Sermons & Sunday Schools

Pulling Back the Curtain of the Old and the New (Part 5)

Full Transcript:

Do you remember the American television anthology series by Rod Serling called Twilight Zone? I often enjoyed those programs because they launch you into the unknown, and that was the real twist. Rod Serling would step before the camera and inform everyone watching the program that it will be a different kind of experience because it explores the unfamiliar, the mysterious, and the unusual. He would say, “With a key, we unlock the door to imagination. Beyond is another dimension, a dimension of sight, of sound, or mind. You are moving through a land of both shadow and substance of things and ideas. Guiding you through this wonderous jade is the hypnotic sound of the Twilight Zone.” See, it goes beyond the unknown.

Each episode was a mixture of self-contained fantasies, science-fiction, suspense, and sometimes horror, and it would always end in some unexpected twist. The term “Twilight Zone”, which actually predates the program, originally meant gray area. Rod Serling chose the title of the series, but said, after he started the series, that he discovered that “Twilight Zone” was a term applied by the U.S. Airforce to the terminator, which meant the border between night and day on a planetary body – it is that shadowy area.

The passage before us, on this Lord’s Day, is a passage that moves us to look heavenward, away from the earthly, the temporary, and the passing things that belong to the realm of copy and shadow. It prompts us to stick our heads above the clouds, and remove ourselves from the thinking of the dizzying schedules all of us must adhere to. It pushes us to step into the realm of the impossible and invisible, and a realm in which we often don’t think about. Yet, it is a realm that is more real than that which is seen. Believers, from time to time, are pushed by Scripture to look behind the curtain, to gaze upon realty, and to think about the wonders of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and what He has accomplished in behalf of His children. John 1:12:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.

We come to Hebrews 8, and we come to what is called, the kephalaion, a Greek word that means main point, chief point, or principle thing. Hebrews 8:1:

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.

Isn’t it great when the author clearly tells us, “this is the main point”? We don’t always get that, but we get it here because he’s stressing everything he said from Hebrews 1 – 7. He is going to stress this main point, this principle thing. Meaning, it becomes very important and serious for us as believers. So, what is the main point? The main point is: we have such a high priest. Those who believe in His name have been given the right to become the children of God. Putting the adjective “such” after the word “have” conveys a grateful confidence for the followers of the way. They have an infinite, superior High Priest, whose position in the heavenly sanctuary is in perfect order, and secures for them their adoption forever.

It is always my prayer that you will fall in love with Jesus Christ repeatedly. That you will come to worship and serve Him for the right reasons, and you will want to consistently and soberly love Him more. Let me plead with you my prayer before I get started: if you don’t really know the Lord Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, that you will come and be saved, that you would be led to faith and repentance by the spirit, so that you will follow him all the days of your life. If you do know him, then you would discover a fresh supremacy of Christ. How beautiful, exalted, and worthy He is to serve, to live for, and to think about. If you do come to know Christ as your Lord and Savior, through the preaching of God’s word, please, let someone know about it, so we can rejoice with you together.

Our author is not speculating, fantasying, or dreaming, but he is speaking a fact, not theory. Christians deal with real, factual things because they come from the living God, who is a God of Truth. He does not play with us, He shoots from the hip. Our High Priest, Jesus Christ, is real, and the bible is saying He is ours, He is yours, He’s your own. You have Him. So, there are three things about our Lord’s position as a High Priest. His immanence is service and His reality. Let’s have a word of prayer:

Lord, thank you this morning, for the great things You have done. We give You glory and honor. It’s all due Your name, anyway, so, Lord, let us enjoy who You are and what You have done, and, Lord, this morning, cause us and push us to see what’s happening in the heavenly sanctuary that is beyond this world. It is true, more true than the things we can see, and so, Lord, let us live there and put our treasure there, and put our mind there. That You may bless us while we are here with these heavenly thoughts. I pray this, in Christ’s name, Amen.

Our first major point is our great High Priest has a position of immanence. Immanence is one of those words we don’t hear much. It is used to refer to a high position, a rank of distinction, or a supremacy, which is what our passage is saying about the Lord, Jesus Christ. First, He is seated, or sitting down. Being seated is a topic, when related to the high priestly ministry, worthy of consideration for this reason: Jesus bore all the sins of His people in a single cosmic sacrifice, ascended into heaven, and then sat down. No Levitical priest ever sat down. In the earthly tabernacle, there were no chairs, and the reason for the priests standing is because their work was never done, or ever complete.

However, Jesus sat down, which indicates that there is no need for a further sacrifice. When Jesus Christ was sacrificed, He ended it and it was done. Hebrews 10:11-12:

Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God.

Since the people always sinned, their job was never done and never ended. Jesus Christ had finished it all, so there was no need for a further sacrifice. Second, in Hebrews 8:1, Jesus is on a throne at the right hand of the Majesty. The right hand is a position of privilege and authority, and it also signifies might, majesty, and deity. To be on the throne, the final, ultimate throne that governs the whole universe, where Jesus sits attributes to Him that He is the King of all. These two things, being seated and on the throne, are brought together in Revelation 4:2-6, 9-11:

Immediately, I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. 3And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. 4Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. 5Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6And before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.

9And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

Revelation 5:5-7:

And one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” 6And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

This is a vision of heaven, and the church in heaven knows who is the mediator of the new covenant. One of the elder’s said, “John, stop crying, the Lamb is found worthy. Jesus Christ is slain. One was found worthy to take the scroll of God the Father. Jesus is the essential personage. He is able to break the seals and open the book.” Revelation 5:9, 12-14:

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

12saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” 13And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

When it comes to understanding who Jesus Christ is and what He has accomplished, all you can do is worship, and in His return to heaven, it was a great feast and tremendous time of worship. He is seated and on the throne. Once Jesus accomplishes His mission, it was His prayer to go back to heaven to be with the Father. John 17:5:

Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

The heavens refer to the place of God’s glorious residence, the Holy habitation of God. It is the resting place of all lest souls, and where His throne is and where thousands of His holy ones stand before Him serving Him. Jesus’ position in heaven makes His ministry superior to the earthly and earth-bound priesthood of the old covenant. He has gone where no high priest has gone before. All that has gone before Him, concerning the function of the high priest, were just shadows and types of what would be accomplished in Jesus Christ.

Believers are dealing with reality, or with things more real than anyone on the earth. Our great High Priest has a position of immanence, and a second major point is that our great High Priest has a position of service. Hebrews 8:2-4:

A minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. 3For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. 4Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law.

Meaning, the Lord, Jesus Christ, is serving in heaven. Yes, He is seated. Sometimes people think that because He is seated that He is not doing anything, but that is not the case here. He is seated, but He is the Priest King, and He is still serving us. Therefore, the Lord is seated in heaven serving us, in the true tabernacle, a tabernacle pitched by the Lord, not by man. This is the real and true tabernacle. However, this is not a true one opposed to false since the earthly tabernacle was not a false one. God himself commanded Moses that it would be built, but this is just the heavenly sanctuary, which is abiding as compared to the earthly sanctuary that is transient and passing away. The Lord is serving, and He is offering a sacrifice, but, He has offered the sacrifice. If He is going to be a priest, He is to offer sacrifices, as told in Hebrews 8:3. Therefore, it is necessary, that this high priest, Jesus Christ, also has something to offer, and He offered Himself. Hebrews 7:27:

Who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

It is the unrepeatable, perfect, and effective sacrifice of Himself. He offers it up for us as the church and His children, and He is serving in heaven His children. He has offered up a sacrifice like no other sacrifice because he does not have to offer one for Himself first since He was sinless. He offers a sacrifice not of another animal, but of Himself on the cross one time for all eternity so that we can be saved by faith. Therefore, the law can convict us of sin and bring us to the place of faith. Then, we need to believe that God gives us, at that point, faith and repentance, and He regenerates us so that we can believe the things that He’s already accomplished.

Also, in this position of His service, He is showing us His difference. Jesus didn’t belong to the family of Aaron or the line of Levites, and it’s a good thing He wasn’t in that line since their ministry was ineffective, limited, and unable to bring God’s purpose to completion. Jesus’ heavenly high priesthood demands a perfect sacrifice, which He offered once for all and brought God’s purpose to completion. The purpose being the admission to the sanctuary of God where one will believe in Jesus Christ and He becomes their righteousness, transferring His righteousness to them and their sin to the cross, and He makes them perfect so that they may enter the heavenly sanctuary and dwell with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit forever. No high priest was ever able to accomplish this except for Jesus, and this was all done for us.

Doesn’t this display a level of love that is hard to understand? Jesus goes to this extent to secure your salvation and eternity, and no one can snatch you from His hands once you are His. When Hebrews was written, sacrifices were still going on before 70 AD. Most solid historians placed Hebrews at about 67-68 AD. Therefore, Hebrews becomes a reality to the people, and when it was written to the Jews, they were still seeing the priest take sacrifices in Jerusalem. For that to end, it was a huge problem to them. The Jews could not handle the idea of not making sacrifices, so that’s why Paul drives home to the point repeatedly about the new covenant, and that Jesus Christ is the one who satisfies all of that. Rather than looking at the shadows or outline of things, look to heaven where you see the reality of what you see down here, and it is all fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

What else is Jesus doing in heaven in His high priestly service? He is a King, of course, so He is reigning and ruling. In addition, He is calling people to Himself. The gospel is still being preached as the Lord sits at the right hand of the Father while interceding for the saints. He is with us as we go and proclaim the gospel. Another thing He is doing is interceding for His people. Romans 8:34:

who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

Therefore, He does it for us. Hebrews 10:12-13:

but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.

What else is He doing? He is waiting. In this heaven the Lord Jesus entered, He sits at the right hand of the Majesty on High, and He must remain there until the time comes for God to restore all things. Jesus Christ will come back to earth as a King, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, riding the clouds of heaven surrounded by an innumerable host of holy angels and redeemed saints. He is coming to restore all things. Whenever we encounter the hostile forces of the universe, they will all be subdued someday. Jesus’ work of cosmic meditation and intercession will be complete someday, and when it is complete, He will offer everything up to the Father. As Scripture says, God will be all and all, and that’s the end of redemptive history as we know it. 1 Corinthians 15:24:

24then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27For He has put all things in subjection under his feet.. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

The Lord stays seated at the right hand of the Father in the place of Majesty, Honor, and Power, and He is doing all those things: reigning, ruling, calling, interceding, and waiting for it all to take place, while overseeing it all. Aren’t you thankful that He oversees it all? So, brethren, it doesn’t matter what governments of the world do. The United States could go south tomorrow, and it may change your life, but it will not change God’s plans.

Do you think we can handle it if that happens? Sure, looks like someday it could, and believe me, I am a staunch believer that we ought to do everything to preserve our country by praying for our country and putting in the right leaders if we can. However, someday, our nation may go the way of many nations before, who have been established with a much firmer foundation and for a longer period, but it doesn’t matter how strong your army is or how well established you are. When God says you are done, you are done. God’s eternal plan is unchangeable and will come to the end someday. God is looking forward to it and we ought to look forward to it too, but we must keep our eyes in heaven while we serve here on earth, or we are going to miss it.

Lastly, our Great High Priest has a position of reality since it is the reality of God, and what God tells us is real. It’s not a shadow, a fantasy, or a good story that is leading to nowhere. It is reality, and I can get my hands and my mind around realty.

If you have ever read through the Old Testament, the section on the tabernacle goes on and on, and you say, “Lord, alright, I get the picture here.” Every single detail is written down such as the metal that is supposed to be used, dimensions, the cloth, the priesthood, etc., and you say, “whoa”. So, you must ask, “why did God give such detail?” The reality is seen in Exodus 25:40:

See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.

Moses was shown, by God, the real pattern of which is in heaven, but the pattern which the priests had here on earth was only a shadowy outline of the heavenly order. When Moses was on the mountain, he was gazing into heavenly things, and God gave him the pattern of the real heavenly sanctuary to bring down to earth to show to men what they need to do to approach God in a proper way so that they would not perish, die, and be separated from God for eternity. God warned Moses, in other words, to not fudge on it. When it comes to the word of God, I believe we should take the same advice by preaching and living what is in the text, and by not skipping over anything no matter how hard it is to take sometimes.

Now, there are two words used in Hebrews 8:5: copy and shadow. The word copy could mean representation, or a figure, and the word shadow means outline or a sketched-plan of what was real. When we look at the Old Testament tabernacle, we see only the shadow, or the sketched-plan, of what’s really in heaven. The point being: because the earthly priesthood was only a sketch plan representing the real of that which was in heaven, it was inadequate since it was only a shadowy outline of the real priest, Jesus Christ. This could never lead people into the reality of God’s heavenly sanctuary, or into the presence of God, but, Jesus, our High Priest, surely can and did. Even now, anyone who is without Christ, when they come and believe, they, too, can have that entry way into his presence – here on earth and guaranteed in heaven. It is He, Jesus Christ, who leads us right into the presence of God.

Who else could do that? No other priest comes close to Christ. That is why He wasn’t in the line of Levi or Aaron. He was from the tribe of Judah because He was called by God from heaven, and the sanctuary that was a pattern on earth was only a picture of what was in heaven. It was always God’s plan to do what He did, and to set aside the old things He did and replace it with the reality. When you are going through Hebrews, you wonder why chapter 11 is about faith. Well, while we are here, and we’re thinking about the reality, we must have faith to believe it since we are dealing with things way beyond us, so we must trust the character of God. When we get there, we may gain a greater understanding why we need faith while we are on earth. It is faith that believes the God who does the impossible. With men it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible, so we believe in God of the impossible who is not bound or restricted by time or space as we know it. Who knows how many dimensions there are, but we know that there is more than what we can fathom.

So, how do we get there? Not on our own since God didn’t give us a map to get there, we go through Him. John 14:6:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

If this weren’t true, the Lord wouldn’t have said, “it is True.” Sometimes it takes faith to believe this. When you are going through suffering, trails, and temptations, and life gets tough, these are the things that get you through: thinking by faith. Hebrews 11:1-3:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2For by it the men of old gained approval. 3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

Is it true or not true? Is it fantasy or is it reality? The only way we can say it’s reality is if I believe the One who said it, the One who has the character behind what is being said and taught. God tells us the truth, and that’s what he preaches about faith. See, my faith is in Him, not in things, people, nations, or armies. In the Old Testament, God’s people said they would depend on Egypt and their armies since they are strong, and God would tell them that if they trust in those and not in Him, they would be slaughtered, defeated, and go into exile, and that they simply had to trust in Him because He is greater and more powerful than all of that. He is the great God who sits in the heavens, and He is imminent and close with us. He is telling us personal things by letting us know what He has done for us, which is a benefit for us.

We are not called to find out what is going on in the unseen realm, but we are called to trust the God whose character is of that truth. The God who is just, compassionate, loving, full of kindness, and has wrath against sin, and that is the God of the Word of God. We simply need to trust God at His word because He can be trusted. There are few people that we can trust to do hard things, keep secrets, pay back what they owe, but God can be trusted completely, totally, and always. He doesn’t change, and He will not take a left turn on us and lose us. He is with us, calling to us, ministering to us, praying for us, and He has given us His spirit as a down payment, sealed until the day of redemption. We are privilege beyond definition with all these things He has given us, but do we live that way? Why do we live like such puffers when we are children in the family of the King of the universe? You don’t ever see the king of the nation’s kid driving a beat-up car, but you see him driving the best because he represents himself as the king’s kid. He is born privileged and he must represent that, and when he doesn’t, he does a disfavor to his father. See, we are the King’s kids, so let’s live like it! Part of that is being a person of faith by trusting in God, believing in His word, proclaiming the Word of God to those who don’t know it yet. So, you can simply trust God at His Word. In fact, we can trust God with our eternal souls, our daily lives, and we ought to trust God with all those things.

To sum up Hebrews 8, Jesus’ sacrifice was finished, so He sat down in the heavenly sanctuary. His sacrifice was accepted, so He is enthroned in the place of power in the heavenly sanctuary. His sacrifice was affectatious, so He, in realty, fulfills and puts away forever all copies and shadows that represented the heavenly sanctuary and work that Christ would do on the earth forever. Therefore, our High Priest, Jesus Christ, who has passed through the heavens and God’s presence and has broken down all the obstacles that could hinder a sinful human being from coming to God through Jesus Christ, and finally go into God’s perfects presence, now welcomes you to come. If you don’t come, then the end of the story is inevitable: you will be separated from God forever in a place called Hell. If you do come, then you will realize all these blessings are yours no matter how much or how long you have sinned. God did all of this for us, so there is no time to sit on the bench for God’s people, time for caution, or to be a coward. It is time to be a fearless witness, to serve God, and not play games. It is a time to worship God in sincerity and in truth. Surely, it is time to be overwhelmingly thankful because you conclude that you deserve none of this. However, it is ours, so let’s live like we are children of the King of kings. Let’s pray:

Lord, thank you so much. Your word, Lord, is awesome. It’s because You’re awesome, and Lord, this morning I give You the praise that is due Your name. We praise You for Your great work that You have done on our behalf. I give You honor, Lord, because You are highly exalted. There is none like You, Lord. You created everything in heaven and in earth. You have authority over all things. Lord, I give You glory. It’s all due Your name, Lord, You get all the credit. Thank you, Lord, that You included us in your plan. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that we can have truly forgiveness of sin because of this one time, eternal sacrifice by our High Priest, Jesus Christ. We give You praise for that. Now, Lord, I ask you: If there is someone who doesn’t know You, they’d come and believe You as their Lord and Savior. They stop fooling around and get the answers from the Word of God. I pray for Your people, Lord. Please, Lord, keep them from worldly thinking. Keep them, Lord, from desiring things that are no benefit to the spirit. Help us, Lord, to desire things that benefit Godliness and walking with You, and serving You with the power of the Spirit of God. Lord, for all of us, increase our faith. Let us look beyond what we see to the realty of things that You have already accomplished, and let us trust You more and more every day for the little things and the big things. Lord, let us become spiritual fathers and walk by faith because we know the One in whom we trust. We can trust His word and what He has done, and, Lord, we can rest our heads on our pillows because of what He has done. Lord, whenever you decide to take us from this earth, we know, Lord, death is only a doorway into your presence. So, Lord, even for this, you have conquered our greatest enemy. You have subdued Satan and put him down, and he is awaiting judgement. So, I pray, Lord, with the time you have given us, let us live it to the fullest not for ourselves, but for You. I pray this, in Christ’s name, Amen.