“Now the main point is this: we have the ideal High Priest who has taken His rightful place at the right hand of God’s majestic throne in heaven. He is an officiating Priest in that sanctuary which is the true place of worship, for it was built by the Lord and not man. Because every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, it is essential that this High Priest also have a sacrifice to offer. If He was still living on earth He would not be a priest, since there already priests offering gifts in accordance with the law. They indeed perform a divine service, but it is only a pattern of the heavenly realities. Moses had specific instructions from God when constructing the tabernacle. Jehovah said, “Be sure you make everything in accordance with the pattern which was shown to you on the mountain.’” (paraphrased)
Verse one serves as a preamble to a topic that is thoroughly expounded in the next three chapters. The priesthood of Aaron and the priesthood of Christ are contrasted regarding their effectiveness. A new Priest means a new covenant, which necessitates a new sanctuary (8:2). This, in turn, presupposes a new ministry which calls for a new type of worshipper ( 9:14 & 10:22).
The “sum” (kephalaion) is not a summary of all that has been written thus far, but is better translated “the chief point.” The central theme of the epistle is knowing assuredly we have Christ as our High Priest. His priesthood is not mythological or theoretical, but authentic and practical. The effectiveness of Christ’s mediation is dependent upon His current ministerial position in heaven.
In this passage, the writer shows Christ’s priesthood to be majestic (v. 1), authentic (v. 2), sacrificial (v. 3), unique (v. 4), and heavenly (v. 5). Having “such a High Priest” refers back to 7:26, where the characteristics of this High Priest are stated. Christ being seated on God’s right hand is a concept already established (1:3 & 13) and one that will later be reiterated (10:12 & 12:2).
The fact that Christ is seated does not imply inactivity. Because the work of Levitical priests was never completed, no chairs were allowed in the tabernacle. However, the final words of Christ announced that His work on earth was finished (Jn. 19:30). Now enthroned in heaven, He continues the ministry He began here. He has taken His rightful place as our heavenly intercessor (7:25). What Jesus provided could never be offered by any other, for He is the only Priest who has ascended. After Jesus had spoken to His disciples for the last time, “He was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God” (Mk. 16:19).
David declares the Lord is in His holy temple and His throne is in heaven (Ps. 11:4). Micah instructs us to hear the Lord who speaks from His holy temple (Mic. 1:2). In a vision, Michaiah saw the Lord sitting on His throne and all the host of heaven standing on His right hand and on His left (I Kgs. 22:19). Isaiah envisioned exalted Lord seated on a throne in a temple (Isa. 6:1). Christ is depicted as the minister in the genuine tabernacle – of which the Levitical was only a type. Places of sacrificial oblation are now obsolete.
The writer compares the real with the surreal. He contrasts the physical with the spiritual – the temporary versus the permanent. The typology of the tabernacle reflects that which has substance in heaven. The “true” sanctuary does not suggest the old sanctuary was counterfeit, but is “true” because it is the reality upon which the earthly copy was based. Jesus teaches this concept when He said that Moses did not send manna from heaven, but His Father sent “the true Bread” from heaven (Jn. 6:32). He later refers to Himself as “the true Vine” (15:1).
The foundational concept behind priesthood is ministry. Because every high priest must make an offering, Jesus must offer something as well. He performed no Levitical priestly functions on earth. Had He done so, His ministerial capacity would have been restricted to Israel. The duties of His universal office required Christ to relocate in the realm from whence He came. The fact that Christ now ministers from heaven is conclusive proof His sacrifice was accepted and is eternally effectual.
In this verse, the author dismisses the entire Levitical system as mere “examples” and “shadows.” “Example” (hupodeigma) means a copy, a representation, or imitation. “Shadow” (skia) is a silhouette without substance.
The tabernacle was to be erected according to precise specific instructions entrusted to Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex. 25:40 & 26:30). No aspect of its construction was left to human innovation. Strict attention to detail resulted in God’s approval when it was completed.
For the manufacture of the tabernacle and its serevices, the children of Israel voluntarily gave gold, silver, brass, linen, animal skins, precious stones, sweet spices, shittim wood, and pure olive oil. However, this beautiful edifice served as a mere reflection of heavenly realities. The temple, which replaced the tabernacle, would survive only until the Roman commander Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. The elaborate pageantry of both tabernacle and temple has long since faded into obscurity. But Christ’s character and magnificence necessitate a sanctuary beyond human imagination. Our eternal High Priest in His heavenly domain await all who know Him as Lord and Savior.
QUESTIONS: CHRIST, OUR ENTHRONED PRIEST
1. According to Acts 2:34, what is Jesus’ eternal position?
2. What did Stephen say about Jesus in Acts 7:56?
3. According to Genesis 25:9 and Hebrews 8:5, who gave Moses the “blueprint” of the tabernacle?
4. What were the primary duties of a high priest? (8:3)
5. According to Ephesians 5:2, what did Jesus have to offer?
6. Who is depicted as the “temple” of heaven? (Rev. 21:22)
7. According to Acts 7:49, what is stated allegorically about heaven and earth?
8. According to John chapter 6 and 15, who is the true bread and the true vine?
9. List some reasons for the importance of true and honest worship.
10. Take a few minutes to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24).