For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Heb. 9:24
For. . . .
Shadows belong with shadows: the way of shadows is sufficient to lead into the shadowy pattern.
Reality belongs with reality: the way of reality alone is capable of leading into the true sanctuary.
True, also in the days of the shadows there was a sanctuary. And because it was a sanctuary, it must be purified, for nothing is pure among men in this sinful world of itself: there is no sanctuary of God with us. Nor is there another way to purify things, and thus to prepare a sanctuary, than by blood: for without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. And so, also the sanctuary of the shadows was purified with blood. “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, Saying, this is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry”. . . . .
“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these”. . .
Shadows with shadows. . . .
The blood of calves and of goats purifies the patterns of holy things.
But realities with reality. . . .
It was necessary that the heavenly things themselves were purified with better sacrifices than these.
Nothing less than His own blood, the better sacrifice, might Christ bring.
For He did not enter into the sanctuary of the shadows.
But into heaven itself!
Into heaven itself!
And this is contrasted to entering into “the holy places made with hands, the figures of the true.”
The original for “holy places” is simply “the holies”. And the reference is, evidently, to the holy of holies of the earthly tabernacle and temple. For the same expression is used in the eighth verse of this same chapter, where it is properly rendered by “the holiest of all.” And again, that this is the proper meaning of the expression in verse eight is evident from its connection with the seventh verse, where this same “holies” is called “the second,” and, finally, with the third verse: “And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all,” where the original has “the holies of holies,”
The entire sanctuary of the old dispensation was holy, because it was the sanctuary of Jehovah, His dwelling place, where everything was exclusively consecrated to His covenant with His people, and to His service.
Holy was the outer court, with its alter of burnt offering.
Holy was “the first tabernacle,” the holy place, where stood the golden altar of incense, the golden candlestick, and the table of shewbread.
But most holy was the “second tabernacle,” behind the veil. To it all the rest of the earthly sanctuary pointed. From that “holiest of all” the whole of the temple and tabernacle derived its meaning. Without it there was no sanctuary. All the service of the tabernacle was performed with a view to that holiest of all. It alone gave meaning to the sacrifices. Because of it, the incense burnt upon the golden altar, the light of the golden lamp, the loaves on the table of shewbread, as well as the blood that was sprinkled on the horns of the altar in the outer court, had their significance. For there, in the holiest of all, stood the ark of the covenant, with its mercy seat; there was the Shekinah, that wonderful symbol of the presence; there God dwelled between the cherubim.
Into that holiest of all the high priest entered, once a year, to sprinkle the blood of atonement upon the mercy seat before the face of God!
However, this “holiest of all” was made with hands!
By this, that it was made with hands, it was chiefly characterized. And this means that it was purely local, limited, material, temporal, perishable. It was not spiritual, though it witnessed of spiritual realities; it was not universal, though it looked forward to all-embracing things; it was not for all the people, even though for them the high priest entered with the blood of atonement; it was not eternal, though it was a picture of the eternal covenant of God with His people; it was not everlasting, the veil could be rent, the sanctuary could be destroyed, even though it pointed to the everlasting tabernacle of God with men….
It was not reality itself.
Plainly it testified that the way into the real sanctuary was not yet made manifest.
Even the high priest, though he entered into the holiest with the blood of atonement, could not abide within the veil. Only for a moment might he remain, sufficiently long to serve the shadows, then he, too, must retreat again, back into the court. And every year he must enter anew to repeat the atonement of reconciliation, for himself and all the people.
But Christ entered into heaven itself!
Not into the holiest made with hands, local, limited, material, temporal, perishable, the figure of the true, did He enter.
In fact, He never entered at all into that holiest. Into it, He had no access. For our Lord was not of the tribe of Levi, still less of the house of Aaron. Into the earthly sanctuary He might not enter. In the holies made with hands, He had no right to minister. . . .
He entered into the reality that was foreshadowed by the sanctuary made with hands.
Into heaven itself!
And that means here: into the real Holiest!
It signifies that, as the old dispensational high priest, once a year, entered into the holiest, where
God dwelled in a figure, so Christ entered into the very presence of God.
For that is the meaning of heaven, its very essence!
O, to be sure, heaven is not a mere idea. It is not to be so spiritualized that there is nothing left of it. It is a place, a part of God’s creation. It is “above”, although its distance from us dare not be measured in millions of miles. It is the place where the angels dwell, and where are the saints that have gone before, whither also Christ, in His glorified human nature ascended.
He entered into that place on the fortieth day after His resurrection from the dead.
From Mount Olivet, in the sight of His disciples, He departed from them, into heaven. They knew that He had finally departed from them, and that, for a time, they would see Him no more. Repeatedly, during those wonderful forty days after He had risen from the dead, He appeared to them, only to disappear again. For He was with them no more as before His death and resurrection. Yet, during those forty days, they always expected to see Him again, after every appearance. But on that fortieth day, He led them to the Mount of Olives, and “while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” And heavenly messengers explained to them, as they stood gazing up into heaven, that “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” They knew that He had departed, from earth into heaven, and that here they would see Him no more.
The ascension means that the Son of God, in human nature, who had come into the flesh, and descended into the nethermost parts of the earth, had departed from our world, to enter into another abode, the highest heavens.
From one place, Mount Olivet, He moved to another place, the place of heavenly glory.
Yet, after all due emphasis is placed upon the reality of heaven, and the truth of Jesus’ local ascension into glory, it must be emphasized no less that the text here refers to heaven, not from the viewpoint of its being the place of glory in the outward sense of the word, but rather from the aspect of its spiritual idea and essence. It is the original of that of which the earthly tabernacle was but the figure; the reality of which the sanctuary made with hands was but the figure. It is the dwelling place of God, the highest possible realization of the covenant of friendship. In heaven is God’s face. There is His presence. Even as the earthly sanctuary, made with hands, was but an imperfect, local, material, temporal, and perishable figure of the true holiest; so heaven is its perfect, all- embracing, spiritual, everlasting, and imperishable realization. Heaven means that God dwells with us, that He causes us to know Him as we are known, to see Him face to face, to enter into His secret fellowship, into the most intimate communion with the God of our salvation. It is the house of the Father!
It is the heavenly perfection of God’s eternal covenant of friendship: the tabernacle of God with men!
The true and real holiest of all it is, where the beauty of the Lord is beheld in all its glory, and where the pleasures are enjoyed that are at His right hand.
In that heavenly glory, that highest and most intimate fellowship with the Holy One, that center of communion and worship, Christ entered.
He, the Son of man, God’s only begotten, entered there in our glorified human nature.
For Christ is not entered into the holiest made with hands. . . .
But into heaven itself!
And to be sure, the moment of that entrance was that of His ascension on the fortieth day after His resurrection.
But that final ascension was but the end of the way that led into that House of God, that holiest of all.
On the great day of atonement, the way of the high priest into the inner sanctuary led from the outer court and the altar of burnt offering, into the holy place with its golden altar of incense, and thence into the inner sanctuary, behind the veil, with its ark of the covenant, and the mercy seat. And the way into the sanctuary was sprinkled with blood: upon the horns of the great altar in the court, on the horns of the altar of incense, and finally, upon the mercy seat, before the face of God.
Thus it was in the days of shadows.
To enter into the sanctuary made with hands, the blood of shadows, of calves and goats, was sufficient.
Shadows with shadows!
Thus also Christ: (He travelled all the way, and sprinkled the way into the sanctuary with blood, not with the blood of calves and goats, for He entered not into the holiest made with hands, but with the better, the perfect sacrifice of His own precious blood.
Realities with reality!
Another way into the holiest there was not.
As far as we are concerned, the way into the House of God was closed, and we were doomed to wander as exiles, alienated from the covenant, in the misery of our sin and death. For God is righteous and just, and holiness adorns His house. Fellowship with Him in the sphere of sin and corruption is impossible. And we had wantonly made our departure from His house, despising its beauty and fellowship, when we rejected the Word of our God to give heed to the lie of the devil. Nor could we ever return. Guilty we are and worthy of death. Instead of being the objects of God’s blessed favor, we are under the burden of His wrath. He condemns us to death. And in death we lie. Darkened in our minds, perverse of will, impure and unholy in all our desires and inclinations. Heaven, the house of God, is closed unto us, nor could we ever effect an entrance into the holiest.
Hence, there was no other way for Christ to enter into the sanctuary than that of the better sacrifice of His own blood.
For He is our High Priest, by divine ordination, representing us, and acting in our behalf before God, to lead us, His guilty and sinful people, into that blessed fellowship of God’s covenant that is the very essence of heaven.
And so He came, and travelled all the way!
He assumed our flesh and blood, He the eternal Son of God. He took our position, entered into our state, the state of guilt and condemnation, He, the guiltless one, who knew no sin. Our sin and condemnation He carried to and upon the accursed tree, and there He shed His lifeblood, thus bringing the perfect sacrifice.
Thus He entered into heaven itself.
Along the blood-sprinkled way!
The way of perfect obedience!
In the presence of God!
In heaven is the highest self-revelation of God, His face!
And there, before that face, in that immediate presence, Christ now appears, is manifest.
He is manifest there, constantly, everlastingly, in all the fullness of His significance, as the Son of God in the flesh, as the High Priest of those whom the Father gave Him, as the Anointed, who fulfilled the will of the Father concerning the redemption of the elect, as the one that shed His lifeblood for His own, that was obedient unto death, yea, unto the death of the cross, and who blotted out the guilt of sin, and obtained perfect and eternal righteousness for His people with God. . . .
As such He appears.
For us, that is, in our stead, but also in our behalf.
For in His appearance, He is our Intercessor, pleading our cause, that we, too, may follow Him into the sanctuary, along the way He sprinkled with His own blood, to receive forgiveness and righteousness, and to enter into the fellowship of God’s covenant!
To dwell in His house forever!
Satisfied with His likeness!