and who ministers in the sanctuary and true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.
Subject - Heaven the place where this great High Priest ministers. From this comes the truth to which he has been looking from the beginning, that in heaven, as the true holy of holies, is fulfilled what was exhibited in type in the tabernacle.
I. THE ASSURANCE THAT CHRIST IS FULFILLING HIS HIGH PRIESTLY WORK IN HEAVEN. "We have a High Priest," etc. Jesus in heaven, acting as our Representative, is the crowning point of what the writer has to say about our Lord. Is not that the crowning point of all that can be said about him? Can we ever know the full blessedness of Jesus till, in our habitual thought of him, he who lived on earth, and died, and rose, is ever seen and felt to be living for us in the heavenly places?
1. The declarations of Scripture give us this assurance. That is intimated in the use made here of Psalm 110., the whole of Hebrews 7. being based on it - the Messiah was to be a Priest at God's right hand. The same word gives us the same assurance; but whereas to the Jew it was prediction, to us it is fulfillment. "He was received up into heaven," declare evangelists and apostles.
2. The discharge of his priestly functions necessitates this. "But [not 'now'] if he were on earth he would not be a priest at all," etc. He could not discharge his priestly duties on earth; the Law would forbid it of one not of the tribe of Levi. If, then, he is Priest, and called to what is priestly, and this cannot be on earth, it must be in heaven, for there is no other place where he could legally minister. But we Christians get the assurance that Christ in heaven is acting as High Priest, in what we find he has actually done and is ever doing. He sends his people what he promised when he should be there. Those gifts and communications come to them from heaven which they know could not come but for his mediatorial work.
3. The fulfillment of sacred types demands this. (Ver. 5.) A very important statement, for it occurs no less than five times in the Pentateuch - proof that the Jewish ritual was but a shadow of certain Divine realities. The ministry of the priests, therefore, must have its celestial counterpart. The high priest, after the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, entered within the veil to present the atoning blood before the mercy-seat. That is the type; then the fulfillment must be in Christ. In the Book of Revelation the Christian sees this fulfilled in a series of visions: Christ redeeming the world, subduing his foes, completing his Church, and all this through his exaltation to the heavenly throne.
II. THE EXALTED POSITION IN HEAVEN IN WHICH THIS HIGH PRIESTLY WORK IS BEING FULFILLED. The Hebrews regarded the high priestly ministry with awe. How the majestic contrast drawn here must have arrested their attention, and surprised them by its claim: "We have such," etc.!
1. It implies our Lord's equality with the Father. On the supreme throne only Jehovah can sit; he who sits with him as his co-equal must, with him, be one God. He who ascended is he also who descended. The Incarnation was the condescension of God himself. Get high thoughts of Jesus, for it will exalt our hope, and make our salvation more sure to our mind, and reveal fresh depths in the Divine mercy.
2. This also implies his fearlessness in the presence of the Father. The Jewish priest stood and trembled and adored within the veil. Jesus sat down on the throne. Why should he fear? we might ask. Because he went there as man's Representative. The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all, he bowed his head in death under the awful burden, he then ascended into heaven, and sat down on the Father's throne. Then how certainly he had put away sin by the offering of himself!
3. This further implies his possession of the favor of the Father. He sat there - why? Because God said unto him, "Sit thou at my right," etc. The Father's delight must indeed be fixed on him he asks to share his throne. But it is as our Mediator he is exalted thus. Of his own right, by his own Deity, that throne was his; the invitation to ascend it was made to him as our Representative. That gives utmost encouragement to us. The welcome given to Jesus is really a welcome to all prayers for his people.
III. THE EFFECT WHICH THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST AS HIGH PRIEST SHOULD HAVE UPON OUR HEARTS.
1. It should lead us to inquire whether we are among God's Israel. "We - whom does that include? The high priest entered the holiest of all for every Israelite; every Israelite could say, He is there for me." Christ, in like manner, appears in heaven for the true [not the typical] Israel, the true seed of Abraham, they who are of faith. Faith admits into God's Israel, and for all these Christ is High Priest. Then, are we of these?
2. It should make us feet the sufficiency of his mediation. We can need no other priest if we have Jesus, and no other sacrifice. What can a man on earth add to that which in him we have in heaven itself!
3. It should assure us of the supply of every necessity. Jesus, who has the Father's ear, is at the Father's right hand; and there for us. Then we have nothing to fear. - C.N.
The true tabernacle.
Homilist.I. IT HAS A DIVINE RESIDENT. The soul is in the body, animating and controlling it, and revealing itself in it; so God is in the good — the true Church.
II. IT HAS A DIVINE ARCHITECT.
1. He formed the plan, and a wonderful plan it is, stretching over ages, and involving the agencies of heaven, earth, and hell.
2. He laid the foundations (Isaiah 28:16).
3. He prepares the materials. Digs each stove out of the quarry of depravity, hews it, polishes, makes it suitable for a place m the building.
4. He builds the materials together.
III. IT HAS A DIVINE MINISTER
1. A Deliverer.
2. A Leader.
3. An Educator.
1. In the first place, the tabernacle is a type, a visible illustration, of that heavenly place in which God has His dwelling.
2. In the second place, the tabernacle is a type of Jesus Christ, who is the meeting-place between God and man.
3. And, in the third place, the tabernacle is a type of Christ in the Church — of the communion of Jesus with all believers. The tabernacle presented wonderful truths to Israel. In the sacrifices and ordinances of the tabernacle God declared unto His people the forgiveness of their sins: He brought them near unto Himself through expiation and mediation; He healed their diseases and comforted their hearts. But the ultimate object in all this was to reveal Himself, to manifest His Divine perfection, to show forth His glory. Everywhere the twofold object was accomplished, the need of sinful, guilty, and failing man was supplied, and in this very grace the character and glory of Jehovah was revealed. Thus, as in Christ crucified we possess all we need, and behold all the thoughts and purposes of God, so in the tabernacle the believing Israelite, receiving pardon and help, was taught to exclaim, "Who is a God like unto Thee?" The tabernacle was a symbol of God's dwelling. There is a sanctuary, wherein is the especial residence and manifestation of the glorious presence of God. The throne, from which He issues His royal law and the declaration of His sovereign grace, is between the cherubim, a symbol of the heavenly throne of Divine majesty. "The temple of Thy holiness," is the name both of the earthly and heavenly sanctuary. God, who dwells in heaven, and from His heavenly throne dispenses all blessings, manifests Himself on earth and holds communion with His people, and the place or sanctuary chosen for this purpose is a symbol of heaven, and there subsists a real connection between the celestial archetype and the earthly image. When Jacob awoke out of his sleep, in which the Lord appeared unto him, he said, "This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." In the sublime prayer of dedication, Solomon constantly expresses the same thought. But the tabernacle is, secondly, a type of the Lord Jesus Himself. For it is in Him that God dwells with us; in Him dwells the fulness of Godhead bodily, that we dwelling in Him should have communion with the Father. See the fulfilment of the type in the first place in the Incarnation. "A body hast Thou prepared for Me." He dwelt in the midst of us even as the tabernacle was in the midst of the people. And as that tent, although it was made of materials which were common and earthly, was irradiated and sanctified by the indwelling glory of the Lord. so although He was born of the Virgin Mary, and was in every respect like unto His brethren, and was found in fashion as a man, yet is the humanity of Jesus called that holy thing, for it is the tabernacle in which was beheld the glory of the Only-begotten. It was by a gradual development that Jesus became the true tabernacle. First, by His Incarnation. The tabernacle was pitched of God, and not of man. The Holy Ghost came upon the Virgin Mary, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her. Then Jesus, in His holy humanity, in His perfect walk of obedience, in His words and works, manifested the Father: God was with Him: the Father was in Him; the glory of the Only-begotten shone through His body of humiliation. Then, by His death on the cross, the holy place became, as it were, the holy of holies; the veil being rent, all that separated God from sinners was removed according to righteousness. Then, by His resurrection and ascension, He actually entered in — as our representative for us, and, so to say, with us. It is difficult to combine all the aspects of Christ, who is Sanctuary, Priest, Sacrifice; but the more we dwell on Him as the One who is all, the more fully are our hearts established. Behold Him, then, as the tabernacle where all sacred things arc laid up. All that was in the tabernacle is in Him. He is the true Light, the true Bread of the countenance, the true Incense of intercession, with which our prayers and offerings come before God. All spiritual blessings in heavenly places are in Christ. But the tabernacle has yet a third aspect. There God and His people meet. God now dwells in His saints by His Spirit, whereby they become an holy temple unto Him. We are builded together in Him (Christ) for an habitation of God through the Spirit. We are, according to the testimony of another apostle, a spiritual house, in which sacrifices and offerings of thanksgiving and obedience are continually brought unto God. In this chosen Temple God has His rest and His joy. This is the glorious gospel: God in Christ, we in Christ, Christ in us. Thus we have seen that the tabernacle was a picture of heaven, a type of Christ Jesus, and of Christ Jesus in the saints. And therefore, when Jesus Christ comes again with His saints, it will be said, "Lo, the tabernacle of God with men." True, there is a locality where Christ and His saints have their abode. But the glory and substance of that heavenly place in the Lord Jesus, one with the saints.
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