Tag Archives: Hebrews

The Second Tabernacle

Hebrews 9:7-10 

But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

I find it interesting that Paul relates here to the second tabernacle.  Here was only one tabernacle in Old Testament times.  Or should I say that God instructed them to build one tabernacle.  Within that tabernacle were three distinct areas.  There was a common place, where all the people brought their sacrifices to the priest and they offered those sacrifice upon the altar, washing in between offerings in the laver.  Hen there was the holy place, which was behind a veil.  His is where the priests ministered daily to the Lord by keeping the candles lit, renewing the shewbread on the table, and offering incense on the table of incense.  Last of all there was the Holy of Holies, which was not only behind a veil but had a roof over it as well.  His is where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, which was regarded as the very presence of God.  It is the Holy of Holies that Paul is referring to here as the second tabernacle.

A tabernacle is defined as a fixed or movable habitation.  It was considered a dwelling place for God.  He Cloud by day and the fire by night appeared over the Holy of Holies when the people of God were stationary, and moved to the front of the masses when the people were moving.  Hat is because the Ark was always at the front of the people, carried with gold poles that were put through gold eyelets on the side of the Ark of the Covenant.  Since the Ark represented the very presence of God, it could not be touched.  We all remember the story of the man who touched the Ark when it was being brought back from the camp of the Philistines in 2 Samuel 6.  That is because the Ark was the holiest of all things, and would be defiled by anyone touching it.  The Ark was the very prewe3nce of God amidst the people.  The dwelling place, or tabernacle for the Ark was the Holy of Holies, which Paul calls the second tabernacle here.

In Leviticus 16 God established the Day of Atonement.  It was the tenth day of the seventh month, and it was a special day.  No one was allowed to work, and all the people were to be in an attitude of repentance.  On this day, the High Priest alone would bath himself completely, put on the linen garments of the High Priest, and make a special offering.  His offering consisted of a bull and two goats. The bull was offered as a sin offering for all the people on the altar, and some of the blood was sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant.  He then separated the goats, and one goat was let go.  It was the scapegoat, and signified the sins of Israel leaving the camp.  The other goat was offered on the altar, but this time the High priest would take the blood into the Holy of Holies and offer the blood directly on the mercy city atop the Ark of the Covenant.  While this offering is taking place, there was to be absolutely no one else in any part of the whole tabernacle.  Only the high priest. Only once a year.  This was the offering that was made for the sins of all the people to have those sins forgiven by God.  All known and unknown sins.  All sins of omission and sins of conscience.  All sins.  It was the most special day on the Jewish calendar., the tenth day of the seventh month.  I urge you to go back and read about it.  Leviticus 16!

All of this was done because there was no other way that the sins of the people could be atoned for, and even this day could not make the perfect, because even the one offering the sacrifice upon the mercy seta was not perfect.  The priest had to sacrifice for himself also, because he was a sinner.  All were sinners.  They were using sacrifices that God intended, but even God knew that these types of sacrifices could not clear their conscience.  God knew that sin would still come back again and again and again.  he blood of bulls and goats, sheep and doves, would suffice for the journey through the wilderness and the appointed time, but it was not a ritual that would make a person perfect.

I find the ark most fascinating, and the items that were in it even more fascinating.  Inside the ark was some manna, the rod of Aaron that budded, and the tables of the law, the Ten Commandments.  These represent God’s provision, God/s power and the word of God.  Manna, when left for more than a day, just plain stunk.  It was not made to last more than a day.  Aaron’s rod was but a dead stick of wood, but it budded on command.  The Ten Commandments had to be heavy and burdensome to carry.  But they were in the Ark, preserved for all time.  However, they were covered by the mercy seat.  They were covered by the mercy of God.  The law, the power and the provision are all under the mercy of God.  We must remember this when presenting the Gospel.  Whether we use the law, the power or the provision of God in our witness, we must be sure it is all done under the umbrella of mercy.  His mercy is protected by the angels, represented by the Cherubim that sit upon the Ark with their wing outstretched.  God covers all things with mercy, and we should be sure to have mercy on all others, Christian or not.

Are you showing mercy everywhere you go, but making sure the law is also covered with your witness?  Are you praying for healing and seeing those prayers answered because you called on God to have mercy on them?  Are you helping people out and providing for their needs, both physical and emotional, while showing mercy to them.  It’s all about mercy, my friend.  It’s all about mercy. 

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The First Tabernacle

Hebrews 9:1-6

 

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.

And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.

I think the book of Leviticus is one of the hardest books to read in the Bible.  Many would say First Chronicles, with the listing of name after name after name, is the most difficult.  Leviticus is blood, blood, blood.  Who wants to read that?  Consider that the first chapter explains the burnt offering; the second brings the meat offering; the third, the peace offering; the fourth, the offerings for sins of ignorance: the fifth and sixth, the trespass offering.  Then the offerings are made to consecrate Aaron and his sons in 6-8.  Blood, blood, blood.  Every day, every hour, blood was offered on the altar.

Before this, in Exodus, Moses is given the instruction on how to build the tabernacle where these sacrifices would be made.  God is very specific with Moses.  He gives him a verbal picture of exactly how this tabernacle must be constructed, all the way down to the type of fabric and wood to be used and the number of holders for the curtains.  God is very specific and tells Moses several times to make sure he builds it according to the pattern he was given – no deviation.  Moses collected all the materials from the people, God gave the skills to certain men to accomplish the task, and the tabernacle was built.  His all happened immediately after the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea, and that tabernacle would serve the people all 40 years in the wilderness and many more years in the Promised Land.  Hey were even given very specific instruction on who would carry the materials from place to place (the Levites), and how to take it down and put it up.

There were three parts to the tabernacle.  There was the general tabernacle, where all the people would bring their sacrifices.  This part of the tabernacle contained the altar and the Laver, where the priests would wash the blood from their hands before administering the next offering.  Hi was more like a slaughterhouse than a place of worship it would seem to us.  The next part was the Holy place, where the able of shewbread, the candlesticks and the alter of incense were placed.  And finally, behind a thick veil, was the ark of the covenant, which represented the very presence of God.  He pattern was clear to Moses, and everything was done according to the pattern.  Once the tabernacle was complete, Moses was given the ordinances in Leviticus.  Blood, blood, blood.

There are some denominations today who say we should just pay attention to the New Testament. After all, this is where Jesus walked the earth, taught, performed miracle, was buried and rose again.  This is where Paul writes so many letters explaining biblical principles we should live by.  His is where Peter, James and John all wrote to us and told us the disciplines that we should practice to become disciples of Jesus.  And also tucked in there is the book we are now studying, Hebrews.  No one needed a deeper understanding of the price Jesus paid than the Jews.  The Gentiles were easy to preach to because they only had false gods they believed in, and none of those false gods could stand up to the power of the Gospel message.  But the Jews served the same God as Paul was preaching.  Hey already knew this God of all Gods and had to be convinced even more that Jesus was truly the Messiah and that their system of sacrifices was no longer necessary.  This was extremely hard for them to accept.

Leviticus is essential to each one of us understanding the price that Christ paid, not just for the Jews, but for all of us. We could take days, weeks, even months explaining the significance of each offering and each part of the tabernacle, and all the feasts and the ordinances that had to be followed.  It is well worth the study to do this, but I am not going to go that deep here in this blog.  I will save that for you to do.  But I highly recommend you do, or you will never know the extent of what Jesus has done for you.  Always remember that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood (Leviticus 17:11).  Always remember that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  There is none righteous, no not one (Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3).  These words are not for just the Jews, but for all of mankind.  We all need a blood sacrifice to atone for our sins, and Paul here is pointing us to that blood sacrifice, Jesus himself.

The priests on a regular basis went into the first part of the tabernacle to make perform the ordinances of all the sacrifices., Day after day, they slaughtered rams, lambs, cattle and doves making atonement for the sins of themselves and the people.  Day after day, smoke rose up from the tabernacle and the aroma wafted through the air.  Like a giant bar-b-que, the smell drifted throughout the camp of Israel, reminding them constantly of their need for atonement.  This was ongoing.  This was continual. This was commanded as part of the covenant between God and the Hebrew people.

It is essential for our understanding of why Jesus had to die to understand these things.  We need a good understanding of the necessity of a blood sacrifice and what it represents.  Without this, we merely can accept Jesus as our Savior, but will never recognize Him as Lord, because we never will recognize fully what he has done for us.  When Jesus said He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17), this is exactly what he was talking about.  He was saying that He came to fulfill all the sacrificial requirements of the law, He became our burnt offering, our meat offering, our sin offering, our peace offering and our trespass offering.  Jesus Christ is our Redeemer!

This is the service of the priests on the first part of the tabernacle.  It was done as a service to God and a service for the people. Once the tabernacle was complete it went on every day for every soul in the camp.  Ongoing slaughter, ongoing fire, ongoing smoke, ongoing aroma, ongoing blood.  Not a pretty picture in all actuality, but a horrifying scene for most.  This is why Jesus had to pay a horrifying price.  Oh, the depths and the riches of Christ’s love for us. 

Jesus paid it all. 

All to Him I owe. 

Sin had left a crimson stain. 

He washed it white as snow.

The New Covenant

 Hebrews 8:10-13

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

If the Hebrew people were not riled up about what Paul was saying before this, they certainly would be now.  “What does he mean, the first covenant is old and decayed?  We have had this covenant with God, all of these covenants, forever.  Covenants never die, they never get old.  How can he make such a statement?” It would be almost like someone coming and saying to Americans that our old constitution is decayed and needs replaced by a new one.  We have to remember that the law and the covenants formed the Jewish governmental laws as well not just their religious laws.  Paul was, in effect, saying their government needed to change because a new covenant had replaced the old.

But wait!  The Jewish people knew this would come when Messiah came.  It was a prophecy from Jeremiah.  In fact, Paul quotes directly from Jeremiah 31:33-34.  He doesn’t just pull these words out of thin air.  These words of Jeremiah were known by Hebrew children and adults as a promise that the Messiah, the coming King, would bring to pass.  When Paul wrote these words, all would know what he was saying and implying by them.  He was not making up these words to try and prove hiss point!  He was proving his point by words already written over 600 years earlier.  He had to really have their attention now!

Let’s take a look at what this new covenant consisted of.  First, the law would be written on their hearts and placed in their minds.  The law at this time was only written on scrolls to be read only in the synagogue. The people did not have copies of the law like we have their bibles.  They had to rely on going to the synagogue to hear the word of the Lord.  As children, they learned certain portions of scripture, but there was no way to memorize all the words of the Lord in the Torah the history books, the Psalms, proverbs and the prophets.  One thing they were well trained on were verses that pointed to the coming Messiah.  Most had heard them over and over again.  hey yearned for Messiah to come, thinking he would free them from Roman captivity.  Psalm 22, Isaiah 6, 9, 53 and 61 were all familiar to them as well as many others.

The second part of this prophecy says that every man, woman and child will help each other to understand the word of God.  We will teach our neighbors, and our brothers to know the Lord.  How do we do this?  Some might say it is through the words we speak, and that would be part of it.  But much more important is the life that we live in front of other people.  I used top have a Pastor who always said “What you do speaks so loudly that what you say I cannot hear.”  If your witness does not line up with the gospel, we can use all the words we want and we will not reach a soul.  In fact, we will most likely turn people away from God if our works do not show that Christ rules in our life.  You and I will teach our brothers and our neighbors to know the Lord by our actions in everyday life.  This is the most powerful witness we have.

Third, He will be merciful to the unrighteous.  He will remember our sins no more.  Hallelujah!  What a wonderful promise this is.  The nation of Israel always thought the Messiah would be a leader in battle, like Joshua and David were.  They thought of Him as a deliverer of their flesh, not necessarily of their souls.  Little did they understand the magnitude of this part of the prophecy.  They thought this was their God, and that He would be Messiah to the nation of Israel.  But He came as Messiah to all the nations of the earth, every tribe and every tongue.  All the unrighteous would be shown His mercy, the mercy that was shown on the cross. All their sins would be forgotten and remembered no more.  Paul was extending this prophecy past the nation of Israel to all the unrighteous.  All those teachings of Jesus to love our enemies, do good to those who despitefully use us, go the extra mile, turn the other cheek would now come to back to their memory.  God is a God to all the nations, not just to Israel.

This is the new covenant.  Not just a covenant to Israel, but to every man, woman and child on this earth.  To all races and creeds now and forever more.  The Messiah was brining the fulfillment of this prophecy, and every other prophecy, to everyone throughout time.  Paul was making the case for this in His letter to the Hebrews by showing them that Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.  In these days, only a priest could remit sins, and that only through the sacrificial system.

There was no other way for the people to be cleansed from their sins to stand before a holy God.  This all changed when Jesus came.  The prophecy came true, and Messiah had come for all mankind.

A Surety of a Better Testament

Hebrews 7:19-24

 

19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:

21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

He Jews knew nothing of Old and New Testament like we do.  All they knew was what we call the Old Testament, and most of what they knew consisted of the first five books of the Bible and whatever else was read in the synagogue and told around the fire at night.  Hey didn’t have a copy of these things readily available like we do.  They had to remember these things they had heard and pass them on to their children.  One thing they did know, though, was the law.  They knew the necessity of bringing their sacrifices to the temple to make atonement for their sins.  They knew the burnt offering, the trespass offering, the in offering, the peace offering and others.  They knew the dedicated feast times of celebration, like Passover and the Feast of Tabernacle. This is evident as we read the Gospels.  This was their way of life, and this law was strictly enforced by the Scribes and Pharisees.  It had always been this way, from the very beginning of their nation.

Now Paul comes along and tells them the law did not make anyone or anything perfect.  He just tore down over 2,000 years of tradition with one statement.  Surely, he can’t be right!  He must be mistaken on this point.  After all, they relied on the law of Moses to be cleansed from their sin. They relied on the priest to make atonement by offering their sacrifices upon the altar.  In a way, this would be like telling a Catholic that communion makes nothing right with God.  If you know anything about Catholicism, communion means everything to them.!  They would scoff at this idea, just as I am sure the Jews did when they first read this statement of Paul’s.  If the sacrifices of the law make nothing perfect, then there was no way for the people to be right with God!

Paul does not leave them hanging, though.  He next tells them that a better hope has been made available.  A new way has developed that could bring the people closer to God.  No longer did they have to rely on the Old Testament rules and regulations to be close to God.  There is a new way to draw nigh unto God.  And that new way was Jesus Christ.

I can see the common Jews head spin around on top of their neck in disbelief.  What, Jesus?  What a minute.  Isn’t he the one who was crucified and died a painful death?  Wasn’t he the one who did all these miracles we have heard about, and told amazing stories that made the people think?  Wasn’t he the one who brought Lazarus back to life, and who the Pharisees and Scribes thought was a heretic?  Wasn’t he the one who they claimed came back to life?  How could this man possibly bring a better hope?  I can hear them stopping Paul at this point and saying he had to prove this to them, because this was ludicrous.  It made no sense to them at all up to this point.

There is a reason Paul sends this letter to them, though.  He is building a case to show them exactly why Jesus brings a better hope. His method is perfect to do this.  He has talked about the priesthood of Melchizedek to show that there an be a priest outside the family of Levi.  This is a very important point to make for reasons that will continue to unfold as we read through Hebrews. In fact, it is essential that first he convinces the people of Jesus priesthood before they can believe Jesus can do anything to atone for their sins.  A priest had to offer the sacrifice, and had to offer blood for the cleansing of sin. That had not changed.  That was God’s law from the very beginning.  God slew an animal in the Garden to cover the sins of Adam and Eve.  God required an animal sacrifice of blood from Able.  God said there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood.  So, Paul had to convince them that Jesus could offer the sacrifice, and to do that He had to be a priest,

Here comes Melchizedek again. He was not a Levite, but from another order.  And the Messianic prophecy from the Psalms, which the Israelites knew well, said that Messiah would be “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”  We know so little about Melchizedek, and yet he plays such an important role here.  The Jewish people certainly knew the story of Abraham bringing tithes to this priest of the most-high God.  They also knew that the tithe belonged to the priest.  The fact that Abraham regarded him as a priest, and that he was also the King of Salem, makes any comparison to him one of great importance.

Jesus was the priest the Psalmist was taking about, and He brings the surety of a better testament because He is still alive! He died, but He rose again, and the priesthood that He offers us is one that will never end.  Their earthly high priest would succumb to death, but this high priest would not.  His testament, His covenant was a better one. It would last forever.  His priesthood would not change with the times.  It would always remain, and no one could take it away.  And His was perfect priesthood, which we will see more clearly as we move through this fascinating book.

A Necessity of Change

Hebrews 7:11-18 

11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

He Levitical priesthood was established in Israel for thousands of years.  It was established by God under Moses leadership and had served Israel well all through the ages.  From King Saul all the way to the captivity, the High Priest was in the lineage of Aaron, and those that served in the temple were of Levi’s heritage.  This is just the way it was, and the Israelites saw no necessity for a change.  But God had a higher purpose when he had the Psalmist write “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek preceded Levi, as we pointed out in the last lesson.  The verse from Psalms was revered as a Messianic prophecy.  Paul is trying to show the Hebrews, and us, that Jesus was not just a man, not just a king, not just a Savior, but also a priest.  The reason he does this will become more evident as we walk through the next few chapters, but it is very significant that Messiah be known as a priest, and that priest would not come from the tribe of Levi.

Verse 18 is a difficult one for me to understand.  Basically, the way I read it, Paul is saying that the command about the Levites was done away with (disannulled) because it was weak and unprofitable.  I’m not sure exactly what he means by all this, and I have not gone to the commentaries to try and find out.  But what I believe is that Paul is saying the Levitical priesthood, while it covered the ins of the people by offering their sacrifices, it did nothing to save their souls.  It appeased God, but did not cleanse the sinner’s heart.  Her Israelites could walk away from offering their sacrifice, knowing that those sacrifices would cover their sins before God.  The Levites would offer the sacrifices according to the laws in Leviticus.  If you have not read Leviticus, you should.  It is essential reading to understand why Paul is going into this Hebrews dialogue in the first place.  But they would have to come back the next day, and the next, and the next.  There was no salvation in the sacrifices, only a covering.  God was after their hearts, not their livestock or bread.  The sacrificial system was, therefor, weak and unprofitable to the people.  This is why there was a necessity of change!

It is easy for us to get into a rut.  We have been doing the same thing for so long, it seems like it is the only way to do it.  Our churches can easily get bogged down by tradition and doing things “the way we have always done them.”  But that is not always the best way.  God has a better way in many cases.  He comes to us with new ideas and changes to the worship service, and yet we are too et in our ways to allow God to come into the service.  Many churches have set programs they go by which do not allow God to speak to the people at all.  They leave no place for private worship, or for changing things up a bit. The schedule has to be followed so we can be done in an hour and get home for the roast in the oven.  The services are tailor made for our comfort, but not for God’s involvement.  Hat’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it will be.

I remember a time years ago when I was travelling back to Iowa from Massachusetts.  I usually just traveled Interstate 80 across Pennsylvania, but this time I was driving home on a Sunday and decided to stop into a church in the morning to enjoy morning worship.  I decided to just find any church and stop in.  I don’t remember what town I was in, but I chose a small mainline denomination church.  I walked in and sat down and nobody paid attention to me.  They were without a pastor that day and the service was quite short.  I wanted to shout from the rooftop that I was a preacher and singer, but God checked me on that.  I am convinced to this day that this church missed a blessing because they had to stay in their routine.  That’s the way they had always done it.  Not that I am anything spectacular, but why else would God have me walk into that church that Sunday?

I left that town and headed across the state on a state highway.  I ended up in the Northwest corner of the state in time for the evening church service and looked for a place to go.  I stopped at a gas station and asked if there was an Assembly of God church, or an evangelistic church, in town.  They pointed me to the Church of God in Christ.  I decided this would do, so I went to that church.  When I walked in the door, I realized it was an all-black church and I was the only white guy in the room.  Hey welcomed me with open arms and asked me if I had a testimony to share.  I took that opportunity, iof course.  The service was filled with dancing, worship and the word, and there was no timetable.  IT was very spontaneous.

Do I have to tell you which service I enjoyed the most? It was the one that was not stuck on tradition and was willing to move where the Holy Spirit wanted to take it.  That evening service was one of the highlights of my trip.  Some of our churches have a necessity to change.  Our small church in Dows Iowa closed recently because they were unwilling to change. A lot of churches are closing because they are stuck in the old traditions and won’t entertain new ideas.  Even though their services are weak and unprofitable, they continue to go about it as they always have.  It’s time for the church to wake up and realize that God is moving in our nation and around the world today.  He is still healing, still delivering, still speaking to His people and still in the business of saving souls. If our churches don’t allow or encourage these things, they will die.  If they don’t preach the Gospel, they will die.

Even personally, in my life, there is a necessity of change.  I must go where the Spirit leads me and not where my schedule dictates.  Taking time to write this blog is prat of that.   Writing poetry for my other blog is also.  Making the time to record the songs God gives me is another thing.  I cannot allow my schedule to dictate my ministry!  I must make the time, not try and find the time.  I am working diligently to make that happen. Is there necessity of change in your life today?  Are you tuck with seemingly nowhere to go?  Take a long hard look at what you are accomplishing and ask yourself if it is edifying the body of Christ.  If it’s not, change it!  God has given you unique gifts that He wants you to share with His people.  What are you waiting for?