The Heavenly Ministry of Jesus

Hebrews 8

New Living Translation

Christ Is Our High Priest

Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle,[a] the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.

And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.”[b]

But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said:

“The day is coming, says the Lord,
    when I will make a new covenant
    with the people of Israel and Judah.
This covenant will not be like the one
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    and led them out of the land of Egypt.
They did not remain faithful to my covenant,
    so I turned my back on them, says the Lord.
10 But this is the new covenant I will make
    with the people of Israel on that day,[c] says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
    and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
11 And they will not need to teach their neighbors,
    nor will they need to teach their relatives,[d]
    saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’
For everyone, from the least to the greatest,
    will know me already.
12 And I will forgive their wickedness,
    and I will never again remember their sins.”[e]

13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.

My thoughts and observations:

The main point the author of this letter wants us to get is “We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside God in heaven.”

Our High Priest offers offerings for us in Heaven.  He only had to sacrifice himself once.

God gave Moses specific instructions on how to build the earthly tabernacle to be a replica of the heavenly tabernacle.

The ministry of our Lord is superior to the ministry of the earthly priests.  It is a better system. 

Teaching Points from

The main point- Sometimes writers do not spell out the main point for us, leaving us to decipher it on our own. But in this case, he did. What is it? The point is that WE HAVE this kind of High Priest. For chapters he has been showing us that Jesus is a superior high priest. We have been learning many technical details about Melchizedek and the Levitical priesthood, about the old and new covenants. We have been learning about Jesus’ priesthood. The amazing news for us is that we do have this kind of high priest. This brings down the lofty theology and makes it immensely practical and personal. This is not just a fact. It is not for head knowledge. It is not for studying. There are so many fields of study that have no practical impact on our lives. Yet Jesus is our high priest. The Greek word used shows that in some way we actually possess Him. We are His and He is ours. That is because He has given Himself to us and for us. What application can we make from this? What should we do since we have a high priest like this?

He is at the right hand of God’s throne in the heavens – This signifies the position of power. It also is a position of honor and of influence. Remember that James and John wanted to sit one on each side of Jesus when He ruled a kingdom (which He didn’t yet because His kingdom was spiritual). Before the high priests were still distant from God. They could only enter the holy of holies once per year. And even in that case, it was only a shadow of God’s glory which as actually there. Forgive me for using this example. But it could be compared to something like the difference between calling someone on the phone (or a skype conference) and sitting next to them face to face. The Levitical priest’s access to God was far more limited than Christ’s is (who has complete access around the clock). Consider again the benefits of having Christ as OUR high priest. This benefit shows the serious guanxi (Chinese word for relationship) that we have. Our relationship with Christ gives us special privileges from and access to God.

The true tabernacle – The actual place where God dwells. His throne room. Since He is everywhere, perhaps it could be described as the place where His glory is the most intense. More on this to come.

If Christ was on the earth He wouldn’t be a priest at all because He is not of the Levitical priestly line.

Verse 5 – These Levitical priests served in the tabernacle/temple. This was only a copy or a shadow of the heavenly. The tabernacle’s dimensions were given to Moses by God. We don’t know how, but in some aspects the tabernacle was a shadow of God’s heavenly sanctuary. Certainly many of the items inside such as the lampstand, bread, washing basin, etc. are symbolic of spiritual truths that will be seen reflected more clearly in heaven.

Verse 6 – Jesus’ ministry is better than that of the Levitical priests. He is the mediator of a better covenant with better promises. Remember that the writer is writing to a primarily Jewish background. They place great importance on the priests and lifted them up. The author reminds the Jews that Jesus is greater than all the priests and offers a much better covenant to them than the Levitical priests did.

Verse 7 once again shows us that the original covenant wasn’t perfect. It had flaws. We discussed this in chapter 7:18. The law has weaknesses, the main one being its inability to take away our sins permanently. The fact that there is a second covenant is further proof that the first is not enough (if it was enough, God wouldn’t have made a second.

The Jews did not obey the first covenant. Back in Exodus we saw God’s declarations before they entered the Promised Land. God promised to bless them in many ways if they obeyed Him. But if they disobeyed Him, He would curse them. Throughout most of the OT period they continued in disobedience. Then Jesus came and His very own people rejected Him. Currently only around 2% of the population of Israel is Jewish. This shows that the vast majority of Jews has rejected Christ as their Messiah. Romans 10-11 goes into detail about God’s plan to go to the Gentiles as accomplished through the Jewish rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.

Although Israel does not follow Jesus, this is a temporary situation. God, in His infinite grace, has promised throughout the Old and New Testaments to one day finally restore Israel to Himself. We can see this taught in verses 10-12.

Verse 10 – The New Covenant is internal, not external. One day the Jews will be following Jesus sincerely from their hearts, not just in outer traditions or rituals. Nowadays Jews are very ritualistic. They dress a certain way. They eat a certain way. They pray a certain way. They believe that these rituals help them be close to God. And yet their hearts are far from God because they have not accepted His Son. One day this will change. One day their hearts will belong to God. He will be theirs. And they will once again be able to be called God’s people. This verse should serve as a reminder to us about the importance of our heart. Our Christian faith is not about going to church, praying publicly, or do any other traditions that make us appear religious in the sight of people. It is about maintaining a close walk with God, about truly loving and following Him from our hearts. You might be able to trick other people into thinking that you are a “good Christian” if you do the right things. But you can’t trick God. He knows what you are thinking about. He knows the deepest desires of your heart. God once told Samuel, “man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart.” This is still true. What will God see when He looks into your heart?

Verse 11 – One day there will be no need to proclaim the gospel to Israelites. Those who already believe in Jesus will not need to persuade others to believe in Jesus. The reason is that one day everyone will believe from the least to the greatest. When will this happen. It will happen just prior to Christ’s second coming. A number of tribulations and judgments will wipe out a large percentage of Israel’s population (2/3rds?) Then everyone left, will come to accept Jesus. At the beginning of Jesus’ millennial reign, all the Jews will have believed in Jesus. This will be an exciting day! Until then we need to continually and faithfully share to everyone (including Jews) because not everyone knows God.

Verse 12 – God will forgive them. The Jews have a long list of sins. They have a long history of rebellion and disobedience. God would be perfectly justified in simply wiping them out.

It would be reasonable if His patience just ran out and He immediately punished them for their sins. But His patience hasn’t run out. He will take that long history of rebellion and put it out of His memory. He won’t bring it up against them. Instead He will forgive them. God is a merciful God. This same truth is also applicable to each one of us. We are all sinners just like the Jews. We have all rebelled against God. We have all dishonored His name. Yet He makes the same offer of forgiveness to each of us.

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