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Our Glorious High Priest
Heb. 8:1-6


The beginning of this chapter is the end of the first major part of this Epistle which tells of the superiority of Christ. As we have seen previously, He is more superior to the prophets, angels, Moses, and to Aaron and his Levitical priesthood. Here we will be looking at the excellency of Christ’s priesthood.

I. Priesthood of Christ (Heb. 8:1-2)
A. The word sum in Greek is “kephalaion” and means a principal thing, that is the main point; the sum. All that was said and written earlier in the first seven chapters serves as a foundation to what the Apostle Paul is going to tell us in this chapter and on the following chapters.
B. The main point is this: In Christ, we have a uniquely superior high priest who is able to save us now and always, to the uttermost.
C. He is now seated at the right hand of God in heaven. He is totally above all other priests, exercising His priesthood in heaven not on earth. The word set comes from “kathizo” and means “to set, to seat down, to sit down, to settle.” Christ seats at God’s very throne. The right hand of God the Father, is described as “the Majesty,” which means greatness.
1. The priests who ministered in the tabernacle and the temple never sat down. And every priest standeth daily ministering… (Heb. 10:11). Their work as priests was continual.
2. Jesus’ work is finished (Jn. 19:30). Jesus Christ fully satisfied the righteous demands of the law, and as our great High Priest is now set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. Jesus sitting down at the right hand of the Father signifies total completion and perfection of His sacrifice. The work of atonement is forever finished and never to be repeated again.
3. The high priest, even when he entered the holiest annually, only stood for a moment before the symbol of God’s throne. By contrast, our Lord Jesus Christ seats on the throne of majesty on high till His enemies are made His footstool (Ps. 110:1)
4. Who is set on the right hand of a throne, etc. He is exalted to honour and glory before God. The right hand was regarded as the place of principle honour; and when it is said that Christ is at the right hand of God, the meaning is, that he is exalted to the highest honour in the universe. (Mk. 16:19). Of course, the language is figurative–as God has no hands literally–but the language conveys an important meaning, that he is near to God, is high in his affection and love, and is raised to the most elevated position in heaven. (Phil. 2:9; Eph. 1:21-22. (Barnes)
D. “A minister of the sanctuary…” (Heb. 8:2) Christ is the “minister” in the heavenly “sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” The word sanctuary comes from “hagion” and speaks of “a sacred place, the holiest (of all), holy place.” There were two tabernacles mentioned and compared:
1. The true tabernacle is a reference to the heavenly tabernacle.
2. The word “pitched” in Greek is “pegnumi” which means to fix, set up, in other words “erected”. The true tabernacle in heaven is erected by God.
3. The earthly tabernacle in the wilderness was a copy of the original heavenly one.
4. Heaven is the real tabernacle of which the tabernacle built at Mount Sinai was but a type.
5. The exercise of our lord’s priesthood is solely in heaven
6. Exalted to such a place of honor and authority, we truly have a “glorious” High Priest, one who is also “the ruler over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5).

Illustration 1/Application: The Structure of the Tabernacle
The tabernacle was the structure ordered built by God so that He might dwell among His people (Ex. 25:8). It was to be mobile and constructed to exacting specifications. It is referred to in Ex. 25–27, 30–31, 35–40; Num. 3:25ff; 4:4 ff.; 7:1ff. In all of scripture more space is devoted to. the tabernacle than any other topic.
Many books have been written on the spiritual significance of the tabernacle, how it represented Christ, and how it foretold the gospel. The tabernacle consisted of the outer court and the tabernacle. The outer court was entered from the East in which were the altar of burnt offering (Ex. 27:1–8) and the bronze laver (Ex. 30:17–21). The tabernacle stood within the court (Ex. 26:1 ff). It was divided into two main divisions: the holy place and the holy of holies which were separated by a veil (Ex. 26:31 ff), the same veil that was torn from top to bottom at the crucifixion of Jesus (Matt. 27:51). Where the veil had represented the barrier separating sinful man from a holy God (Heb. 9:8), its destruction represented the free access sinners have to God through the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:19 ff). The tabernacle was a place of sacrifice.
The holy place contained three things: first, a table on which was placed the shewbread, the bread of the presence (Ex. 25:23–30), second, a golden lampstand (Ex. 25:31–40) and third, an altar of incense (Ex. 30:1–7). In the holy of holies was the ark of the covenant which contained the Ten Commandments (Ex. 25:16). The holy of holies was entered only once a year by the high priest who offered sacrifice for the nation of Israel.
— 10,000 Sermon Illustrations

II. Minister of true Tabernacle (Heb. 8:3-5)
A. “For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices…” (Heb. 8:3) “Gifts” would refer to the free-will offerings. “Sacrifices” refers to those specifically commanded by God. There were five kinds of offerings under “the law” of Moses:
1. The Sin offering: to show a desire to rid the life of sin; a means of reconciliation to God (Lev. 4:3).
2. The Burnt offering: Made as an atonement for sin (Lev. 1:2-4).
3. The Trespass offering: Made as a means of seeking forgiveness for some specific trespass, such as touching unclean things (Lev. 5:1-5).
4. The Meal offering: An offering of fruit and grain, a thank-offering for blessings received (Lev. 2:1-16).
5. The Peace offering: A sign of communion with God and worship of Him (Lev. 3:1-17).
B. These offerings could be said to be for reconciliation, atonement, Forgiveness, thanksgiving, and communion.
C. The “gift” and “sacrifice” which Christ offered was Himself (Heb. 9:13-14). This is an allusion to the Lord’s Sacrifice of Himself on Calvary not to anything that He now offers above in Heaven. His position at God’s right hand shows He is not in the posture of one who offers, but rather in that of one who has already accomplished His word of offering (Heb. 9:28, 13-15).
D. “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest…” (Heb. 8:4). Since Christ was from the tribe of Judah and not from the tribe of Levi, He could not be an earthly High Priest. When He was on earth He taught in the Temple, but he never went into the holy of holies. This was a service that was given solely to the Levites.
E. Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things… (Heb. 8:5). The Tabernacle on earth was a copy of the heavenly sanctuary. Notice the words example, shadow and pattern. The tabernacle was but an earthly representation of the heavenly reality. The earthly ministry and tabernacle were only a shadow, while the heavenly is substance, the real object. Paul uses the word pattern. The earthly Tabernacle was merely a copy or a model of the true tabernacle which Christ now ministers.

Illustration 2/Application: Allusions to Sacrifices
The N.T. is full of allusions to sacrifices, sacrifices that we perform in the cathedral of our bodies instead of at a temple. The totality of our being is to be presented as “living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God” (Rom. 12:1). We also sacrifice with words of praise from our lips and the sharing of our resources with others. “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God that is the fruit of lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb. 13:15–16). Giving our money to the Lord’s work is pictured as a “fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (Phil. 2:17). We now, as the temples of God, are required to present sacrifices to Him, not the sacrifice for sin because Christ already accomplished that on the cross, but sacrifices of worship and thanksgiving.
— 10,000 Sermon Illustrations

III. The Mediator of a better covenant (Heb. 8:6)
A. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator… (Heb. 8:6) The word mediator comes from the Greek “mesites” and speaks of a “go-between.” A mediator is someone who stands between two parties and arbitrates to bring them together. Jesus Christ is our mediator. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (1 Tim. 2:5) Jesus brings God and man together in reconciliation.
B. “A better covenant, which was established upon better promises”. (Heb. 8:6) The ministry of Jesus is a more excellent ministry than that of the Levitical priests in the Old Testament because God has established Jesus’ ministry on better promises.
C. “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry…” (Heb. 8:6) Since Christ is not “on earth”, He is exercising a heavenly priesthood which is much superior to its earthly counterpart. The thought of superiority is threefold:
1. Better ministry
2. Better covenant
3. Better promise
D. The “ministry” is “better” because it “is heavenly not earthly, spiritual not temporal, reality not shadow, His covenant is “absolute not conditional, spiritual not carnal, universal not local, eternal not temporal, individual not national, internal not external.” The “better promises” are those of the gospel.

Illustration 3/Application: Christ the Mediator
A great minister who was noted for his Christ-like spirit as well as for his consecrated ability, dreamed that he had died and stood at the gate of heaven knocking for admission. He gave his name, only to be told that his name did not appear upon the books. Finally, at his earnest entreaty, he was bidden to enter and was told he would have the privilege of appearing before the Judge of all the earth, and if he could stand His test, he might abide in heaven forever. Standing before the throne, he gave his name, and the following questions were put to him: “Have you led a righteous life?” He said, “No.” “Have you always been kind and gentle?” Again, he replied in the negative. “Have you always been forgiving to those who have been around you?” “No, I have miserably failed there.” “Have you always been honest and just?” He answered, “I fear not.”
As question after question was put to him by the Judge, his case seemed more and more hopeless. The last question was asked him, and to that, too, he was obliged to give the same negative reply. Just when he seemed to be in despair, the brightness about the throne became brighter, and suddenly he heard a beautiful voice—the most beautiful to which his ears had ever listened. It was sweeter than a mother’s voice; it was more beautiful than all the music of heaven; it filled all the arches of the skies and thrilled the soul of this man as he stood before the Judge trembling and about to fall. The speaker said, “My Father, I know this man. It is true that he was weak in many ways, but he stood for Me in the world, and I take his place before Thee.” Just as the last words of this sentence were spoken, the dream was over and the man awoke; he had his lesson, and it is a lesson for us all. Illustrations of Bible Truths

IV. Conclusion:
Christ is our uniquely superior high priest who now sits at the right hand of God in heaven. Jesus sitting down at the right hand of the Father signifies total completion and perfection of His sacrifice. The work of atonement is forever finished and never to be repeated again. My friend if you want to go to heaven, repent from your sins now and receive Him as your personal saviour before its too late.

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