Summary: Sermon 12 in a study in HEBREWS
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” NASB
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” NIV
In previous sermons we have talked much of the grace of God and the rest that the believer is provided and brought into as he or she begins to understand and embrace the truth of Christ’s finished work for us, and the necessity of laying down our own hands and our own efforts in order to ever enter into that rest.
So here, as we come to these last few verses of chapter 4, we find things taught that will never be comprehended, never be apprehended, until the believer is awakened to the all-sufficient grace of God extended through the cross of Christ and His finished work as our Great High Priest.
I have recently been surprised by the language of a bible commentator of days gone by, who asserted that no true worship takes place on the earth.
By his claim he made me pause to reflect on this for a while, and as I went back and continued to read I understood that he was correct.
“We cannot therefore state too strongly that there is no earthly worship now; that true worship is in the Spirit, Who, blessed be God, is here with us, but is also in Heaven. He acts in, for, and through believers wholly and only on the ground of Christ’s accomplished work, and of His being received up in glory, and of His having passed through the heavens. The believer has the same blessed rights in the presence of the Father as belong to the Son in Whom he is, and Who ‘appears before the face of God’ for him.” W.R. Newell, HEBREWS, Verse by Verse, Moody Press, 1947
What we’re going to focus on today, is the reason that all true worship now takes place in the Heavenly realm, and why this gives believers endurance to hold firmly to their faith, and confidence to approach the Throne of grace.
Where the old system of worship – in the courtyard where the sacrifices were offered, past the laver, into the inner temple, then the holy place, and even into the Holy of Holies behind the veil – where the old system fell short was that as men the priests of old were unable to connect men with God.
They went in to God’s presence to present the offering of blood for the covering of their sins and the sins of the nation, but they were not able to usher men into the presence of God, nor were they able to bring God out to the people.
The Temple was a center of worship, but it was a center for forms of worship. Outward exercises of the flesh which, although ordained by God through Moses, were still only shadows and had no substance.
So men would come to the Temple and offer their purchased items for sacrifice, but the farther one could go into the Temple itself, which consisted of only the priests when it came to performing worship functions in the holy place and farther in, the more ominous and uninviting it got.
Priests worked and served in and out of the Temple all day, every day, but for the common man it was a place he could not enter. It would have been for him dangerous, and had he peeked into the holy place he would have seen there a thick veil, the very presence of which cried, ‘Inaccessible!’
The priests themselves were of little help. They were themselves sinners, but separated from the common man because they were required to perform rituals all day long to keep themselves removed from the world and ceremonially clean so they might minister in the Temple. They were caught between Heaven and earth, not fully able to engage either one in any significant, life-altering way.