Sermon Notes

July 31, 2016  Hebrews 8:6-13

A Superior Priest Mediating a Better Covenant pt.2

Sermon Prepared for WellSpring Church

 

1. Introduction

a. Engage: The decades following the birth of the Reformation brought a flowering and production as in no other period of the Church’s life and history of Creeds, Catechisms and Confessions of faith. The names of some of these are very familiar to us, others not known at all. In fact, many of us who have grown up in Christian churches have never confronted a Creed or Confession beyond the two so-called universal creeds, the Apostles’ and the Nicene. Perhaps the most well known confession of Faith among Conservation, orthodox evangelicals is what are called the Westminster standards (Confession, WSC ,and WLC) The WCF and its near clone the London Baptist Confession are made up of sections referred to as chapters. Each chapter divided into numbered paragraphs. The Chapters cover all the major points of doctrine including Scripture, the Existence and attributes of God, The Trinity, The Work of Christ, the Sacraments, and the nature of the Church. It is to be noted that the two longest chapters are 1st the Scripture and 2nd (not God, the Trinity or Any of the aspects of our salvation—but) The work of Christ as mediator. Mediator is probably not the first thing that comes to our minds when we think of our relationship with God. It is this great subject that we return out attention to this morning using both our test Heb. 8:6-13 and the Single verse we read earlier, II Time 2:5

b. Review

i. Christ our Great High Priest who intercedes

ii. Christ our Great High Priest who ministers in heaven

iii. We also introduced the next concept of our Great High Priests as a Mediator of a Covenant. He is the one who stands between the Holy God and the Ruined Sinner and brings the two parties together. His present role and the superior excellence of his work is also seen in his work as a mediator of a better covenant. With this phrase our author is making a transition from his subject of the superiority of the new priesthood over the old to the subject of a better covenant.

c. Preview

i. Come back to a Working definition of the Role of Mediator

ii. Requirements of a proper Mediator

iii. Implications and applications of this great role

d. Big Idea; To understand Christ’s role as mediator is the primary way of understanding the whole of the work of salvation (Soteriology)

2. That is the role of a mediator defined

a. Go-between or literally a middle man

i. OT use of the word mediator = 0. Instead we have:

1. Umpire or Daysman Job. 9:33 One who stand between and puts hands on both. He was called a daysman because he would hear the complaint and then chose a day when he would hear both sides and decide the case

2. One who stands in the Gap. a. Moses Psalm 106:23 No One! But God becomes his own mediator. b. Isaiah 59:16 c. Isaiah 63:5

ii. NT use = 6x.

1. Gal. 3:19, 20 of Moses

2. Here Hebrews 8:6 and 9:15; 12:24

3. And most familiarly I Tm. 2:5

b. Additional aspects of a mediator to help us with our understanding and definition.

i. There must be two parties. A solitary person or party doesn’t need arbitration!

ii. The parties must be at odds, variance, or conflict with one another. It is here that Satan does his great work. We need a mediator because Satan stands between two parties and stirs up and continues discord and division. Christ comes to bring peace. And what a terrible and dreadful breach there is between God and man! Let us read and consider two passages: Romans 5:9-11 and II Cor. 5:18-20

1. The Sinner reconciled toward God. (The sinner’s wrath against God). The Scripture tells us that the natural condition of every human person is that we start our lives as rebels, at odds with God’s rule and rules. In fact the situation is so dire that we are described as being enmity against God.

a. Enmity defined: deep-rooted hatred. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed” (Gen. 3:15). The friendship of the world is “enmity with God” (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15, 16). The “carnal mind” is “enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7).

b. Further defined in this sermon by Charles Spurgeon:

“…observe how strongly the Apostle expresses it. “The carnal mind,” he says, “is ENMITY against God.” He uses a noun, and not an adjective. He does not say it is opposed to God merely, but it is positive enmity. It is not black, but blackness; it is not at enmity, but enmity itself; it is not corrupt, but

corruption; it is not rebellious, it is rebellion; it is not wicked, it is wickedness itself. The heart, though it be deceitful, is positively deceit; it is evil in the concrete, sin in the essence; it is the distillation, the quintessence of all things that are vile; it is not envious against God, it is envy; it is not at enmity, it is actual enmity. (“The Carnal Mind Enmity Against God” http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0020.php

c. It is natural then, for us to think that the work of our mediator is chiefly a work of turning the sinner’s natural hatred for God into something else-love perhaps, or at least a neutrality.

d. Indeed this is a part of the work of Christ the mediator as we read in the LBC:

“To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them; uniting them to himself by his Spirit, revealing unto them, in and by his Word, the mystery of salvation, persuading them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit, and overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation; and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.”

HOWEVER, this is not the main work of Christ. The breach between God and man is not merely our disdain towards God, but

2. God must be Reconciled Towards The Sinner (God’s Wrath against the sinner). Note that the issue cannot be reduced to the human side of the conflict between God and man. Yes indeed we are enemies, but the language in Romans 5 is the language of God’s deep displeasure against our sin—in fact the word here is not mere displeasure, but wrath and condemnation. We need to be saved from this wrath. The attitude of God towards sinners must be changed. The death of Christ is not meant to change our opinion of God—in fact thinking people recoil at the idea that–The death of Christ satisfies the debt of obedience that we have with God. Our offenses have offended His holy majesty; they have brought us into condemnation. He cannot look with favor upon the sinner and rebel. Therefore, it is he who must be reconciled. It says we are justified by the blood of Christ and reconciled to God by the death of his Son. You may recoil at the concept of the wrath of God and think that it is not an attribute worthy of such a great and loving and merciful deity. You may if you ignore

that clear evidence of Scripture. Leon Morris, the eminent evangelical New Testament Expositor from Australia has identified 20 different Hebrew words used in the Old Testament to describe the indignation of God against sin, which are found in more than 580 passages. Oh, you say, that is the God of the Old Testament. The God of the New Testament is a more gentle and loving God represented by the meek and lowly Jesus. To believe this is to discount and overlook at least 100 New Testament passages that speak of the wrath of God. AS Roger Nicole ahs written “Some of the Most fearful are form the lips of Jesus himself, for no one spoke of the wrath of God as manifested in the harrowing of hell as strongly as Jesus did.” (See Roger Nicole, “Reconciliation and Propitiation” in Our Sovereing Saviour, The Essence of the Refomed Faith, Christian Focus Publications, 2002, 91-100)

iii. This mediator is neither a negotiator nor compromiser in the sense that we understand these terms. He puts out his hands and touches both and brings the warring parties together.

How do we know that Jesus is a qualified and sufficient mediator to repair this yawning chasm that opens between the holiness op God and the sinfulness of man?, who stands in the gap between the demands of the law of God and the abysmal failure of our meager and disinterested performance?

3. Requirements of a mediator. These are not necessarily legal requirements, but what we might call practical requirements.

a. First in our list is that He must take on the work voluntarily—he is not like a court appointed lawyer who begrudgingly takes on a low pay case. He delights to come and do the full work for both parties. Our Lord Jesus was not cajoled, coerced, or shamed in this work. Here is what we read in Scripture: See: PS. 40:7-8; Hebrews 10:5; John 10:18

b. Secondly, The mediator must come with authority. This may not seem like an important requirement, indeed when two persons are at odds with one another we would not be surprised if a person came to us on his own authority or out a her own desire to see two persons she loved restored to a relationship of peace. However, if the two persons at unequal in standing or if there are going to be promises or concessions made, then the person acting as the mediator certainly needs to come with a stamp of authority.

i. LBC again,

“…the office of mediator and surety; which office he took not upon himself, but was thereunto called by his Father; who also put all power and judgment in his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same. (Ch. Viii. 4)

ii. Remember what we have already studied in Heb. 5: he was appointed a priest by God

iii. John 5:22, 27: The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son…And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

c. He must be accepted and trusted as one who will fairly and disinterestedly seek the best of both parties. This means that he is one who has the ability to understand both sides of the case

i. Illus. Marriage Counseling, taking sides.

ii. No Suspicion of Ulterior motives.

iii. John Flavel, the Puritan, writes of the trust that the Father and the Son invest in one another:

“The Father relies on the Son for the performance of his part (here referring to Isa. 43:1) As if the father had said, behold what a faithful servant I have chosen, in whom my soul is at rest: I know he will go through with his work, I can depend on him. “…the Father so trusted Christ, that upon the credit of his promise to come into the word, and in the fullness of time to become a sacrifice forth elect, he saved all the Old Testament saints, whose faith also respected a Christ to come. (Heb. 11:39) And as the Father trust Christ, so doth Christ in like manner, depend upon and trust his Father, for having performed his part, and left the world again, he now trusteth his Father for the accomplishment of that promise made to him. (Isa. 53:10; John 17:11) (Flavel, Works, Vol. I, 59-60)

1. The mediator must share fully in the concerns of both parties. Christ does this

a. The Concerns of the Trinity—the honor and payment for offenses committed.

b. The concerns of the ruined sinner, the condemned criminal. The removal of the penalty incurred.

2. He must be fully committed to the good and concerns of both parties working to the utmost of his ability to see that the needs of mediation are met (Flavel).

d. In addition (number four in our list), if there is going to be a true mediator between God and Man the mediator needs to share in each of their natures—able to put his hands on each. In Christ’s work he mediates between God and man making certain that the offended God and the offending sinner both receive what is their need. God his honor and man his salvation. God receives his full due in the perfect life of Christ and the sinner is freed from the ruin that he has earned.

i. Here is how the WLC puts it

Q. 38. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God?

A. It was requisite that the Mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of

death, give worth and efficacy to his sufferings, obedience, and intercession; and to satisfy God’s justice, procure his favour, purchase a peculiar people, give his Spirit to them, conquer all their enemies, and bring them to everlasting salvation.

Q. 39. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be man?

A. It was requisite that the Mediator should be man, that he might advance our nature, perform obedience to the law, suffer and make intercession for us in our nature, have a fellow-feeling of our infirmities; that we might receive the adoption of sons, and have comfort and access with boldness unto the throne of grace.

Q. 40. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God and man in one person?

A. It was requisite that the Mediator, who was to reconcile God and man, should himself be both God and man, and this in one person, that the proper works of each nature might be accepted of God for us, and relied on by us as the works of the whole person.

ii. It was necessary that our mediator be man because we need a true and authentic representative one who came under the law, obey that law in his human nature, and die a human death. It is in his human nature that our mediator is able to sympathize with us and enter into a proper and true intercession for us.

iii. It was necessary that our mediator be God. An ordinary human being would be disqualified by their own sins. Even if there were a perfect human being as if God had miraculously provided another man like Adam. This man could have only dies for one other person. A life for a life. Our mediator having a divine nature gave his human nature infinite value and allowed him to suffer for many people at the same time—every one whom the Father gave him were saved by his death. The Beligic confession says that the divine nature of our mediator allowed the human nature to endure the infinite suffering that was piled upon him by the infinite sins of the people whom he came to save.

iv. In our nature he puts his hands upon us in true sympathy and empathy, in his divine nature he puts his hands on the father in true holiness.

e. He must have the power and ability to affect the peace.

i. What is the evil that needs to be changed, or from evil is man to be rescued?

1. Is it nature?

2. Is it circumstances?

3. Is it a lack of unity with the One

ii. What is the deity that has the power to remove the evil, or redeem from the effects of the evil?

1. If the evil is nature, then the deity to be appeased or removed, religion seeks to manipulate nature. In this we find ourselves in a culture of pantheists, very nearly animists who try change the problems of nature—disease, disasters, and so on… (Bavinck)

2. If the evil is our circumstances, our upbringing, our lack of money, education, opportunity, or equality, then we will go to the gods of Government and the Courts, the gods of academia, the gods of psychology and positive –thinking to overcome these evils.

3. If the evil is a lack of oneness and unity with the One as the religions of the east tell us then the deity who can solve this problem is the god of self-emptying mediation.

4. However, because the great and universal problem that human beings face is the rupture caused by sin and all of the ramifications that come with it, we need a mediator

4. Lastly, the work of a mediator is a work

i. Removes obstacles that stand between the parties

ii. Repairs potholes and craters in the road between the two parties.

iii. Here Christ is the perfect road builder prophesied in Isa. 40

1. He has taken the mountain of sin’s guilt away

2. He has filled the holes with his own righteousness.

5. Implications

a. A very great mediator shows the greatness of our need

b. The greatness of our need shows the greatness and value of Christ’s blood and suffering

c. The greatness of the blood and suffering of Christ shows the Greatness of the heart of Love shared by the Godhead.

d. The greatness of this work shows the greatness of love, worship, praise, and adoration that is ours to give.

e. Let me end with this from the Belgic Confession on the intercessory work of Christ

We believe that we have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor, “Jesus Christ the righteous,” who therefore was made human, uniting together the divine and human natures, so that we human beings might have access to the divine Majesty. Otherwise we would have no access. But this Mediator, whom the Father has appointed between himself and us, ought not terrify us by his greatness, so that we have to look for another one, according to our fancy. For neither in heaven nor among the creatures on earth is there anyone who loves us more than Jesus Christ does. Although he was “in the form of God,” Christ nevertheless “emptied himself,” taking “human form” and “the form of a slave” for

us; and he made himself “like his brothers and sisters in every respect.” Suppose we had to find another intercessor. Who would love us more than he who gave his life for us, even though “we were his enemies”? And suppose we had to find one who has prestige and power. Who has as much of these as he who is seated at the right hand of the Father, and who has “all authority in heaven and on earth”? And who will be heard more readily than God’s own dearly beloved Son? (Beglic Confession, Article 26)

Who loves us more than he who said, ”Come to me ..and I will give you rest

Who loves us more than the one who calls us friends, and said, Greater love has no one than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends.

Who love us more than the one whose love “surpasses knowledge

Who loves us more than the one who is able to keep any thing in all creation “whether friend or foe, fiend from hell, angelic being form heaven, king, president, pastor, pope, or beheading jihadists from separating us from his love?

Why go anywhere else than to this mediator who has declared that he is the only way to the Father?

Why go to any other mediator than he who has loved us and made the way open for us while we were still his enemies?

Why go to any other mediator than to the one who is seated at the right hand of power and majesty on high?

Why go to any other mediator than the one who has the ear of God on high and is guaranteed the answer to every one of his petitions?

Or let me ask this

Why refuse this mediator who has declared that he is the only way to the Father?

Why refuse this mediator than he who has loved us and made the way open for us while we were still his enemies?

Why refuse this mediator than to the one who is seated at the right hand of power and majesty on high?

Why refuse this mediator than the one who has the ear of God on high and is guaranteed the answer to every one of his petitions?

Our great High Priest is this Mediator, Even Chrsit Jesus, the only mediator between God and Man.

July 24th , 2016

A Superior Priest Mediating a Better Covenant

Sermon Prepared for WellSpring Church

Matthew L. Burt

Hebrews 8:6-13

Big Idea: The superiority of our great high priest Jesus Christ is seen in his more excellent ministry as the mediator. Because Christ stands as mediator nothing stand between God and us-his people.

1. Introduction

a. Engage: One of the first discount airline ticket consolidators on the Internet was Priceline. Com. Priceline allowed customers to bid on ticket prices in order to get incredible deals. One of the faces of Priceline over the years has been the former captain of the Starship Enterprise, William Shatner who promised to go to bat for customers. He went by the name, “the negotiator”. He promised to be a go between for customers and the airlines, hotels, and car rental companies. We are very familiar with a role of a go-between in our culture. We have business negotiators, sport salary arbitrators, lawyers who work to help couples come to an amiable agreement in their divorce, we have counselors who try to work compromises between seemingly irreconcilable parties and ambassadors who pursue peace between warring nations. All of these are people who stand between two disagreeing parties and seek to bring some level of agreement and satisfaction. These are important people. Mediator is a title given to our Lord Christ, and it is, I believe one of His most important titles. As Paul writes to Timothy in I Tim. 2:5 “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” Our goal today is to gain a better understanding of this aspect of Christ’s work as our superior high priest.

b. Review: The whole of our study of the Epistle to the Hebrews so far has been a study of the excellence and superiority of Christ over all things. Last week we saw that his priesthood is superior based on the place, or location of his work. It is in the heavenly temple, not an earthly tent made with human hands. He stands in the authentic temple, not one that is a shadow and copy as the Tabernacle and Solomon’s temple were.

c. Preview. Today as we press on in Chapter 8 we will see our author continuing to show the superiority of Christ over the Old Testament Jewish system—and as we do we need also to see that at the same time that Christ is superior to every possible religious or philosophical system. The goal of Hebrews is that its readers will see a rationale for persevering in their faith in the way God has revealed and not abandon it to any other possibility. We will proceed today in three steps:

i. The More excellent ministry of Christ

ii. A brief introduction the Covenants of God (We will return to this in greater detail nest time). We have to do this since we are told, thirdly

iii. Our most excellent Mediator is the mediator of a better covenant.

d. Big Idea: The superiority of our great high priest Jesus Christ is seen in his more excellent ministry as the mediator. Because Christ stands as mediator nothing stand between God and us-his people.

2. “But now he has obtained a more excellent Ministry” (His superiority is shown by the ministry he now has which is superior because it is carried out in a superior setting, i.e. heavenly vs. earthly tent).

a. The “now” is contrasted to the “then” of the old manner of sacrifices under the Levitical system.

b. When we think of ministry we generally think in terms of something we do for people in the name of Christ. For example, “I work in the children’s ministry, I teach Sunday School, or I care for children in the nursery.” This is a vague term made even more ambiguous when we call our pastor a minster. Not that this is a necessarily wrong title but the role and work of a pastor can be so broad and ill defined that all sorts of duties are listed under it. A minister, then, is someone who is hired by the church to do religious things, be some sort of leader, teach and preach, and administrate the business of the church. The term minister becomes even more vague when we attach things to it like music ministry, hospitality ministry, or decoration ministry. When we do this it doesn’t help us in understanding how Jesus has a better or more excellent ministry.

c. When our author uses the word ministry in Hebrews 8:6 he uses a very specific word that refers to the duties of the priests in the tabernacle relating to the sacrifices that the people brought before God. By this they engaged in an intercessory work. But in addition to that it refers to the priests’ responsibility to instruct the people in the law of God and to live as examples before them.

i. Read this description of the work of the priest in Mal. 2:5-7

ii. Contrast this to Ezekiel 34:1-10

iii. This was the judgment against Eli in I Sam. 2:13-17, 22.

iv. See Ezra 7:1, 10

In other words if we are going to use the word minister or ministry on a true Biblical sense we need to use it specifically in relation to the priestly work of Christ and how we make it known to people through our verbal instruction and the testimony of our lives.

When Christ ascended to heaven and took up his priestly role at the right hand of the majesty on high his work became one of a continuous presentation of his own sacrifice on the altar of the heavenly holy of holies. He seeks the good of his people be making

requests for supplies of grace in their life, divine help in every time of need. His life serves as an example to his people of the kind of life we are to live based how he lived out the commands of God and his own practical applications of them in his own teaching ministry. Further as our great high priest he instructs his people. He does this through the written word, the Scriptures. Matthew 11:27 “No one knows the Father…this has always been the case.

d. Notice that the ministry of Christ is two-directional.

i. His service at the altar is on behalf of the saints,

1. He has made the sacrifice of his own life on behalf of his people in order to bring cover their sin and its guilt

2. He has transferred his sinless perfection to his people in order that they might be justified by God.

3. In addition he has taken the sin and guilt of his people onto himself.

4. All of this work he presents to the Eternal judge of all people.

ii. But it is also a work that shows his willing subordination to the Father. If it is possible for us to think this way, the work of priestly Christ now, in heaven, gives us greater reason to worship and adore him that we ever could have by being exposed to the Godhead, even as Trinity.

1. Here is the message Phil. 2—Though Equal, condescended and reduced himself.

a. He made this choice of condescension gladly and willingly. (This we see in Heb. 10:5-7; Isa. 42:1 and John 5:20-22)

2. We must never for a moment think that there was anything other than absolute willing agreement on the part of each member of the Godhead in striking what we call the Eternal Covenant of Redemption before the creation of anything. The father was not unwilling to be appeased, the Son was not compelled by force against his desires to become the sacrifice, The Holy Spirit was anxious to bring glory to the Son in salvation.

iii. Pause for a moment here and realize that the Covenant of Redemption which included the future decision of Adam and Eve to rebel against God in overt willful disobedience is meant to bring us into far greater appreciation of God than Adam and Eve could ever have had even knowing the sweetness of regular intimacy with God before there was ever sin.

e. The ministry of the priests in the old system was a necessary and vital work in the lives of the people but it was temporary, passing, weak, and insufficient. They ministered in a tent or a building that was susceptible to degeneration or destruction—Indeed in just a few short

years after the writing of this letter the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, and it will never need to built again. Why? Because the work performed in the earthly temple was nothing but a shadow of the true work being done in the true temple by the true and perfect priest. He has obtained a better ministry.

f. This is happening Now. But now he has a more excellent ministry

3. His present role and the superior excellence of his work is also seen in his work as a mediator of a better covenant. With this phrase our author is making a transition from his subject of the superiority of the new priesthood over the old to the subject of a better covenant. As he makes this transition we are introduced to a new role or function that Christ fills. The mediator of a covenant.

a. Covenant defined

b. The Covenants before this new and better Covenant included

i. The eternal Covenant, or the Covenant of Redemption. This we have referred to—

ii. A Covenant of Works between God and Adam. Basically obey and live, disobey and die.

iii. The Covenant of Grace promised in Gen. 3:15

iv. And then what is referred to here as the Old Covenant, which includes the Covenants, made with Noah, Abraham, the people at Sinai, and David. However most specifically the New testament writers refer to the Laws and Sacrificial system of the Sinaitic or Mosaic Covenant. Through all of these God was revealing more of his character and bringing the people to a greater readiness of the establishment of the New Covenant prophesied and promised in Jer. 31: and related here in Hebrews 8.

1. Although all of this revelation was grace—think for example

a. Noah—never destroy all mankind again

b. the Unconditional choice of Abraham

c. The ram in the thicket

d. The free release of the people from the bondage of Egypt

e. The Constant keeping of a remnant of the chosen people through uninterrupted generations of disobedience.

2. The fullness of the Covenant of Grace was yet to be revealed in Christ. This we shall see later.

4. That is the role of a mediator. Another way of seeing this is that the work of ministry that Christ is presently filling is the work of a mediator.

a. Mediator defined

i. Go-between or literally a middle man

ii. OT use = 0

1. Umpire or Daysman Job. 9:33 One who stand between and puts hands on both.

iii. Further defined

1. “the mediator is the go between whose task is to keep two parties of a covenant in fellowship with one another.”

b. Implications

i. A very great mediator shows the greatness of our need

ii. The greatness of our need shows the greatness a and value of Christ’s blood and suffering

iii. The greatness of the blood and suffering of Christ shows the Greatness of the heart of Love shared by the Godhead.

iv. The one who refuses this mediator is one who has failed to see

1. The greatness of need

2. The greatness of Love

3. The greatness of the danger

c. Using Isaiah 40: 1-5 to show the work of our mediator (removing obstacles, filling in the lacks)

>”But one day as I was passing into the field, with some dashes on my conscience, fearing yet that all was not right, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, “Your righteousness is in heaven.” I thought I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand. There was my righteousness. Wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me that I lacked His righteousness, for that was ever before Him. Moreover, I saw that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, “the same yesterday, today, and for ever“.

“Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my afflictions and irons, my temptations also fled away. From that time those dreadful Scriptures of God quit troubling me; now I went home rejoicing for the grace and love of God.” ~John Bunyan

d. The OC priest/mediator could only affect a cease-fire, our NC mediator makes a last and secure peace.

July 17th, 2016

The Shadow and Copy of the True Tent.

(Continuing “Our Great High Priest”)

Hebrews 8:1-5.

1. Introduction

a. Engage: A week ago most of us had never heard of the digital game

Pokemon Go. Briefly for those who are still in the dark it is a search

and find challenge generated by an application that is downloaded to

cell phones. GPS Coordinates are given to show where little creatures

are hidden. Gamer players then try to “find” as many of these

imaginary creatures as they can to score points. There are at least

two pokemon creatures right here around old first church and every

day this past week there have been dozens of people walking around

the church with there faces buried in their phones hoping for

Pokemon success. The game has become such an addictive rage that

the news reported last night that a young man in New Zealand has

quit his job to become to search fulltime for the 151 Pokemons hidden

on his island. Not content to have found 90 of them he seeks fame as

the one to find them all first. Whatever the attraction of the game it is

completely dependent on signs, pointers and directions. The game

would not exist without them. We could not easily exist without signs,

directional signals and pointers. We have become very used to having

an electronic device of some sort to guide us. Signs and directions can

be either words or symbols. The Bible uses both. This morning we will

explore two of the most prominent symbolic directional signs that are

given to us in the Scriptures.

b. Review: As you remember the past several weeks we have been

following the leading of the author of the epistle to the Hebrews as he

walks through the various ways that Christ Jesus is superior to

anything and everything in the religion of the Jews as given by God in

what we refer to as the Old Testament. Last week we saw five ways

that Christ is perfectly fit to our needs as our great high priest. We did

this be working through the list of his attributes given to us in 7:26.

He is holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and seated in

the heavenlies.

c. Preview: This morning we will move into the first 5 verses of Chapter

eight and continue to show the superiority of Christ as our high priest

by comparing the tabernacle (or temple) of the Levitical priesthood

with the “true tent that has been erected by God” We will do this with

i. A brief description of the Tabernacle in the wilderness that

ii. An explanation of what this Tabernacle was meant to

Moses bus instructed to build according to the pattern that God

showed him on Mount Sinai.

represent to the Jews and also to us.

1

iii. Showing how the present heavenly tent and its high

priest are beneficial to us.

any priest on earth or any earthly priest.

d. Big Idea; Having a great high priest in heaven is infinitely better than

2. The greatness of our high priest is shown by the perfection of his place of

service (the perfect tent). He ministers in a better tent. Now to properly

understand the excellency of this “true tent” we need to review the tent that

is called “a shadow and a copy” that was made after the “heavenly pattern.”

We need to review it because this is not a normal part of our study and

understanding, but it would have been to the Jews who received this letter.

a. What is this “earthly tent”? We are talking about what is referred to

the Tabernacle in the Wilderness.

i. This is first introduced in Ex. 25:1-9 and among other things

we see that it was a incredibly beautiful, but temporary and

mobile, meeting place between God and man, the symbol of

God’s dwelling with the Jews in time and space.

ii. Moses was given specific instructions about the

structure of the tent as well as its furnishings.

1. The Ark of the Covenant (25:10-22)

2. The Table for Bread (Ex. 25:23-30)

3. The Golden lamp stand (Ex. 25:31-39)

4. The Bronze Altar (Ex. 27:1-8)

5. The Altar of Incense

6. The bronze basin for washing (Ex. 30:17-21)

7. And specific articles of clothing for the priests.

b. It is the physical structure, which is what we will look at this morning.

iii. We will go into particular detail about the furnishings

later where they are listed for us in chapter 9.

We will describe the physical Structure and then suggest the

symbolism of the Structure.

i. The Structure The Tabernacle was made up of three distinct

spaces within its enclosure..

1. The Largest of the spaces was san open air court yard

surrounded by a fabric and wood frame wall 100 cu

(150’) x 50 cu (75’). The fabric was “fine white twisted

linen. Individual curtains were attached to bronze

pillars and bases hung from silver clasps and secured

with bronze tent pegs.

2. The second space was a room 10 x 20 cubits, or a5 by

30 feet. This room, called the holy place contained three

articles of furniture: a table for bread, a lamp stand with

seven candle holders, and an altar for burning incense.

It was separated from the open court by a curtained

opening made of fine linen woven with scarlet, blue and

purple thread. The common people could not enter this

space, it was reserved for the Levitical priests. If one

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were to go into the second structure he would see

embroideries of angelic figures, and stars and planets.

3. The third space in this worship are is referred to as the

Holy of Holies. It too is separated from the second area,

the Holy Place by a curtain of blue fabric embroidered

by figures of cherubim—heavenly guards. This very

thick curtain was meant to restrict everyone except the

high priest from entering. This is referred to as the veil.

This third structure is the smallest of the three only 10 x

10 cubits, or 15’ x 15’. It had a single piece of furniture,

the Ark of the Covenant. A smallest 1.5 by 2.5 box that

contained the two stone tablets of the Ten

Commandments, and the branch of an almond tree with

its buds. The Lid was named the mercy seat—the seat of

sins covered.

4. The second third space appeared from the outside to be

one structure; it was only from within that the two

rooms could be discerned. This two roomed structure

was surrounded be a wall 15’ high made up of

interlocking planks about 2.5 feet wide. These

interlocking planks were covered from top to bottom on

both sides with gold. In addition there were four layers

of curtains or tenting covering its entirely The first of

linen woven again with scarlet, blue and purple threads,

the second of goats skin, the third of ram’s skin dyed

red, and lastly a water proof covering that was made of

skins that we are not quite sure of—some translators

think it was badger skins, others sea cows or porpoises.

5. The whole was a stunningly beautiful structure set in

the exact center of the Israelite camp with the twelve

tribes set around it in order. God and his worship at the

center of their life.

ii. The Symbolism of all of this. What are we to understand

about this? Commentators both Jewish and Gentile have

diligently sought to know what to make of all of this. It is not

and will not be our goal to connect significance to every color,

curtain ring, and board in the tabernacle. It is however

appropriate to see a very evident symbolism of these three

areas. We can do this when we keep in mind that the tented

area was meant to be a representation of God’s dwelling with

the people and a place of his meeting with them. This dwelling

of God with his creatures and having a place to meet with them

is seen so clearly in the first pages of Genesis as well as the last

pages of Revelation. In Genesis we have the beautiful Garden of

Eden, a small part of the vast cosmos where God dwelt and met

with the first man and his wife. In Rev. 21:1-3 we see and hear

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a newly created dwelling place of meeting between God and

man. What was destroyed by sin in Genesis three is renewed

and redeemed in Rev. 21-22. The last words of Scripture tell us

that all of the workings of God have been, are, and will be to

bring a restored order to the cosmos so that the original may

be realized again. We miss the meaning of the biblical narrative

and the study of last things if we fail to see this. As New

Testament scholar Greg Beale says it, “All Eschatology is

Protology.” By this he means all of the study of the future is a

study of beginnings. What is yet to be is what was always

meant to be. So then, here is what we can see in the tabernacle

in the wilderness.

1. Outer Court can represent for us the portion of the

creation where humanity dwells. Here is a dirt court

with a large basin representing the oceans. The whole is

surrounded by white linen to show the purity and

holiness of the original creation.

2. Holy Place then moves us from earth to the visible

heavens. This is why the curtains are blue for the skies

and this is the meaning of the Seven candles in the lamp

stand—one candle for each of the seven heavenly lights

in the skies visible to the unaided eye. It is interesting to

note the word light is used to describe the sun and

moon in Genesis 1. Sun and moon aren’t used. The word

lights is used ten more times in the Five books of Moses,

but only for these lights on the candlestick.

3. Holy of Holies. Lastly we have the invisible realm of

God’s dwelling with his heavenly creatures, a place

where no sin enters. This is the throne room of creation.

We are told that the dimensions of the Ark of the

Covenant are the same as the dimensions of the

footstool of a king who is sitting on throne. Christ our

royal priest sits with the creation as the footstool of his

reign.

c. The true tent being better than the earthly tent gives superiority to

the priest serving there. The heavenly is better—why? how?

i. For one thing, it is Permanent and immovable. When the priest

ii. For a second thing its Workmanship is the work of God.

sat down in the Holy of Holies in the heavenlies he sat down in

a place that is to exist eternally. It is always to be in the same

place. We will never need wonder where our priest is—he is in

the permanent, immovable, indestructible temple of heaven.

This tent was not erected or pitched by man. It is made

personally and perfectly by God to be his personal and perfect

dwelling place, his place of meeting with his people.

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iii. Materials are of another sort completely. How are we to

understand or comprehend gold that is transparent or pearls

that are 144 feet high serving as gates? Psalm 104—God

creates.

3. Now then, what is all of this meant to represent to the Old Testament Jews

and to Us.

a. It was the representation of the presence of God with his people

b. It was meant to reveal the holiness of God (White, separated,

c. It was the place where people received their help from God

d. It is a promise of a yet to come eternal home of God and his people.

4. What about now, what do we now have that is better?

a. Christ himself dwelt, tabernacled among us.

b. We are the dwelling place of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit,

c. he abides with us.

d. We have access to help, help that is sufficient

5. This greater ministry is shown in the greater symbolism before us, the Lord’s

Supper

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