Friday, August 16, 2013

How the tabernacle pictures Jesus Christ our salvation

Hebrews 8:1-2 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, aminister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.

Introduction: Quick purpose of the Book of Hebrews
When you read through the book of Hebrews, the whole point is to show how Jesus Christ is "great than" or "better than" or "superior" to any other would-be person or plan of salvation.  In fact in nearly fifteen instances do we find Jesus Christ being shown superior to the angels, Moses, Abraham and Joshua, as well as the Jewish temple and sacrificial system.  Why the comparisons? Because the readers of the Book of Hebrews had been converted to Christ out of Jewish background.  An aggressive group of people promoting a form of salvation by works through adherence to the old Jewish system were pressuring these new Christians turn their back on Jesus.  You pick up the sense from reading the Book of Hebrews the similar problem Paul had to deal with in the Book of Galatians concerning the Judiaizers, who claimed that salvation came through Christ plus circumcision.  

Despite such pressures, the inspired text of Hebrews urges these new Christians to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of their faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2) By using the tool of comparison, the writer of the Book of Hebrews shows that the Old Testament Judaism was never designed to provide salvation, but rather communicate the promise of salvation which was none other than the Person of Jesus Christ.    

How the tabernacle pictures Jesus, salvation's great act, accomplishment and actor. 
The Book of Hebrews can be divided into three main sections: Hebrews 1-7; 8-12 and a final set of instructions in chapter 13.  For our interests in today's post, we want to consider particularly Hebrews 8,9 & 10 for the sake of considering how God uses the Old Testament tabernacle system as a comparative picture of salvation's great act, accomplishment and actor - Jesus Christ.  To have a map by which to navigate our way through this study of Hebrews 8,9,10, we will first of all briefly look at the tabernacle itself to understand why the writer of Hebrews would employ it as a comparison to Jesus Christ.  Then we will offer a brief outline of Hebrews 8-10 to zero-in on this fruitful and enriching section of God's word. 

Defining the tabernacle and how it can points us to the Person and work of Jesus Christ
Exodus 25:8-9 has God giving Moses these instructions - "Exodus 25:8-9 8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the  tabernacle and the pattern of all its  furnishings, just so you shall make it."   (Also compare Ex 29:44-46 & 40:36-38)  God wanted to have a place whereby He could dwell with His people, as depicted in the following figure:

  God the Father saved His people out of the world of sin in Egypt through the splitting of the Red Sea. (Exodus 1-18) He then revealed Himself to them on top of Mount Sinai through the Law to show them that they could not save themselves and that only by grace alone though faith in His promises made to their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could save them. (Exodus 19-20) To reinforce the grace alone, faith alone message of salvation, God revealed the tabernacle in Exodus 25-40.  God did not want to be apart from His people on top of a mountain, but desired deeply to in the midst of His people in a mobile worship center. The word "tabernacle" comes from a Latin term tabernaculuum meaning "meeting place", which explains the purpose of this worship center in the lives of ancient Israel.   

We can note the following characteristics of this tabernacle:
1. It’s materials were designed  to reveal certain characteristics  of the Lord to His people (Exodus 25:8-9)

2. It reminded the people that the Lord was the one who rescued them from their
 enslavement in Egypt (Exodus 29:44-46)

3. It’s ministry reminds the people of their need for representation before a Holy God (Exodus 29:44)

4. It’s mobility indicated that God was their King who both led the people (Exodus 40:36-38)

Just as the Person of the Father chose to tabernacle Himself with His people in a mobile tent, God the Son chose to tabernacle Himself in a tent of flesh.  John 1:14 states - "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt (quite literally "tabernacled") among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Hebrews 8-10 uses the tabernacle to picture Jesus Christ our salvation
When you turn to Hebrews 8-10, Hebrews 8 functions to summarize the previous seven chapters of Hebrews and to introduce the next section of Hebrews 8-10.  We can discern the following outline of how the writer uses the tabernacle to picture Jesus Christ our salvation:

1. How the tabernacle pictures Jesus' act of salvation. Hebrews 9:1-11

2. How the tabernacle pictures Jesus' accomplishment of salvation. Hebrews 9:11-28

3. How the tabernacle pictures Jesus, the actor of salvation. Hebrews 10:1-25

More tomorrow....

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