The Letter to the Hebrews: a commentary & meditation
"We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven"

Scripture: Hebrews 8:1-13
1 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 and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord.

3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence 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 sanctuary; for when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain." 6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second. 8 For he finds fault with them when he says: "The days will come, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and so I paid no heed to them, says the Lord. 10 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach every one his fellow or every one his brother, saying, `Know the Lord,' for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more."

13 In speaking of a new covenant he treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Meditation: The writer to the Hebrews says that Jesus is unique both in majesty and in service. He states that Jesus took his place at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven. There can be no greater glory than Jesus' ascension and exaltation at the right hand of the Father in heaven where he now reigns as King and Lord of the universe. Jesus is also a minister in the sanctuary made by God. He is exalted as both King and royal Priest.

Hebrews tells us that the earthly temple in Jerusalem was made by human beings to be a copy of the true temple (Hebrews 8:5). God had revealed the pattern of the heavenly temple to Moses. The true temple is heaven itself, and the true holy of holies is before the very throne of God.

Christ was not an earthly priest. His was a new covenant priesthood rather than an old covenant priesthood, meant to be exercised in a heavenly way rather than an earthly way. Christ's death on the cross was an earthly event with heavenly consequences. Christ the priest made the connection between earth and heaven. He was the Lamb provided by God, without the blemish of sin, and offered in the true tent of heaven.

By his glorification (his death, resurrection, and ascension), Christ's humanity was taken by God and so became holy in a new way, holy as a sacrificial offering. In fact, as a sin offering it became "most holy" (Leviticus 10:17). At the same time, his humanity was transformed in such a way that it could enter heaven and function in a heavenly mode.

"Lord Jesus Christ, you have sealed us in the blood of the new covenant and established us as a chosen people and a holy nation. Help me to live in your presence and to follow in your way of holiness."

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(c) 1999 Don Schwager