POSTED 11 FEBRUARY, 2018
reproduced from Salvation on the Line, Volume II
“For Messiah did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
When Yeshua entered into Heaven at His ascension, He “did not enter a man-made sanctuary” (Hebrews 9:24, NIV). This is because the original holy place on Earth, be it a Tabernacle or a Temple, was “a…copy of the true one.” Note that the NASU has added the adjective “mere” in italics—adding a description that is not seen in the Greek antitupa tōn alēthinōn. While it is true that the Earthly Tabernacle is “only a pointer to the reality” (REB), the addition of something like “mere” or “only” by Bible translators, may be placed to somehow subtract from the fact that the Earthly Tabernacle and Temple did have value. The author of Hebrews does not demean the Earthly Tabernacle in ch. 9, but he does show how highly he regards it, in spite of the fact that the Sanctuary in Heaven is much more important.
The Tabernacle or Temple, as it is seen to readers of the Scriptures, is widely the most that common human reasoning can comprehend of the extra-dimensional dwelling or residence of the Lord. This is where Yeshua is now seated beside the Father, “to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Hebrews 9:24, RSV). The profundity of this is that “He did not do this to offer Himself many times, as the high priest enters the sanctuary yearly with the blood of another” (Hebrews 9:25, HCSB). Yeshua only had to enter into the Holy Place in Heaven a single time to offer the final atonement for people, with His priesthood thus inaugurating the New Covenant.
If Yeshua’s offering of Himself were not a sufficient sacrifice, as our author stated earlier, “once for all” (Hebrews 9:12), then He would need to be offered up again, just as the high priest on Earth would have to go again into the Holy of Holies. The community of Israel would surely sin again after the blood of the Yom Kippur offering was spread on the mercy seat by the high priest. But Yeshua entered into the Holy Place in Heaven, having offered up Himself and shedding His own blood for the sins of humanity. As the author of Hebrews astutely testifies, “he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26, RSV).
What would these words mean for a largely First Century Jewish audience, likely on the verge of seeing the Second Temple destroyed? Would they be assurance to those who had, even after their coming to Messiah faith, still derived a great deal of comfort or security from knowing that sacrifices were being performed in Jerusalem? Consider the amount of faith a Jew in the Diaspora would have put in the Levitical priesthood, living separated from it, versus a Jewish person living in the Land of Israel who would have encountered it on a much more frequent basis. This is why our author writes that Yeshua’s sacrifice is sufficient to be offered only once.
It is absolutely true, that only those who had received Yeshua into their lives, can see beyond the Earthly shadow of the Levitical priesthood and Tabernacle service, into the Heavenly reality of Yeshua’s priesthood and service, that our author writes about. It is only those who have experienced a spiritual renewal by acknowledging Yeshua’s permanent offering of Himself, who can really know how Yeshua’s service in Heaven is more important than the service of human priests on Earth.