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The Two Testaments
Summary —Our Glorious High Priest. His Sacrifice. The True Tabernacle Above. Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant Imperfect. Removed to Give Place to the New.
1, 2. This is the sum. The crowning truth. We have such an high priest. Such as has been set forth in the preceding chapters: sympathizing, sinless, unchangeable, mighty to save, divine. Set on the right hand. He has offered his sacrifice and sat down in the heavens at God's right hand. Concerning the significance of sitting at the right hand of God, see notes on Ephesians 1:20. 2. A minister of the sanctuary. Not of any earthly temple, but of the sanctuary above. The true tabernacle, the tabernacle made of God, whose Holy of Holies is in the heavens, of which the earthly tabernacle was only a feeble pattern. The earthly tabernacle had an outer court, with the altar, a holy place, and a Holy of Holies. These parts have been understood to be typical (1) of the world, from whence we pass by the altar of sacrifice, the blood of Christ into (2) the holy place, the church, and from the holy place the high priest passed beyond the vail into (3) the Most Holy Place, typical of heaven itself. There our high priest, having rent the vail that all in the church may follow, dwells and intercedes for us. There he presented his offering, the blood of his atonement.
3–7. For every high priest is ordained, etc. It is his appointment to offer gifts and sacrifices. That is his office. Hence, if Jesus is a High Priest, he must have an offering, but his offering must be presented in the true Holy of Holies above. 4. On earth, he should not be a priest. The law required all the priests who served in the temple to be of the tribe of Levi, but he was not of the tribe of Levi, or of the priests appointed to serve at the altar, hence could not serve at an earthly altar, or in an earthly sanctuary. The law was in force as long as he was on earth and that excluded him. 5. Who serve unto the example and shadow, etc. The service of the priests and of the temple is after the example of, and a shadowing forth of heavenly things. See … that thou make all things, etc. A pattern was shown Moses. All must be made after that pattern (Exod. 25:40). Hence the tabernacle made according to that plan shadowed forth heavenly things. The earthly high priest was a type of the great high priest in the heavens. 6. Now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry. More excellent than that of the Levitical priesthood. He serves in the heavenly sanctuary. Mediator of a better covenant. The high priest was a mediator, interceding with God for the people. Christ is the mediator of the better covenant with its more glorious promises; viz., the Gospel. 7. For if that first covenant. The covenant of Sinai, the Law of Moses, the Old Testament. It was faulty and could not make men perfect. See note on chapter 7:18.
8–12. I will make a new covenant. By the mouth of Jeremiah (31:31–34) the Lord declared that he would make a new covenant which would take the place of the old covenant. This shows that the old did not meet the full needs of men. 9. Not according to the covenant, etc. It shall differ from the covenant of Sinai made while the Lord was leading Israel up from Egypt. Because they continued not in my covenant. Israel had broken the covenant, and been unfaithful. 10. This is the covenant that, etc. This shall be a principle of the new covenant. I will put my laws in their mind. Under the new covenant the minds and hearts shall be given to the Lord and filled with his law. They shall “worship in spirit and in truth.” Write them in their hearts. Instead of upon tables of stone. 11. They shall not teach every man his neighbor. Under the old covenant children were born into covenant relation. As they grew up they had to be taught of the Lord, or they would never know him. As a matter of fact, many did not learn to know him. But under the new covenant all must learn to know God and the Son whom he hath sent before they can enter the covenant. Every one must enter by faith in Christ, repentance of sin, and surrender to the will of God. Hence all members of the new covenant know God, from the least to the greatest. 12. For I will be merciful, etc. When they enter into covenant relation through the Gospel every sin will be blotted out. 13. In that he saith, a new covenant. This language implies that the other covenant, the one made at Sinai, is the old covenant. That which … waxeth old. This language implies that the old covenant is to pass away. That it has done so is shown in the next chapter.
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