Hebrews 8. The Real Sanctuary. A New Covenent.

Key Notes: Copy, shadow and pattern. The true sanctuary is in Heaven. God's covenant and our knowledge of Him. Quit!

Verse one is a summary of the previous three chapters: we have a high priest, a Son made perfect forever, seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high, in the real sanctuary.

8:1–7 The real sanctuary in Heaven is compared with the Old Testament Tabernacle.

Moses' Tabernacle The True Tabernacle
on earth 8:4 in Heaven 8:1
set up by men 8:2 set up by the Lord 8:2
part of this creation 9:11 not of this creation 9:11
a copy, shadow and pattern 8:5 the heavenly sanctuary 8:5

"They (the sacrifices and offerings) serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary". (8:5).
"...according to the pattern...." shown to Moses on Mt. Sinai. (8:5)

*copy: (Gr."hypodeigma"; an image, example, or model).We have the related word "paradigm" in English to indicate a model  of reality, especially in science. Jesus showed the disciples an "example" (hypodeigma) or model of servanthood. Jn.13:15

*shadow: (Gr."skia"; the shadow is a two-dimensional image, without  color). This suggests that the reality would be much more beautiful than the Tabernacle in the wilderness. What will the reality be like? Is it structurally similar, or is the tabernacle in the wilderness only describing spiritual reality, not physical reality? In any case the true temple is three-dimensional, colorful, and glorious.

*pattern: (Gr."typos"; a stamp, a printed image, a carved relief, a model). We think of a blue-print. The word is used for Adam as a "type" of the one to come (Rom. 5:14) and of Israel's experience in the wilderness as a a type or example to us. I Cor. 10:6

If one asks where God is, and where His Temple is, there will be several answers:
     God is everywhere. I K.8:27; Psa.139:7–12.
     God is in Heaven. Rev.4:1–6
     God is in Christ. Col.1:19
     God is in us. Jn.14:23.

Then the True Sanctuary could be any of the above--the universe, Heaven, Christ, or the Church. But if we look at Heb. 8:2,5 and ask where God dwells, the answer is that His sanctuary is in Heaven.

Do we have other information to clarify the “true sanctuary in Heaven”? Revelation gives us glimpses of four different articles related to the heavenly Tabernacle.

Incense is burned on the altar. Rev.8:3
 The horns of the golden altar before God. Rev.9:13
 The tent of witness opened, filled with smoke. Rev.15:5
God's temple opened, and the ark of the covenant seen. Rev.11:19

It appears that the plan of the tabernacle revealed to Moses contains details not only of spiritual meaning to us, but also mirroring objective reality in heaven—as hard as that is to imagine.

8:8–13. Having established Christ in the true sanctuary, the writer now explains the new covenant that He will administer. A covenant is an agreement between two parties.
The Old Covenant as spelled out in Ex.19:5 has two terms:
     a. "If you will obey My voice and keep My covenant,
     b. "you shall be My own possession among all peoples." (The "If " is very important.)

8:9 But the covenant collapsed because the terms were not kept.
     a. "They did not continue in my covenant
     b. and so I paid no heed to them."
Israel did not do her part and God turned away for a time. The New Covenant has four terms:

a. "I will put My laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts."
b. "and I will be their God and they shall be My people."
c. "And they shall not teach everyone his fellow...saying 'Know the Lord', for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest."
d. "For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (Heb.8:10–12)

But each of these terms can be found the Old Testament.
a. "And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (Deut.6:6)
b. "I will take you for My people, and I will be your God." (Ex.6:7)
c. "There arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord." (Judg.2:10). This implies a previous generation that did know the Lord, the generation with Moses.
d. "As far as the east is from the west, so far does He removed our transgressions from us." (Psa.103:12)

In what sense are the terms different now?
     God is acting to put the Law in the heart. That is more than memorizing.
     The knowledge of God (in contrast with the knowledge of the Law) will not be a casual, a sometime thing.
     There is a difference between the OT way of sacrifice and the NT sacrifice as outlined in the next chapter.


This question came up: are there different ways of knowing God? Isn’t the knowledge of God innate?
*The existence of God is obviously seen in nature. Psa.19; Rom.1:19–20
*Knowing that One God exists does not confer salvation. Jm.2:19
*The law of God is written on the heart. It is innate. Rom.2:14
*The law of God is elaborated in the Law of Moses. (Rom.3:2). It was to be memorized. Deut.6:4-
*The conscience judges our behavior. It is separate from the Law and is different from the Holy Spirit. Rom.2:15
*Knowing God and Jesus Christ is the basis of salvation. (Jn.17:3). It is knowledge acquired by the Holy Spirit. ICor.12:3
*While knowledge of Christ is permanent because the Holy Spirit is permanent, reminders are necessary. IJn.2:20, 27; IIPet.3:1

It is remarkable that the covenant exists. Whereas religion is commonly viewed as man’s search after God, the Old and New Covenants are God’s search after us. In no other religion (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Animism, Naturalism) does the god make covenant with his people. Our God in unique; He is a covenant-making and a covenant-keeping God. Our God is not distant and difficult to placate as the gods of the heathen are. He does not wait for us to come to Him. He comes to us with terms we cannot refuse—wonderful promises if we accept His offer; calamity if we accept and then refuse Him.

The religions of the world are religions of personal effort: meditation, worship, good works, pilgrimage, study, alms-giving and self-denial. They assert the child's motto: “I can do it myself.” That is good as far as it goes and we should be sympathetic with these efforts and encourage people to try harder, so that they will be convinced of failure.

Finally, why did God have to make two covenants, erasing the first. Was the first covenant a mistake? The two covenants can be summarized by two words, Law and Grace. The first covenant said "You Do It." The second covenant says "Let God Do It." I suspect that the first covenant was written to reveal the universal human tendency to try, to work, to lift oneself up, to improve, to be perfect by our own effort. "I can do it myself" is the cry of the young child. It appears that God has built that need into the human heart, because self-mastery is an important part of growing up. We all work, and must work, to develop our potential--physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  But built into the Law is the assumption of failure, for the sacrifices were mandatory, and repetitive. Evidence that "You Can Do It" is not shown anywhere.

Each person must come to the realization that he / she cannot reach the goal and face the fact that human effort is not enough. At the heart of Christianity is the painful expression "Give up".

You'll never make it.
Quit trying.
Recognize failure.
It's over.
Bend the knee.

That is when God can begin to work the New Covenant in our lives.