The presidential election cycle truly kicked off this week with the first announcement of one who is going to seek the highest office in the land. This is a selection process that ends with the one person who will represent all of us before the other nations of the world. If we don’t like the person who gets this job, we can complain and be sad about it, but after eight years at the most, he will be gone and another will take his place. It is all a big deal; we desire the very best representative.
And so it makes sense that we should desire the very best representative before the Creator God of the universe.
There was an old covenant, or agreement, between God and man that set up a system of priests to represent mankind before God. But, like presidents, these guys came and went. It would certainly be better to have a less transitional, changing and imperfect system than this! How much better it would be to have a permanent system with a perfect priest who never dies! And beyond that, how much superior it would be if this priest were not “far” from God on the earth, but rather with God in heaven itself! Now that would be cool!
And so the author, in setting up this entire argument and scenario begins in chapter 8 of Hebrews by saying that such a priest in such a system and in such a place truly does exist …
The High Priest of a New Covenant
8 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.
3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.
As we preach and teach through these and other passages, you surely note a pattern of conversation from us where we say that something is the “true” this, or the “true and better” that. Well, you can see that this phraseology comes from the Scriptures as in verse 2 today … “the true tabernacle.”
We tend to think that this life is the real world, the real life – that which casts shadows into eternity. In fact, it is the other way around. Eternal life is real; God’s work is the true reality, and it casts shadows into the earthly realm.
The entire earthly tabernacle / temple system was a shadow of the true tabernacle = the intercessional ministry of Christ in the presence of God in heaven. Moses was given commands to be very precise in the way he constructed the tabernacle, because it taught eternal truths in
every last detail.
Everything about the work of Christ is superior to the familiar experience of the readers of this letter, who, by the way, could still go to the temple and see the high priest doing his endless deeds. The temple had not yet been destroyed by the Romans, as it would be in 70 A.D.
Illustrations of these sorts of truths are always a bit shallow, but let me try this…
I am not a car guy. I dislike cars. I don’t care what they look like or if they are new or old, I just want them to work. I despise anything to do with repairs and maintenance. And getting gas, along with being a nuisance and annoyance, is simply terribly expensive.
But there comes a point where turning up the radio in the hopes that the clickity sound in the engine will fix itself becomes a lost cause, and I have to get the dumb thing to a garage. And after a while (in my case like 250,000+ miles), the car simply has to be replaced.
So imagine there was a car that you could receive freely at no cost to yourself, one that recharged itself freely on daylight. Beyond that, it never breaks down and needs repair. And it never gets old and needs to be replaced. Wow, who wouldn’t want that!
Jesus was like this new and better vehicle – a truly dependable priest in the very place to “truly meet our needs” (7:27). This too is the resource we have in Christ, and tomorrow we will talk about the terms of this new, true and better covenant.