In this episode we look at Hebrews Eight and the early section of Chapter Nine. We are introduced to the idea that the tabernacle is a copy of heaven, a hint at the Divine. A promise that is further revealed in the presence of Jesus. We are discovering why Jesus is the better priest, better sacrifice, and better covenant. And what that means for us. There are many contrasts with the old ways and the better ways. Being born again is a baptism into the better way.
Well, we’ve been talking about a better priest, offering a better sacrifice as part of a better covenant. A better priest offering a better sacrifice as part of a better covenant. That’s basically what we’ve been talking about.
And, of course, the purpose of all that is to lead us to perfection. This word teleiosi. Teleiosi is the telescope root word meaning getting to a destination, completion, maturity. We want to move on to maturity.
Last week we were in chapter 8. But this whole conversation about a better high priest offering a better sacrifice under a better covenant started back in chapter 5. Let’s just go back to chapter 5 and review a few things.
5:1 “For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices.”
The levitical priesthood is in mind here.
Now we’re talking to a group of Jewish believers that Jesus is the Messiah. And what kind of sacrifice are they familiar with? Animal sacrifice. Let’s call it temple sacrifice. The temple sacrifice. And it says here (5:3), “He is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins.” But Jesus “though he was a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered.” Verse 8. “And having been perfected—”teleiosi“—he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”
Now obedience is not how you’re born again. You’re born again just by faith. But the salvation we’ve been talking about throughout this book is not being born again. It’s the restoration of all things to their proper order. And if we want to restore things to their proper order, the path is through obedience.
And then he says in verse 12, there, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles.”
And the reason he’s chastising them is because he says you’ve become hard of hearing, and it’s going to be hard to explain this son learning obedience and being perfected “author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” verse 10, “—called by God as High Priest ‘according to the order of Melchizedek—’” this better priesthood, “—of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.”
Move toward Perfection
So this is where this whole better priest, offering a better sacrifice, under a better covenant started, and he wants to talk about the better priesthood, offering the better sacrifice, under the better covenant; but these guys have become a little hard of hearing. But what he wants them to do is move on to perfection.
6:1, “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection—” Better priest, offering a better sacrifice, under a better covenant. That’s how we get to this completion, to this maturity. I want you to move on to maturity.
We go to 7:1. “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings—” We looked at that in Genesis. “And blessed him. To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated, ‘king of righteousness,’ and then also king of Salem—” His name means that. “—meaning ‘king of peace,’ without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life—” It’s a type. “—but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.” This better priesthood is continuous.
7:4 “Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils—” Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, the historical character. “And, indeed, those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood—” Which priesthood are we talking about? The levitical priesthood. The temple. The guys who would do the temple sacrifice.
“—have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Here mortal men receives tithes, but there he receives them of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.”
Isn’t it an interesting argument. Because Levi was in the loins of Abraham, he was still in the DNA of Abraham, yet to be born, when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, it was a recognition that that was a better priesthood. It’s superior.
The congressmen don’t come pay tithes to us. We pay taxes to them because they’re in a political order above us. Well that’s the idea here. It’s a better priesthood than the levitical priesthood.
Verse 11 “Therefore, if perfection were through the levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise?” It’s a better priesthood.
Look at 7:26. “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices—” Who daily offers up sacrifices? The temple priests. The levitical priests. Daily offering up sacrifices. And this high priest, the high priest according to Melchizedek does not need to do that. Why? Why does he not need to do it daily?
Verse 27. “For this he did once for all when he offered up himself.” See he had a better sacrifice. Why is this sacrifice better? It was once and done. It was complete. It was perfected. We have a better priesthood. And a better priesthood offers a better sacrifice.
We go to chapter 8. “Now this is the main point of the things we’re saying: We have such a High Priest—” What kind of high priest? A better high priest.
Verse 3. “For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices—” What kind of sacrifices? Blood sacrifices. What kind of sacrifices particularly? Temple sacrifices. We’re talking about temple sacrifices here.
“—Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer.” Well he didn’t offer a temple sacrifice. What did he offer? A better sacrifice, of himself.
Verse 6. “But now he has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as he is also mediator of a better covenant—” What office does he hold that he mediates this better covenant? High priesthood. He’s got a better covenant. A better covenant needs a better mediator. Who’s the better mediator? Jesus.
And then he goes and he says “For if that first covenant—” verse 7 “—had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.”
Then he quotes this passage from Jeremiah that we went into in some degree of detail. And in 8:10 he says, “I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts—” Where is the first covenant law written? Stone tablets. Where is this one written? On our hearts. You’ve got a better high priest, offering a better sacrifice, under a better covenant.
And part of the reason this covenant is better is because it’s written on our hearts.
So we come to chapter 9 now and we continue the conversation: Better priest, better sacrifice, better covenant.
Chapter 9. “Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was a lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant—” What’s written on the tablets of the covenant? The law.
So where are we now in time, history? Where are we? In the desert.
They built this tabernacle out of the goodies that they got from the Egyptians when they said, “Hey, can you give us some stuff when we’re leaving?” Everybody just had their cattle decimated, and their frogs filling up their house, and lice all over them, and their oldest kids die. And they’re like yeah. Yeah, sure. Here take this. Take this and go! Just go, go, go, go, go.”
So they had all these goodies and they made this tabernacle of gold overlaid and all this stuff, and they carried it around with them. Cloud by day, fire by night, stands over the tabernacle. We’re in the desert with the tabernacle here, where the covenant was given, and the priests were inaugurated, right? Because that’s where the law was inaugurated.
Verse 6. “Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services.”
Idea is, they went in there when? Does anybody know? The first part. Change out the bread….Daily. They went every day. Every day you go in, change out the bread, put the oil in the incense thing. That was something they did daily.
Verse 7, “But into the second part—” the Holy of Holies “—the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, when he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance.”
Anybody know what day that is? Day of Atonement. You know what the Jewish word for that is? Yom Kippur. This is Yom Kippur. That’s still the highest holy day in Israel. Yom Kippur. I mean modern-day Israel, their biggest holy day.
So once a year he would go into this holy of holies and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat of the ark, for sins committed in ignorance.
Verse 8. “The Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.” This tabernacle in the desert. “It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered—” Which kind of sacrifices? Temple sacrifices. Let’s all say it. Temple sacrifices. OK? We’ve got to get this down or it’s not going to happen.
The temple sacrifices “which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to conscience—” What are we trying to move on to? Perfection. Teleiosi. Completion. Maturity. And that completion and maturity can’t happen with our conscience with temple sacrifices.
It’s “concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.” What’s the time of reformation? When it changes. When we all get restored back to the way it’s supposed to be, right? That’s the salvation that’s mainly in view in Hebrews, that we have the opportunity through the suffering of death and following the path of Jesus to be crowned with glory and honor, again, like we were supposed to be, reigning in perfect harmony over a perfect creation.
But until then, we need our hearts cleansed from an evil conscience.
Verse 11. “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come—” He came as a better priest. “—with a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves—” What is that? Temple sacrifice. “—but with this own blood he entered the Most Holy Place once for all.”
How often do you have to have temple sacrifice? Every day. How often does Jesus’ sacrifice have to happen? Once. While the temple sacrifice doesn’t do what? It doesn’t cleanse you. It doesn’t take away sins. Jesus’ sacrifice does. Contrast, contrast, contrast.
Verse 12. “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood he entered the Most Holy Place once for all—” Once for all! “—having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats—” What kind of sacrifice is that? A temple sacrifice. “If the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer—” That’s a different sacrifice we’ll get into later. “—sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh—” our bodies “—how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Old Covenant vs. New Covenant
This is the perfection, the Teleiosi. This is what he’s trying to get them to go from hard of hearing to move on to maturity is to cleanse your conscience from the law written on your heart, the word ingested, and serve the living God with good works. This is the whole point.
Verse 15. “And for this reason, he’s the Mediator of the new covenant—” It’s a new covenant: better priest, better sacrifice, better covenant “—by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
See, in order to get the promise, the reward, the possession of the land, the people had to obey. And the same’s true for us. If you want the benefits of this new covenant, then you have to follow the new covenant.
Verse 16. “For where there’s a testament, there also must of necessity be the death of the testator.” We would think of this as a will. A will does not come into force until somebody dies.
If suddenly Tom came home from work one day, and his kids were all there, and they started reading his will and saying, “We’ve decided to take all this stuff now,” what do you think Tom would say?
Yeah, he probably wouldn’t be too happy.
If somebody comes in and starts putting tape and putting their names on your stuff, it just isn’t good. But after the death, that’s when the will comes in.
Verse 17. “For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept—” This is the old covenant. “—to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you—’”
We’re talking about the old covenant here, the old sacrifices.
Verse 21. “Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these—”
You see this tabernacle is a copy of something. What’s it a copy of? It’s a copy of heaven. There’s a real tabernacle in heaven. And this earthly one was a little copy of that.
Verse 23. “But the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” What sacrifices is he talking about? He’s talking about the temple sacrifices, right? We need something better than that for the sacrifice in Heaven.
Do you see the contrast? I haven’t been counting. What is this—about 15 times now we’ve contrasted—this is a better sacrifice than the old sacrifice? Because the old sacrifice had to happen continually, and it didn’t get rid of sins, and it didn’t cleanse the conscience. And this one happened once and it cleanses sins forever, and it cleanses the conscience. OK, the contrast, over and over again.
“For Christ has not entered the holy places—” This is verse 24. “—Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands which are copies of the true—” In other words, he hasn’t gone into the tabernacle in the wilderness. “—now to appear to us in the presence of God for us; not that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—” Day of Atonement, “—he then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, he has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
Better high priest, better sacrifice, better covenant. And the better sacrifice is himself.
Eagerly Wait for Jesus
Verse 27. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for him he will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
Now do you get born again by eagerly waiting for Jesus? No.
Four spiritual laws: Believe that there’s a gap between you, acknowledge your sin, and eagerly wait for him. That doesn’t work. The salvation we’re talking about here is what? The redemption of all things. And the redemption of all things only happens when Jesus comes back.
And that’s when this teleiosi that we’re angling for comes to full fruition. If you don’t eagerly wait for the return of Jesus, then you may not be on the path that Paul wants you to be on, to obtain this inheritance, this amazing reward.
Chapter 10. “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year—” What sacrifices are we talking about? Temple sacrifices.
“—make those who approach perfect.”Teleiosi. They don’t work. What do the temple sacrifices not do? They don’t make you perfect, right? What are we trying to do? Move on to perfection. Will the temple sacrifices do it? No.
“For then would they have not ceased to be offered? For the worshippers, once purified, would have no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices” Which sacrifices? The temple sacrifices. “—there is a reminder of sins every year.”
Not only does it not cleans the conscience, it makes the conscience worse. Why? It reminds you. It reminds me. I’m sinful. I need cleansing.
So, it has a worthwhile function, but the function is not to bring us to perfection.
Verse 4. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” What is the blood of bulls and goats? Temple sacrifice.
10:5. “Therefore, when he came into the world he—” Jesus “—said: ‘Sacrifices and offerings you did not desire—” Which sacrifices are we talking about? Temple sacrifice.
“—But a body you have prepared for me.” Why did he prepare a body? It’s a better sacrifice.
“In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure.” Which sacrifice are we talking about? Temple sacrifice.
10:7. “Then I said, ‘Behold, I’ve come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do your will, O God.’” And God’s will was that Jesus lay down his life.
10:8 “Previously saying, ‘Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin you did not desire—” Which sacrifice? Temple sacrifice. “—nor had pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the law). Then he said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God.’ He takes away the first that he may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified—” sanctified means to be set apart. “—we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Which sanctification are we talking about here? Daily sanctification where we are cleansed from the power of sin? No. Once for all.
This is being born again. Through faith in Christ, he takes us from the kingdom of darkness and puts us into the kingdom of light. One time for all.
Have you ever seen a better eternal salvation security verse than this. We have been. We. Who’s we? Us. Who’s we in the context of this letter? Paul and the people he’s writing to, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling who had lost their possessions and were glad because they know they have a more enduring possession in heaven, who’ve done good works, who he longs to come see again soon. There’s no question whether these people are born again or not. No question at all. They have been sanctified.
So why do you need a better sacrifice if you’ve already been sanctified? Why because what else do you need cleared? Your conscience. Why? Because that’s the necessary preparation to doing good works. And by doing good works we can move on to perfection. Teleiosi.