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