Hebrews Lesson 109 November 29, 2007
NKJ Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
Well, tonight we come to a new chapter in Hebrews. We begin Hebrews chapter 8. As we get into this new chapter (and we've been in this section in Hebrews for several months now), we've gone through various different studies as we looked at Melchizedek. We've looked at giving. We've looked at the doctrines related to eternal security and we just want to remind everyone of where so we are so we don't lose the forest for the trees. So often that is the problem…is that we just want to take out the posthole digger on a verse and burrow down on a verb or a noun or some different details within the text that when we get done with that we need to sort of get back up, get in our airplane, fly over the passage and get that overall view.
There are some really interesting things that we are about to go through. In chapter 8 they get introduced. In chapters 9 and 10 they get developed. They are very important for understanding the challenge that comes beginning in chapter 10 where we come to the exhortation section of this third or fourth point that we have here in Hebrews.
Actually we are in the 4th section that began back in chapter 7. Chapter 7 (just to go back a little bit) began with a discussion about Melchizedek in the middle of which he gets very upset with them. Actually that is the recovery. He gets upset with them in 6. He comes back to the topic of Melchizedek to develop the idea of being a priest. So chapter 7 deals with this whole issue of the Melchizedekean priesthood and why it is unique and why it's important for us as believers to have a distinct priesthood from the Old Testament priesthood. That brought into play an understanding that God governs or administers history in different ways in different ages and the framework for understanding that is His revelation. What changes things from one dispensation to another (and that word dispensation comes from the Greek oikonomos or oikonomia. This word has the idea of administration) is how God is overseeing human history which tells us that human history isn't haphazard. It's not just a collection of random events that occur from things that people do, but that there are certain characteristics of each age that are there for a purpose.
We have to say, "Why is it this way under the Mosaic Law? Why did we have in the Old Testament angels that seem to be visible at some times more than other times?"
You have a patriarchal priesthood in the first part of Genesis. It actually extends up until you get a different kind of priesthood developed under the Mosaic Law. What's going on with this priesthood? What are the characteristics of the patriarch priesthood versus the Levitical priesthood?
Then you also have this other priesthood that shows up which is the Melchizedekean priesthood, the royal priesthood of Melchizedek which is very cryptic in the Old Testament. So you have this quick little vignette in Genesis 15 where we are introduced to him. It is left to the writer of Hebrews to go back and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit explain the significance of this event in the Old Testament.
What we see in all of this is that the Bible all comes from the mind of God. This is the most important fundamental thing that we have to understand is that God has revealed the Word of God. He has revealed the Scripture so that there is a unity and a coherence in all 66 books. You have 40+ authors in the Scripture, but they don't contradict each other. You may have one author in one generation giving information that helps elucidate something that was given maybe 500 or 1,000 or even 2,000 years earlier.
So we have to approach the Scripture from the presupposition that it's not a contradiction, from the presupposition that God actually knows what He is doing in revealing things and from the presupposition that every word is inspired by God so that if God the Holy Spirit chooses this synonym instead of that synonym that there is more than likely a reason for it. It's not haphazard. It is not necessarily the style or personality of the writer. If we don't start from that kind of a presupposition, that kind of assumption, we start to read the Bible, and then we could easily go off the charts and get involved in wrong thinking. So we constantly have to be brought back to understand a lot of things and then understand all these things, the boundaries that God set within His Word.
We also have rather cryptic statements (or undeveloped statements let's say) where something is alluded to, something is said and we think, "Well, it could mean this but I'm really sure."
We have wait until we get a little more data from revelation to understand what it means. So there are these things that show up as we go through Scripture here and there. One of those is this idea of tabernacle and temple that is introduced in the first part of chapter 8. We go back to the Old Testament and we see the tabernacle of course is first introduced to us in the Old Testament.
The word that is translated tabernacle that we will run into in verse 2 is the Greek word skene. This means a habitation, a dwelling place. It's etymology in Greek is that it was used originally to refer to tents or what we would call a lean-to, a temporary dwelling place. But the Greek word skene didn't originate with the Greeks. It shows a heavy Semitic influence which indicates that there is some element of Jewish thought or influence (Old Testament influence) behind that word because the Hebrew word for the tabernacle which also means a habitation or a dwelling place is the word mishkan. That shk are your two consonants that form the root of the Greek word as well. Skene comes from mishkan. It shows that the Bible has a priority. It comes before these other languages.
I think an argument can be made that Hebrew or a proto-Hebrew was the language in the Garden of Eden. Otherwise the names like Adam from adamah (the ground), havah Eve for life - these words would not have meaning. These names would not have the meanings they have if that wasn't the language being spoken at the time.
Once again if you say something like that you have just violated everything you were taught in history, everything that you have been taught in science about evolution, about the development of cultures and everything else. So what the Bible challenges us to do is to go back and rethink almost everything we have ever learned in terms of a divine viewpoint framework. In a developed framework you not only have to do detailed exegesis so that you make sure that the details are right, but you also have to come back up and be able to synthesize this and put things together.
This is one of the things that I have become irritated over in recent decades because the trend that has occurred among some scholars and among evangelicals in hermeneutics is to never correlate Scripture with Scripture. What you run into is that for example you get into Genesis 3 and you are introduced to this serpent - nahash. You are not told who it is in Genesis 3.
So there are a lot of people today who teach as a principle of hermeneutics that "Well, that's just the serpent. You can't say it's Satan because the original readers of Genesis would not have understood that it was Satan. You don't have an occurrence of the word shatan in the Pentateuch. So how can you say that it's Satan? You can't read that into that period of history."
That of course…I think a number of principles one of which what is called the analogy of Scripture which is comparing Scripture with Scripture. God makes it clear down through history that this is with subsequent revelation because shatan means adversary. That's more of a title of the fallen angel than it is a proper name.
The first personage we see after the creation of Adam and Eve is this adversary to God that shows up in the garden. He counters God at every point. He functions as an adversary. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck; it's a duck. Just because it doesn't come out and say it's a duck doesn't mean its there. It just doesn't suit the purpose of God in the progress of revelation to say these things.
Then when you come to revelation, in Revelation 12, God identifies the dragon, the serpent of old – Satan.
It's sort like God is thumping these people on the head and saying, "Okay, if you didn't get the symbolism up to this point, now that we are at the end of the Bible if you weren't sharp enough to understand this let me tell you what the symbols are and who these individuals are that you should have figured it out all along."
But we have this mentality today and it really is a very subtle attack on being able to understand anything of a macro-thematic sense in the Scriptures.
What happens is these same people who are coming along for the most part who say, "You can't identify the serpent in Genesis 3 as Satan", is they are also the same ones who are finding reasons to say that Isaiah 14:12-14 doesn't refer to the fall of Lucifer and that Ezekiel 28:12ff doesn't refer to the fall of Satan either. These passages are simply borrowed elements from various Canaanite or Phoenician myths.
So now you are left without any ultimate origin of evil. You don't know where sin came from in the universe. You end up so abridging your understanding of the impact of Scripture on history and the total framework that God gives us that you end up being forced into a position where all you think is that the Bible just addresses "spiritual things". It just talks about sin, how to get saved and your spiritual life. What it does is you lose the idea that there is this interconnectedness in the Scriptures and that there is this correlation of ideas where one passage complements and helps to interpret another passage and that all of these pieces really do fit together. What we have to do is use our brains to start thinking about these things and to realize that God hasn't connected all the dots, but He put all the dots there so that we would connect them. What you have today is a lot of folks, a lot of scholars who don't want to connect the dots.
"If God didn't connect the dots, we shouldn't connect the dots."
Well, do you believe in the trinity? See, that is a dot-connected doctrine. You can think more precisely and more accurately about the trinity than the Apostle Paul did. Did you know that? See, a lot of people get confused with that.
"Look at everything the Apostle Paul knew. Look at what he wrote."
Yeah, but he didn't have the word trinity. You have the word trinity. So therefore you can think because you have a precise vocabulary that was developed in the post-biblical period based on what the Scripture teaches. You have vocabulary that allows you to think more precisely about what Paul wrote than even what Paul had. That is why we talk about the progress of doctrine. We are talking about the progress of understanding doctrine which is the foundation for what I am going to be teaching on Monday nights in the spring when I teach the History of Doctrine course. It is how to understand how believers in the Church Age have come to refine and understand what the Scripture teaches about various categories of doctrine all the way up to the present. So we have to look at it in terms of framework.
It's not wrong to move beyond the details of Scripture as long as you don't slip your anchor. See that is what happens with a lot of folks. They will come along and they will develop what seems like a logical conclusion from a particular passage, but then they'll start trying to impose that on other things. It really doesn't fit, but now they have a nice tight system of theology that in and of itself like High Calvinism is logically coherent, but when you look at the passages that are cited as proof texts for the elements, those passages don't always say that. So you have to constantly go back and forth between the overall synthesis and universal principles that you derive from Scripture to make sure that you can ultimately trace everything back to what is said in the Scripture.
So one of these things that pop up is this whole concept of skene which means dwelling for God's dwelling among his people and upon the earth. Just think with me through the Bible for a minute. When is the first time we see God having any sort of presence and dwelling on the earth? Pre-Adam. We see according to my view and the view of many Ezekiel talks about the Garden of God, which is where Satan fell. This would be the planet before its present state. I would put it before Genesis 1:2. This is the Garden of God. This is where the creature in Ezekiel 28 is serving God. This is where his fall occurs.
Then there is this restoration of the planet. Then we see God coming and walking regularly in the garden that is east of Eden. Where is Eden? That is where God's dwelling on the earth is in the perfect environment of the Garden of Eden. He comes and He walks. He has fellowship. He teaches. He dialogues with man until man sins. Then God's presence is still on the earth. He just sets an armed guard around it, the cherubs with the flaming swords. They have the power to take the life of anyone who tries to get into the Garden of Eden. So they are protecting the Tree of Life. There is still the presence of God there.
We come to Genesis 6:3 and God says He is tired of abiding with man. Now if you have a King James based translation is says:
KJV Genesis 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
But the Hebrew word is only used one time in Hebrew literature. They weren't sure in 1611 how to translate that Hebrew word. So when they come up into the 19th century and the 20th century, they start finding documents and parchments with Semitic languages like Ugaritic and up in Phoenicia you have Acadian and you have other Arabic languages that are very close to Hebrew. They discover that the cognate word for the word translated strive in Genesis 6 doesn't mean strive; it means abide in all the related languages – in Ugaritic, in Acadian and in Arabic.
So what God is saying is, "I don't want My Spirit to continue to abide with man because the thoughts of his heart are evil continually."
So God has a presence on the earth that is now going to depart the earth, which is why you don't have the delegation of judicial authority to man until after the Noahic Flood when you get the Noahic Covenant and the delegation of judicial authority in terms of capital punishment. Once you get that, that lays a theological foundation for government. Man is responsible to govern his affairs and he is responsible to adjudicate in the case of crime.
So you go from Genesis 6 and now God is no longer on the planet, He shows up now and then with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. Then you come into the period of the Exodus and He is going to have a new dwelling place set up called the Tabernacle. The tabernacle means a dwelling place. It's a temporary dwelling place that preceded the temple that Solomon built.
God's glory resides there in what's called the Shekinah glory. What was that word I just used? Shekinah…Do you hear skene-shekinah-mishkan? See, those are all cognates. Shekinah is not found anywhere in the Old Testament in Hebrew by the way. It was a word the rabbis developed in the intertestamental period to describe the dwelling of God in the tabernacle in the Old Testament.
Of course when the Babylonians were going to destroy the Temple before God brought the 5th stage of divine discipline on Israel in 586, Ezekiel had a vision where he saw the Shekinah glory depart the Temple, cross the Kidron Valley, go across to the east to the Mt. of Olives and then ascend to heaven. Of course that is the same place from where Jesus Christ ascended to heaven. It fits the pattern. You have these patterns that show up over and over again in the Bible.
Then Jesus comes back and you have God dwelling among men. Then Jesus ascends to heaven and 10 days later the Holy Spirit comes down and the body of every believer becomes a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit who makes the body of the believer a temple for the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and the Son of God and the Father. So, all three members of the trinity inhabit every single believer.
Then there will be a removal of that habitation to heaven. But there is something else going on. That is that these patterns of habitation on earth (the physical patterns, the tabernacle and the Temple in the Old Testament) reflect something that is not earthly. They reflect something that actually exists in heaven and has a heavenly pattern. So what we are going to see here as we go through chapter 8 which talks about the priestly service, the high priestly ministry of the Lord in the first 6 verses hits the main point. It is going to start off with the word that says this is the main point.
"This is the main thing I've been saying."
It's not just summarizing what he said in chapter 7, he is summarizing what he is about to say. He is not summarizing what he said in chapter 7; he is drawing a basic point from what he said in chapter 7 that becomes the foundation for the next stage in his argument.
He says because we have a high priest who is in heaven who is serving at the heavenly perfect temple. There must be this covenant structure. What He is doing in heaven must have some relationship to a legal foundation. It doesn't just happen. God doesn't do things apart from law. He has (I don't care for the word so much but it is one that has been used historically in theology) God condescends to His creature to limit the way He interacts with His creature according to creaturely standards so the creature can understand what He is doing. So God willingly limits His interaction with man and defines His interaction with man in terms of these covenants, these contracts.
What happens when Jesus ascends to heaven and He is at the right hand of the Father and He is serving as our high priest and He is serving in the heavenly temple which is the archetype of the earthly tabernacle and temple that all of this is founded on what must be a superior covenant because the earthly temple was temporary. It was based on a temporary earthly covenant, the Mosaic covenant. So he brings in the whole idea of this new covenant which supplants the old covenant. The very terminology "old" and "new" tells you that the old covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, was never intended to be permanent. It was never to have any kind of longevity. It was designed for a purpose. It had pedagogical purpose. It had legal purposes in terms of providing a government for Israel. But, it wasn't intended to be perfect. From the very beginning, God intended to replace it with a superior covenant and a superior priesthood.
So once he lays these points in chapter 8 which is a short chapter, 13 verses, we come to chapter 9 where he starts to connect things to the furniture in the tabernacle. If you look down here on the table, we have a model of the tabernacle. It's show and tell time. This will be up here most of the time. We also have some other articles of furniture for the tabernacle that we picked up for teaching in prep school. I'll be bringing those out as we go through chapter 9 to talk about each of these things in the tabernacle relates to the person and work of Jesus Christ. These things all connect together.
So the writer of Hebrews rehearses the elements of the earthly tabernacle in the first part of chapter 9 and then beginning of verse 6 he starts to talk about the role of the priest in the tabernacle and then moves in verse 11 to the role of Christ as our High Priest in the heavenly tabernacle and the importance of that in relationship to the sacrifice. The sacrifices that you had in the old covenant were temporary. They weren't permanent. They could not resolve the problem. They were only a temporary fix in contrast to Christ's death which is once, for all. That comes across when he gets down to verse 16 down to 22. Then he wraps it up in the last part of the chapter. This will then set the stage eventually for the warning and exhortation which begin in chapter 10 verses 19 to 39. All of this is ultimately based on the fact that Christ had to ascend to heaven to be at the Father's right hand to serve and operate as a high priest because of the implications of this for the spiritual life of the believer today.
So when we look at this broad panorama of these themes, I was going through this today and I started making some connections. One of the connections I want to work through initially is just this idea of tabernacle…not what we have talked about already in terms of the dwelling of God in the garden and before the flood in the tabernacle, but the idea of temple and the use of the word skene and this concept of a heavenly prototype or archetype for the tabernacle. One of the things we note when we get into verse 2 is that this tabernacle in heaven is called a true tabernacle. The Greek word there alethenes has the idea that this is the archetype – this is the true, the perfect, the ideal standard by which anything that is made on earth is simply a copy. It is a limited copy of this perfect prototype that's in heaven. We are told that God pitched it and not man. The word, the verb that is used in the Greek for God pitching it is the same verb that's used in Exodus 33:7 of Moses pitching the tent (the tabernacle) in the Old Testament. So he is definitely drawing this comparison and contrast between the two.
So we look at some of these passages like Hebrews 9:11:
NKJ Hebrews 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,
Once again this drives us into the future – the good things to come. There is this anticipation. If you think with me back to when we first started Hebrews and we looked at a number of the things in the beginning (two or three years ago) that the writer of Hebrews is always focused on the future. One of the main ideas in Hebrews is to challenge believers to not grow complacent in their spiritual life today because there is ultimate accountability. On the other side of the accountability there is position and privilege in the kingdom, ruling and reigning with Jesus Christ. So we need to live today in the light of eternity. That is what we see in 9:11. We return to that theme.
So His high priestly ministry today is related in some way to what's going to happen in the future for believers. Now we have to hold on to that idea. There is going to be some connections between that and some of the things we see in Revelation. All these things start to interconnect.
with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.
That word for perfect is complete. It is from telios, the same word we have run into again and again in Hebrews. It's the complete tabernacle not made with hands that is not of this creation. It's not something that man made. It is God made. I think that excludes having the Ark of the Covenant up there. Some people take the view that God is sort of zapped the Ark of the Covenant into heaven before 586 BC and that is where it resides today. But, I think this is a heavenly tabernacle. The furniture there is not made with hands. I don't think it has all the elements of furniture anyway that we have on earth because some of it's related to the sinfulness of man. You don't have sin in heaven.
You go back to the Old Testament.
NKJ Exodus 25:9 "According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.
God is speaking to Moses.
God shows Moses on Mt. Sinai a pattern for the tabernacle which is the heavenly standard. Now it's not clear whether he has a picture. He has a vision … how it is accomplished, but what Moses sees on Mt. Sinai is a pattern based on the heavenly archetype. This is repeated again in Exodus 25:40.
NKJ Exodus 25:40 "And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.
These are not random things that are in the tabernacle. They all fit into a broader perspective and a broader plan.
NKJ Psalm 11:4 The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
So there is a dwelling place in heaven. That's ultimately the idea in the temple or tabernacle – a dwelling place that is where the Lord's throne is located. So when we get into passages as we've been in Revelation 4 and 5 and some other passages in Revelation 12 where you have these heavenly scenes before the throne of God (not the throne of Christ because He's sitting on the Father's throne right now at the right hand of the Father according to Revelation 3:21.) He is not on His own throne. This is where God the Father's throne is in heaven.
We go on to Psalm 18:6 where the psalmist says:
NKJ Psalm 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.
He calls to the Jews to listen to him.
NKJ Micah 1:2 Hear, all you peoples! Listen, O earth, and all that is in it! Let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple.
So again and again I am throwing up a series of these verses to reinforce this idea.
NKJ Habakkuk 2:20 But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him."
Then when we get into Revelation, John says:
NKJ Revelation 15:5 After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.
But guess what. When we get down to the end of Revelation in Revelation 21:2, there is no temple in heaven. In the New Heavens and New Earth there is no temple because God the Father and God the Son dwell with man. So this whole temple thing seems to also have a somewhat temporary significance until the New Heavens and New Earth are created and the whole sin and evil problem is completely dealt with and we're in a completely new heavens and earth that has never been affected by sin and by rebellion. So there is this whole idea that we have to deal with that you pick up here and there all the way through Scripture. It's never fully developed as it were in places, but there is enough evidence there to where we can put it together with some other things and come to some pretty clear conclusions.
Then as we think about this and the idea that there is a heavenly temple, tabernacle that there is a royal priest that is now ministering in that temple. It takes us back to another piece of imagery that we have in the Old Testament and that's in Ezekiel 28.
So let's turn back to Ezekiel 28. This is our well-known passage that deals with the fall of Satan. However, he's not identified as Satan in the passage. He is identified as the king of Tyre. You have two figures in Ezekiel 28. Initially the son of man, which is Ezekiel, is to take up a taunt (A taunt is a funeral dirge) over the prince of Tyre. It is a different word from king of Tyre – prince of Tyre in verse 2 and king of Tyre in verse 12.
In verse 2 the focus is on the human ruler of Tyre. But, the human ruler of Tyre who is identified as or very closely with Melchart who was the counterpart of the chief of the pantheon in Tyre is...there is a real power behind that idol. As Paul points out in 1 Corinthians10 that the real power behind the idols are demons. So there is the demonic false religion that lies behind the false religion of Tyre. Of course the real power behind the throne is the king of Tyre, the one identified as the king of Tyre in verse 12. This is who we identify with Lucifer or Satan because the things that are said of the king of Tyre can't be applied to any other human ruler. We have gone through this passage many times; but he is said to be absolutely perfect, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty. These are terms never applied to Adam. He is said to be in Eden the Garden of God, not the Garden of Eden. So that is an important term to recognize. Why does a writer under inspiration say Garden of God instead of Garden of Eden? Because, this is the Garden of God. This is where God dwelt prior to the current heavens and earth.
NKJ Ezekiel 28:13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering:
This is the key thing.
Look at the list.
The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created.
You look at those precious and semi-precious stones there in verse 13. Nine of the 12 are on the breastplate of the High Priest. Now if you're Jewish and you are reading this and you are familiar with the breastplate of the High Priest with the 12 stones on it, as soon as you read this that's the connection that is going to come into your head. So there is this allusion in the wearing of the stones to the priestly ministry. But it doesn't stop there.
Look down at verse 14.
NKJ Ezekiel 28:14 "You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
You have this word anointed mishiak which is applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. It simply means an appointed or anointed one, someone who is designated by God with a specific mission. He is a cherub. These are terms that speak of a certain role that He has. Then when you get down to verse 16:
NKJ Ezekiel 28:16 "By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones.
Now what does that have to do with anything? Well, it's an allusion to the fact that Tyre was this tremendous mercantile power in the ancient world. They were Phoenicians. Their ships went everywhere. They colonized Carthage in North Africa. They colonized the Iberian Peninsula. Incidentally the etymology of iber is like XXX Hebrew. It comes from the same root and the early Carthaginian language was very, very close to Hebrew. It is a Semitic language and the Phoenicians spoke a northwest Semitic dialect, very close to Hebrew. So you start seeing some interesting connections here.
They sent out their ships. We will study this. It's fascinating. We will study this when we get a little further along in I Kings that in the time of David and Solomon there was this trade alliance between Solomon and the Phoenicians. Hiram was the king of Tyre at that time. That is some 400 years earlier than our passage in Ezekiel. At that time there was this alliance. The Scripture tells us that the Phoenicians shared their shipping, navigational secrets with Solomon. Between the Phoenicians who controlled the trade routes on the oceans and the Jews who because of the size and location of their empire controlled all the land trade routes, all trade all commerce on the earth was locked up and under the control of the Phoenicians and Israel during the time of Solomon's empire. You couldn't transport goods anywhere without having to deal with either Israel on the land or the Phoenicians on the sea. So they were traders. But there is something being applied to king of Tyre that's analogous to trading.
That's what a priest would do. A priest brings the worship, the offerings of a people to God. A prophet speaks from God to the people. A priest speaks for the people to God. So the picture that we see here is that the king of Tyre who is Lucifer has this role priest for the host of heaven, the angels. He is trafficking (and I really mean that in a good way) in the worship of the angels. He is bringing that before God. But, guess who keeps... It passes through him to God and he wants it to stop with him. He wants it. He sees all this worship that glory and honor that is coming to God and he wants it for himself.
So we have the perversion of this original priestly-like character. There are things in the Scripture that I don't think we can be very dogmatic about, but we have this priestly overtone to the King of Tyre here. We are going to have a new High Priest who functions in the heavens who is a creator-creature united in one person. This early priest-creature Satan is called the star of the morning in Isaiah 14:12-14. When we come to the end of Revelation, the title that's applied to the Lord Jesus Christ is the Bright and Morning Star. There is something going on here in terms of the creature fails to perform certain functions and it's up to God Himself to do what needs to be done for the creature so he becomes a creature.
I don't know what all the implications of that are, but we can't just say, "I don't understand it so it's got to mean something else."
That is what a lot of people do.
"Oh, that doesn't fit. I don't know why that would be. Let's give it a naturalistic explanation."
But we can clearly say these things are clearly there in the Scripture and we'll just have to recognize that it's something of a mystery.
So we have this relation between Satan and the heavenly court. This of course takes us from the whole concept of the dwelling of God and this priestly concept into the angelic conflict. So what we see here and we are reminded in Hebrews, in Ephesians it talks about Jesus ascended above the angels. He is elevated over the angels. Man was created lower than the angels but eventually he will rule over the angels. I Corinthians 6:3 talks about don't you know that we will eventually judge angels. All of a sudden what has happened here as we start thinking about plugging this detail of Hebrews 8 into a broader structure in the Bible. We realize that it shows that what we are doing in our Christian life in relation to Christ our High Priest really fits within a much larger cosmic conflict. It has cosmic ramifications that the decisions that we make every day in terms of our own spiritual life don't just affect our families. They are not just related to what's happening in our area of life, our arena of life. It has these ramifications that go out throughout the cosmos.
This is why angels are watching us. Several passages talk about that in I Peter and I Corinthians 11. We have these passages that talk about angels watching us, observing us. This is why we studied the angelic conflict in relationship to the 7 letters to the 7 churches of Revelation 2 and 3. These angels aren't just watching. They're not just spiritual voyeurs. There is a purpose to their watching. They are legal witnesses. There is a forensic role to what they are doing. Forensic means that it's related to courtroom activity. So it's related to the justice of God. All of a sudden what we see is the throne of God in heaven centers in a heavenly temple, heavenly tabernacle that Jesus Christ the Second Person of the Trinity is currently serving in that temple as a High Priest in view of things to come.
All of this is focused on something. It is all driving to an ultimate conclusion. This takes us even further back to some other connections that we can make both in Hebrews and in the Old Testament. We look at Hebrews 2:2. It talks about:
NKJ Hebrews 2:2 For if the word
That was the Mosaic Law in context.
spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,
There are a couple of observations we made when we went through that. Number one, this isn't the only place that talks about angels being involved in giving the Mosaic Law. It is also mentioned in Galatians 3:19 where Paul said:
NKJ Galatians 3:19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions,
Again, a very technical legal term violating a standard.
till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.
So we come back to this relationship between the giving of the law and angels. The giving of the law shows that angels are involved with the giving of the law, Hebrews 2:2. But, they are related to observing the fact that there are penalties that are given, assigned to people based on their violation of the Mosaic Law. So we see this connection now between angels and law. We see the same kind of thing that we see in Revelation 2 and 3 - angels being witnesses.
In the Old Testament they are witnessing Israel in light of Israel's obedience or disobedience to the Mosaic Law. This is why when the covenant is renewed by Moses in Deuteronomy in passages like Deuteronomy 4:26 and 30:19 and 32:1, he calls upon the heavens and the earth as witnesses. The Mosaic Law says to never accept a charge against anybody unless there are two or three witnesses.
Now who are the witnesses against Israel if they violate the covenant? The heavens and the earth. Is this the physical heavens and the physical earth? How can a non-volitional impersonal thing be a witness? This is a figure of speech for the inhabitants of heaven or what the Bible calls the host of heaven, which are the angels, and the inhabitants of the earth. He is calling upon God's two volitional creatures to be witnesses of God's justice as it's being worked out in the history of Israel. God lays down the parameters for everything that is going to go on in Israel's history with a legal covenant.
God doesn't just do what he does with Israel in a haphazard manner. It's all done according to law. Even God is willing to condescend to function within and to limit His actions to a covenant.
This lays down a very important principle that was discovered and rediscovered by the Puritans back in the 1600's. A man by the name of Samuel Rutherford wrote a tract called Lex Rex—the law is king. That is where this comes from. It's not the king who is the ultimate authority politically. It is the law. This is why the law matters. We have a tradition in our culture that is at stake today. That is the rule of law. Even God is willing to limit the way He deals with man according to these covenants. We go back to the creation covenant in Genesis 1 and its revision in the Adamic Covenant in Genesis 3 and then the Noahic Covenant.
So all of this all fits together. One thing, one part of the puzzle fits with another part of the puzzle fits with another part of the puzzle and it all comes together as we approach the end of the Apostolic Age with the giving of the canon of Scripture.
So we connect temple to the whole operation of the temple to the angelic conflict. The angelic conflict relates to the whole covenant structure. The covenant structure ultimately has to conclude with a perfect covenant that solves the creature's problem, which is the New Covenant, which is why he brings the New Covenant into chapter 8 at this particular point.
This all ties back to the basis problems that you see in the temple in the Old Testament. There are two problems that have to be resolved in history. The first problem has to do with the character of God because God and God alone can provide life for the creature. But because the creature is sin, which is the second problem, when the creature comes into the presence of God there has to be a reckoning, a dealing with sin on some sort of permanent basis. That permanent basis comes through of course the sacrifice of Christ. But we see this in the Old Testament when Isaiah shows up in heaven. He's in the temple in heaven. But he's a creature. He is fallen and the sin problem hasn't been resolved yet. He says:
NKJ Isaiah 6:5 So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts."
NKJ Isaiah 6:6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.
He places that on Isaiah's lips to cleanse him. It is that picture of fire, purification, cleansing. So that brings another element into this whole thing with the Temple and the tabernacle. It is at the tabernacle in the Old Testament, the centerpiece is the Holy of Holies. In the center of the Holy of Holies, which is a box basically, is another box which is the Ark of the Covenant. It is a wooden box covered with gold. In the midst of the box they placed the Ten Commandments which are an emblem of man's sin. There is a lid that is placed over the Ark of the Covenant called the mercy seat, the kapporeth. Over the Mercy Seat you have the two cherubs who represent the holiness and righteousness of God. It is in the center there that the problem of sin is resolved. So this of course ties back to the fact that Jesus Christ has to be that ultimate sacrifice that the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to. He will when He ascends go into the heavenly tabernacle, the heavenly temple. That is what solves the problem and opens the access way into heaven for fallen man.
All these things get resolved on the basis of law, on the basis of all these structures. It's very complex, but it shows that the Bible is not just this simple little thing of a bunch of stories that are strung together to sort of entertain Sunday school kids. The more you get into it and the more you dig, the more you realize that there are all these threads that constantly show up again and again all the way through the Scriptures and they are not just interesting things that we see. We can put all these things together – tie them together and it gives us a great understanding of what we have.
The focal point of all this is to drive us to recognition that we're in training right now and we will ultimately rule and reign with Christ who is now our High Priest but will be the ruler in the Millennial Kingdom. He will take the title King of Kings and Lord of Lords at His Second Coming. We will rule and reign with Him. We rule and reign over the angels. Right now we are lower than the angels. The angels are watching us. Part of the reason they watch us is because they are seeing the outcome. Just as in the Old Testament they saw the outworking of divine justice on Israel and they are seeing the outworking of divine justice on us and they are witnesses to that so that they are learning about the justice of God and they are learning how you are being trained and how the justice of God is dealing with the sin in your life so that they recognize that when you show up at the Judgment Seat of Christ and you get rewards and promotion based on those rewards that when you are then promoted to judge them they understand why you are qualified to judge them. That fits within the whole framework of Revelation 2 and 3 and all these other passages to show us that our lives in the Church Age don't have to do with just our day-to-day experience…the drudgery of work, dealing with different problems that seem to consume us, but that this is all training ground. We're all being witnessed and observed by the angels. They are learning things that can't learn any other way. Eventually all of this gets evaluated at our performance exam at the Judgment Seat of Christ. On the basis of that, we get placed in various positions of responsibility and leadership in the Millennial Kingdom and on into eternity, including judging the angels.
All of that comes out of an understanding of what's happening in Hebrews 8 and 9. We will get into the details next week. Let's bow our heads in closing prayer.