon the fire represented the glorious qualities of Jesus as He experienced the trials of life. In every case His faithfulness yielded a sweet perfume.
When Satan came to Him with temptation, His loyalty was an offering of sweet odor to God. When the suggestion came to Him to avoid giving what He had agreed to give, He put the temptation away and would have nothing to do with it. His sentiment was always, “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18: 11). The sweet incense went before Him and appeared in the presence of God before He finished His course at Calvary. His death upon the cross was the last crumb of incense falling into the fire, in the antitype. Then our High Priest went under the second veil – into death. He was under the second veil for parts of three days, arising on the other side of the second veil on the third day, which pictured Jesus’ resurrection. He arose on the spirit side of the second veil, a spirit being. Then, forty days later, He ascended into heaven and sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy, in heaven, the blood of Atonement on behalf of the Church.
Passing Under the Second Veil in Type and Antitype
The Apostle is explaining that the Jewish high priest did something of this kind in type. He went into the most holy of the tabernacle, not without blood. That blood in every case represented the blood of the high priest – his life. Every high priest, when he passed under the second veil on the day of atonement, was in danger of being stricken dead. If he had not done perfectly, according to the requirements of the Lord, he would have died as he attempted to pass under the second veil. Likewise, it would have meant eternal death to Jesus if He had not perfectly done the will of the Father.
Again, our text, “It is appointed unto men [men-priests] once to die [typically, in passing under the veil], but after this the judgment [decision].” The high priest typified his death in the sacrifice of the bullock and carrying its blood under the second veil. If the high priest had not done it perfectly, he died. The bullock represented the high priest. After he had sacrificed it, he passed with its blood under the second veil. The expression, “after this the judgment,” has no reference to the death of mankind, but merely to these high priests offering their sacrifice. Jesus died, passed the second veil, and was raised on the third day. After the high priest in the type had made his offering, and had passed beyond the second veil, and sprinkled the blood upon the mercy seat, he came out and blessed the people.
The Lord Jesus, the High Priest, has not yet come out to bless the people. Jesus went under the veil into the heavenly Holy over nineteen hundred years ago. He has not yet appeared for the blessing of the people, but “unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin [not as a sin offering] unto salvation” (Hebrews 9: 28).