THE TRANSCENDENT EXISTENCE OF OUR HIGH PRIEST (Hebrews 7:26) Continued
And thus the Son is perfected forever; He is not as men, mere men, who were made or constituted high priests in the Old Testament. These were made priests having weaknesses; weaknesses of such a nature that they required a sacrifice to be brought for their personal sins. (Heb. 7:28) But this High Priest, who is ours, was made a priest by a word of confirmation by oath. In Him all things are sure and firm; all God’s promises are Yea in Him, and Amen, to the glory of God the Father.
He is perfected (teteleioomenon) unto eternity!
The notion of being perfected, in the book of Hebrews, we have noticed before. There are three terms which are of kindred meaning which we ought to notice. The first two are the terms “purge” and “Sanctify,” and the last one is “to perfect.” It ought to be obvious that we never read of Christ, the Son, as being purged from sin. He had no sin; He was separated from sinners. He needed no purging, and he needed not to bring a sacrifice for his own sins. Likewise, we never read that the Son was sanctified. He is the Sanctifier. (Hebrews 2:11) However, we repeatedly read of the Son as being perfected in the flesh. He is made perfect through sufferings (Hebrews 2:10) and he “being made perfect. . . . became the author of eternal salvation.” (Hebrews 5:9)
What does this mean?
The idea of perfection is that the Son is glorified with such an exaltedness and power and might at the right hand of God, that nothing can ever be added to it. He is at the right hand of the Majesty of God. He now puts all things under his feet, and will give all things over to God, the Father, that God may be all in all.
THE SUM OF THE THINGS SPOKEN OF (Hebrews 8:1)
The writer had spoken of many things, particularly concerning the High Priesthood of the eternal Son of God. There was a danger that the reader would lose the fine point on which everything depended. There was in this matter of the preeminence of Christ’s priesthood one point which must be singled out.
Yes, it is important to notice what the writer had said inHebrews 7. The chief point concerning Melchizedek’s priesthood was that he was “made like unto the Son of God.” (Heb. 7:3) and therefore remains a priest without end. It is also important to remember that he is greater than Abraham, the heir of the promises, and greater than Levi who proceeded out of Abraham’s loins. (Heb. 7:4) And, again, it is of the utmost importance to cling to the truth that this Jesus is a priest after the power of an endless life, and not after a mere carnal commandment. And truly, it is important to remember that Christ is the High Priest which became us, holy, harmless, undefiled, and separated from sinners and, therefore, also made higher than the heavens.
But the chief point to remember is that now we reallyhave such an high priest. He is not something simply for the future. We have him now. And he is perfected, for he is seated at the right hand of the majesty of God. He is a High Priest in the true sanctuary of God—in the very heavens itself. He is in the most holy place of God; He has passed through the heavens of our galaxy into the third heaven, before the throne of God. We have such a High Priest, He is our advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous one!
And this has stupendous implications for our salvation!
This means that the place, the plane on which Christ’s priesthood is executed is that, of the Son, through whom God has spoken unto us in these last days. His Priesthood is on a level and in a glory which God never gave to any of the angels. He never said to the angels: Sit thou on my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool.
But we have such an High Priest that He is accorded a place at God’s right hand. He is made Head over all things to the church. (Ephesians 1:22) This truth is the key-note of his entire epistle. All the heavens and the earth may wax old, but the years of this Priest shall have no end. And this truth is the heart-beat of the things which will be expounded further in the Heb. 8:2 through Heb. 10:18.
THE MINISTER OF THE TRUE TABERNACLE (Heb. 8:2)
Christ is a minister. All priests were ministers of God. They were ministering servants in the temple. This was official ministry- at the altar. The term in the Greek for minister is “leitourgos” From this we obtain our English term “Liturg”, and the ministry in the service in the congregation is called “Liturgy.” Priests were ministers of the holy things, which we set in the service of God. When Christ came to earth and when he became a great Liturg in the temple, he came to be busy in the things of His heavenly Father (Luke 2:49) Yes, He came to His own things. (John 1:11) For these were the things which God had by angels put in the hands of the Mediator at Sinai; they were appointed for the Seed to come. (Galatians 3:19, 20)
However, Christ is a minister not in an earthly tabernacle, which is pitched by man, but he is a minister in the true tabernacle which God pitched.
Here we find ourselves confronted with some questions which we ought to attempt to answer.
The first question is: what is the Scriptural teaching concerning the meaning of the tabernacle. The term in the Greek is “skeenee,” a tent. Really, this is what is called the “tent of meeting.” This does not mean primarily that this was the place where Israel met with God, but it is most emphatically the place where God dwells with Israel his people, as they are his sinful, yet redeemed people in the world. Here we come upon the very essence of the Christian religion. God has come to make his abode with us. He is the High and Lofty One, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; He dwells in the holy place of His tabernacle with the lowly and with the broken-hearted, to revive the heart of the contrite.
Hence, the tabernacle idea is that God comes down to dwell with His people. Incidentally, this is the very opposite of the idolatrous Pelagianism which posits man finding God. All of heathendom and all paganism is a searching for God. But to no avail is such seeking. For God is only found in His own Self-disclosure, in His own Self-revelation in His tabernacle.
The writer to the Hebrews says that our High Priest ministers in the true tabernacle. The question here arises: what is meant by true tabernacle? The term “true” here is not the word which the Bible uses to express that something is true and not a lie. On the contrary, here a term is employed, which underscores that a thing is not counterfeit, but is the real thing. The term in the Greek is “aleetheenos.” Accordingly, we read in Luke 16:11 “Wherefore, if in the unjust Mamuon ye are not found faithful, who shall entrust to you the trueriches?” Christ, in distinction from John the Baptist, is the “true light,” which lighteneth every man coming into the world (John 1:9) And Jesus calls Himself the “trueVine.” (John 15:1)
Wherefore the true tabernacle here is not the true tabernacle in opposition to heathen shrines and idol temples, but the true tabernacle is the real, heavenly tabernacle in distinction from the earthly. It is the body over against the types and shadows.
Of this real tabernacle, the true tabernacle, we read that this is not one which is pitched by man. O, to be sure, the tabernacle which Moses ordered to be built in the desert was pitched by man. It was none other than Bezaleel and Aholiab who were called by God and who were given wisdom to build the tabernacle. (Exodus 31:1-11) But in this or a similar tabernacle the Son of God does not minister. He ministers in a tabernacle which “the Lord pitched.” (Hebrews 8:2)
It is an interesting question whence the writer to the Hebrews obtains this quotation from the Old Testament Scriptures. More than likely this is a quotation from Numbers 24:6 as found in the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. If so, then this quotation is taken from what proceeded from the mouth of Balaam, who would have cursed Israel for Balak, but instead blesses Israel and utters a parable concerning Israel’s greatness and future. The passage in question reads as follows in our KJV, and we quote “And he took up the parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said. He hath said which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having, his eyes open: How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river’s side, as the trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters. He shall pour water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. . . . . .”
It is interesting to note that Balaam here is speaking as a “Seer”; He is made a prophet against his will. What he speaks he speaks not because of what he sees before him as a photographic picture of Israel in her tents in the desert, resting about the tabernacle. Yes, he did see “Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes.” On. the East he saw Judah pitched with Issachar and Zebulun; on the South he saw Reuben with Simeon and Gad; on the West he saw Ephraim and Manasseh and Benjamin, and, finally, on the North he saw Dan with Asher and Naphtali. What a goodly sight this was. It was in itself a photographic picture, a symbolic representation of the heavenly Jerusalem; it represented the Holy City, the New Jerusalem as conceived by God, as He would dwell in the midst of the church from out of the beauty of the holiness of his tabernacle. Here is the picture of the city with the twelve gates on which are written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and are based upon the twelve foundations of the apostles and prophets of which Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone.
And thus in the vision of the Almighty, Balaam was shown the pinnacles of the temple in the heavenly Jerusalem! Yes, her king shall be greater than Agag. The Lord loveth Zion. He is the Architect and Builder of the city four-square. Abraham had seen this city from afar, and had greeted her with faith and hope, and wandered as a pilgrim on the earth, dwelling in tents.
And such is the Tabernacle in which the Son of God, perfected forever, ministers!