Hebrews 8:1-7

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 1, 2021 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.
Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.”
-Hebrews 8:1-7

After more than a chapter of talking about how Jesus is the great high priest, the author of Hebrews has finally gotten to his main point in all of this! Here, he is wrapping up his conversation on Jesus as the great high priest and turning the focus a bit to the new covenant. The nation of Israel’s identity was wrapped up in the covenant that God had given them through Abraham, but now they are under the new covenant of Jesus. He begins to focus on that here and will continue to explain that theme over the next couple of chapters.

Now that the author has made his point that Jesus is a greater high priest than any of the human priests in the order of Aaron or Levi, the next logical conclusion is that Jesus’ ministry is greater than that of those earthly priests. The author’s chief point is clearly stated in verses 1-2: “We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.”

After explaining this great high priest in detail in the previous chapter, he emphasizes the fact that we have this high priest. While he does not mention the name of Jesus here, it is clear that’s who is being referenced. Jesus is the only one who sits at the right hand of God’s throne in heaven. Note that the fact that He is “sitting” shows that His work is done; Jesus has completed what He needed to do in order to become that great high priest. Jesus serves in the sanctuary, the place of holy things. The reference to the tabernacle would take the Israelites back to their days of wandering in the wilderness, where they did not have a permanent temple structure but the more portable tabernacle where God’s presence dwelled.

In verse 3, the author reminds his readers of the purpose of a high priest: “to offer both gifts and sacrifices.” Jesus as the great high priest also needed to offer something, and He did – He offered His life when He died on the cross. Jesus is the eternal high priest, however, so while He did actually die a human death, He was raised again so that His sacrifice would be the perfect one that lasts forever and covers all sins.

Then, the author makes it clear in verse 4 that Jesus was no ordinary human priest. If He were, He would not be needed because there were already priests fulfilling those requirements of the Jewish law. Jesus did not function as an earthly priest; His ministry was completely different.

The author explains these differences more in verses 5-6. The earthly temple where the priests serve is a “shadow” of what is in heaven. It may be similar to the one in heaven, but only as much as a shadow represents the real thing. You definitely do not get the full idea of a 3-dimensional, full-color object from its 2-dimensional gray shadow, just as the earthly temple can never compare to the heavenly one.

Jesus’ ministry is declared as superior to that of earthly priests on the basis of the covenants they were working under. The human priests of Israel were operating under the initial covenant that God made with Abraham, whereas Jesus is operating under the new covenant. Not only that, but Jesus is the mediator of that new covenant – He is the one who brought it into being! This new covenant is far superior to the old one; it is made up of God’s grace that He gives unconditionally to anyone who desires to receive it. It is not based on works and the things that we do (or don’t do) for God. It is not based on what nation we’re born into, but it’s available to everyone who desires to be a part of it.

To emphasize how this new covenant is superior, the author logically explains in verse 7 that the new covenant must be superior, or else a new one would not have been needed. The old covenant was not available to everyone, and it was more focused on the works that people do. The new covenant is based on the work that Jesus did, and it is available to anyone who is willing to receive this gracious gift of God.

We should be supremely thankful to God that we are under this new covenant today, and that we have Jesus as the great high priest over it! The nation of Israel had the old covenant, and they looked forward to the day the Messiah would come and bring the new covenant. We are living after Jesus came and completed His work, so we have the opportunity to know that Messiah personally and to put our faith and our trust in Him for all things. We know that He is superior to any other priest, and He brings a superior covenant. Put your faith and trust in Jesus today!

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