Insights into Hebrews: Part 8

By Lloyd Ellefson

"Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." (Heb. 8:1) What is our mental image of Jesus sitting on the right hand of the throne of God? Do we equate this throne with the great white throne? A throne symbolizes authority or rule - as when a king is seated on his throne, he is in a position to exercise his authority, power and rule. From his throne he also pronounces judgment.

Christ is in us, and He is sitting on the right hand of the Father. In the natural, this could present a problem. How can Jesus be up there on the right hand of the Father and in us at the same time? But God is not a man; He is Spirit. In Him we live and move and have our being! We cannot downgrade God to a human figure, neither can we downgrade Christ to a human figure, because Christ is the Son of God. When our thinking reduces Christ to a mere human being, He is no longer God; He is only an image of God. Humanity forms many images of God. However there is only one God, and all our images of God are to be done away with!

The throne of God is WITHIN those who walk by the Spirit, for they are being ruled by God! His rule is not forced upon us - like the rule of the governments we are familiar with. We cannot do His will through the striving and zealousness of the flesh! Our natural mind has many reasons for insisting that God's will is not best for us. In order for us to agree with the Father's will we need a revelation of His love and goodness! The Holy Spirit brings us the things of God, and causes us to recognize that His ways are the best ways! Through the faith of the Son of God within us, we look beyond the natural realm, recognize God's love and power, and walk in obedience to His desires! In order for His will to become our will, we need to be submitted to the Father! This eliminates our obedience to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life! Just as Jesus delighted to do the will of the Father, so we too delight to do His will!

In John 14:23 Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him." WE includes the Father and Jesus. This means that Jesus did not come without the Father, nor does the Father come without Jesus. If we have Christ in us, we have the Father in us, because they are one! They are not divided - they are both in us as one! They are in the spiritual places within us!

"A minister in the sanctuary, and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man." (Heb. 8:2) All the tabernacles made by man are now obsolete. God does not live in tabernacles made with human hands. If we ask God to come down and dwell in a building which is made by man, He will not do it. There is now no earthly sanctuary in which God dwells - nor will there ever be one again! No church building has a sanctuary, a holy place, where God dwells. There is only one holy place on earth, and that is in the heart of the man who has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus; he has been made fit for God to dwell in! That is the only holy place there is! The abomination of desolation sets itself against God and in the place of God, so it comes to operate in the dwelling place designed for God. Jesus is the minister of the sanctuary, of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched. God has made this tabernacle, not out of earthly materials, but out of that which is of the Spirit!

"For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all..." (vv.3-4a) What a statement! If Jesus would come back in the flesh, He could not be a priest according to Jewish law, because He was not of Levitical descent. Nor does He minister fleshly things according to the law; He ministers spiritual things by a new law - the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus!

Our high priest has been exalted above the heavens! His home is not in a fleshly body but in a spiritual one! His abode or dwelling place is not a temporary residence, but a permanent one! Jesus has prepared a place for us in the Father's household in which there are many dwelling places. (John 14) He was in an earthly body when He spoke these words to His disciples, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (v.3) Jesus said, WHERE I AM; He did not say, WHERE I AM GOING. He was not referring to a place where He would be in the future! He was not referring to a place for them in heaven. He was speaking of preparing a place for them in the Father's household, for He was speaking of the Father's house. Jesus was not speaking in the context of going to heaven - the word HEAVEN is not mentioned here.

Jesus said that we would be in the same place where He was while in His physical body! Where was Jesus? He was enjoying a wonderful relationship with the Father at the very time He was speaking to His disciples. In this relationship He was being led by the Holy Spirit at all times. Jesus told His disciples He would prepare a place for them where they could also have and enjoy this relationship; they would be where He is! In other words, just as His relationship was with the Father, so they would have the same relationship with the Father while they were on this earth. The Holy Spirit would be with them, leading and directing them just as He was leading and directing Jesus!

Christ is God's gift to us! Christ brings us into a spiritual place in the heavenlies to dwell in the household of God! That is much greater than a geographical heaven! At least it is to me. Would you rather have, Christ or heaven? If we have Christ, we have heaven! Heaven is often used in the plural in the scriptures, for there are various heavens. One of them has lots of principalities in which spirits are fighting. Paul went to the third heaven, and Jesus was exalted above the heavens!

"...since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law: who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, `See,' He says, `that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.' But now he has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, `Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant which I made with their fathers...'" (vv.4b-9a)

Many people are still serving the shadows, but they are no longer valid. Anyone who observes a certain day as a Sabbath, or seasons or times, is living in the shadows. Any offering to appease God or to compensate for misdemeanors, is no longer legitimate nor acceptable.

The old covenant was conditional, for it depended upon, and demanded, performance. For example, God would not forgive and bless people if they were not living according to the law. They would first have to offer their sacrifices according to the old covenant. They were always unsuccessful in their efforts to please God. The more we try to undo our works, appease God or make an offering for sin, the worse trouble we get into. I have experienced that. The harder I tried, the worse I got, and the worse it got. I felt condemned, so I tried to work harder to receive God's favor. That felt good until I did something wrong again. That is not new covenant thinking!

The new covenant is not an upgrade from the old covenant. It is different; it is not like the one made with their fathers. It is better than the old! It is based on the grace of God - what He has done, and NOT on what we have done! The new covenant says God will bless us when we believe Him! Believing God causes our relationships to improve because we no longer try to change people. This brings us into the freedom to love and accept them. As soon as we depend on our own works and efforts to attain to a righteousness acceptable to God, we are again operating in the law, and depending on our own works and righteousness. This brings glory and credit to us instead of to God.

"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (v.10) Ezekiel 36 lists some of the things God has promised to do. Time and again He said, I WILL! He said, "I will give you a new spirit; I will put a new heart within you." Our old heart was evil, for Jesus said all these evil things proceed or come from within. They come out of the heart and defile the man. (Mk. 7:21-23) If you think that our new God-given heart is still bad, let me ask you a few questions. Do you think the new heart God has given you is the same one you had before? Does this new heart have to be cleansed, forgiven, or made good? No, it certainly does not! God has given us a new heart and put a new spirit within us! The fact is, God has made us a new creation in Christ Jesus! He has given us a new heart that does not have the same desires the old one had.

However, we get the old and the new mixed up, and think we are a little good and a little bad. Jesus said, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit." Therefore we do not have a heart that is half good and half bad. We had an old one that was ALL bad, and now we have a new one that is ALL good!

With which heart do we identify? The consciousness of the old heart has us convinced that its nature is our true nature. Even though it is not our true nature, we are confident it is, because we feel it is. We have a natural tendency to live in the old, right? It often seems easier to do the wrong instead of the right. But when we do wrong, we get under the law, condemnation and guilt. Yet all the while we have Christ within us! We have a new nature that has never sinned. Christ has never sinned and He has never made you and me sin; He has never produced sin in us! Everything He has produced in us is perfect; it is totally right, clean and without sin. Therefore it is important to identify with our new heart! But we cannot identify with our new heart unless we believe what God says!

Christ is preparing His spotless bride. Everyone who has Christ, is a portion of that bride. The only thing she needs is to be made ready, to be washed with the outer washing of the Word. What would happen if you would wash off a man with a bad heart? When the outer veneer of goodness is washed off, he looks worse! What happens when you wash off a man with a good heart? When the water of the Word takes off our traditions, our old ideas, our old condemnations, all our unbelief, and all the garbage which we have heard for so many years, we will be very beautiful! We will see something Christ has made! We are God's workmanship and we do not take any credit for the work He has done!

"...just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless." (Eph. 5:25-27) Here we see the purpose of the washing with the word. Washing something which is inherently bad, will not make it look good. After we have been born a new creation we are no longer people with bad hearts, because we have been made a new creation. The scriptures, Christ, and the Holy Spirit speak to this new creation. They feed the new man.

Christ took the old man to the cross and crucified him. Since he has been put to death, he does not need feeding; nor can he be improved. We are to be renewed in the spirit of our mind, being transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are to grow up into Him in one new man. (Eph. 4:23; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 2:15) This why the ministry of Jesus Christ cannot be in an earthy realm dealing with the law and with the old conscience.

In Heb. 9 we learn about shadows and types. The writer has studied the tabernacle, the feasts, the vessels, days, etc. From these many beautiful pictures have been drawn of who we are and who Christ is. God was showing this in the Old Testament in shadow and type.

What do we mean by shadow and type? A shadow is a darkness cast upon a surface by a body which intercepts the light; it is the specific image made by such a body. Shadow and type are the things in the Old Testament (old covenant) which represent the realities in the new covenant. Since the Old Testament was written before the New Testament, it would seem that the shadow came before the light. But can we have a shadow before there is light? We realize that a shadow cannot be cast without light; therefore the light must be there before a shadow can be cast. So Jesus Christ, the light, was there in the beginning. But we see the shadows, types and figures first. When they pass away in the light of the reality of the Spirit, we see what the shadows and figures were in their spiritual reality.

In the first covenant there was a tabernacle called the tabernacle of Moses. God called Moses up on the mountain and gave him the exact pattern of the tabernacle that was to be built. In this pattern God was drawing a picture for humanity, but humanity did not understand the picture. They did not see who God is, who Christ is, who the Holy Spirit is, who man is, and what redemption is. The tabernacle had three parts. Three is the number of completion - the number of resurrection. All these things are pictured in the three feasts of Israel, namely, the Passover, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

In the Old Testament, every male had to appear in Jerusalem before the Lord on these three feast days. A feast indicates there is something to eat. The spiritual meaning then is, when you eat what is spiritual in the first feast, you receive enough nourishment to provide strength to pass on to the second feast; when you partake of the second feast you get enough strength to pass on to the third feast.

This is also pictured in the tabernacle. Within the outer court was the tabernacle which was divided into the holy place and holiest place. Let's read about it in Hebrews nine. "Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. And behind the second veil, there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant. And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Now when these things have been thus prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship, but into the second only the high priest enters, once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. Th Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle" (outer court) "is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience." (Heb. 9:1-9)

The first tabernacle, the tabernacle of Moses, was the dwelling place of God during the dispensation of the law. It was outside the camp, and it had curtains around an outer court; the tabernacle was divided into two parts called the holy place and the holy of holies.

The tabernacle of God was the type or shadow of what we are. So we are built according to the pattern of the tabernacle. It was also symbolic of what Christ was when He came. He had all these facets. The outer court represented His fleshly body. The first part of the main tabernacle (the holy place) belongs to the spiritual man, the Son of Man. The holiest place, or holy of holies, represented His nature as the Son of God - His divinity and godliness. We also have these facets in us!

Let's take a closer look at this symbolism. In the outer court of the tabernacle, the sacrifices took place. They always dealt with death, washings, blood and fire. This is symbolic of God's dealings with the natural man. This court was open to everyone; any commoner could enter with his offering. But the holy place was only open to the priests, while the holiest was closed to all but the high priest! This progression is very significant!

The outer court dealt with the sin-consciousness of the people. We are first conscious of the sins of our flesh; and that is dealt with through the sacrifice and the sprinkling of the blood, and the washing and the baptism which they had in the laver. After that had been dealt with, priests could enter the second place. These places were separated by curtains.

From the outside it was impossible to see what was going on inside the courtyard. But once a person entered the first court, he became conscious of what was going on there, and he could testify to what was in there. However, the people on the outside could not know where he really was. Only those who had been there could understand what was happening there. But the next place would still be an enigma to him until he passed through the next curtain. So we cannot know what lies beyond the veil; we cannot know the experiences that await us there, for the future is still closed to us.

These places and veils testify of our experiences with God. As we progress in our Christian walk, we testify of what we have experienced; but other people cannot see where we are at - where we are living in God. The outer court has to do with repentance, crucifixion, putting to death the old man, baptism into the death to sin, forgiveness of sins and being cleansed of our old nature.

In the second or holy place, we receive spiritual light. The natural light of the outer court has been replaced by the light of the Holy Spirit. The oil of the Spirit furnishes us with light. It has to do with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the new prayer life we have there. We are also feeding on new bread - the manna which is new every morning! But this is not yet the true life in its perfection because it is still manifested through our humanity.

The third veil brings us into what we call sonship or an understanding that we are actually children of God, and have come to the mercy seat. This last veil was torn when Jesus died, and it portrayed the rending of the flesh of Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 10:20 it says, "By a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh." He opened up the way to the mercy seat. From within the outer court and the holy place the mercy seat was not visible. Once we see that God's mercy is all-encompassing, and that everything is totally dependent on God's mercy, we are suddenly overwhelmed by the greatness of His mercy! The cherubim on the mercy seat depict the glory of God!

"And there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, `Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it. And leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant authority to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.' These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth." (Revelation 11:1-4)

Notice that John was told not to measure the outer court, for the outer court has been given to the nations or Gentiles. Then he goes on to speak of two witnesses. They are not men who will be born sometime in the future. Instead, they represent a number of things. They portray a system of double witness that runs throughout the scriptures. We will name a few of them. The Bible is a double witness; it has the letter and the Spirit. Moses carried two tablets of stone when he descended from the mountain the first time and the second time. They are two witnesses; the first one is a witness of the Lord through the law (these tablets were broken), and the second is a witness of the Lord through the Spirit. These were not broken; they were placed in the ark! That first is the natural law and the second is the spiritual law. On the mountain of transfiguration Moses represented the law while Elijah represented repentance from the law. Jesus also was a double witness. His physical body witnessed to the humanity of Jesus; His words and mighty deeds bore witness to the power in the Spirit. These examples contain two witnesses, the letter and the spirit.

If the first witness is put to death, I believe the second witness will also be put to death. If we do not receive the first witness in the natural law, it will be put to death in us, and we will not receive the spiritual law or witness. If we do not receive the natural witness of Jesus - that He was born of a virgin, etc. - we will not believe the Spirit in the scriptures. God always speaks through the mouth of two or three witnesses. Behind every word and every physical thing there is a spiritual meaning!

The same holds true for the tabernacle. The Old Testament tabernacle contained a testimony. Now we are the tabernacle of God and we also contain a testimony. Our true being is hidden by the flesh. The veil of the temple (symbolizing the flesh of Jesus) had figures of cherubim and other figures of truth woven into it. This veil was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died. Those who looked at the veil from within the holy place, could only see the figures of the truth in the veil. But once the veil was torn, they were no longer limited by the forms of truth; they received an entrance and access to the truth itself.

I believe that is what God is doing today. He is teaching us the spiritual meaning of baptism, the communion in the body of Jesus as symbolized by the tabernacle, as well as a number of other things. If we do not have an understanding of the Spirit and the teaching of the Spirit, we will again relate everything to our natural mind. It is easy to satisfy the natural mind - and for many that is enough. They are satisfied by simply reading the scriptures, going to church and becoming involved in church organizations. This satisfies their natural mind but they are not receiving spiritual meaning and edification.

"The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience." (Heb. 9:8-9) In the first tabernacle, God was served according to the law of Moses. If this way of serving God is still in our hearts and minds, we will not find the way into God's tabernacle, for it was imperfect! It could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. Sacrifices had to be repeated because the conscience was not cleansed; they were continually tormented by a guilty conscience! Their works were dead for they did not emanate from the Spirit!

"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation." (v.11) But now the perfect has come! Jesus Christ is the perfect sacrifice! The living way has been made available to us in Christ! He entered through a greater and more perfect tabernacle; it was not made of this creation. He entered the holy place with His own blood, His own soul! With it He obtained eternal redemption for us that we might have an eternal inheritance! His redemption includes the cleansing of our conscience from dead works! (v.14) Now we can truly serve the Lord - not by the works of the law, but by the works initiated by the Spirit and performed through Him!

The pattern has been fulfilled by the coming of Christ! Now we are the temple or tabernacle of God. Therefore all these things are in us! We are not only part of Christ, we are partakers of His fulness - of all that He is!

God bless you! Amen.

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