Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. More specifically, today’s selected reading is found in verses eleven through twenty-eight of the ninth chapter. When we come to this particular passage of scripture we find the author of this particular epistle continuing to build upon the theme which they began in the first ten verses. If you read the first ten verses of this chapter you will find the author writing concerning a new and better testament and covenant that took the place of and replaced the Old Covenant. Within the first ten verses of this chapter we find the author once more turning their attention to the Old Testament and the Old covenant in order to paint a powerful picture of just how vastly superior and supreme Jesus Christ truly is. What’s more, is that the author continually and continuously appealed to the Old Testament in order to reveal the various shadows and symbols that were found and contained therein. If we are going to understand the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews we must recognize it as being entirely built upon that which was found in the Old Testament. I have previously written how the author of this epistle must have been well verses and intimately knowledgeable of the Hebrew scripture and the Hebrew traditions to be able to own such an epistle as what we find in this epistle. There is not a doubt in my mind that the author believed very strongly that everything we find in the Old Testament, and everything under the Old covenant is a powerful shadow and type of a reality that would be manifested in and through the person of Jesus Christ. One thing we must recognize and understand when reading the epistle written unto the Hebrews is that it was an entire epistle built upon the foundation of Hebrew tradition and scripture in order to present unto the audience reading its pages of a new and better and living way. This is not to say that what was under the Old Covenant was not necessary or beneficial, but that it was a pattern of a reality that would be manifested in and through the person of Jesus Christ
I have to admit that I absolutely love the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews, for not only does it build upon the tremendous history of the Hebrew people, but it also pays homage and honors their history and legacy. If we are going to understand that which we find in the New Testament and that which is found under the new covenant it is absolutely imperative that we pay close attention to the roots which run deep in Hebrew history and tradition. As the ninth chapter of this epistle opens it does so with the author writing concerning the tabernacle of Moses which was given unto Moses when he went up into the presence of God atop the mountain in the wilderness. When we read this particular chapter and passage of scripture we must recognize and understand that the tabernacle or Moses—with all its sacrifices, with all it’s gifts, with all its offerings—was a shadow, a type and a symbol of a reality which would later be manifested in and through the person of Jesus Christ. The tabernacle would be given unto Moses atop the mountain of God in the wilderness as a pattern of worship for the children of Israel who would worship the Lord—not only in the wilderness, but also when they would enter unto the land sworn on oath to their ancestors. How absolutely incredible and amazing it is to consider that not only did the Lord bring the children of Israel unto the mountain in the wilderness to speak to and reveal Himself unto them, but He also brought them unto the mountain in the wilderness in order that He might give them the pattern of the Tabernacle, as well as the Law of Moses. In essence—when the Lord brought the children of Israel unto Himself in the wilderness He desired that He might teach them how to worship Him, as well as how to walk in obedience unto Him. It’s necessary that we recognize and understand that when the Lord brought the children of Israel unto the mountain of God in the wilderness, He desired that He might speak unto them and manifest His glory and presence among them there at the foot of the mountain. There at the mountain in the wilderness the Lord sought to transform His people from an oppressed and enslaved people into an obedient people who know how to worship and please Him within the earth.
The giving of the Tabernacle—and later the Temple which Solomon would build—was a sanctuary where the children of Israel could worship the Lord through their sacrifices and offerings. One thing that is so incredible about the tabernacle and the altar of God which was found in the midst of the outer court is that it was up to the individual people to bring their offerings and sacrifices unto the tabernacle and present them unto the priests who ministered before and around the altar. Only once a year was an offering provided and made separate and independent from the children of Israel, and that was on the Day of Atonement when the high priest could enter into the Holy of Hokies with the blood of the sacrifice to make atonement for their sins and the sins of the people. One of the most intriguing realities concerning the pattern of the tabernacle was that it was entirely built upon the premise of the children of Israel bringing their sacrifices and offerings unto the priests who ministered before and around the altar. The priests would and could not make sacrifices and present offerings for the children of Israel until and unless the children of Israel came unto the door of the tabernacle with their sacrifice in tow. One of the most incredible and powerful realities concerning the tabernacle is that absolutely no one could, and absolutely no one would make sacrifice and offering for another. If there is one thing the tabernacle brings us face to face with, it’s our own unique responsibility to bring our offerings and sacrifices unto the true and living God at the place of worship. There was such a powerful sense of responsibility that was found in the pattern of the tabernacle, for within the pattern or the tabernacle we find a place where the children of Israel could come unto the Lord with their sacrifices and offerings as often as they wanted to. There was no limit to how often the children of Israel could come unto the tabernacle, nor how many sacrifices and offerings they could bring unto the Lord in worship. When we speak about and consider the Tabernacle which the Lord gave unto Moses in the wilderness, we must recognize it as being a powerful place where the children of Israel could bring their gifts, their offerings, and their sacrifices as holy and acceptable unto the Lord their God. The Tabernacle was to be place set in the midst of the camp in order that the Lord might dwell in the midst of them, and in order that they might have a place where they could worship the Lord through the presenting of sacrifices, gifts and offerings.
In fact, if you come to the first six chapters of the Old Testament book of Leviticus you will find Moses recording the instruction of the Lord concerning the sacrifices which were to be brought unto the Lord and presented upon His altar. What is so interesting and unique about the opening few chapters within the Old Testament book of Leviticus is that any of the children of Israel could come unto the Tabernacle, and yet the offering they brought with them could have had a number of different purposes. As you read the words which Moses records and recounts in this Old Testament book you will find a powerful description of the various offerings and gifts which could be brought unto the Lord—unto His Tabernacle, unto His altar, and in His presence. Consider if you will the words which are found in the first chapter of this Old Testament book beginning with the first verse:
“And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces. And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: but his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, and offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. And if his offering be of the flocks, namely , of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish. And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar. And he shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat: and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: but he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an. Offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons. And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar: and he shall pluck away his crop with his features, and cast it beside the al tar on the east part, by the place of the ashes: and he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: it is a burnt sacrifice an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord” (Leviticus 1:1-17).
As you continue reading the Old Testament book of Leviticus you will find the Tabernacle having already been set up by Moses there in the wilderness—a reality which is found in the final chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus. Consider if you will the words which are recorded in the fortieth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus beginning with the first verse of the chapter:
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail. And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof. And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle. And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shalt put water therein. And thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging at the court gate. And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy. And thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy. And thou s halt anoint the laver and his foot, and sanctify it. And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: and thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minster unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations. Thus did Moses: according to all that the Lord commanded him, so did he. And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up. And Moses reared up the tabernacle, an fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars. And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark: and he brought the ark into the Tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail. And he set the bread in order upon it before the Lord; as the Lord had commanded Moses. And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward. And he lighted the lamps before the Lord; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the vail: and he burnt sweet incense thereon; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle. And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal. And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat: when they went into the tent of congregation, and when came near unto the altar, they washed; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work” (Exodus 40:1-33).
Everything that we find in this particular passage of Scripture presents us with the first time the Tabernacle was set up in the midst of the children of Israel there in the wilderness. When we come to the thirty-third verse of this chapter we find the work of rearing and setting up the Tabernacle being complete, as Moses finished the work according to the word of the Lord. What we find and what we read in verses thirty-four through thirty-eight of the same chapter is absolutely and truly remarkable, for within this particular set of verses we find God’s response to the finishing of the work. Within these verses we find something which should bring us face to face with a tremendous responsibility to finish the work which the Lord our God has called us to do. IN the thirty-third verse of this chapter we find Moses finishing the work according to all the Lord had commanded him to do, and in the thirty-fourth chapter we find the Lord’s response to the finished work. Consider if you will the words which are found and recorded in verses thirty-four through thirty-eight of the fortieth chapter of this Old Testament book:
“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:34-38).
In the fortieth and final chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus—not only do we find Moses rearing up the Tabernacle according to all that the Lord had commanded him, but we also find the cloud covering the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle. In fact, twice within he final five verses we read concerning the cloud which descended upon the Tabernacle, as well as concerning the glory of the Lord which filled the tabernacle. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for glory and presence almost always proceeds obedience unto that which the Lord has instructed and commanded. I am utterly and completely convinced that had not Moses done everything exactly as the Lord had commanded and instructed him, the glory of the Lord would not have filled the tabernacle, and the cloud would not have descended upon, and covered the tent of the congregation. We tend to spend a lot of time, effort and energy crying out and seeking after the glory and presence of the Lord, and yet we aren’t willing to walk in obedience to that which He has commanded and instructed. Had Moses cut corners in any way while setting up the tabernacle, and had Moses not reared up the tabernacle exactly as the Lord had commanded and instructed, I am absolutely convinced the Lord would not have honored the work. One thing we must recognize is that the Lord has always and will always honor a finished and complete work. The Lord has always and will always honor faithfulness and obedience to that which He has commanded and instructed us within and throughout our lives. The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle, and the cloud covered the tabernacle because the work was completed, and the work was completed exactly as the Lord had commanded and instructed. It’s at this moment when I would like to say that it’s one thing to finish the work—or to believe we have finished the work—and yet not finish and complete it exactly as the Lord has commanded and instructed. There are many men and women who feel as though they have carried out unto completion the work which the Lord had sent them to do, and yet what they have done is take every available shortcut and cut every possible corner. The Old Testament king Saul was a perfect example of this, for when he was instructed and commanded to utterly destroy and slay all the Amalekites because of their transgression against the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt, he chose instead to spare Agag king of the Amalekites, and the best of the sheep, the best of the herd, and the best of the cattle. In fact, when Samuel came to meet him he actually believed that he had carried out and completed the work which the Lord had sent and instructed him to do. Saul actually believed that what he had done was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, and that He had honored Him with his obedience. What he didn’t realize and recognize was that partial obedience is the same thing as disobedience, and that the Lord treats partial obedience the same way He does disobedience. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves is not only whether or not we are aware of that which the Lord has commanded and instructed, but also whether or not we are carrying out to completion and fully obeying that which we have been commanded.
What we find in the first six chapters of the Old Testament is specific instruction given unto Moses by the Lord as He spoke unto Him from out of the midst of the Tabernacle of the congregation. Now that the Tabernacle had been reared up, and now that the glory of the Lord had filled the Tabernacle, thus sanctifying and making it holy, the Lord would now speak unto Moses concerning the sacrifices, the gifts, and the offerings that would be brought unto Him by His people. When you come to the third verse of this chapter you find the Lord instructing Moses that any sacrifice, any offering, any gift that was brought by any of the children of Israel was to be of their own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation enforce the Lord. What’s more, is that that particular individual who brought and presented the gift and offering unto the Lord at the door of the tabernacle was to lay their hand upon the head of the burnt offering and kill it themselves. In other words, not only was the sacrifice and offering to be of their own accord and of their own voluntary will, but they were also responsible for killing the offering there at the tabernacle. One thing I absolutely love about that which we find and read in the pattern of the tabernacle of the congregation is that there was no limit to how often and how frequently the children of Israel could bring their offerings unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. There was absolutely no limit to how many times the children of Israel could come before the Lord with their sacrifices and offerings, and they could come unto Him with their offerings as often and as frequently as they wanted. I am sure there were certain of the children of Israel who visited the Tabernacle more frequently than others and there were certain of the children of Israel who brought their offerings unto the door of the tabernacle more often than others during the year. This is not to place such individuals on a pedestal, but rather to drive home the fact that there was no limit to how often they could worship the Lord with their sacrifices and offerings. There were three specific times during the year when the children of Israel were to appear before the Lord, and they were prohibited from appearing before Him empty-handed. What this means, is that when the men of the children of Israel appeared before the Lord, they were to ensure that they always had an offering, or a gift which they brought unto Him in His presence. The children of Israel could not appear before the Lord empty-handed, but rather, they needed to regularly and continually bring their gifts and offerings unto the Lord. The children of Israel needed to ensure they regularly and continually worshipped the Lord through the presentation of gifts and offerings at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and whenever they appeared before the Lord at His holy sanctuary, they were to always ensure they brought an offering which was holy and acceptable unto the Lord.
As the ninth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews opens, it does so with the author writing how the first covenant had ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary—a sanctuary that was present here within the earth. The author would then go on to describe the inner court of the Tabernacle, which had the candlestick and the table, and the shewbread, and how this inner place within the tabernacle was called the sanctuary. After this inner sanctuary, and after the veil which separated the inner sanctuary and the Holy of holies there was the Ark of the Covenant which had upon and over above is the mercy seat and the two cherubim which faced each other with their wings spread out over the mercy seat. The author would then go on to write how the priests could regularly enter into the inner sanctuary where the altar of incense was, where the candlestick was, and where the table of shewbread was, but unto the Holy of holies only the high priest could enter in once a year. While there was no limitation to how often and how frequently the children of Israel could worship the Lord with their sacrifices, offerings and gifts, there was a limit to how often the Holy of holies could be accessed. Only once during the year—on the Day of Atonement—could the Holy of Holies be entered and accessed, and only that by the high priest, and with blood. The author of this particular epistle writes how through this the Holy Ghost signifies that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made during the days of, and under the Old Covenant. In fact, the author goes on to write how the way into the holiest of all was not yet made while the first tabernacle was yet standing. This first tabernacle was a figure for that time—a figure that included gifts and sacrifices, which could not make those who presented the gifts and sacrifices perfect in conscience. Although the children of Israel had no limits to how frequently they could bring their gifts, their offerings, and their sacrifices unto the Tabernacle, there were two specific limitations which surrounded the tabernacle—the first was the limitation that surrounded the Holy of holies since the way into the holiest of all was not yet made, and the second was the limitation of the purification and the cleansing of conscience. Though the children of Israel could come unto the tabernacle as frequently and as often as they wanted to, their gifts and sacrifices could not perfect them as it pertained to the conscience. There may have been atonement for their sins, but their consciences were regularly impacted and affected by their sins, their transgressions, and their iniquities.
What I absolutely love about the latter portion of the ninth chapter of this New Testament epistle is that what the first tabernacle could not do—despite the glory and presence that surrounded and accompanied it—and what the gifts, the offerings and the sacrifices could not do—though they were regarded as holy and acceptable unto the Lord—Jesus Christ was able to do by and through His sacrifice, and by and according to His shed blood. When you come to the tenth verse of this chapter you find the author writing and emphatically declaring how Christ has come as a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands. Jesus Christ was a mediator of a new and living covenant, and was priest of a house and a sanctuary that was not built and made with human hands, but one that was found in heaven itself. It’s interesting to note that there have been two individual and two distinct temples which have stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and both Temples were destroyed and burned to the ground with fire—first by the Babylonians, and second by the Romans. What’s more, is that the Tabernacle of Moses stood during the full forty years the children of Israel were in the wilderness, and it remained until the days of Eli the priest and his two sons Hophni and Phineas. In fact, through the prophet Jeremiah we find the Lord referencing and speaking to that Tabernacle which remained in Shiloh, for through the prophet the Lord declared the following words: “Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord. But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim” (Jeremiah 7:8-15). What we find in this particular passage of Scripture is a powerful statement concerning the tabernacle which stood in the midst of Shiloh—that place where the Lord put His name—as well as the Temple which stood in the midst of Jerusalem on the Temple Mount.
In the latter portion of the ninth chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews we find the author declaring that what the blood of bulls and goats could not do under the old covenant and in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ did by His blood, as He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. The author went on to write that if the blood of bulls and goats, and if the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean could sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead work to serve the living God. What we find in this passage of Scripture is a powerful testimony to the power of the blood—-first the blood that was shed under the Old Covenant and under the Old Testament, and next the blood which was shed once by Jesus who is both Christ and Lord. The author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews emphatically writes and emphatically declares that not only was the sacrifice of Jesus so much better than the countless thousands—if not millions—of sacrifices which were offered under the Old Covenant, but so also was and is His blood much greater and far better than the blood of bulls and goats which was shed at the tabernacle under the Old Covenant. The author—in this passage of Scripture—writes that “it was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entered into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation fo the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” It is absolutely clear from the words which we find in this passage of Scripture that not only is the blood of Jesus of more worth and value than the blood of bulls and goats, but so also was the single sacrifice and offering of Jesus much better and much greater than the countless sacrifices and offerings which were presented in the Old Testament under the Old Covenant. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are truly aware of that which Christ did, and whether or not we appreciate that work which He did once in that he died unto sin once, was then buried, but was afterward resurrected and raised from death to life. Oh that we would read the words which are found and contained within this passage of Scripture and truly understand just how much greater, and just how much superior Christ is in every possible way.