This chapter compares and contrasts the Old Covenant sanctuary (Tabernacle, 9:1-5) with all of its functions and the New Covenant sanctuary, which is where Jesus Christ now ministers, in heaven. The author wants us to understand that the New Covenant sanctuary and the work of the Great High Priest is far superior to any earthly counterpart.
God ordained all that was in the Old Covenant: The Tabernacle, its ministers, the priests, and articles (Lampstand, Table of Showbread, Incense Altar and Ark of The Covenant) and regulations. Though divine in their origin and pattern, these were temporary, mere earthly representations foreshadowing better, greater, heavenly realities.
The lampstand points to Jesus Christ the Light of the World. The Table and Bread of Presence point us to God’s provision in sending Jesus the Bread of Life. The Golden Altar reminds us of Jesus Christ and his continual ministry of intercession for his Bride. Finally, the Ark of the Covenant reminds us of the blood of Christ shed for us, Jesus being our “mercy seat” or propitiation.
Not only were the physical objects symbolic, so were the actions of the priests. They served regularly in the Tabernacle performing their duties, offering sacrifices for sin, both in front of and behind the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. God’s presence was inaccessible to regular worshippers: only the priests had direct access to God the Most High.
These earthly objects and functions were temporary, pointing to their heavenly and eternal counterparts. We no longer need the building, the priests, or the regular sacrifices of the slaughtered animals. The animal blood offered as a sacrifice for sin could not change the heart. It did not bring moral purity. There is no remission of sin or purification from sin without the shedding of blood. All of this was fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ who willingly offered himself, as the once for all, final, complete sacrifice for sin. He provides eternal redemption and he changes the human heart.
Believer in Christ, our works or sacrifices will never merit the favour of God. This is given to you, imputed to you, because of Christ’s finished work on your behalf. In him you have an eternal inheritance of blessing. His work of redemption is sufficient and is finished. His ministry of intercession is effective and continues. Jesus stands in our place, on our behalf before his Father.
Both Covenants were established by blood but Christ is the better sacrifice. He is the mediator of the New Covenant. He is the spotless Lamb of God. His is a one-time sacrifice of his own blood, putting away all sin for all who trust in him. Through Christ we have been cleansed and purified.
When Jesus died, the veil in the Temple was torn, opening the way for anyone to come and live in God’s presence. Through his shed blood we have complete access into the Holy of Holies. Therefore, we ought to come boldly to the throne of grace and find God’s grace as we journey through life eagerly anticipating our eternal home in God’s presence.
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV)
Father, thank you for sending your Son to be the Saviour of the world, the new and better way. What we could not do, what sacrifices could never cover, what good works could never earn, Christ has done for us, and we are eternally grateful. Indeed, by the cross, it is finished!
Christ is our boast and our hope. In him, the old is gone and the new is come. Come Lord Jesus. We are eagerly awaiting your return, and our homegoing. In your glorious matchless name we pray. Amen.
Lead Pastor Jody Cross
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1 ESV)
With these opening words from Hebrews 1, we find the first of five admonitions in this letter. This strong warning alerts us to not neglect our salvation, and thereby protect ourselves from drifting away from biblical truth.
As you consider your own walk of faith, reflect upon how easy it is to drift spiritually. Isn’t it easy to become distracted, complacent, or comfortable? When we do, significant problems arise in our lives. The devil is all too ready to influence us to neglect God’s Word, prayer and corporate worship. However, as we read in this chapter, the war of the ages was fought and won at the cross, and we stand on the side of the Victor, Jesus Christ who,
…himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14b-15 ESV)
This chapter helps us to realize how great a salvation we have. This salvation was purchased through the incarnation and death of Jesus at a great cost and provides great blessings and promises. Here we understand that what was given to humanity at creation and subsequently lost in the fall, was restored at the cross, and will be fully realized in glory. Next to the Gospel accounts, Hebrews speaks of the humanity of Jesus more than any other New Testament letter.
In verses 6-9 the writer here quotes Psalm 8:4-6, speaking of the exalted role given to humanity. To Adam and Eve was given the creation mandate, reflecting God’s image as they ruled over creation as God intended and commanded (Genesis 1:26-28). That however, was not fulfilled in Adam, for rather than ruling over creation we were ruined by sin. However, thanks be to God, Jesus shared in our humanity and restored what was destroyed and lost.
The great cost paid was Jesus coming to earth in the incarnation. He was made like us in every way, except he was without sin. The Word became flesh (John 1:14), shared our humanity, tasted death for us, and is now crowned with glory and honour at the Father’s right hand.
One troubling verse in this passage is this,
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10 ESV)
What does this mean that Jesus was made perfect through suffering? Was he not perfect? Was he sinful and then was made sinless? Commentators understand this to mean, not that Jesus was sinful but that rather, in his suffering Jesus demonstrated obedience to God’s will, and to the cross, and thus through suffering, fully identifies with humanity and thus fully qualifies as our representative and substitute. Through his work of atonement, Jesus reversed the effects of the fall, defeated the devil and gives life and freedom to a world enslaved and without hope.
As brothers and sisters of the Lord, as children of God, as offspring of Abraham, we have this assurance that Jesus has been where we are. He has suffered (like we will never understand). He has been tempted and therefore can help us, coming to our aid as a faithful, merciful High Priest. This is our great salvation; let us not neglect it or the One who gives it.
Father, we praise You for so great a salvation purchased at so great a cost. Hallelujah, what a Saviour is Christ our Lord. Man of sorrows, thank You for all You have done for us.
Prone to wander, Lord, we feel it. O conqueror of Evil, lead us not into temptation and deliver us from the snares of the evil one. You have walked this road and You can help us. Do help us Lord, we are weak but You are mighty. O come to our aid and help us to live to Your praise. Amen.
Lead Pastor Jody Cross