Hebrews Lesson 123 April 24, 2008
NKJ Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
As I said before we prayed, we are in Hebrews 9:1 now. But, before we go into any detail in Hebrews 9:1 we need to take a little time to go back and see where we've come from in the first 8 chapters of Hebrews. We have spent about 3 months or so – maybe 4 – on the New Covenant. I don't know about most of you, but this morning when I started getting into Hebrews 9:1 I had to take a lot of time to go back over and get reoriented to just where the flow of thought was by the author of Hebrews. So often we don't take that time to go back and resettle. So I want to do that before we get started. So you can just open your Bibles if you want to follow along in our review to Hebrews 1.
So we'll go to Hebrews 1. We're going to sort of walk our way (or run our way) through Hebrews. As I pointed out at the beginning, we have these various sections in Hebrews. These sections in Hebrews are built around a teaching portion or a didactic portion where the writer of Hebrews is explaining doctrine. Much of this is being taken out of an Old Testament context.
We have to remember that he is writing to Jewish believers. It is assumed by the content of the book that these are priests (former priests) who are now wondering if they should not go back into Judaism, go back into (and desert Christianity) service in the Temple. That concept of serving in the Temple – that word "service" is a key word that is going to take on more significance as we get into chapter 9.
So each of these sections has a teaching portion and then at the end of the teaching portion there is an application, an exhortation. An exhortation is really nothing more than a challenge – a challenge to put into practice or to apply the principles that have just been laid out. So we have a teaching portion and then an exhortation. In most of the exhortations there is a warning – a warning not to fall away (not to become passive in your Christian life, not to just slip into neutral and kind of go through the motions), but to continue to pursue spiritual growth, spiritual maturity because we have a destiny with the Lord Jesus Christ to share in His inheritance to be joint heirs with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom and to serve with Him. What we are doing right now in our Christian lives is preparing us for that future time to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ.
So the book begins with a four verse prologue in the first section (the first four verses) which focuses our attention on the Son. He is identified as being the flashing forth of God's essence. He is identical with God's essence. The focus is on His sonship. That sonship isn't that He is the Son of God (which is the eternal aspect), but that He is the future heir which relates to the fact that He is the Son of Man. As the Son of Man He will ascend and sit at the right hand of God the Father. As the Son of Man, He will come back and He will establish His kingdom. As the Son of Man, He receives the inheritance.
So the focus in the first four verses is on Him as the future heir who is now seated. We are seated in Him. So we learn from these four verses that God has now spoken definitively and completely and finally in His Son.
NKJ Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
NKJ Hebrews 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
Nothing could surpass that so this is one argument for the cessation of revelation. The Son is appointed the heir of all things, we learn here.
When He had made purifications, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
NKJ Hebrews 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
That is a key phrase that we run into again and again and again through our study of Hebrews.
NKJ Hebrews 1:4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
That inheritance can't relate to His deity because in His deity He has always been better than the angels. So that inheritance has to be related to what He accomplished in His humanity.
Then in the next section we go down to verses 5 to 11. As you can tell looking at the text with the indentation these are comprised of a series of Old Testament quotations. What the writer does is he weaves together approximately 8 Old Testament quotations. He has 7 psalms and one quote from Isaiah (51:6) and he weaves these together in order to establish and document his point that the Messiah was expected to come and to rule and that He would fulfill all that God had intended for man. The conclusion comes in the last verse of the chapter, which is verse 14.
NKJ Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all
…referring to the angels.
ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?
Key word there – service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation. Jesus Christ in 1:4 is the heir. We will inherit salvation. It's a future concept. So we look at this idea of salvation as something that is future. It's phase 3. It's what we are rewarded with at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Having laid out this foundation of who Jesus is (is higher than the angels, as the one who is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high), the writer of Hebrews then goes into the exhortation and warning and says that if God has done all of this - sending the Second Person of the Trinity to become a man, having Him live His life on earth during the whole period of the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, His present session in heaven - if God has done all of this to establish this inheritance that we are going to get this inheritance salvation, how can we neglect it? If we're in this training process - how in the world once we grasp what God has provided for us - can we possibly let that just slide and become complacent about our destiny, our eternal destiny, what God is doing in our lives?
So we have a challenge then in the verse that is well known to many people. But usually it is applied to phase 1 salvation (justification-salvation) and it's verse 2:3.
NKJ Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape
…some kind of judgment, some kind of discipline.
if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him
The point he has made here is if Old Testament saints didn't listen to God and they were disciplined, how can we escape when we have a much better package than they had? This picks up one of the main themes that we have in the introduction in the first four verses: God has now spoken in His Son.
NKJ Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
If God has spoken that implies a response on our part to obey what He has spoken.
Verse 2 says:
NKJ Hebrews 2:2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,
How can we neglect our salvation? So we are challenged to press on.
Then we came to the second section. The didactic section here is a little bit longer. Each section gets a little longer. This is from 2:5 to 3:6. In chapter 2:5 the subject shifts to the role of man. Man is man. Why did God create Adam? Why did God put humanity on the planet? As God's representative we were destined to rule and reign over this planet. But when Adam sinned and caused the fall, the human race collapsed under the condemnation of sin. We were spiritually dead, separated from God. So for God to fulfill His plan He sent Himself (the Second Person of the Trinity) to become incarnate, to become a human being, to go through the whole life testing-suffering process to pass the test that Adam failed so that Christ then could succeed as the Second Adam to be the one who would as a human being rule and reign over the planet and fulfill God's initial plan for man. That's the theme of this whole section. It culminates in His royal high priestly ministry.
So in verses 5 through 9, (chapter 2:5-9) we see Jesus set forth as the one who is to fulfill the destiny of man to rule. He's the one - man is the one that God has appointed to rule over the works of His hands.
NKJ Hebrews 2:7 You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands.
NKJ Hebrews 2:8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.
But what we see in verse 9 is that He who is made a little lower than the angels - that the Second Person of the Trinity (Jesus)…
NKJ Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste
That is fully experience.
death for everyone.
NKJ Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him,
That is God the Father.
for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
So if Jesus has to go through the suffering and go through this process to be mature, how much more must we who are fallen and under the dominion of slavery to sin? So the point in verses 10 through 13 is that Jesus had to be a man and mature the same way we do and pass the test that Adam failed.
NKJ Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
That is verses 14-18. We see here that He shares in the same flesh and blood that we do. The result of this (vs. 17)…
that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest
Now stop a minute. Think about this. What the writer is doing so far up to 2:17 is to build a case. He is laying out a trajectory that is pointed to this whole Doctrine of the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ. That becomes the underlying doctrinal foundation for the rest of this epistle - working out, unpacking the implications of Christ's present high priestly ministry: that He went through all of these things in phase 2 of His life during the incarnation so…
in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
NKJ Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
So His priestly ministry is related to His sustenance, His aid to every believer in their spiritual life because He has gone through and been tested as we will see in chapter 4 – every way as we are. We have a High Priest who can identify with our testing. Once again it comes back to the high priestly idea.
So down through verse 18 we see the teaching about Jesus and His maturity. This leads to His role as a merciful and faithful high priest.
As we follow His pattern (We get into chapter 3), then we also will grow and we will share in that ruling destiny.
Again you should underline and point out and highlight in your Bibles (3:1 and again in Matthew) the mention of the fact that Jesus the apostle and high priest of our confession.
Now there is another word. This word "confession" pops up – that we are to hold fast to our confession later on. That means that we are to hold fast to our doctrine, to what we affirm to be true. If we believe something is true and it doesn't impact our lives, then does it really matter if we believe it's true? We ought to think about that. If you say you believe something is true (even if it's not something too earth shattering), if it's true it ought to change things in your life if you didn't believe it was true before. But if you believe something is true that is of the magnitude of what the Bible teaches and it doesn't change anything about your life or how you carry out your life or how you conduct yourself socially, how you conduct yourself in business, how you conduct yourself in your marriage, in your family, in things like that; then does it matter whether you believe it or not?
That's the kind of world in which we live. People want to compartmentalize our faith. For 200 years the pressure of the cosmic system has been to get Christians to go into a closet and compartmentalize their Christianity from everything else. It doesn't matter what you believe. That's fine - just keep it to yourself on Sunday morning. But don't get out into the marketplace of ideas and think you have the right to impact anybody else or challenge anybody else on the basis of what you believe. I mean they can impact people on the basis of what they believe and that's fine; but if you try to impact people on the basis of what you believe as a Christian - well, that's not acceptable. That's really where we are and where we've come in our culture.
It's been interesting the last week to watch and to read some of the responses to the Ben Stein film Expelled because the other side just doesn't get it.
One of the things that they don't get is they keep responding by saying, "Well, what these people want to do is introduce God into the classroom." They are right. They understand that in intelligent design, if there is an intelligence out there, the kind of intelligence out there that would design everything has to go beyond any creature. So they understand accurately that's where this automatically and necessarily goes. But you see, the failure that they have is that they think that it's wrong to have any kind of theistic, any kind of theism in the classroom because that's bringing religion into the classroom. But what they fail to understand (which shows the inherent irrationality of their whole thinking) is that if anything that is stated positively belongs in a category of thought, then if that same thing is stated negatively it also belongs in that same category of thought. In other words, if theism is religious; atheism is just as religious. A statement "there is a god" is just as religious as the statement "there is no god." So to take God out of the classroom and to take God out of biology is just as religious as putting God into biology. They don't want to understand that.
"Well, whose god are we going to put there?"
Well, then you have a problem because whatever you put in there (even if you don't put anything there), there is a religious statement. There is no neutrality. Secularism isn't neutral.
There as a 1973 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that stated that secular humanism was religious. It fit all the categories and all the characteristics of a religion. We live in a world that just wants to compartmentalize Christianity and put us in the closet. Unfortunately too many Christian have fallen prey to that because that is sort of the trend of our sin nature. It will gravitate to that because that's always that part of spiritual warfare that, "Well, I can compartmentalize my life." There is a trend there. There's an affinity in our own sin nature to sort of accept that and to pick up these ideas from the culture. But, whenever we are living on the basis of the ideas that our atheistic culture puts out, we just become functional atheists. It doesn't matter how much doctrine we have, how many times we go to church. When we're living on the basis of the world system it's functional atheism. Or, we can even press it further as we've seen. It is thinking like the devil. It is another form of demon influence.
So we are to recognize that we are partakers (participants), metachoi in the Greek. We are partners in this future kingdom rule that Jesus is going to have. So if we follow in His pattern of growth we will share in His destiny.
Then when you get into 3:7 down through 19 which is another long section, there are several quotes (at least three quotes from Psalm 95:7) to listen to the Word. That's the whole thesis here going back to the Jews in the Old Testament that they failed to listen to the Lord. So we are warned not to harden our hearts as they did, but to listen to the Lord.
NKJ Hebrews 3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice,
NKJ Hebrews 3:8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness,
The result was that they didn't enter into God's rest. That Exodus generation failed to listen to God and so they failed to experience the blessing that God had for them in going into the land. So there is a waning there in this section of the dangers of starting in 3:7 down through 4:13 as the warning section. This is where you have the dangers of falling away, not believing God and no listening to God. Again in 3:15:
NKJ Hebrews 3:15 while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
Again and again there is this reiteration of this particular warning. Then chapter 4 picks it up again and reiterates this one more time. In 4:7:
NKJ Hebrews 4:7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts."
The point is that if you harden your hearts you will miss out in that blessing. If we become complacent in our Christian lives, then the result is that we will miss out in rewards, in responsibilities, in privileges of ruling and reigning with Christ when He comes in His kingdom.
Then in 4:14 we come to the next section. It begins with a "therefore" so we know that the writer is drawing a conclusion out of everything that he has said before. He says:
NKJ Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest
Once again we ought to circle, highlight that phrase, and connect it back to the earlier uses of high priest because everything that he is saying is connected to the fact that Jesus Christ is our present high priest.
who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession
There is that word again - not to fall away from what we believe.
Then there is an explanation in verse 15.
NKJ Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest
He's been through every kind of test – category of test that we face.
who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Therefore we can go with confidence to the throne of grace. Now remember that in 4:16 because we pick up the same idea - because He is High Priest we can go with confidence before the throne of God a couple of more times in Hebrews.
So we come down to chapter 5. We get to chapter 5, again developing the idea of the high priesthood. In chapter 5 he talks about the limitations of the human high priest in the first 5 verses – that one of their limitations is they're sinners and they have to offer sacrifices for their own sins.
Then we come into chapter 5 (verses 5 through 10) which focuses not that kind of high priest; He is designated by God.
NKJ Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You."
This is the second time that Psalm 2 is quoted. Also Psalm 110:4 is brought in.
NKJ Hebrews 5:6 As He also says in another place: "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek";
So he introduces now this Melchizedekean high priesthood category. But the people aren't ready for this, and so he is going to have a diversion at this point because he says that they're not ready to listen to this. He has built up to this point, and then in verse 11 he says:
NKJ Hebrews 5:11 of whom
That is Melchizedek.
we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
Then we basically have a reproof section in the exhortation from 5:11 down through 6:8. Starting in verse 9 he's going to talk about the fact that he is really convinced of better things. But first he has to give them a little bit of a verbal discipline. In 5:5-10 he talks about the Second Person of the Trinity – that He is a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. In His incarnation he offered prayers and supplications, which is what is related to the role of a high priest. He is qualified to be a high priest and learned obedience through suffering in 5:8. He is also matured in 5:8 that He might provide salvation.
NKJ Hebrews 5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Then starting in 5:11 we have the exhortation and challenge. The warning is in the middle of 6:4-8. The rest of it is a challenge to obedience. It focuses on the idea of the need to press on beyond the basic doctrines they've already learned.
NKJ Hebrews 6:1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Let's not get wrapped up in going back and doing everything all over again. In verses 4 through 8 we have a warning section that is a difficult challenge for a lot of people. They think this indicates that you can lose your salvation or that these recipients of the letter may not have been genuinely saved. As I have pointed out, the terms all indicate full genuine salvation. The warning isn't that they might lose their salvation; the warning isn't that they weren't really saved; the warning is if you fall away, if you do not hold fast to your confession, if you are not consistent in going forward, if you do not maintain your walk with the Lord and you just let it slide and you begin to backslide; then you can reach a point in carnality as you back up in your spiritual life under divine discipline that is tantamount to a point-of-no-return where you can't recover and you'll be taken out under the sin unto death. That is verse 4 through 8.
But the positive side of it is the writer says:
NKJ Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.
NKJ Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,
This is the introduction here, this idea of hope – a confident expectation of something in the future.
I want you to notice as I went through the text I started highlighting different phrases. I didn't start picking up on this and decide to do this until I got down to chapter 6. You'll notice that I tried to use some different colors to bring out some different ideas. That's the kind of thing that you should be doing as you're listening and as you're reading through the text. The focus here in this encouragement is that we are to realize eventually future ideas – looking toward our future destiny we will ultimately realize that expectation we have in terms of our eternal destiny. The precursor to that though is that we have to exercise diligence in our spiritual growth to realize the full assurance of hope until the end. That "hope" is a key word.
NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
That's another key word to highlight – promises, promises, promises become a key part of this next section.
NKJ Hebrews 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,
Verse 15, we have promise again. Verse 17 we have promise again. So we see how this idea is picked up and in the encouragement section here the key words are hope and promise.
Now when we get down to the end of chapter 6, these last two verses here are critical to the transition to chapters 7 and 8. Chapter 7 and chapter 8 become the next part, the first part of the next section. We've looked through three sections now. Chapter 7:1 begins the next section. This is the transition. This hope we have is an anchor of the soul. An anchor is that which gives stability to the ship. Even if a ship is out on the open sea, if there is a storm they will often throw the anchor overboard in order to give some balas to the ship and to give it some stability in the midst of stormy seas. So hope – that future destiny - no matter how tough the storms of life may be, no matter how rough the adversities get, no matter how overwhelming life seems, that which gives stability and confidence to us now is an understanding that God's in control. Jesus Christ controls history. Jesus Christ controls the details of our lives and Jesus Christ is the one who is going to get us through the storms of life.
So that hope is an anchor of our souls, a hope that is sure and steadfast and one which, what? Enters within the veil.
NKJ Hebrews 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,
Now he starts to introduce a little more of this tabernacle terminology. I have pointed out a little bit as we've gone through here. But, when we get to chapter 9 we are right in the middle of the tabernacle and all the terminology.
But one reason I wanted to do this review is so we'd go back and see how this writer is gradually laying the foundation, and has laid the foundation, for what he is going to do in chapter 9. So that hope is sure and steadfast and one that enters within the veil where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us.
NKJ Hebrews 6:20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.
…another key phrase to emphasize. We'll see it repeated four or five times in chapters 7 and 8 leading up to chapter 9.
So now we go back. Remember he had introduced Melchizedek back in chapter 5. But then in verse 11 he says, "Well, you are just dull of hearing so I can't tell you about Him." Then he gives them a little verbal discipline for chapter 6.
Now he comes back to the topic of Melchizedek. In chapter 4 the focus is on the Melchizedekean priesthood versus the Jewish Aaronic high priesthood and Levitical priesthood – that the Melchizedekean priesthood was not based on physical requirements, on parentage, on genealogy, on any of those factors but was a divine appointment. It was also a royal priesthood and the Levitical priesthood (or Aaronic priesthood) was one that was passed on from generation to generation. It had physical qualifications. It was limited in its application so he is going to demonstrate the Melchizedekean priesthood is superior to the Aaronic priesthood.
So in the first 4 verses he introduces us to Melchizedek and explains why he is significant. Just those few verses in Genesis are all we know of Melchizedek. But he shows that Melchizedek must clearly have been superior to Abraham if Abraham brought tithes to Melchizedek.
Then when we get to verse 4, chapter 7:4 through 10, we see the superiority of Melchizedek to Aaron. This is where we have the comparison and contrast between the descendents of Levi and the Melchizedekean priesthood. The author is pointing out that there is a need for a superior high priest. When we get down to verse 12 he says:
NKJ Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.
There is a shift that's occurred from the Levitical priesthood to the Melchizedekean high priesthood of Jesus Christ. A change of priesthood causes a change of the Law.
Now there is another key word that needs to be identified and traced through here: this concept of law and covenant and promise. Those are key ideas that run through this section. There is a shift with a new priest who arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek.
NKJ Hebrews 7:15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest
NKJ Hebrews 7:17 For He testifies: "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."
We have a repetition from Psalm 110:4.
NKJ Psalm 110:4 The LORD has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."
Then verse 18 picks up this legal terminology. It is so important to notice all the times you have law, commandment, oath, sworn – all these terms relate to legal action. The legal action is that to change the priesthood, you change the law. The covenant shifts. So now he is in the set up for why there has to be a New Covenant and that the New Covenant brings in a new high priesthood.
In verses 23-25 his basic argument is that the former priests were mortal, the Levitical priests were mortal; Jesus is eternal. As such He is able to save forever.
NKJ Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who
come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Now that picks up the same terminology that we are "to draw near to God as our High Priest" and "that we can go to the throne of grace to obtain grace and mercy". So he picks up the same ideas related to the high priestly ministry of Christ. Now here in verse 25 it's talking about those who draw near to God through Him. That salvation here isn't justification in phase one; salvation continues to be talked about in terms of spiritual growth and the future destiny.
Then verses 26 down through 28 he comes to a summary of this argument he has presented.
NKJ Hebrews 7:26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;
NKJ Hebrews 7:27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
See back in chapter 5 he had made point that the human high priest was an inadequate priesthood because they had to offer sacrifices for their own sins. He concludes.
NKJ Hebrews 7:28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath,
which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.
That leads up to what he points out in the beginning of chapter 8. Now the main point: the summary. What have I been saying?
NKJ Hebrews 8:1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,
Where did we see phrase? That takes us all the way back to the introduction. See how he is laying all these things out. This is brilliant literature. There are so many threads interwoven together here.
who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,
He is a minister in the sanctuary.
Here we pick up another new word group – this word group for minister. The word group that we have here that is brought in at verse 2. This is the word leitourgos. Now we're going to see this word as a noun for minister. We're going to see the verb form leitouro for service. We're going to see the word leitourgis for ministry. And then we're going to see the word latreia for worship. Now all those words are the same basic root. The idea has to do with our whole life of service.
This is the same word that's used in Romans 12:1 when Paul says:
NKJ Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
That's the word there, service to God. That's the word related to worship, related to our ministry. It's the same basic word group.
So in verse 1 of chapter 8, Jesus is focused on as the one who is seated as the High Priest at the right hand of the Father.
In verse 2 He's a minister in the sanctuary. The word there is hagios, the holy place. I just wish translators would be consistent. We get into chapter 9 and we talk about the place in the Tabernacle and it's the same word hagios. So if you translate it "sanctuary" here and "holy place" there and it's the same word, people miss the connection.
NKJ Hebrews 9:1 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.
The word translated "tabernacle" here is the Greek word skene. The Greek word means a tent or a dwelling place. This word comes across in theater to describe part of the stage. It's picked up in Russian. It has the same idea there, but it all goes back to the basic Hebrew word which is shakan which means the dwelling place which is the word from which we get the word Shekinah. We'll look at that in a minute in terms of the Hebrew. So Jesus is a minister (leitourgos) in the Holy Place (the hagios) in the true tabernacle.
In the third verse then the writer of Hebrews states out in a general principle. He is going to explain. He says:
NKJ Hebrews 8:3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices.
Offering gifts and sacrifices is the service that He does. That's that latreuo that he does – to offer gifts and sacrifices. That's the function of the leitourgos. So he goes on to say in the last part of verse 3:
Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer.
What's he going to offer? That question is left hanging here. We don't get to it until the middle of chapter 9.
Then verse 4.
NKJ Hebrews 8:4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law;
So here he comes back and says (It's a little bit of an side.), "Look if He were just a human, He couldn't do this. It would not matter. He could not function as a priest. If He were on earth He wouldn't be a priest at all because He doesn't fit the qualifications of the Law.
Then in verse 5 he says:
NKJ Hebrews 8:5 who
The Levitical priests.
serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle.
So that the tabernacle (and later the temple on the earth) is introduced here as a copy and a shadow of a heavenly archetype – a heavenly tabernacle.
So Levitical priests simply served a copy, but He as high priest has entered into the true tent or dwelling place of God. So verse 5 says that these human priests.
For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."
So the pattern comes out of the heavenly archetype.
Then the conclusion of this point was:
NKJ Hebrews 8:6 But now He
has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
What's it based on? It's based on better promises and a better covenant. That legal foundation is established.
He has a more excellent ministry – leitourgos. Again the emphasis all through here has been on that service in terms of His ministry. It is a service of worship.
Then there was the digression related to the New Covenant. The author goes through this digression to show that all of this, the new High Priesthood, the new structure of things relates to this New Covenant that God is making with Israel. The conclusion of that we touched on last week in verse 13 when he said:
NKJ Hebrews 8:13 In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete
It hasn't fully passed from the scene yet, because they are still sacrificing and serving and functioning on the Temple Mount; but it's the closing days of the Temple because divine judgment is on the way.
and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Now that brings us to where we stopped last time in 9:1. We're still in the middle of the fourth section. The fourth section doesn't end until 10:39 and the exhortation (the challenge) doesn't begin until 10:19 so we still have all of 9 to go through and the first 18 verses of 10 before we hit the exhortation. He's still teaching them and explaining the impact of Christ's high priestly ministry.
If you look at the proportion within the layout of Hebrews, this is the core issue in the book of Hebrews – understanding the significance of Christ's present high priestly ministry for the Church Age believer. But the backdrop for this has to be somewhat of an understanding of what was going on in the Old Testament in the tabernacle and in the temple. But he focuses his thinking on the whole worship in the tabernacle.
So he writes. Let's just read these first 5 verses here.
NKJ Hebrews 9:1 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service
Guess what that Greek word is that is translated "divine worship". It is the Greek word latreia. We have introduced this whole terminology now that was lying there in those first 6 verses of chapter 8. So this connects right back. Instead of translating it the way they did in chapter 8, they translated it with "worship" which was never there in chapter 8. It should be "had regulations of divine service."
and the earthly sanctuary.
2 For a tabernacle
or a dwelling place
was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary;
3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All,
It only focuses on two things – the lampstand which as you went in was on the left side and the table of showbread table of sacred bread. That was on the right side. This is the outer section of the Tent of Meeting called the Holy Place. Then there was a second veil in the tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies.
4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;
5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
Now he's going to build everything out of this. This isn't the first time the writer of Hebrews has said, "Well, we're not going to talk about it too much now." Then he pauses and comes back and talks about it in detail.
- So what we are going to do now is just a little introduction into the tabernacle. The Hebrew word there on the screen is mishkan for tabernacle. Shakan is the same word, skene. By putting an "m" at the beginning it makes the verb a participle. It can become a noun. So this is a look at the tabernacle. I'll just give you a couple of points, and then we'll have show and tell. That's what I love about the tabernacle. It's a real hands on thing.
- Tabernacle translates the Hebrew word mishkan which means a sanctuary, a tabernacle or a dwelling place. It's used in various places - one time in Ezra 7:15. It comes from the root shakan which means to settle or to dwell. The Greek word is skene which means a tent, a tabernacle or a dwelling place. Sometimes it's called the Tent of Meeting or the Tent of Testimony. Of course the Ark had the tablets of the Law which was the testimony and that was inside the Ark of the Covenant.
When God would come, His presence was often indicated by a cloud. Shekinah is the word for His dwelling presence. Shekinah doesn't mean glory in and of itself. It just emphasizes His dwelling presence. But there is always a manifestation of His dwelling presence and that is indicated usually by a cloud or by smoke. If it's dark, it's indicated by lightening or fire. Light was used as a symbol or representation of God's essence. So it would look something like that. It would be what the Israelites experienced with the pillar of fire hovering over the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle.
In the outer court there were two basic things that were there. There is the laver. We have everything set up down here. Here is a model that we use in prep school to teach the Tabernacle. It has the Holy Place of the Tent of Meeting here and the various different coverings. We'll go into those as to what their significance was, why each one had to be made a certain way. It was made out of different fabric, made out of different animal skins. Then in the outer court you have the laver and the altar.
Now over here these are built to scale. This is a set that was made by Goodseed and was designed. They did a tremendous amount of research on this to make sure that they could build a set that would be all proportional according to the descriptions in Scripture. So in the outer court you had the brazen altar and the laver. You can see by looking at those that the altar was enormous. Later on in the Solomonic Temple, the First Temple and the Second Temple you could probably put 20 to 30 priests up on top of the altar. It was huge. When there were the high feast days, they would set up stations around the altar where they were sacrificing the lambs; and then they would pass up what was going to be burnt as a burnt offering on the altar. Then there was the laver which was set out in front for the washing of the hands and the washing of the feet for the ceremonial cleansing before the priests could go into the presence of God.
Now once he went inside the Tent of Meeting, there are two rooms. There is on outer veil that he goes through into the first room called the Holy Place. Then there is an interior veil that separated the Holy Place from the interior Holy of Holies. Inside the outer section were three things – only two are mentioned here. There is a little bit of a description challenge in the way this is written. You have two things. You have the Table of Showbread. The bread had to be continually changed. All of these things say something about Jesus. The altar represents Jesus in terms of His being a sacrifice. The laver is Jesus' death that cleanses us from sin. The Table of Showbread represents Jesus as the bread of life. The lampstand (the candelabra, the menorah) represented Jesus as the light of the world. Then right next to the veil you had the altar of incense. This was to represent Christ's priestly ministry of prayer and intercession for us continuously. The smoke from the incense would go up, pass through the veil into the Holy of Holies.
Inside the Holy of Holies you had the Ark of the Covenant which looked like this. It was a box made of acacia wood covered with gold representing the hypostatic union of Christ. Inside the box were placed a pot of manna, Ten Commandments which were broken, and Aaron's rod that budded. Each of those represented sins. Then the Mercy Seat (the lid that covered it) represented the mercy of God. The blood on the Day of Atonement was placed on top of the Mercy Seat. The cherubim represent the justice, the righteousness of God. The blood covers the sin. This is a picture of atonement and the cleansing of sin that comes from atonement.
These are the basic pieces of furniture in the Ark. I've got some pictures here, some diagrams of the laver. Some of these pictures are from a tabernacle in the wilderness that was set up down – it used to be set up down in the southern part of Judah not too far from a place called the Pillars of Solomon. So this is a picture of the laver they built there so you can get an idea of its size and proportion.
This is a picture from up above looking down on how they had constructed this. This was all built according to the patterns laid out in the Scripture. You can see the brazen altar and the laver out in front. (Pictures are shown.) This is a picture of the altar with the horns of the altar prominent. Then inside, the walls were of gold and on the left side you have the golden candlestick (the candelabra), the Table of Showbread representing God as the one who provides life and the means for life and the altar of incense. Then inside the Holy of Holies you have the Ark of the Covenant.
So what we have done so far in terms of the introduction to the Tabernacle is just run through some of the main furniture, looked at the key words in point 1. Point number 2 talked about the indwelling presence of God. 3. The term Shekinah comes out of the intertestamental period between the Old Testament and New Testament. It's never used in the Old Testament. It's a rabbinical term that gets introduced based on the verb shakan, to dwell indicating the dwelling presence of God. 4. All this is just 4 points of introduction. There was a temporary Tent of Meeting that was set up by Moses during that year when they were constructing all of the furniture for the Tabernacle. If you go into Exodus you'll see that right after God comes down before the Tabernacle is built Moses is meeting with God in the Tent of Meeting, but they haven't even built the Tabernacle. So it was a temporary meeting place. So apparently before they created the mobile worship center, they had one of these temporary buildings outside that people could put in their backyard that was sanctified. That's where Moses went to meet with God. It was a genius system to break everything down and to be very simple and transportable while they were going through the desert.
All of this becomes the backdrop for explaining critical doctrines in the New Testament related to the spiritual life, related to Christ's present high priestly ministry. All of this is embedded within all of this ritual that occurred in the Old Testament. So before we get into a lot of the details of Hebrews 9 we're also going to spend some time going back into Exodus and developing this in a little more detail to understand the dynamics of this whole ministry. One of the things that I want to do is not only look at the basic function or the operation of the tabernacle itself, but also look at the offerings and the sacrifices that are laid out later on in Leviticus so we can have some understanding. You have these different offerings – the burnt offerings, peace offerings and grain offerings and what is the significance to each of those. So that just gets our taste buds oriented to the little next section before we get started.
So let's bow our heads in closing prayer.