God Has Spoken By His Son, #19
The Past Pictured The Present
Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence.[b] It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section[c] called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
When you first read this section in Hebrews 9, your first thought is – This is about how the Jewish people worshipped under the Old Covenant system.
That’s right. But why is this brought up here? Not to restore or resume that system. Rather, to point out – that system of worship under Moses in the Old Testament – not only functioned for the Jewish people in the wilderness. It pre-figured, it foreshadowed what God had planned for the future. The writer is not calling upon his brethren to return to this. He is calling upon his brethren to consider how that system was only a picture of the fullness of blessings now available through Christ.
Now, it is worthy of note – there was, in that tabernacle system – a distance from God. The people could not directly approach God. Their worship was through the mediation of priests. And, only the High Priest could go into the Most Holy Place, and only one on one day a year.
In contrast, when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, He entered into the presence of God and is there for His people now. We have access to God through Jesus Christ. In obeying the gospel and daily discipleship, we have access to God through Jesus Christ. The old system only pictured the fullness of access we now have.