Hebrews 8:1-2 – “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.”
We often forget that Jesus is actively ministering, actively serving us. He is not just an abstract idea, some figurehead for our faith, a placeholder, or a name that we put on Christmas cards and at the end of our prayers. He is a real living person, seated at the right hand of the throne in heaven, and he is actively serving us. Not because he has to, not because he needs the paycheck, but because he wants to.
Do you ever stop and think that someone is working hard so you can have the life you live? Have you ever stopped to think that Jesus is actively working for your behalf in the holy places, because he loves you?
Do we only pray when we’re unhappy with God’s work?
A SHADOW OF THE HEAVENLY
Hebrews 8:3-5 – “For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; this it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.'”
After Moses liberated the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt, while they were still wandering the desert, Moses went up to Mt. Sinai and there God dictated to him the Law which was to govern the people of Israel moving forward.
Included in this were the Ten Commandments and ceremonial laws which were to govern their social life as well as their religious life. Part of that direction for Moses was the picture of the tabernacle (tent) that he was to construct for the worship and sacrifices to take place to Yahweh.
Hebrews 8:4-5 is describing that this earthly tent is only a shadow of the greater reality which is the Heavenly tent.
OLD COVENANT VS. NEW COVENANT
Hebrews 8:6-7 – “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.”
The Old Covenant between God and his people is a covenant of WORKS.
- From the beginning, there was a covenant made that if humankind trusts, loves and obeys God and his directives, they would reap benefits.
- Once God rescued the people of Israel, He gives Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai, referred to as the Mosaic Law. This was not an arbitrary set of rules but rather meant to create thriving for God’s people and meant to make the nation of Israel stand out among the other nations. They were to be a light among the nations and reveal how they were set apart by Yahweh to serve Him as the one true holy and just God.
- Within the Law there were built in rituals and sacrifices dedicated to the act of repentance (turning from sin) for God knew that no one was capable to keep the Law perfectly. When you would fall short of God’s perfection and holiness, these rituals were meant to be an act of contrition, prescribed and repeated through the sacrificial system, which literally required the shedding of blood, usually lambs, goats and bulls, so that the people could remain in good standing before their God.
- These rituals and sacrifices were carried out in the holy tent (or tabernacle), moderated and performed by the Israelite priesthood in the man-made order of Aaron.
The New Covenant between God and his people is a covenant of GRACE.
- Since all people fall short of the glory of God, all are therefore sinners incapable of keeping their end of the Covenant of Works and the Law of God, and thus outside of the salvation of God.
- But God in his love promised and actualized a second covenant by sending God the Son into the world.
- By living a tempted but sinless life, Jesus actually fulfilled the tenets of the Old original covenant of works and the Law and therefore received onto himself the full blessings associated with that original covenant. Jesus became the embodiment of the blessings and became himself the New Covenant.
- His perfect sacrifice became the means by which sin was forgiven for all, once and for all, by his death on the cross.
The people of God are any who choose to put their faith not in themselves and their works, but in the works of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, as their Lord and Savior. Now anyone can approach God by the righteousness of Jesus bestowed on them because of their union by faith with Christ.
This whole process is made possible not by WORK or intelligence of men, but by an UNDESERVED GIFT from God. It is sealed by the coming of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of the new believer where it remains indefinitely.
The old covenant was never meant to succeed in bringing salvation. It was meant to reveal our need for a personal savior full of grace.
- The Law was never meant to save us. It was a shadow of the type of sacrifice that would be needed with Jesus–it prepared the people for the new better covenant of grace that would come with the Messiah.
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME NOW?
While we may not be living under the Old Testament Law, we each have what I would call and Old Covenant in our life. This can be:
- Our Parent’s Faith — “I go to church because I know it makes my parents happy.”
- A Code of Morality — If you do not consider yourself a Christian, this is your Old Covenant; “If I am a good enough person I will go to ‘heaven’ if it turns out to be real.”
- Copy Cat Covenant — “I will do everything that person did because I like that person and the way their life turned out, and if I do,, my life too will turn out for good.”
- Patriotism — “If I follow the rules of this great nation, give back to society, vote, preach democracy and capitalism, I will be good.”
Most people generally live in accordane with one or multiple of these old covenants. The one that I believe is most present in our church is the first. This is because the majority of us are what I call Potpourris.
Potpourri is the post-college, pre-parenting stage of life.
- It’s the time to define our identity. It’s the first time we’re truly getting to step out of the protective care of our parents, getting the chance to learn what it means to make it our own–who am I going to be?
- We either…
- GO BACK to the familiar, limited old tent
- STAY in the freedom of the wilderness, not reaping any of the benefits
- STEP INTO the true tent of grace — the least control-able, and requires sacrifice of our will & agenda
WHAT’S INSIDE THE TENT?
It’s not the tent itself that makes it great, it’s what you find inside. The tent of the New Covenant is the true and better tent BECAUSE JESUS IS MINISTERING IN IT. People often miss out on grace because they buy into the lie that the package is more important than the content.
How do we choose which tent to enter? By the size of the building or the crowd? By the website or the signage or the lights?
Time and time again the Scriptures are clear about one thing: what makes a place sacred and special and worth your time to enter and remain is the very PRESENCE of God in that place. Whether it is a tent in the middle of the desert or in the nave of the majestic basilica…it is the presence of Jesus that makes a place heavenly and the blessings of God overflowing.
WHAT KIND OF TENT DO WE WANT TO BE?
A church where people come to experience the earthly charms of community and purpose and service? A church that is appealing to the eyes from the outside but is hallow on the inside?
OR do we want to be a church where no matter how many people come in, they will experience a glimpse into the heavenly sanctuary? When they step into this tent, will Jesus be here? Is this a Jesus tent? Is this a tent where the blessings of the new covenant of GRACE abound?
GRACE IS MORE THAN LOVE
Grace implies that we do not deserve love, but get it anyway. We can only enter into the ministry of grace and truly receive grace if we are honest about our sin and our separation from God. Only then can we experience the ministry of grace.
WHY? Because Christ is the superior minister, and his ministry is beyond the earthly shadows of man-made religion and positive thinking. Christ’s ministry deals in reality and in reality is brokenness, fallen-ness, sin and rebellion, imperfection, shame and guilt.
Hebrews 8:6 – “But s it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is s much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.”
If we do not get serious about our serious need for a better sacrifice, a better ministry than just positive thinking or transactional religion…Christ will not show up because we will not show up.
Jesus deals in reality, so we’ve got to get real with him. If we build a theology and preach a gospel that does not recognize our NEED for Christ’s ministry, then we will never experience that ministry of Christ.
If you don’t bring your trash to the sidewalk, the garbage man cannot take it away! If we hide our garbage in our backyard, it cannot be taken care of.
1. Apply these keys to recognize the beauty of the new tent:
- ZOOM OUT – In the midst of a crisis. Look at the constant message God has delivered over thousands of years through the prophets, the apostles and Jesus.
- APPLY THE JESUS FILTER – Look at everything God has done and said through the lens of Jesus. Being the ultimate revelation of God, Jesus sheds light on all of God’s other communication. God never contradicts himself. Read the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John to learn more about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
- TURN IT DOWN – Get into the right posture of hearing — clear the distractions. Turn down the music, give yourself space and time to hear from God, whether that is by prayer, reading the Scriptures, or by creating time in your schedule to worship and discuss Jesus in community. Join a Fellowship Group. We need to teach each other and practice together softening our hearts to the voice of God.
2. Converse about this topic with others:
- Why do you think so many people walk right by the tent of grace?
- Do you find yourself slipping back and forth between the old covenant tent of works-based righteousness and the new covenant tent of grace?
3. Reflect personally on the condition of your heart:
- What old habits/patterns are you still using from the old covenant?
- Do you still feel that you need to earn God’s grace?
- Where are you standing? Are you moving towards the better tent?
4. Listen to this week’s sermon on our website.