“A Better Sacrifice”

(Hebrews 8:1-5; 9:1-28)

I. Introduction.
A. Orientation.

We’ve seen that Jesus is a better priest –

From the order of Melchizedek

Rather than Levi –

Who has also brought a better covenant:

One that corrects the problem with the Old Covenant –

Which really wasn’t a problem with it

As much as with us –

We couldn’t keep it;

We couldn’t because we didn’t want to.

As with everyone born into this world,

Including the Old Covenant Jews,

All we were was flesh –

And all our flesh wanted was sin –

Which is why

We were also on our way to judgment.

But God fixed that in the New Covenant

He took that Law we couldn’t obey

And put it in our minds,

And wrote it on our hearts by His Spirit.

He gave us the power to keep it –

To trust His Son,

So that our guilt would be washed away –

And to turn from our sins,

So that we might begin to obey Him.

That was all that was needed

To bring us into a saving relationship with Him –

That we might know Him personally,

That we might become His sons and daughters.

This is the change He makes in us

In the New Covenant.

That change is immediate, though not perfect,

When we first believe;

But it grows over our lifetime

So that we more and more bear His image.

But the main reason this New Covenant exists

Is because of the sacrifice this priest made.

That’s what the author now begins to examine.

Again, remember that this sermon/letter

Was preached/written to Jews

Who professed faith in Jesus Christ,

That were being tempted to go back to Judaism –

Back to the Old Covenant

To save their lives from Roman persecution –

To hold fast to Jesus.

That’s not exactly our situation today.

We’re not tempted to go back to Judaism

But back to the world

From which the Lord saved us.

The arguments he makes,

And the warnings he gives,

Can serve to help us hold onto Jesus as well.

B. Preview.

This morning, he draws a contrast

Between the sacrifice the high priest

Made on the Day of Atonement

Once a year in the Holy of Holies,

And that sacrifice Jesus made once for all

When He offered up Himself on the cross

And entered the true Holy of Holies in heaven

For everyone who trusts Him.

We’ll look at two things:

1. That Jesus serves in a better tabernacle – a heavenly one – for us.

2. And that Jesus has a better sacrifice to offer – His own precious blood.

II. Sermon.
A. First, let’s consider that Jesus serves in a better tabernacle –

In heaven itself –

He does this for you, if you have trusted Him.

The author here has described the earthly tabernacle –

The one the Lord commanded Moses to set up

While they were still in the wilderness –

The tent of meeting,

Which was a tent

Because God hadn’t yet given them the land –

They had no permanent place to live.

They would later build the Temple

When the Lord brought them into the land.

What he says here applies equally to both.

He describes the two main compartments of the Tabernacle –

The outer one where the day to day ministry was performed,

Which was called the Holy Place –

And the inner compartment behind the veil,

Where the Ark of the Covenant was kept,

With the wings of the Cherubim

Stretched over the mercy seat,

Where the high priest entered

Once per year to atone for the sins

God’s people had committed in ignorance.

They would already have brought sacrifices

For the sins they were aware of.

This was for those sins they weren’t aware of.

This reminds us

That even when we sin ignorantly –

Even when we don’t know

What we’re doing is wrong –

It’s still sin in God’s eyes;

It still makes us guilty.

Ignorance is no excuse,

Which is why if we love the Lord,

And really want to show Him our love

We will read and study His Word

To make sure that we know how

To honor and obey Him in everything.

This inner compartment of the Tabernacle

Was called the Holy of Holies.

It was actually a picture of heaven:

“A copy and shadow of heavenly things” (8:5).

While it was being used,

It was, perhaps, a bit more than that –

God Himself dwelt in that room –

At least on occasion,

When the Israelites were living

As they should.

As we read earlier

God would appear in the cloud

Over the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant (Lev. 16:2)

Which is why the high priest

Would enter that room only once a year,

To atone for the sins of the people,

And only after he had offered

A sacrifice for his own sins.

This provides a clue

As to what we can do

To have more of God’s presence in our own hearts –

Live as you should: according to His will.

When you sin,

You offend the Spirit and stifle His work.

If you walk with Him

According to His commandments,

He will be with you far more strongly.

But what’s the point of all this?

The point is,

That the Levitical priests

Who served on earth

Were serving a picture of the true tabernacle,

But Jesus serves the reality –

He serves in heaven itself.

After He had atoned for our sins

He ascended to heaven

And sat down at the right hand of the Father.

He became a minister

In the sanctuary and true tabernacle

That the Lord pitched and not man.

The author tells us,

That if He were on the earth,

He wouldn’t be a priest at all –

At least not as the Old Covenant system then stood.

It’s true that there was a change in the priesthood

And in the laws governing that priesthood

As we saw before:

The Old Covenant system had been fulfilled

And so was set aside by God.

But 70 AD hadn’t come yet:

The Temple was still standing,

And so the priests were still

Offering the gifts and sacrifices

That couldn’t make those who offered them perfect,

But could only point to the One who could –

One who had already come, by the way (vv. 9-10).

God allowed that Temple to stand

Another 30 years following its becoming obsolete –

Because of His compassion on the Jews –

That He might gather His people from them

Before He brought it to an end.

Jesus may not have been qualified

To serve in that Temple

Because He wasn’t of the tribe of Levi.

But He could serve in heaven

Being of the order of Melchizedek

And that’s why His ministry is better.

B. But we come now to the second point:

Jesus offered a better sacrifice in that heavenly tabernacle.

The author reminds us

That a priest is appointed by God

To stand between Himself and man

To bring us both together.

The way he does this

Is by offering gifts and sacrifices.

To be our priest,

Jesus had to have something to offer (8:3).

What He offered was much better

Than the earthly priests.

Their sacrifices of goats and bulls

Couldn’t cleanse from sin –

It could only point to the sacrifice that could (vv. 9-10).

The ashes of the heifer

Could ceremonially purify the body of the one

Who had touched something dead,

But they couldn’t purify you from guilt (Num. 19).

If they can’t cleanse you from sin,

They can’t save you.

But what they couldn’t do,

Jesus did through His sacrifice.

The high priest entered the Holy of Holies

Through the blood of a bull –

This allowed him to be in God’s presence

Long enough to offer

The blood of the goat on the mercy seat –

The blood that pictured the sacrifice

That could remove sin.

But Jesus entered heaven through His own blood –

Blood that was able to cleanse Him

From the guilt He bore of His people –

Blood that is able

Fully to cleanse you from all your sins

That you might serve the living God (vv. 12-14).

That’s why there is a New Covenant –

Because Jesus shed His blood.

Whenever God made a covenant with man –

At least since the Fall –

That covenant was ratified/confirmed with blood –

Something had to be sacrificed,

A death had to be brought,

A representative death –

One that would represent the wages of sin,

But at the same time

Point to the death of the substitute

God would one day provide through His Son.

All God’s redemptive covenants pointed to Jesus

Which is why they were all inaugurated –

Set in motion, put into force –

With blood (vv. 16-17).

This passage is often understood

As referring to a last will and testament

Rather than a covenant.

With a will, the person who made it had to die

Before the inheritance could be given.

So Jesus had to die,

Before the heavenly inheritance could be given.

The problem with this view

Is that it’s foreign

To the whole reason Jesus laid down His life.

He died to make an atonement for sin,

Not to let go of His possessions.

It also doesn’t make sense

With regard to the other covenants.

The animals didn’t have to die

Before God’s people could inherit their possessions.

They were merely pictures

Of the sacrifice God would make through His Son.

The blood is a representative death –

Representing the blood of Jesus Christ –

Which alone is able to cleanse from sin.

And so the Mosaic Covenant – or the first covenant –

The one the author is contrasting with the New –

Was also inaugurated with blood (v. 18).

After Moses read what God required in that covenant,

And the people agreed to it,

He sprinkled both

The book of the covenant and the people

With blood (vv. 19-20; Ex. 24).

He also sprinkled the tabernacle

And all the vessels used in its service (v. 21).

According to God command,

Almost everything was cleansed with blood –

With a few exceptions:

Some things were cleansed with water

And some with fire –

But there was no forgiveness

Without the shedding of blood –

But remember,

Those sacrifices couldn’t take away sin,

They only pointed to the one sacrifice that could:

The blood of Christ (v. 22).

The author’s point is this:

The earthly copy was cleansed with the blood of animals

That pointed to Christ –

The heavenly things they pictured

Were cleansed with a better sacrifice –

The blood of Christ Himself.

Not that there was anything unclean about heaven;

It’s just that God’s covenants are ratified with blood –

The New Covenant with the best blood of all:

That of God’s Son (v. 24).

The author says this only had to be done once.

The high priest entered

The Holy of Holies every year

With his sacrifice –

But Jesus only once (vv. 25-26):

By offering Himself one time

He not only cleansed those who trusted Him

All the way back to the very beginning of mankind (v. 15),

But all who would trust Him from that point forward.

The author also reminds us that He will come again,

Only this next time, it won’t be to deal with sin –

Since He’s done that already –

It will be to gather all those

Who eagerly wait for Him.

Do you want to be ready to meet Him –

When He comes at His Second Coming,

Or, which is more likely,

When He comes for you at death?

Then trust Him –

Look to His sacrifice –

To take away all your sins

And make you ready for heaven.

This is the only way God has provided.

You can’t come any way you please.

You’re not good enough on your own.

You can only come this way.

You need the sacrifice and righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Trust in Him, and He will cleanse you; and you will be safe. Amen.


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