I think you have incorrectly quoted Hebrews 9:16. What translation are you using?
In the various translations I have, Hebrews 9:16 does not mention a covenant but speaks of a will and the death of the one who made the will, the death of the testator. Verse 16 is not about a covenant, but about inheritence and execution of a will.
*For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. (RSV)
Now where there is a will, the death of the testator must be established. (NAB)
**For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. **(KJV)
**For where there is a testament, the death of the testator must of necessity come in. *(Houay-Rheims)
The entire passage is below.
For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance. Now where there is a will, the death of the testator must be established. For a will takes effect only at death; it has no force while the testator is alive. (Hebrews 9:15-17)
That’s the whole passage.
Jesus shed his own blood not to ratify the new covenant, but to satisfy the demands of the Old Covenant. That is the whole point of Paul’s letter to the Hebrews.
The covenant made with Moses and Isreal at Sinai demanded death for transgression of the rules of the covenant, and that is why they sacrificed animals. The priest and sinner would lay their hands on the animal, transfer the sin of the sinner to the animal, and then kill it. The demands of the covenant were thus satisfied.
Paul argues however, that the fact that animal sacrifice was repeated was an indication of its ineffectiveness. Paul states that Jesus’s death “Once for all” and the fact that it was not repeated, was a clear indication of it’s effectiveness and that the sacrifice was accepted by God. That’s the whole point of Paul’s letter to the Hebrews. Jesus died to fulfill the demand of the old covenant that there be a death for transgression of that old covenant.
Paul then uses Jewish laws about inheritence as a teaching tool. Jewish law about inheritance is not too far from our own.
those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance. Now where there is a will, the death of the testator must be established. For a will takes effect only at death; it has no force while the testator is alive.
The “Eternal inheritance” is Heaven --> Nobody gets an inheritance until the person who made the will dies --> Jesus who promised us the inheritence of Heaven died --> We get the eternal inheritance of Heaven.
But blood does ratify a covenant. You are absolutely correct about that. And you are also 100% correct that the Blood of Jesus on the Cross is what ratified the new covenant. Jesus both satisfied the demans of the old covenant with his death, and at the same time his blood ratified the new covenant.
But the fact that the blood in the cup was prior to Jesus death on the cross is not relevant. Jesus is God, the Second Person of the Trinity, through whom the universe was created out of nothing.
By 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. (Hebrews 11:3)
It was no mystery to Paul that the contents of the cup could appear to be wine yet be the unseen blood of the invisible Jesus. Paul clearly understood that something which apeared to be made out of one substance could indeed be made out of something else which was in fact invisible.
When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. (Luke 24:30-31)
Jesus vanished. Poof! Gone. Invisible. After the ressurection, Jesus could just appear and vanish at will. Is this not amazing? And is it not exactly consistent with what Catholics call the “Sacramental presence” of Jesus?
Something which is seen made out of something that is not seen. Appearing and then vanishing. The sacramental presence of Jesus. Paul understood this clearly. It was no mystery to him. He accepted it without hesitation, as did all the disciples and the early Christians immediately after Christ’s death and ressurection.
There was no question in their minds, nor mine either.