Hebrews 8:1-2

Hebrews 8:1‑2  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Listen from:
The truth of Christ as high priest, most important for the Christian, and especially for such as had been Hebrews, has thus far been richly unfolded according to the order of Melchizedek, but not without a glance at its exercise after the type of Aaron, yet even here immeasurably superior even to frequent contrast. This however demands further development, and first as connected with “a better covenant which was established upon better promises.” The contrast of the first or legal covenant with a second and new one, never to grow old or vanish away, occupies our present chapter for the most part. But it opens with a reproduction of what has been laid down already under a brief heading.
“Now, as a summary on what is being said, we have such a high priest who sat down on [the] right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens, minister of the holies, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man” (Heb. 8:1-21Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. (Hebrews 8:1‑2)).
The glory of Christ's person, Son of God and Son of Man, is developed in Heb. 1 and 2, and in both with His work, not only for purging us, but to vindicate God, annul the power of evil, reconcile all things, succor the tried, and bring many sons to glory. This is the admirable introduction, followed by His office of apostle and high priest for those who are pilgrims passing through the wilderness of the world to the rest of God, as we see in Heb. 3, 4; and it is precisely to such, no longer in Egypt but with Canaan in view, that the priesthood of Christ applies, as is shown in Heb. 4, 5, 6, along with the hindrances by the way, the awful peril of going back, and the grounds and motives for the full assurance of hope to the end. Heb. 7. is an elaborate proof from first to last of the Melchizedek priesthood, fulfilled not yet in its exercise but in its order in Christ, altogether and incontestably beyond that of Aaron.
If therefore a Hebrew Christian were in danger of pining after a Levitical high priest as drawing near to God for a moment on behalf of the ancient people of God, could he fail to see the infinite superiority of Christ in this very respect? It is not that Israel had one, and we Christians have not. Their own scriptures attest another and far higher coming, mysteriously bound up with the Messiah, to which their God was pledged by an oath, and this to abide forever. There stands the promise in Psalm 110, and now it is beyond cavil accomplished in Jesus dead, risen, and glorified. It is inexcusable unbelief to evade this word of God. What a blessing to receive it as our assured portion in God's grace! “We have such a high-priest,” to maintain us consistently with all that God is and loves as fully revealed, to sustain in our weakness, to sympathize with our every trial and pang. His position declares His unique and incomparable dignity, His intimate nearness to God in glory. His seat is “at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens,” a stronger statement even than what was given at the starting-point of the epistle (1:3). “Throne” is added now, and the “heavens” take the place of “on high.” Could the most prejudiced Israelite fail to perceive the superior dignity and efficacy of such a high-priest above even Aaron or the most favored of his line? Nor could he deny the absolute authority of the scripture which reveals the divine intention now carried out in it. Is it for Jews to doubt the glory of the Messiah or the blessing achieved and secured to those that are His?
There has Christ taken His seat. It is calm and permanent intimacy where no believer can dispute the greatness, and the power, and the glory, any more than the love, and tender interest, and unfailing support. He is “minister of the holies,” in no merely typical sense to bring truth down palpably to infantine minds. It is the house of heavenly worship and divine glory in its fullest reality and display. Therein Christ ministers according to the nicest consideration of the living God, as the sole person suited to Him and to us equally and in perfection, true God and real man, Who obeyed unto death (yea, of the cross), that God's honor should be retrieved and His love meet with a love like His own, Who died for our sins when we were as powerless as ungodly, and thus again proved divine love to the uttermost no less than holiness and righteousness. Such is the minister of the holies, that God in the heavens and the saints on the earth should be adequately conciliated, even in the time of our present infirmity and exposure.
Thus the high-priest we boast is exactly in keeping with “the tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Less and other than He would not suffice for the majesty of God, or for His grace. For as “the Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into His hand,” so does He delight in having Him ever nearest to Himself, that He may give us to enjoy His own ineffable satisfaction in Christ's laying down His life that He might take it again (not merely laying it down for the sheep, John 10:1515As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:15), compared with 17); so too in all the efficacy of His office maintaining us in harmony with Himself in heavenly glory, notwithstanding our pitiable weakness, and the rude storms and hostility of the world we pass through.
We have noticed already that the ground of the epistle is the wilderness, not the land; and so here is the “tabernacle", rather than the temple which would suit the rest actually come, not the pilgrimage. This is full of instruction which Christendom has overlooked and abandoned. Great is the spiritual gain for such as seize the truth by divine teaching and are practically faithful. For nature chafes at the walk of faith and craves what is “settled” or “established” (2 Sam. 7), on the specious plea that the world is the Lord's and the fullness of it, for any present enjoyment as well as to adorn His sanctuary; as the rich and royal adorn for themselves a house of cedars. Whereas in truth since redemption to this day He has walked in a tent and in a tabernacle, and has never spoken a word to us, saying, Why build ye not Me a house of cedars? This is reserved for His Son, the Man of Peace, when the sharp sword proceeding out of His mouth shall have smitten the nations in revolt, and the Man Whose name is the BRANCH shall grow up out of His place and build the temple of Jehovah. Even He shall build the temple of Jehovah; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both (Zech. 6). It is still the tribulation and kingdom and patience in Jesus, not yet Himself come to reign in power and glory over the earth. We are nothing if not heavenly, as He is for us in the heavens, minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.
Even the tabernacle of old needed its gold and silver and precious things, as the Levitical high-priest his varied jewels on his shoulders and breast. Ours is the true tabernacle on high where all is the glory of God and His Son in the power of redemption. There created ornaments have no place. There Christ ministers, and thither we approach by faith, looking not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. And no less than the Holy Spirit of God is given us as God's children to make this access real, and full of peace and joy. How sorrowful for any thus blessed to “turn again to the weak and beggarly elements” of earthly sights and shows and seasons like Israel, or to conceive that corruptible things as silver and gold can be acceptable in the hour now come, when God must be worshipped, if at all, in spirit and in truth—worshipped also as the Father, Christ's Father and our Father, His God and our God.