Agonizomai: Hebrews 8:1-5 - Christ - Our Intercessor, Bodily in the Presence of God

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hebrews 8:1-5 - Christ - Our Intercessor, Bodily in the Presence of God

Hebrews 8:01-05 - Christ - Our Intercessor, Bodily in the Presence of God

Heb 8:1-5 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”

Hammering home the contrast between the ineffable glories of Christ and the total insufficiency of the Levitical system the writer again makes a comparison. It is by the death and resurrection (especially here, the resurrection) of Christ that the vast superiority of the gospel of grace alone is realized. Christ is risen and lives evermore to make intercession for those who believe.

The true place of worship is in heaven, where God’s presence abides unveiled. There ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands declare His praises. There the cherubim walk in the midst of the stones of fire before the throne, singing "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty". All this goes on day and night without ceasing. This is where the risen Christ is found - in the very presence of the Father. He is there bodily. He is at the right hand of God - the place of favour, power and honour. It is the place of majesty.

Christ is eternal man and has that place in the holy of holies in heaven as our champion and representative. The fact that He is there bodily is the reminder that He is a man and that He died. The fact that He is there bodily is an eternal reminder that He rose again and was declared to be Son of God in power according the Spirit of Holiness by His resurrection from the dead. The grave could not hold him because, though he became sin for us and bore our just punishment, He was perfectly righteous. God declared His life acceptable. God declared His sacrifice acceptable - all by His resurrection from the dead.

The entire Levitical system was given as an illustration, a type, a representation of the true reality that was to be realized in Jesus Christ. All the ceremonies, all the dire warnings, retribution, chastisement - rigorous enforcement, the stunning detail - all of it given to Moses was of no eternal value in and of itself. It all foretold the One True Sacrifice that was to come. The thundering from Sinai, the terror of entering the Most Holy Place, the injunction not to offer strange fire - all of this was to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Person able to enter into the True Presence in heaven on His own merits, as a member of the human race.

Yet we are reminded that Christ is not a Levite. He is apart from that whole system. He ascended into heaven not as a Levite priest, but as a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. He is the Priest of His people of the promise by an oath of God. His ascension was in order that he could enter the true Holy Place and intercede with God on our behalf. Not intercede in the sense that God the Father is unwilling and Christ is begging for a change of mind. That is a false picture. He intercedes as the One Who accomplished all that God desired for Him to do so that His people would be saved. There is no conflict between Father and Son. They are of the same mind.

And the pattern that God desired Moses to be so careful to follow in the things of worship and the tabernacle were so precisely given and enforced because they represented aspects of the ministry and Person of the coming (now come) Messiah. Of course, only true faith is able to accept these things. The minds of fallen men can perceive them - can be fascinated with the patterns and parallels - but they cannot receive them apart from true faith. They cannot appropriate them personally. And some men get it entirely the wrong way around - seeing in Christ something patterned after the tabernacle, rather than something in the tabernacle patterned after Christ.


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