Good morning church! Open up your Bible’s with me to Hebrews chapter 8, and we are going to move through this rather quickly this morning, so that we can cover some territory. If you are brand new here this morning, or visiting, welcome to you. It is our tradition here to teach verse by verse through the Bible, which can sometimes be a challenge to understand if you are not attending regularly.
But, in this particular case, you nailed it and picked the perfect day to come to church, as much of chapter 8 is a summary of chapters 1-7. To help make sense of this, the title of the letter here tells us who it was written to. It was written somewhere between 35-60 years after Jesus died on the cross and then rose from the dead. So it was written to Hebrew believers. Men and women who grew up in the Jewish religious tradition with the priesthood. The sacrifices of animals as a covering for their sin.
But now, they were free from all of that. Because the Messiah had come in Jesus. He fulfilled the law and was the perfect sacrifice, because He was without sin. They placed their faith and trust in Him for their salvation, and were no longer under the Old Testament Law. However,... for many of them, their families still were, their friends still were, that was their community.
Persecution was spreading and life was way more difficult as a Christian, that what they ever remembered in the world of rules and black and white religion. They were tempted to abandon their faith in Christ, and turn back to their former ways.
The book of Hebrews was written as an encouragement to them to hang on. It was written for them to gain some perspective, and to see that Jesus was better than all of that. In fact chapters 1-7 built that case brick by brick. Jesus was better than the prophets, better than the angels, better than Abraham, and provided a better priesthood. That is really when chapter 7 left off.
Lets pray, and then we will look back a couple of verses to make sense of where we are today. Father in Heaven, ..... Amen.
26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.
Continuing on into chapter 8, now here the KJV begins...Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: In our Bibles it just jumps right into it.
1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
Remember, we can make sense of this, but to those that it was written, the priest hood, was their only way to connect with God. But this is talking about a different kind of High Priest than the one that they had in the past. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. Major, major differences here in Jesus compared to their old High Priest.
The first that we see is that He is seated. The work is finished, and it is complete. If you go back and read about all the furnishings in the temple, there is never any mention of a chair or anywhere for the priest to sit, because there was never any rest, the work was never done, because the people continued sinning. In fact, the priest himself was a sinner and had to continually make anointment for himself, prior to offering anything on behalf of the people.
But Jesus is seated, at the seat of authority. That doesn’t mean that He isn’t doing anything. Remember last week in chapter 7 we read that He ever lives to make intersession for us. And unlike their priest that could enter into the Holy of Holies, the area in the Temple said to hold the presence of God 1 time per year, on Yom Kippor. This says that Jesus is in the Heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary.
You guys understand that this is not the true sanctuary. That is in Heaven, in the presence of God. This morning the building that we are in is nothing more than an old bar. A VFW building that has been redeemed. Our nursery was their walk in beer cooler, but Jesus can make all things new.
3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
I know there is a lot here, but it is saying that the old priest offered both gifts and sacrifices, Therefore, it was also necessary for the priesthood of Jesus to have something to offer. What did Jesus have to offer? Himself!
And then in verse 4 again it says that if He were on earth, He would not be a priest…since those priests offer their gifts according to the law, as part of the law, the priests had to be part of the local union 501 right? The Levis? Come on, I resisted that the first time through…Only those from the tribe of Levi could serve in the temple and then even narrower, only those from the family of Aaron could actually become priests. Jesus wasn’t as 501, not of the tribe of Levi, Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, so He would not have been a priest according to the law.
Besides, Jesus is the real deal and those guys only serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things. Moses was given strict instructions on how to set things up because it was only a copy of the Heaven sanctuary. He was to follow the pattern he had been given. All of the Old Testament system was fulfilled in Jesus. Verse 5 says it was only a shadow.
Can you guys imagine if after church were out in the parking lot. Your family was hanging out talking to my family. And as we were talking, I happened to notice that Nicole’s shadow was on the ground next to me. And what if as we were talking I got down on the ground and put my arms around her shadow. Maybe tried to kiss her shadow, you’d think I was nuts right?
What are you doing dude? What, you know I love Nicole! Look how cute her shadow is. You would say why in the world are you dealing with the shadow when she is standing right here. The real deal. In the book of Colossians it tells us...
16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
All of it is about Jesus. All of it was fulfilled in Jesus. The covenant we have in Jesus was established on better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.
We talked about his last week. The problem with the first covenant wasn’t the law itself, it was us. The law made a perfect standard, only it never provided a way for us to be prefect. All the Law could do, was cause us to recognize that we are sinners in need of a Savior, because none of us could ever keep the law. Some of us might be better than others, but none of us are without sin. And the wages of sin, is death.
It like if I took all of you in a large boat down the Penobscot River, out into the Gulf of Maine, and into the depths of the Ocean, dumped you out and told you to swim home. Some of you might swim for a mile before you drown. Others of you, maybe if the currents were right would go 4-5 miles, I don’t know, maybe as many as 50 miles. Some might panic and sink after 10 feet, but none could make it back hundreds of miles. And that’s who we all were under the law. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.
They disregarded Me, so I disregarded them. This is really interesting to me for a whole bunch of reasons. The first is the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, the rejection of the new covenant. See our author here is quoting the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah chapter 31. So God told them in the old covenant that a new one was coming. One that will certainly start with Isreal, but won’t end there. It will include us.
The other thing that everyone that ever reads this or hears this should understand it that in verse 8 it says I will make a new covenant. Verse 10
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
God will make the covenant, not us. I truly believe that for most people, they think they have some kind of covenant, some understanding or deal with God. It may not be a straight up negotiation with say the 10 commandments were we say, God, 10 really? I’ll give you 5. I won’t murder, commit adultery, have other God’s before you…and God says 9. Commandments. God that’s not fair, I’ll agree to 7, but that’s my final offer.
God is God. We can’t make it under the Law, none of us can, so what He says goes. In this covenant it is no longer a written law of 631 laws that we need to keep perfectly, but God says I’m going to put my laws in your mind, they won’t be written on stone tables, but I’m going to write them on your stony hearts that I’m going to change. I’ll be their God, they will be My people, that My will will be in their hearts.
They will hear My voice, understand My leading. They will know in their conscious when something doesn’t honor Me or please Me.
11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
God is not like us, He is not forgetful, He is all knowing. But this says our sins He will remember them no more, He will chose to not remember them. Unlike the first covenant that could not cleanse sin, now we can be forgiven and made clean. Under the Old, sacrifices had to be continually made. Even for the nation, on the day of Atonement, they knew that their sins were covered over for another year, but the problem was that another year had begun, and they sinned again and again.
And this tells us that with Jesus fulfilling the law with the New covenant in His blood, the first was made obsolete.
Chapter 9, continues with the comparison between our High Priest in Jesus and this earthy system and the sanctuary made with hands.
1 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;
5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;
When we look back I don’t think we realize the significance of the blood. Exodus 24 tells us that when Moses received the covenant, Oxen were sacrificed the blood was collected mixed with water and he took hyssop and the people after agreeing to the covenant all had to be sprinkled with the blood. Here, the priest, He could not enter in without the covering of the blood.
He himself had to be sprinkled with blood, all of the things in there had to be sprinkled with blood. When you read about the description, it was all done so beautify, the boards covered in gold, I can’t imagine seeing it. But as God looked down upon the sin of Israel, that mercy seat had to be covered with blood so that God would see the blood covering their sin.
Still only the high priest could enter in. I couldn’t and neither could almost all of them. They couldn’t approach God on their own. Even if they were of the right tribe, in the right family and were even named a priest, it was only the High Priest that could enter the presence of God. And only once per year. Verse 8 tells us that even then...
8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.
11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Verse 14 I think is interesting, remember, it said that all priest had to give something, this reminds us that Jesus gave everything, gave Himself the spotless sacrifice, but the rest of this, notice it doesn’t say cleanse our conscience from sin, that’s actually what I would expect it to, but instead it says to cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Dead works are anything we are doing to try to earn our way, to win favor with by by the things we do, rather that understanding that we have His favor if we have placed our faith in Christ, and then we serve Him and do works, not from fear of punishment, but from a place of love and gratitude, a desire to bless Him.
How do we know when we are doing dead works,
How about when you get Mad when people aren’t noticing you, or you’re mad because they are not doing what you’re doing. Remember Mary and Martha? Martha got upset that Mary wasn’t doing what she was doing. She was distracted with much serving, but Mary was doing the better thing.
15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
Think last will and testament, it doesn’t go into effect until the person who makes it dies, the same was true with Jesus.
17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.”
21 Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
No release, no forgiveness of sin.
23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
This next verse is so important for everyone to understand. Many in the world will try to tell you about things like reincarnation, where when you die, you get a do over. Or some religious systems will tell you about a thing they call purgatory, were you can wait, have people pray for you, then maybe go to heaven. The problem with both of those heresy's, is that they are made up lies by men. That is what heresy is, The bible knows nothing of that. Here is what the bible actually says.
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
All of us will someday die. Perhaps not if you are spiritually alive, if you are a Christian, and are present when Jesus comes back for His church. But all others will one day die and we will face judgement. IF you are under the old covenant, or any covenant of your own doing, or if you are reliant upon anything or anyone, other than the blood of Jesus, that judgement will send you to Hell.
Jesus came, lived a perfect life, meaning without sin, and died taking upon Himself the penalty for your sin and mine. And then He defeated death and rose from the grave. When he was here with His disciples and ready to face the cross. The last passover meal had been eaten and Luke tells us...
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
We can receive that payment for our sins, or we can reject it. We can ask Him to pay that price for us, or we can pay it ourselves, but only one of those will get us into Heaven. Remember these things were written to those who had found salvation in Jesus and were looking to go back to a system that no longer existed.
This new covenant came in Christ, because it is impossible for us to be saved under the law. When I say we can receive it or rejected understand that by not making a choice, we are making a choice. If you have questions this morning. If you want someone to pray with you this morning. If you want to ask God to show you what it feels like to be completely forgiven and have Him chose to remember your sins no more, I want to encourage you to come up front after the service. There will be pastors and elders up front here with their wives ready to pray with you.
Grace and Peace