1st November 2022
Read (Hebrews 9v1-10)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
During the days of the old covenant there were regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness called the tent of meeting or tabernacle (v1). The rules that Moses followed to establish the tabernacle are outlined fully in Exodus 25-26 and Leviticus 16 and although the Apostle doesn't speak about them in detail (v5) he gives us a brief reminder of old covenant worship.
First things first, the tent was prepared with an outer courtyard called "the Holy Place" (v2). In this Holy Place there was the lamp stand, the table and the bread of the Presence. The lamp stand had seven branches altogether. One middle branch with three further branches on each side. It was made to look like a tree with branches, buds, blossoms and almonds. Here is a picture of the Lord - giving life and light to a dark world.
The table had the bread of Presence set upon it. This wasn't an offering to God as if He was hungry, instead the bread was for the priests who served the Lord. Just as the lamp stand symbolised the Lord's holiness shining brightly in the darkness, so the table reminded His people that God alone provides.
A curtain or veil separated the courtyard from "the Most Holy Place" (v3) where there was the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant. Incense was to be burnt on the golden altar every day and once a year the priest was to sprinkle blood on the altar's horns as he offered sacrifice for atonement. The ark of the covenant was like a large golden chest containing manna, Aaron's staff that budded and the tablets of stone on which the ten commandments were written (v4). The ark was covered by the mercy seat which had two golden cherubim, one at each side.
The ark of the covenant was where God would "sit" and speak to His people. It was an earthly representation of His heavenly throne. The manna was a reminder of His provision and sustenance. Aaron's staff was a reminder to sinners that they needed a Saviour lest God's judgement fall upon them (Numbers 17v10). The commandments reminded the people of God's holiness and their need to walk before Him rightly. The mercy seat was where blood would be sprinkled as an offering for sin once per year (v7).
To meditate upon these things is a feast indeed. In type and in shadow the tabernacle's structure and furniture conveyed deep truth about heavenly realities but at the same time sacrifices offered in those days couldn't do anything about the conscience of the worshipper. Indeed the Holy Spirit was indicating that the structure of the tabernacle was pointing to a greater day when the way into the holy places would be opened (v8).
The Apostle speaks of reform being required (v10) and although when we speak of the reformation we usually think of Martin Luther, Paul is obviously pointing to Christ. Jesus is the true reformer who took the symbols of the old covenant and gave them substance in the new. He is the light of the world. He is the bread of life. He is the fulfiller of the law. He is the altar, the sacrifice, the high priest and the temple. We can rejoice for the shadows have been chased away by the light of Christ. He is all we have and He is all we need.
Q93 Which are the Sacraments of the New Testament? The Sacraments of the New Testament are Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.