Hebrews is a lot to digest. It must have been a lot for the Hebrews to digest as well.
Like Greg said yesterday, “The writer attests to the fact that they weren’t losing anything, but rather, they were gaining something better. While they may have been deprived of an earthly Temple, the promise of a Heavenly one was being proclaimed.”
The Hebrew people were getting the ultimate upgrade—instant, open access to the Most Holy Place through the blood of Christ. No red tape. No rituals. No sacrifice. How God had dealt with His people was all changing.
I’ve always wondered though—while God has changed His methods of dealing with people, does that mean His nature has changed? Is who He is essentially the same?
I look at the first few verses and see the intricacies of entering God’s presence:
“ Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.”
Thinking backwards, the primary reason for accoutrements of the tent was to give God’s presence a place to reside and to atone for the sins of the people. God’s holiness had to be contained. No man could even glimpse on God’s face and live. His holiness also demanded purity in His presence. Any spot or blemish in the process was forbidden. Things had to be done right. And perfectly so. God’s chosen people could no longer continue to be His if their sins were not properly atoned for.
Christ’s sacrifice is the primary vehicle for all requirements of God’s nature to be satisfied. Christ perfectly atoned once, for all, the sins of humanity with His blood.
“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
So God has not changed. He is perfect. And the perfect cannot be made any less or more perfect. He is unalterable. What has changed is our access to Him through the blood of Christ. In Him all our misgivings our paid for. A temple is no longer needed to hold His presence. In His spirit, our bodies can indwell His presence. What a glorious exchange!