The last paragraph in Hebrews 9 is a summary of the author’s argument in chapter 9. In his summary, he steps back and restates the comparison in broader terms, from Aaron and Jesus to the copies and the heavenlies. The earthly priesthood of Aaron is a shadow of the realities of the priesthood of Christ. It is from these shadows that our author draws his theological conclusions.
The foremost comparison between shadows and realities pertains to sacrifices. The author returns to the Day of Atonement analogy in this final paragraph. The earthly things that the priest purified on the Day of Atonement were the tabernacle, altar, and so forth. What, then, are the “heavenly things”?
Some scholars propose that the heavenly things are believers. In 9:14, the author states that Christ’s sacrifice was able to purify his conscience from dead works. In other words, Christ’s sacrifice was able to affect an entire, an eternal cleansing, not merely a superficial cleansing like the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. His sacrifice allowed him to enter not the Most Holy Place of the earthly tabernacle, but the very presence of God himself in heaven where he now intercedes for believers.
The reason the author is certain of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice is that the sacrifice occurred only once. Logically, if it had to be repeated, then it could not result in eternal atonement or affect salvation. Physically, Jesus could not be sacrificed more than once. He came only once; he died only once (like any man), and the next time he comes it will not be to die, but to deliver those who “eagerly await for him.”—Those who have trusted in Christ’s work alone for their spiritual cleansing.