“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus – he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh) – and since we have a great high priest over the house of God…” (CSB – Read the chapter)
At long last we are here. I know there were times along the way it seemed like we would never get here. But by God’s grace, here we are. With this “therefore,” the author finally brings us to the conclusion of the argument he has been making for the last several chapters and offers some initial conclusions. We’ll get to his trio of applications tomorrow, Lord willing, but first, let’s do a quick review of how we got here.
We started way back at the end of April with the profound declaration that while God may have spoken and revealed Himself in a variety of means in the past, He has now started revealing Himself through His Son. Since Jesus is God incarnate, what this means for us is that we’re no longer stuck getting secondhand information from and about God. We can hear from and engage with Him directly through Christ. Working with the source is always better than working through a middleman, and that’s exactly what we have now. This makes Jesus better than anything or anyone who came before Him.
From here, the author took us through three arguments about Jesus’ superiority designed to address three different aspects of Jewish culture and religion that would have naturally led to challenging His preeminence. He roots each of these arguments deeply in the old covenant Scriptures. The first was that Jesus is greater than the angels. Jesus isn’t simply another of God’s messengers bringing word of a change to His plans. Jesus is greater and higher than any of them. He is the Son of God. Or, to put it like we just did, He is not another middleman. He is the source.
The second argument is that Jesus is greater than Moses. While Moses was indeed great and worthy of praise for all he did, he was nonetheless a middleman. The author uses the illustration of comparing a builder with the house he has built. The Law was the house. Moses was not the builder, but a servant in the house. Jesus is the builder. He is the ultimate source of the things Moses gave to us. Thus, He is greater than Moses.
That leads us to argument three. Jesus’ surpassing superiority to Moses is not limited to Moses himself. It extends to the Law Moses gave. Jesus is greater than the Law as well as its mediators, the priests. This winds up forming the longest section of the book. In great detail, and with a trove of old covenant Scripture, the author explains, point by point, why Jesus is greater than the Law and the high priests. As a part of this argument, he offers justification for Jesus’ claim to high priesthood in the first place. Jesus is not a priest like the priests of the old covenant. His priesthood is of a different – and better – nature. He is a priest, not in the order of Levi, but in the order of Melchizedek. To my knowledge, the author of Hebrews is the first person to ever recognize Melchizedek’s priesthood as an entire order instead of a one-off affair, but it is an order of two. The point is that Jesus was priest by declaration of God, not simply His genetic heritage.
Because Jesus’ priesthood is superior to the old priesthood, the covenant He brings with Him is superior to the old covenant. That point has been the focus of the last three chapters. The old covenant was rooted in an endless parade of sacrifices that could never really accomplish the job they were believed to do. Jesus’ new covenant is rooted in the single sacrifice of Himself on our behalf. With His one sacrifice, forgiveness of sins was obtained, and the end of the sacrificial system was ordained.
In the wake of all of this, the author here gloriously declares that we now have the boldness to enter the sanctuary. He is not simply talking about the inner court of the temple here. He is talking about the innermost court, the holy of holies, where the very presence of God was believed to dwell. This is a truly towering declaration. Before Jesus, only the high priest ever entered the holy place and then only once a year, and then only after a series of purification rituals had been performed to make certain he went in without any sin in his heart or mind so that God’s terrible holiness didn’t wipe him out of existence. The average worshiper would have never dreamed of entering the sanctuary. The presence of God was only ever something she heard about, but never experienced for herself.
Now, in Christ, we can enter the sanctuary confident in His righteousness which has been imputed – given – to us. His sacrificial blood makes us pure and holy and righteous. Through His death, we can enter alive and bathe ourselves in the glorious presence of God. And this isn’t a one-time event either. Because Jesus is permanently installed as high priest – superior to any other high priest who ever served in the position – we have someone who is constantly and actively interceding before God on our behalf so that His righteousness can remain in place in our lives and our access to the presence of God doesn’t ever have to end.
In other words: You can get to God and stay with God. No matter what lies in your past, you can get to God through Jesus. You can stay with God in Jesus. His love is permanent and won’t ever leave you alone. This world will still come after you (something the author will come back to when we get to chapter 12), but you’ll never face it by yourself. All you have to do is receive it.
Now, what shall we do in light of such truths as these? That’ll be our conversation for tomorrow. See you then.