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THE TRUE TABERNACLE VERSUS THE EARTHLY TABERNACLE
Victor M. Eskew
A. Chapter seven of Hebrews ended with a discussion involving the contrasts between the Levitical priesthood and the priesthood of Melchizedek. Remember, four contrasts were presented.
B. In chapter eight, this same discussion continues. The writer states: “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum…” (Heb. 8:1).
1. It sounds as if he is about to summarize all of the things about which he has spoken, but that is not the case at all.
2. The definition of the word “sum.”
a. Strong (2774): s principal thing, that is, main point
b. Thayer: chief of main point, principal things
3. The writer is about to present the most important point of all he has presented.
4. The ASV puts it in these words: “Now in the things which we are saying the chief point is this…”
C. The chief point involves the contrast between the places wherein the two priesthoods minister.
1. One is on earth in a tabernacle made with hands.
2. The other is heavenly in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
D. The writer will conclude the section by saying: “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry…” (Heb. 8:6a).
E. There are many contrasts that are made in this section.
1. Priest on the right hand of God 1. Priest on earth
2. Heavenly sanctuary 2. Earthly tabernacle
3. Not made with hands 3. Made with men’s hands
4. True sanctuary 4. Example and shadow of heavenly things
5. Under the law, Jesus couldn’t serve 5. Priest offer gifts according to the law
6. More excellent ministry 6. A ministry
I. HIS POWER (Heb. 8:1)
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.
A. The Principal Point (Heb. 8:1a).
B. The Position of the High Priest
1. His existence: “We have such a high priest.”
a. “We” involves the readers, the Jewish Christians. It also involves us today.
b. Christians have a high priest.
1) Because the position is invisible, we often do not speak of the high priest who exists within the church of Christ.
2) We need to let others know: “We have such a high priest…”
2. His exaltation: “…who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.”
a. This is not the first time in the letter that we have read about Jesus being on God’s right hand (See Heb. 1:3).
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
b. The right hand
1) A place of honor and authority
2) “…the meaning is, that he is exalted to the highest honor in the universe” (Barnes, e-sword).
3) He occupies the most elevated situation in heaven.
4) Ephesians 1:20-21
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.
c. He is on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens.
a) Strong (3172): greatness, divinity
b) Vine: denotes great, greatness, majesty…signifying His greatness and dignity
2) Notice that God does not just possess greatness; He is Majesty.
II. HIS POSITION (Heb. 8:2)
A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
A. Jesus is the minister in the heavenly tabernacle.
a. Strong (3011): a public servant, a functionary in the Temple
b. Thayer: a public minister…of the temple, of one busy with holy things
c. Clarke: one who officiated for the public
2. The high priest ministered to the Jews. Jesus can minister unto all men.
3. He is a minister of the sanctuary.
1) Strong (39): a sacred thing (that is, spot)
2) Thayer: reverend, worthy of veneration, of things which on account of some connection with God possess a certain distinction and claim to reverence, as places sacred to God which are not to be profaned
b. The word “sanctuary” is primarily an OT word that refers to the tabernacle and the temple.
c. It is used four times in Hebrews and nowhere else in the NT. This reference seems to indicate “the most holy place” because it is connected to the words “true tabernacle” with a conjunction.” He is the minister in the place where God abides at this present time.
4. He is also the minister of the true tabernacle.
a. This indicates both “the holy place” and “the most holy place.”
1) The church is a heavenly place.
2) Ephesians 2:6
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ.
b. The description is “the true tabernacle.”
a) Having the real nature corresponding to the name
b) True as opposed to that which is simulated
c) The perfect and substantial as opposed to the imperfect and unsubstantial
a) Tent, cloth hut
b) The original tabernacle was constructed out of material and was referred to as curtains (Exo. 26:1-2).
Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them. The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure.
B. The Lord is the Master Builder of the heavenly tabernacle.
1. Which the Lord pitched, and not man
a. Strong (4078): to fix, set up
b. Thayer: to make fast, to fix, to fasten together, to build by fastening together
3. Jesus built the church (Matt. 16:18).
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
4. He is laboring in the Holy of Holies at this time for us. It is not on earth. It, too, was constructed by Him.