Summary: What is your connection to God like - a telegraph or a telephone? Learn why the model of the Tabernacle is so crucial to understanding the heavenly presence of God
When Alexander Graham Bell first introduced his invention for sending speech over electric wires - it was dismissed. In fact, Bell had to lie to his financial backer by telling him that he was inventing a dual telegraph - a telegraph capable of sending and receiving Morse code at the same time.
But in 1876 Bell patented his invention - the telephone. But people at the time didn’t really understand it. They though the telephone was simply a curiosity with no practical purpose - why would anyone want to talk to another person over a wire?
Today, of course, things are much different. The telephone is ubiquitous in the United States and much of the world. And just in the last decade wireless communications over cell phones has exploded. Most of us wouldn’t know how to get along without Bell’s invention.
To us the need for the telephone is obvious - but not for people living in 1870’s America. They were comfortable with face to face communication - letters, or if totally necessary, a telegraph which was nothing more than a fast letter. Change was difficult - especially to wrap their arms around the potential - at how much better life would be by embracing this new technology.
That brings us to Hebrews. The Hebrews were having a really hard time with change as well. They were raised in the system of Judaism - a system of laws, priests, sacrifices and a leader named Moses. Then people started telling them about a new way - a supposedly better way - where Jesus Christ actually supplanted all their cherished traditions.
They began to move towards this new way - but when persecution rose up they seriously considered abandoning it and going back to Judaism. So the author of Hebrews launches a long and sometimes complicated argument telling them that Jesus is the better - and ONLY way to reach God.
He’s been talking about Jesus as our new high priest - who became high priest due to God’s promise, not by being born into Aaron’s line - and supported by God’s oath, which made Jesus a more sure high priest - a guide leading us into God’s eternal rest.
As we move into Chapter 8 and into some of Chapter 9 - he continues this discussion - and his point is that if God had not meant something better, He would not have sent Jesus. This is true in regards to the rest in the Promised Land - and is also true of the covenants, or agreements God made with man. The Old Covenant was designed to show man how weak he is, so that when the New Covenant came along through Jesus - we would see obviously that it was a better way. But it was like trying to convince 19th century Americans that the telephone is better than the telegraph.
Verses 1 - 7
1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
The author summarizes his whole argument about Jesus by telling the Hebrews that this high priest isn’t on earth in the tabernacle but in heaven, seated in authority with the Father. In fact, the whole Tabernacle idea was to give an earthly picture of a heavenly reality - just as the earthly priests are a shadow of the heavenly high priest, Jesus Christ.
2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.
It’s amazing to me - there is actually a heavenly Tabernacle. Even the Jews at the time of this writing believed that. Jesus is there as God - but His place is as a servant. He is not making sacrifices anymore - He is interceding for us to the Father.
3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.
The priests had to offer meal and blood offerings each day - Jesus also offered something - Himself as the only and perfect sacrifice.
4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.
Jesus wouldn’t have qualified as a priest on earth because He didn’t come from the tribe of Levi - according to the Law of Moses. But as we’ll see in a second, God changed that Law - it was His plan all along - partly based on this idea of model - or shadow - and reality.
5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain."