Summary: Sermon 18 in a study in HEBREWS
“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.” NASB
“But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.” NIV
1. Better ministry 2. Better covenant 3. Better promises 4. Better mediator.
As I surveyed the content of this chapter and began to formulate in my mind the things to be said from it, I was concerned at first because I felt I had already said much of what is here in previous sermons and I didn’t want to bog you down with much repetition.
Then I went back to the beginning and realized that precisely what the writer himself has done is to recap. This is a synopsis of the first seven chapters of HEBREWS.
“Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.” 8:1-2
The key verse of the chapter though, is verse 6, and we will use that verse as a pivot point as we reconfirm things the author has laid out for us.
“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.”
SHADOWS VS REALITY
We have had several opportunities recently, in our discussions even in contexts apart from our HEBREWS study, to observe that the things of the Old Testament consisted of shadows of what was to come in the New.
When we are focusing on what we call the ‘types’ we agree that the very lives of the ancients were foreshadowing what would later be fulfilled in God’s plan of redemption.
We have talked about the numerous types or shadows of the Gospel that were played out just in the deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt. I refer to these only as an example for clarification of what I am saying here.
There was the blood on the lintel, doorposts and at the basin of the doors of the Israelites’ homes that looking back, we see as a type of the cross. The people were instructed to stay inside once the blood was applied, and eat of the roasted Passover lamb and the other elements of the meal, each of which had some symbolic application to Christ and His atoning death for us. Then they were led out in the morning by Moses, himself a type of Christ as the redeemer of his people leading them out of bondage and into a new life, and so forth.
Well, the writer to the HEBREWS has told us in verse 5 of our text that the priests and the Temple and the implements there for worship and the form of worship itself were copies and shadows of heavenly things.
The priests themselves, in the performance of their duties in the Temple, were shadows. They were types of Christ, who was the fulfillment of the types.
When we read verse 5 we see that the admonition of the Lord to Moses is quoted from Exodus 25, warning the prophet that in the construction of the tabernacle and all articles of worship, the altar, the laver, the tools found inside the holy place and so on, were to be made precisely according to what Moses was shown while on the mountain, meeting with God.
The reason was that they were to serve as shadows of things not seen by the eyes of men, and since they were representations of heavenly things they were to be precise representations of what was above.
The point the author is making though, is that all these things, the priests, the tabernacle and later the Temple, all the items found there and the forms of worship themselves, were inadequate. Although they served as tutors, pointing to the fulfillment that would come in Christ, they could never be the reality.
Therefore, when the reality came, when the types were fulfilled and all things symbolized finished in the perfect work of the eternal High Priest of Heaven, there was no longer any need for the shadows. There was no need any longer for the tutor.
The veil covering the Holy of Holies was torn from the top to the bottom at the death of Jesus on the cross, meaning it was God Himself who tore it, and because of the finished work of Christ man and God were now reconciled and there was no longer any need for playacting.