The Book of Hebrews #28 chapter 8:1-13 pt. 2
The Book of Hebrews
The New Covenant, Part 2
Hebrews 8:1-13
 
Last week we began our study of Hebrews 8 where the author is continuing his discussion of the superiority of Jesus as High Priest.
 
The first thing he mentions is that Jesus is superior because of where He is seated.  He is at the right hand of God.  That is significant, most obviously, because He is seated.  Priests didn’t sit because their work was never finished.  But Jesus work, as far as our salvation is concerned, is finished and therefore He is seated.
 
It is also significant because of where He is seated.  He is at the right hand.  It is the place of exaltation and authority, as well as the place of forgiveness.
 
So His seat is superior.
 
Secondly, He is superior because of
 
2. His Sanctuary
 
Notice verse 2
 
Jesus isn't a priest in the earthly Tabernacle or the early Temple. He is a priest in the true one, which the Lord pitched and not man. God's got His own Holy of Holies. He functions as a priest, but not in the earthly temple, but in the heavenly dwelling place of God. That's where He sits.
 
 
And it says He is a minister. This comes from two Greek words, one meaning “belonging to the people”, and the other “to work”.  So the priest is one who works on behalf of the people. He is one who ministers for our sake.
 
 That’s a rather captivating thought isn’t it?  Jesus Christ, in all of His glory, in all of His magnitude, in all of His exaltation in heaven, is still preoccupied with ministering to me. Is that not unbelievable?
 
He is always serving. Even though He is seated in the place of authority and exaltation in Heaven, He is still interested in me.  It is in Jesus Christ that majesty and service are perfectly met together.
 
Now, notice the word "sanctuary." It's a word that means "the holies".  In other words, He is a minister of the holies, which would be a combination of the holy place and the Holy of Holies. What is this? This is heaven itself.
 
I think that means that heaven itself is God's holy place. In 9:24 of Hebrews, it says, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven," and there heaven is synonymous with the true holy places.
 
God's holy place is heaven. And if you want another cross-reference, check out Psalm 102:19, which calls heaven God's sanctuary. And so it is that God has a holy place in heaven, and that's where Jesus ministers.
 
 
And notice, He calls it the true Tabernacle. And the word "true" is not here used in an opposite sense from false. He is not saying the true Tabernacle as opposed to the tabernacles of the heathen, or the temples of the heathen idols. He is using the word "true" in contrast with something that is shadowy and unreal, the difference between n unclear thing and that which is obvious.  The true one is abiding, solid and real.
 
In other words, there is a real world and there is a shadowy world and we’re not living in the real world.  This earth is not the real world. The Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple were not the real or the true places where priests ministered.  They were just shadows and types and pictures and reflections, all from the pattern, which is heaven. They are just copies.
 
The earthly Temple, the earthly Tabernacle, is a place that is only a copy of the real temple of God. Earthly worship is only a remote reflection of real worship when we get to heaven. The earthly priesthood is only an inadequate shadow of the real priesthood.
 
All the way back in Exodus 25:40, and it'll be quoted for you down in verse 5 in a minute, you'll find that when Moses received the instructions about the Tabernacle and all of its furnishings, that God had said to him, "Make the stuff on earth after the pattern I showed you on the Mount.”  In other words, God allowed Moses a little glimpse into heaven so He could see the real deal and then pattern what was on the earth after it.
 
Then in verse 3 the author gets into a little more detail regarding the ministry in the sanctuary.
 
No there is an obvious question raised by talking about Jesus being seated in Heaven and His work being finished and it is, "Well, if He's finished His work and He's sitting down up there in heaven , what has He got to do?"
 
And that is a logical, practical question because the spiritual well-being of the people depends upon the activity of the priest.  Every high priest is appointed to be ministering so if Jesus is a legitimate high priest, He'll be busy. He'll be ministering in the area of gifts and sacrifices.
 
That is what is meant by the phrase, "Wherefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer."
 
In other words, if priests stay busy offering gifts and sacrifices, then Jesus has to do it also because He is the perfect priest. Again, looking through the Jewish lens, it could be said, "Well, Jesus is no priest at all. He may be up there just sitting around. If He hasn't got anything to do then there's no ministry there. He's not a true priest." And so the writer simply says this. "Every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices, so it is necessary that this man do it as well."
 
So the responsibility of the priest involved two different kinds of offerings.  One was called gifts; the other was sacrifices. The easiest way to distinguish between the two was that one required bloodshed and one didn’t.
With the meal offering, for instance or grain offering, you just brought them as they were. But the other kind, such as lambs and goats and bulls were the sacrifices of blood.  And the author is simply saying every priest is involved in both kinds of offerings, bloodless meal offerings or gifts, and blood offerings which are called sacrifices for sin. So if Jesus is a true high priest, He will do both of these.
 
Did Jesus Christ offer sacrifice requiring bloodshed? Obviously He did. He offered the sacrifice of Himself.
 
But what about gifts? Does He minister in the area of gifts, and if so what are they?
 
To understand that, it helps to go back to the Old Testament and see what the types and shadows and pictures tell us about meal offerings.  All of the meal offerings had to do with thanksgiving and dedication.
 
When a man brought a meal offering, he was thanking God and dedicating his life to God. It was an act of dedication. It had nothing to do with the forgiveness of sin or an atonement for sin. It was personal dedication, personal commitment. And what he's doing is praising God and thanking God and acknowledging God in his life and committing himself to live for God. That's what those sacrifices or those offerings meant.
 
Now watch how this works for us.  None of us can praise God or dedicate ourselves to God or even worship or thank God unless we do it through Jesus.  Why not?  Because we have no access to God.  We always come to God by Him.  And if you don’t come through Jesus, you don’t come at all.
So, in a sense, Christ continues even now to minister gifts to God with our gifts in that we bring them to God through Him.   And as we bring the thanks and the praise and the worship of our hearts and the dedication of our lives to present them to God, Christ takes those gifts of our thanks, praise, worship and dedication and offers them to God.
 
He gave the gift of Himself in sacrifice one time and He continues to minister in the area of gifts on behalf of every child of God in every age on a perpetual basis.  Therefore, He is a legitimate priest who offers sacrifice and gifts.
 
Verse 4
 
Now, why wouldn't Christ have been a priest if it were an earthly priest?  He was from the wrong tribe.  He wasn’t qualified to be a priest according to earthly standards.
 
And again, thinking like a Jew, I might be wondering, "Well, if He's a priest, then what's He doing up there? Why doesn't He come down here where we need Him?"
 
The answer is He can't be on earth ministering because He didn’t meet God’s criteria for earthly priests.  God set a certain ceremonial law in motion. That priesthood exists on earth. And God doesn’t bend the rules or make exceptions even for Himself, plus, that priesthood functioned the way it was supposed to.
 
What Jesus did was function in a different priestly responsibility that only He could fulfill because it wasn’t an earthly, but a heavenly setting.
Verse 5
 
He’s talking about the priest in verse 4 who serve on the earth.  There ministry is an “example and shadow of heavenly things."
 
Then he quotes from Exodus 25, which I mentioned a moment ago, to talk about the pattern and the real.  Moses saw the real thing and patterned what he made after it.
 
Now if what is on earth is patterned after what is in heaven and Jesus ministers in Heaven, His must be a superior priesthood because He’s in the real and not the model.
 
He cannot be one in the earthly priesthood because He's in the wrong tribe. But that’s OK because earthly priests took care of things just like God designed.  And they are only temporary examples anyway because what was in Heaven where Jesus is ministering was the original.
 
In fact, the word "example" means sketch, outline or copy. It's translated "copies" in chapter 9, verse 24. This was only a copy of the real. This whole economy, this whole system of priests in the Old Testament, was only a copy.
 
Then he says it was a shadow.  And that word really needs no explanation.  But think about it what a shadow is, or maybe better said, what it isn’t.
 
Did you know that a shadow has no independent substance, or independent existence? It has no existence at all. It exists only as proof of the fact that there's a reality somewhere.
When you see a shadow, you can be sure something is making the shadow. The shadow has no independent existence at all. And that is true of the Aaronic priesthood. If there had been no original priesthood in Heaven, there would have been no shadow of it on the earth with Aaron and the Levites because shadows don’t exist by themselves.  
 
And so, simply stated, Jesus is a better priest because He has a superior sanctuary, one in heaven, which is the real, and not the copy. And, as well, He is seated, which no priest ever, ever thought of doing, for his work was never done.
 
Then He moves in verse 6 to make a transition to His final point. "But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises." What's He saying?
 
3.  Superior Covenant
 
And we’ll talk about that next week.

 

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