The book of Hebrews places a heavy emphasis on Jesus as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. In fact, the clearest exposition of the new covenant found in the New Testament appears in the book of Hebrews with its emphasis on Christ as High Priest. This is no coincidence. Christ’s heavenly ministry is intricately tied to promises of the new covenant.
The Old Testament sanctuary service was the means by which the old-covenant truths were taught. It centered around sacrifice and mediation. Animals were slain, and their blood was mediated by the priests. These, of course, were all symbols of the salvation found only in Jesus. There was no salvation found in them in and of themselves.
Read Hebrews 10:4. Why is there no salvation found in the death of these animals? Why is the death of an animal not sufficient to bring salvation?
All these sacrifices, and the priestly mediation that accompanied them, met their fulfillment in Christ. Jesus became the Sacrifice upon which the blood of the new covenant is based. Christ’s blood ratified the new covenant, making the Sinaitic covenant and its sacrifices “old” or void. The true sacrifice had been made, once and for all (Hebrews 9:26). Once Christ died, there was no more need for any animals to be slain. The earthly sanctuary services had fulfilled their function.
ReadMatthew 27:51, which tells how the veil in the earthly sanctuary was torn when Jesus died. How does that event help us to understand why the earthly sanctuary had been superseded?
Tied, of course, to these animal sacrifices was the priestly ministry, those Levites who offered and mediated the sacrifices in the earthly sanctuary on behalf of the people. Once the sacrifices ended, the need for their ministry ended, as well. Everything had been fulfilled in Jesus, who now ministers His own blood in the sanctuary in heaven (see Hebrews 8:1-5). Hebrews stresses Christ as High Priest in heaven, having entered by shedding His own blood (Hebrews 9:12), mediating in our behalf. This is the foundation of the hope and promise we have in the new covenant.
|How does it make you feel, understanding that, even now, Jesus is ministering His blood in heaven on your behalf? How much confidence and assurance does that give you regarding salvation?|