how does the Sanctuary work? Hebrews study pt.9

Updated: May 5

This post is part of a series. Read the previous post here:



Hebrews Chapter 8: Why We Should Study the Tabernacle

If you were raised as a believer, there is a chance you had a model of the Jewish Tabernacle in your home. There is also a chance you don't know anything about it!

I don't remember the first time I was introduced to this customary display from the time of the Israelites, but I do remember how confusing it all was for me. As I came across this structure and ceremony once again in Hebrews, I decided to spend some time familiarizing myself with it. You can learn more about it by clicking here.

I'm not sure why it took me so long to connect the dots between Israel's traditions and what Jesus is carrying out at this very moment in Heaven. Yet as I read this passage, I felt new insight fill my mind. Hebrews 8:2 clearly states, "...who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a human being." Hebrews 8:5 says, "They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven." This was not just some weird cultural thing that the Israelites made up out of their own thoughts. The sanctuary and holy places are divinely inspired. They are things we will see for ourselves on a grander scale when we go to heaven.

I always had a negative opinion of the Jewish ceremonies because I didn't like the idea of killing innocent animals. Hebrews mentions that there was more going on than just sacrifices. It says every priest was appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices. It also goes on to say that this earthly covenant between Israel and God was flawed... if it was perfect it wouldn't need altering and adjusting. Jesus was the adjustment. Hebrews 8:7 reads, "For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another."

It was important for the readers of Hebrews in its time to realize the difference between old and new covenants. It is also important for us today. It is necessary for us to realize that the old covenant is no longer valid because it was flawed. Based on the old covenant, our relationship with God was not out of love but out of necessity. If Jesus had never come our Christian lifestyle would indeed be dictated by "saved by works" and not "saved by grace".

The chapter ends with a foretelling of the future:

“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.  This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.  For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Hebrews 8: 9-13

This is talking about Heaven.

Pondering Points:

1. Do you have a good grasp of the sanctuary ceremonies? Take some time this week to write out an explanation of the rituals in your own words.

2. What do you think life would be like in our modern world if the Sacrificial system was still required of us by God?

3. How does the death of Jesus parallel with the death of the innocent animals that were slaughtered?


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