“The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man” (Hebrews 8:1-2)
One Christmas during my youth my family received a large jigsaw puzzle which we started putting together that very afternoon. By the time News Year’s Eve rolled around we decided we wouldn’t eat dinner until the puzzle (on which we had labored all week) had been finished. Each piece revealed the puzzle in more detail and soon we had a very large montage of thousands of gumballs. It seemed like a miracle when we finally finished it.
Just as a puzzle, made up of thousands of pieces, reveals the larger image, the Levitical priesthood and all elements of the Law were a glimpse of the true system in heaven in which Jesus owns the title and position of High Priest. The earthly system helps us visualize what is currently taking place in the heavenly realm. These pieces, when put together, reveal the entire picture. Now that we have a working knowledge from the previous chapters of how everything relates, it is time to bring it all together and look at the big picture.
First, Jesus is the High Priest that God provided for us under the New Covenant. This is an amazing truth. The old system was flawed because of mankind’s inability to keep the covenant, so God made a New Covenant and based it on His ability to fulfill it (Hebrews 8:6). Then He set up Jesus as the guarantor of these promises (Hebrews 7:22).
Secondly, Jesus serves in the true heavenly tabernacle. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that tabernacle worship as illustrated and outlined in the law was fashioned after the true temple worship currently taking place in heaven. How else do you think Moses obtained the pattern for what he was instructed to build? (Exodus 25:40, Hebrews 8:5). The heavenly tabernacle was created, not by mankind, but by God which is why the earthly tabernacle only served as a type and shadow of the true one (Hebrews 10:1). The heavenly tabernacle is where Jesus poured His blood on the Mercy Seat for us (Hebrews 9:11-12). It was a perfect offering, not given according to the Law but according to the eternal priesthood that God ordained through Jesus.
Next, Jesus sat down because His work was finished and complete. Just as in the example from creation (Genesis 2:2), the rest that Jesus entered into after atonement was because everything was done. Not one thing was left unfinished.
Lastly, Jesus sat down at the right hand of God the Father because this is the place of honor. The book of Hebrews opens with this very idea, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs“ (Hebrews 1:3-4). Jesus inherited the name above every name because God was so pleased with the redemptive work that Jesus completed. So Jesus has both the place of honor at the right hand of the Father and the name above every name (Psalm 110:1, Matthew 26:64, Acts 2:34, Philippians 2:9-10, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 1:4, Hebrews 12:2).
These things summarize the main point the writer is making concerning everything he has said about Jesus’ High Priesthood in the last couple of chapters. First it was Jesus who carried out the plan of redemption and acted as our High Priest chosen by God. Secondly these things took place in the true heavenly tabernacle. Next, Jesus sat down because it was finished. And lastly Jesus has the place of honor and the name above every name because the job He was given to do was done so completely and perfectly. This shows how our covenant with the Lord is completely different and far superior to the Old Covenant and why Jesus’ priesthood is one of the best gifts we’ve ever received. Knowing these things equips us for a changed life overshadowed by the goodness of the Lord.