The first five verses of chapter eight are written as a summary of chapter seven. Remember that the Bible was not written in chapters and verses as we have it today.
“Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have a High Priest, Who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary, and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.”
Jesus Christ demonstrated His superiority over all other priesthoods by sitting down in Heaven as our High Priest. This act of sitting down at the right hand of the Father indicates that Christ’s priesthood is eternal, which makes it superior to all other priesthoods. The word minister is “leitourgos” and was used for the Jewish high priest in the sense of his authority over the Levitical priesthood. And it is used here in the same sense of the Lord Jesus Christ as our High Priest’s authority over the priesthood of believers. A minister in the sanctuary is further explained by the next phrase, and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.
The sanctuary is a reference to Heaven according to Ps. 102:19; Hebrews 9:24, 10:19. The Tabernacle on earth was a picture of the Tabernacle in Heaven. And the earthly Tabernacle was a picture of Jesus Christ Who is now in Heaven. Christ is the Tabernacle of God, not made with hands as we see in Hebrews 9:11. The true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man is used in contrast from the Tabernacle of Israel, which was temporary. Christ’s humanity is the true Tabernacle which now abides in Heaven in the throne room of God the Father at His right hand, and He ministers there on our behalf.
Which the Lord pitched, and not man is a reference to Christ’s virgin birth, the fact that He was born without Adam’s original sin or a sin nature and the fact that He lived a sinless life. The physical body of Christ was prepared by God the Father for sacrifice on the Cross. Within Christ’s body dwelt no sin nature and no personal sin, which qualified Him to go to the Cross as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. (Hebrews 10:5). The word pitched is a word for the erection and establishment of the earthly Tabernacle. It refers to the fixing of stakes and pillars, the fastening of cords which were the principal means of setting up the Tabernacle. (Isaiah 54:2). This structure was able to be taken down, folded up, and afterwards to be erected again, without the breaking or loss of any part of it. It is a perfect picture of Christ being born sinless, being crucified, being buried and raised on the third day. Which the Lord pitched shows the divine origin of Christ’s humanity. (Matthew 1:20) It is the preparation of Christ’s humanity which is therefore pictured by the word pitched: And not man declares that no human father was involved with the conception of Christ. (Luke 1:34-35)
“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, since there were 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 to you on the mountain.”
The Tabernacle was part of the spiritual code of the Mosaic Law. The Tabernacle was a picture of the Person of Jesus Christ and His future work on the Cross. The Tabernacle in Israel, according to Exodus 25:1-9, was specified as God’s dwelling place and the whole concept was that of God fellowshipping with mankind. It was God fellowshipping with man and man fellowshipping with God on the basis of salvation. The Tabernacle reminds us that nothing was made by the will or the plan of man. It was strictly by divine design. In Exodus 35, where the specifications are all given, it is strictly what God says and there is no guess work.
The Tabernacle was a portable tent with a framework made of wood, originally built in approximately 1490 B.C. It was designed to be mobile as the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness in search of the Promised Land. The Tabernacle consisted of three areas: an outer court, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The total area was 150 feet long by 75 feet wide, the Tabernacle building was 45 feet by 15 feet. The Holy Place was 30 feet by 15 feet and the Holy of Holies was 15 feet by 15 feet. God gave Moses and the nation of Israel specific instructions on how the Tabernacle was to be built and what materials were to be used. (Exodus 25)
The Tabernacle and the articles of furniture that stood in it were all symbolic of the Person of Christ, and the Work of Christ. Eternal life with God was pictured at the Brazen Altar and temporal fellowship with God was pictured at the Laver. In the inner courtyard called the Holy Place stood the Golden Candlestick, the Table of Showbread and the Altar of Incense. In the Holy of Holies, behind the Veil, were the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat that covered it and golden cherubs. The Ark contained the tables of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod and a pot of manna. All the furniture and articles had symbolic meaning and were used by God to teach the Jews about salvation and fellowship with God.
Why did God institute the Tabernacle? The reason was Israel’s lack of faith and rejection of God’s desire to make of them a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6). Simply put, “they were scared.” Instead of trusting God, Who they could not see, they elected Moses, who they could see, as their permanent spokesman so they would not have to stand in the presence of God. God in His grace instituted ritual worship, complete with a place to worship, a priesthood to administer the rituals, holy days and feasts upon which to practice these rituals, specific foods to use in the rituals and many other ceremonies and laws related to these rituals. Also within the Tabernacle was the place for God’s glory to dwell. So, instead of the people assembling before God, they were not allowed to be in His presence (though He was with them) with the exception of the High Priest (a representative of the people). God has always desired to dwell among His people and it is only the lack of faith and rejection of God by His people that prevents Him from doing so.
Since Israel rejected God’s desire to make them priests, He gave them so much typology appealing to their five senses that they could not possibly fail to understand God’s plan and purpose, nor could they miss the Messiah when He came. But guess what? They never understood God’s plan and purpose (as a nation) and they did miss the Messiah and instead rejected and crucified Him. They were so caught up in their traditions that they failed to receive the instructions from God regarding their spiritual lives and their coming Messiah. These lessons were all clearly taught in the rituals and ceremonies. Symbolism of the furniture and furnishings:
The Brazen Altar (Exodus 27:1-8; 38:1-7) – Made of wood and brass, it symbolized the Hypostatic Union (the deity and humanity of Christ in one Person). The sacrifice upon this altar represented Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross. There are four doctrines illustrated here:
The Laver (Exodus 30:17) – This too was a wooden vessel, overlaid with the polished brass “mirrors” donated by the women of Israel. Its purpose was for the priests to wash their hands and feet before attending the Altar or entering the Holy Place. Paul relates the Laver to the Word of God in Ephesians 5:26, “by the washing of water by the Word,” a picture of Experiential Sanctification. It is interesting that this mirror was used in the making of the Laver, which illustrates the concept of looking into the mirror of the Word of God. Looking into a mirror shows us any “flaws,” but it also shows how to correct them. (Exodus 38:8; II Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 5:25-27; II Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:22-25)
The Golden Candlestick (Exodus 25:31-39; 37:17-24) – The Golden Candlestick was located in the Holy Place and was the only source of light in the Tabernacle. Light, of course, was essential for the priests to see to perform their duties. The candlestick (lamp stand) was made of a solid piece of gold and consisted of seven branches. The solid piece of gold and the seven branches speak of Christ’s perfection. The candlestick pictures Christ as the Light of the World, indwelt and filled with the Holy Spirit. Olive oil (a type of the Holy Spirit) was burned in the candlestick. In the new Tabernacle or Temple in Revelation 21 there will be no need of light, since Christ will be dwelling in it. (John 1: 9; 3:19-20; 12:35-36)
The Table of Showbread (Exodus 25:23-29; 37:10-16) – This table was wood overlaid with brass to picture the Hypostatic Union of Christ. The table held twelve loaves of bread to symbolize the tribes of Israel. The eating of the bread pictured fellowship, as the priests would be allowed to eat the leftover bread together. The loaves were to be made of fine flour without leaven, typifying the sinless nature of Christ. Christ calls Himself the Bread of Life and tells us to eat this bread that we might live forever. This, of course is symbolic, as is the showbread. When we eat the Bread of Life (trust Christ as our Savior) we have permanent fellowship with God positionally and the potential for fellowship with Him. (John 6:35, 51-58)
The Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1-10, 34-38) – This altar was made of wood overlaid with pure gold, with four gold rings through which poles were inserted in order to carry it. This altar was used to burn incense which was to be made of certain spices and used only as worship to God in the Holy Place. Like the candlestick, the incense altar was to burn continually and was checked twice a day by the high priest. The sweet aroma, which ascended upward and filled the room with its fragrance, pictured the prayers of the priest on behalf of the people of Israel. In the same manner, Christ who is our High Priest prays for us and makes intercession for us as our Mediator. (John 17:9; Hebrew 7:25; I John 1:2; Romans 8:34; Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4)
The Veil (Exodus 26:31-37) – There were two veils in the Tabernacle, the first one called the Door was the entrance to the Holy Place and the second was the Veil leading into the Holy of Holies. The priest entered daily into the Holy Place, but only once a year into the Holy of Holies. Before the priest could enter the Holy Place he was required to make a sacrifice for his sins and wash his hands and feet. This typified I John 1:9 (Rebound). Christ is said to be the Door to eternal life and a person enters this door by faith in Christ’s payment for sin. No one, except the high priest, was allowed into the Holy of Holies until the Veil was torn in half when Christ died on the Cross. The removal of the Veil symbolizes the fact that the sin barrier between God and man had been removed once and for all. (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 6:19-20; 10:19-22; John 10:7-10)
The Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-22) – The Ark was a wooden box overlaid with pure gold, which measured about three and three-fourths feet long by two and one-fourth feet wide, containing three items that were sacred to the nation of Israel: 1) The tablets of the Ten Commandments 2) Apot of manna 3) Aaron’s rod. All of these items were pictures of Christ and His future Work on behalf of mankind. The tablets represented the entire Law of God, the pot of manna represented God’s daily provision and Aaron’s rod represented God’s protection. Christ fulfilled the Law perfectly, He is God’s provision for each of us and upon faith in Him we are secure forever. The Ark of the Covenant was always carried ahead of the Israelites as they traveled, just as Christ went before us to pioneer the Christian Way of Life through the power of the Holy Spirit. (John 10:4; 15:1-27; Matthew 5:17; Hebrews 4:14-16)
The Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:17-22) – The Mercy Seat, made of solid gold, was the lid or covering for the Ark of the Covenant. Two cherubim or angels with wings guarded either end of the Mercy Seat symbolizing God’s presence and judgment against any sinful approach to God. This was God’s throne upon which He sat symbolically and it pictured His grace and mercy toward His people. The one time a year which the high priest was allowed into the Holy of Holies where the Mercy Seat was located, he was to sprinkle blood on it to signify that atonement had been made for the nation of Israel. It was above the Mercy Seat that the Shekinah Glory of God resided. Christ is our mercy seat having satisfied the justice of God by His substitutionary spiritual death upon the Cross (Doctrine of Propitiation). The Greek word for mercy seat and propitiation are the same, “hilasterion” and according to Romans 3:25, Christ is our Mercy Seat. In the same manner that an animal as a type of Christ was judged for sin, Christ Himself was the reality of that type. (Numbers 7:89; Hebrews 9:1-28)
The issue of superiority reaches its peak in verse 5 where we have the superiority of the reality over the types and images. The Levitical priests in 67 A.D. in Jerusalem were functioning in the Church Age illegitimately. But what is even worse, they were dealing with types after the reality had come. The reality is Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, going to the Cross as a sinless man, bearing our sins, taking our place, being resurrected, ascending, and being seated at the right hand of the Father. This was the reality. Every portion of the Tabernacle, and later on the Temple, spoke of this particular reality. The reality had occurred, and the Levitical priests were still functioning under typology. They were functioning as priests when they were no longer authorized to do so because the authorizing agent, the Mosaic Law, had been deactivated. This demonstrates the blindness and the terrible distortions that come to those who suffer from scar tissue and black out of the soul.