Better Than The Work of Levitical Priests (Part 1)

The work of Jesus is superior to the work done by Levitical Priests.  This is set forth in three chapters (Hebrews 8-10).  In this writing, we will consider Hebrews chapter eight.

1.  Two Tabernacles

We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1).

We have a High Priest.  The reference is to Jesus (cf. Hebrews 4:14; 5:5-6).  He is described as “such” a High Priest.  The meaning is that He is the Perfect High Priest (cf. Hebrews 7:25-26).   He is seated on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.  He is on the right hand of the Father (cf. Hebrews 1:3; 1:13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2).  He is near to the source of grace (Hebrews 8:1 cf. 4:16), interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25). 

a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” (Hebrews 8:2).

Two tabernacles are in view.  (1) The tabernacle in which the Levitical priests served was erected by man (Hebrews 8:2 cf. Exodus 40), and made with hands (Hebrews 9:11, 24 cf. Exodus 31, 36-39).  (2) The Tabernacle in which Jesus serves was not erected by man (Hebrews 8:2), or make with hands (Hebrews 9:11, 24).  It was erected by the Lord (Hebrews 8:2).  This is the “true” tabernacle {“True” is used here of superior or substantial [e.g. true light (John 6:31-35); true vine (John 15:1); true holy place (Hebrews 9:24)] Wayne Jackson says “The ‘true’ is that which the symbolic copy represented” (Wayne Jackson, A New Testament Commentary)}.

What is the true tabernacle?  The tabernacle of old had two compartments.  (a) The Most Holy Place represented Heaven or God’s dwelling place (Hebrews 9:7 cf. 9:11-12).  Jesus does not serve in an earthly tent which represents heaven.  He serves in heaven.  (b) The Holy Place appears to represent the church.  The items found in the Holy Place are identified with the church.  The offering of incense is connected with the prayers of the saints (Exodus 30:6-9 cf. Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4).  The seven lamps are connected with the light given off by the church (Exodus 25:31-40; 27:20-21 cf. Revelation 1:12, 20).  The showbread many have inferred to be connected with the Lord’s Supper (Exodus 25:23-30; Leviticus 24:5-9 cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:24-26).  We are a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5). 

The things pertaining to the tabernacle erected by man were but “the copy and shadow of heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5; 9:9, 23, 24; 10:1).  Wayne Jackson comments, “Why would one wish to cling to the copy and reject the heavenly reality?  Yet that was what the Judaizers were doing” (Wayne Jackson, A New Testament Commentary).

2.  Two offerings

For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices.  Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer” (Hebrews 8:3 cf. 5:1). 

One of the most basic functions of high priest is to offer gifts and sacrifices to God for the sins of the people (cf. Hebrews 5:1).  [Robert Milligan comments, “The word ‘gifts’ (dora) and sacrifices’ (thusias) are sometimes used interchangeably, as in Genesis 4:3-5.  But when contracted… the former is used of bloodless offerings, and the latter for such as required the life of the victim” (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews)].  (1) Levitical priests offered gifts and sacrifices for sins (cf. Hebrews 7:27; 9:9; 10:1-4; 10:11).  (2) Our High Priest also had something to offer (Hebrews 8:3).  It was an offering which did not need to be repeated.  It was a once for all sacrifice, unlike the Levitical offerings (cf. Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 23-28; 10:11-12).  

3.  Two Covenants

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was founded on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6).

Two covenants are in view.  (1) Moses dedicated the first covenant with the blood of animals (Hebrews 9:18-22 cf. Exodus 24:1-7; 29:19-21).  (2) Jesus is “the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death” (Hebrews 9:15).  He dedicated this covenant with His own blood (cf. Matthew 26:28).  This covenant was prophesied (Hebrews 8:7-13; 10:15-18 cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34).  It is a better covenant.  Under it sins would be remembered no more (Hebrews 8:12 cf. 10:1-4; 10:17, 18).  It was founded on better promises.  While the first covenant focused on a land promise and an earthly rest, this covenant focuses on a rest to come and eternal life (cf. Hebrews 3:16-4:11; 9:15).  Tim Ayers writes, “The promises of the Old Covenant were primarily physical and earthly in nature, although it did include spiritual promises as well… The promises of the New Covenant are better because they are pre-eminently spiritual in nature” (ed. Devin W. Dean, The Gospel Journal Commentary Series, Studies in Hebrews).  Moreover, many promises are only possible because of Christ (cf. Hebrews 9:6-8; 10:19-20; 11:35-40).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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