Amplified: NOW EVEN the first covenant had its own rules and regulations for divine worship, and it had a sanctuary [but one] of this world. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: So, then, the first tabernacle, too, had its ordinances of worship and its holy place, which was an earthly symbol of the divine realities. (Westminster Press)
KJV: Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
NLT: Now in that first covenant between God and Israel, there were regulations for worship and a sacred tent here on earth. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Now the first agreement had certain rules for the service of God, and it had a sanctuary, a holy place in this world for the eternal God. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Then indeed the first testament was having ordinances of divine service, and its sanctuary a sanctuary of the earth. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: It had, indeed, then (even the first tabernacle) ordinances of service, also a worldly sanctuary
NOW EVEN THE FIRST COVENANT : men oun kai e prote: (Heb 8:7,13)
Literally "now even the first" (covenant is added by the translators).
Note that the key word in Hebrews 9 is blood which is found 12 times in 10 verses (He 9:7, 12 [2x] He 9:13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 [2x], He 9:25). Another key phrase is "divine worship" (He 9:1, 6)
The chapter break should have included Hebrews 8:13 as it clearly relates to the author's thought in this chapter. F B Hole (Who is he?) rightly says that…
The writer thus takes up his argument from his point at which he left off just before quoting from Jeremiah 31:31, 32, 33, 34. In this chapter the writer proceeds to discuss the offering of our great High Priest and to contrast it with the Old Testament offerings and in introducing this subject he gives a review of the Old Testament tabernacle and the regulations for worship. In so doing, he is building his case based upon his Jewish readers' knowledge of this institution in order that he might begin to unfold the surpassing advantages of the more excellent ministry of the Messiah.
He first introduces two subjects, the regulations for worship and the earthly tabernacle, discussing the tabernacle in He 9:2, 3, 4, 5, the regulations of worship in He 9:6, 7 and the significance of the tabernacle and regulations in He 9:8, 9, 10.
John Phillips notes that…
William Kelly (Who is he?) writes that…
John MacArthur introduces this chapter reminding us of the basic principle that…
Ray Stedman adds the following illustration…
Even the first - Not the first tabernacle but the first Covenant, which is the word added to the translation although not in the original Greek. Clearly the writer is continuing his discussion of the obsolete, ready to disappear Old Covenant with the better covenant, the New Covenant.
To Christians today, most of whom are Gentiles and thus less familiar with the Old Testament, Hebrews 9 can be somewhat difficult to understand. We need to remember that the intended audience was Hebrew professing believers who were very familiar with the subjects of the tabernacle, the sacrifices and various laws pertaining to food, etc. Keep in mind a main goal of the writer in this section is to explain to his Hebrew audience how their consciences can be purified from the dead works, something that was not possible through all of the Old Covenant rituals and sacrifices. This background should motivate all of us to have a greater appreciation for this chapter, for who does not desire a "clean conscience"?
I highly recommend listening to Dr Stedman's Mp3 on Hebrews 9 entitled "A Clear Conscience" - the transcript is good but the audio is excellent - this is a powerfully practically presentation of how to live the Christian life - Dear brother or sister, you must listen! If you want more on a related subject listen to Dr Stedman's message entitled Legalism
First (4413) (protos) refers to the former or first in a series or set. Sometimes protos means first in terms of rank but that is clearly not the meaning in this context, for the New Covenant is clearly superior to the first covenant.
Recall that the writer had begun his discussion of the first covenant in Hebrews 8, writing…
The term first covenant (Click for summary of Covenant in the Bible) refers to the Old Covenant which God made with the nation of Israel at Mt Sinai after they had been delivered from bondage in Egypt. The first covenant was a temporary covenant as signified by the earthly character of the sanctuary. Likewise, the tabernacle (think of a tent) was temporary. Temporary yes, but worthless, no. In fact the tabernacle was intended to hold such a central place in the life of Israel that Moses was warned not to deviate one iota from the pattern given him when he had it constructed. Everything about the Tabernacle was intended to be a word picture ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.
Keep in mind that the two unconditional covenants, Abrahamic and New, are related, and both are entered into by grace through faith. The New Covenant while a distinct covenant is in a sense an expansion of the Abrahamic Covenant, and adds the features that the Law would be written on hearts (implying the desire and power to obey) and forgiveness for sins was granted (not mentioned under the Abrahamic Covenant). The relationship between the Abrahamic, Old and New Covenants can be summarized as follows.
HAD REGULATIONS OF DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE EARTHLY SANCTUARY: eichen (3SIAI) men oun kai e prote skene dikaiomata latreias to te hagion kosmikon: (Hebrews 9:10; Leviticus 18:3,4,30; 22:9; Nu 9:12; Ezek 43:11; Lk 1:6) (He 9:10,11; 8:2; Ex 25:8; Col 2:8)
Regulations (1345) (dikaioma [word study] from dikaioo = to justify <> dikaios = just, righteous <> dike = right) strictly speaking refers to what God declares and/or establishes as just or right and which has the force of law (divine ordinance, regulation or statute).
Dikaioma referred to a regulation relating to a just or right action, especially in reference to God's requirements, ordinances or regulations. In other words, dikaioma is used to refer to an act which is in accordance with what God requires. It is an appointment of God having the force of law.
He elaborates on these regulations later noting that "they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. (Heb 9:10-note)
Kenneth Wuest writes that dikaioma is "
Primarily that which is deemed right, so as to have the force of law; hence an ordinance. (Hebrews Commentary)
Divine worship - Note that divine is added by the translators to modify worship. Latreia (see below) describes the service of the tabernacle, and dikaioma the precepts which regulated to the divine worship.
Divine Worship (2999) (latreia [word study] from latris = one hired or latron = reward, wages - see an in depth study of the related word latreuo) in secular Greek referred to service rendered for hire and then to any service, by extension including service to God.
In classical Greek it was used for the service of the gods. In modern Greek it means "adoration, worship." In the NT it is used only for service to God.
In the Septuagint, latreia was used to describe the service of God according to the requirements of the Levitical law (think of "liturgical") and included the regulations of divine worship such as the rituals and ceremonies which composed part of the priestly duties.
As an aside, recall that these OT rituals and ceremonies were instituted by God not as an end in themselves, but as sort of a "picture book" that pointed toward the Messiah. These OT services were divine services, but they were also temporary services, performed in a temporary sanctuary.
Vine adds the noun latreia "originally signified the work of a hired servant, as distinguished from the compulsory service of the slave, but in the course of time it largely lost that significance, and in its usage in Scripture the thought of adoration was added to that of free obedience. Used of the service of God, the word gained the idea of a service characterized by worship. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Barclay comments that…
In sum, latreia is normal word for the service that a priest rendered at the altar in the Temple of God and is the standard word for religious service.
Latreia is used 5 times in the NT…
Latreia is used 5 times in the Septuagint (LXX) and notably 4/5 uses are in the context of stirring up the minds (or causing to remember) of the Israelites about the things of the Lord.
Earthly sanctuary - More forcefully rendered "a sanctuary of this world".
Spurgeon - That is to say, a material sanctuary, a sanctuary made out of such things as this world contains. Under the old covenant, there were certain outward symbols. Under the new covenant, we have not the symbols, but we have the substance itself. The old law dealt with types and shadows, but the gospel deals with the spiritual realities themselves.
Spurgeon comments that this refers to…
Sanctuary (40) (hagios) is literally the word holy and strictly speaking refers to whoever or whatever is set apart (sanctified) for a special purpose. In the New Testament, saints are holy ones in character having been set apart by God to be exclusively His possession, to be dedicated to Him and to manifest holiness of heart and conduct in contrast to the impurity of the unbelievers (Jew or Gentile). Saints are set aside for sacred use. Here a specific local is set apart for sacred use. The
In this context hagios represents the entire tabernacle complex. The Septuagint (LXX) uses hagios with a similar meaning in
Exodus 36:3 And they received from Moses all the contributions which the sons of Israel had brought to perform the work in the construction of the sanctuary. (Hebrew = qodesh = apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness; set-apartness; Lxx = hagios) And they still continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning.
Numbers 3:38 Now those who were to camp before the tabernacle eastward, before the tent of meeting toward the sunrise, are Moses and Aaron and his sons, performing the duties of the sanctuary (Hebrews = miqdash = sacred place; Lxx = hagios) for the obligation of the sons of Israel; but the layman coming near was to be put to death.
In the Old Testament many things and people were divinely set apart by God for His own purposes. The Tabernacle first and later the Temple and all the furnishings of both were set apart to Him, especially the Ark of the Covenant in inner most room, the holy of holies. The tribe of Levi was set apart for His priesthood, and the entire nation of Israel was set apart as His people. The tithes and offerings of the people of Israel consisted of money and other gifts specifically set apart for God. Under the New Covenant, however, such holy things as the Temple, priesthood, Ark, and tithes no longer exist. God’s only truly holy things on earth today are His people, those whom He has sovereignly and graciously set apart for Himself through Jesus Christ. The new temple of God and the new priesthood of God are His church, although that is not the writer's subject in this section.
What a contrast the earthly sanctuary of the Old Covenant was with the "earthly sanctuary" of the New Covenant, where it is no longer a "building" (contrary to popular opinion). In other words the habitation of God is not a building as much as it is a person, for Paul asks…
'Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?' (1 Corinthians 3:16)
During the Old Covenant, the Spirit of God was manifested in the Holy of Holies, over the Ark of the Covenant under the Cherubim, but today He resides within every believer in Christ Jesus (see note Romans 8:9, 1Cor 12:13) and His satisfactory, substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross.
As an aside let us consider an important application of this truth of "God within His sanctuary", because many genuine believers have the misconception that they must come to a church building at a certain time with certain songs, etc, in order to truly worship the Living Lord. It is amazing how we can become fixated on systems, rituals, traditions, etc. In fact worship can be (and should be) our habitual, continual practice for we "carry the sanctuary of God" wherever we go, be it the kitchen, the school or the workplace. If we would really come to grasp the depth of this truth, would it not radically impact our daily lives and turn our mourning into dancing and times of drudgery into devotion? I think it might! I think this would certainly be the Lord's desire for His children. Later in this same letter in fact the writer exhorts the believers (and he includes himself in this exhortation)…
Through Him (Jesus our Great High Priest) then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (see notes Hebrews 13:15; 16)
Amplified: For a tabernacle (tent) was erected, in the outer division or compartment of which were the lampstand and the table with [its loaves of] the showbread set forth. [This portion] is called the Holy Place. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: For the first tabernacle was constructed and in it there was the lampstand and the table with the shewbread, and it was called the Holy Place. (Westminster Press)
KJV: For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary.
NLT: There were two rooms in this tent. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and loaves of holy bread on the table. This was called the Holy Place. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: A tent was erected: in the outer compartment were placed the lamp-standard, the table and the sacred loaves. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: For a tent was constructed, the first in which was both the lampstand and the table and the presentation of the loaves of sacred bread, which [the tent] is of such a character as to be called the Holy Place. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for a tabernacle was prepared, the first, in which was both the lamp-stand, and the table, and the bread of the presence -- which is called 'Holy'.
FOR THERE WAS A TABERNACLE PREPARED: skene gar kateskeuasthe (3SAPI): (Exodus 26:1-30; 29:1,35; 36:8-38; 39:32, 33, 34; 40:2,18, 19, 20)
There was a tabernacle - This phrase refers to the Tent of Meeting or Tent of the Testimony which and is synonymous in this context with the Sanctuary he has just mentioned. See the diagram above for the schematic of the Tabernacle and its "furniture".
Notice that the writer focuses upon the Tabernacle in the wilderness rather than upon the Temple presumably because he had previously alluded to it in quoting from Exodus 25:40…
Keeping in mind that he is contrasting the Old Covenant with the New Covenant, it is only natural that the Tabernacle be used in his argument rather than the Temple, because of the association of the Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) with the giving of the Law (Old Covenant) at Mount Sinai.
Tabernacle (ISBE Article) (4633) (skene) means tent, booth, cloth hut and here specifically the tabernacle which was made largely of skins and was designed to be portable, which emphasizes the essence of impermanence. The tabernacle gave every impression of being a temporary structure. It is fascinating that while there are only two chapters devoted to the creation, there are some fifty chapters that deal with the Tabernacle (esp Ex 25-40). Clearly, God is saying that the Tabernacle is important and demands attention. As so many expositors over the years have noted, the Tabernacle was essentially a "giant portrait of Jesus Christ" (See related study on Covenant: Abrahamic versus Mosaic). Everywhere you look in the Tabernacle you can see the Messiah.
Spurgeon - All this was by divine appointment; the form of the rooms, the style of the furniture, everything was ordained of God; and that not merely for ornament, but for purposes of instruction. As we shall see farther on, the Holy Ghost intended a significance, a teaching, a meaning, about everything in the old tabernacle, whether it was a candlestick, or a table, or the showbread.
Prepared (2680) (kataskeuazo from katá = intensifies the meaning of + skeuazo = prepare <> from skeuos = implement, vessel) is a verb which means to cause to be thoroughly prepared. It means to make, construct or erect with idea of adorning and equipping with all things necessary. Kataskeuazo was the word used to describe the preparing of a way before oriental monarch (see these uses in Mt 11:10; Mk 1:2; Lk 7:27 from Malachi 3:1).
One purpose for which the earthly tabernacle was prepared was so that it might be a place of worship, where God would meet with His people. Moses records
Centuries later the apostle John records that
Refer to the diagram of the Tabernacle above, remembering that it was a shadow or picture of the Lord Jesus Christ (see related topic Typology - Study of Biblical types). The courtyard of the Tabernacle was 150' x 75'. Its single gate, on the east side, was 30' wide x 7.5' high, allowing a large number of people to enter at the same time a graphic picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who declared I am the way and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me (John 14:6) and I am the door. If anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:9) Just as there was only one entrance to the Tabernacle, there is only one way to God, the only Way and the only Door, Jesus Christ. Many who resist the truth of God's Word and His gospel argue that Christianity is too narrow, too restrictive, too exclusive. In that sense, they are correct but not because Christians make it that way, but because God has declared it to be so. The tragedy is that many times believers (some simply professors, some undoubtedly genuine believers) have made Christianity "exclusive" in the wrong ways or by the wrong means, neither of which was ever intended by God. I am reminded of Paul's quotation (OT quotes in NAS are in all caps) in Romans 10…
The door of the Tabernacle always faced East (Ezekiel 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 44:1,2). The Tribe of Judah was encamped directly to the East of this door! (see Numbers 2:3 "toward the sunrise"!) (Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah - see Re 5:5-note)
The first article in the outer court was the bronze altar, of acacia wood sheathed with bronze, 7.5' square, 4.5' off the ground, topped with a bronze grate.
The first article in outer courtyard directly in front of the ENTRY DOOR (Ex 40:6) was the ALTAR OF BRASS (Ex 27:1, 2) with 4 horns, one on each corner, standing 3 cubits off the ground. When the people brought an offering to the Lord, either for reconciliation because of sin or for consecration, the sacrifice was tied to the horns of the altar.
Psalm 118:27 - The LORD is God, and He has given us light. Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. (Spurgeon's Note)
The offerer laid his hands on the head of the offering, symbolic of his identification with the animal's substitutionary death on his behalf—his sins were "transferred" to the sacrifices, and the life of the sacrifice was transferred to him. Coals of fire were inside this 5 square cubit box. A brass grate covered the coals of fire that held the sacrifice as it was consumed by the fire. The altar of brass was God's picture of the "Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!" (Jn 1:29, He 1:3, 2:9, 17-see notes He 1:3,2:9, 2:17), nailed ("tied") to the Cross for our sins displaying Him publicly just as the sacrificial animal was displayed (Ro 3:24, 25, 5:8-see notes Ro 3:24; 25 ; 5:8, 2Cor 5:21), baptized with a baptism of fire.
Next one encountered the LAVER which was between the ALTAR and the opening of the Holy Place where the priests washed daily (Ex 30:18, 19, 20, 21) so that they might not die. They could not enter the Holy Place without washing, this "washing" speaking of the HOLINESS God demands of all who would seek His face. (Lev 11:44) The LAVER was also made of bronze, a symbol of judgment (cf Re 1:5-note). It had two parts: the circular brass bowl made from the polished brass mirrors that the women brought with them from Egypt, and the brass foot or pedestal (Ex 38:8).
Jesus, the Word of God, said we are made clean through the Word He spoke to us. For example Jesus said to Peter
Have you "washed" today? Can you enter the Holy Place to worship a Holy God or would you be impeded from entry into His Presence because of unconfessed sin?
The Word of God is like a mirror that reminds us who we are so that our conscience is pricked by His Spirit and we "come clean" through confession and repentance. James writes that…
Moving westward we come to the Tabernacle proper (45' long x 15' wide x 15' high). The Holy Place took up 2/3's of the area so that the Holy of Holies was a perfect 15' cube. Only the priests could go into the Holy Place, in which were three pieces of furniture. The writer of Hebrews mentions only two, because, as he says, he cannot speak in detail (Heb 9:5).
THE OUTER ONE IN WHICH WERE THE LAMPSTAND: e prote en e e te luchnia: (Exodus 25:23-40; 26:35; 37:10-24; 39:36, 37, 38; 40:4,22, 23, 24)
Literally it reads "for a tabernacle was prepared, the first, in which was both the lamp-stand, and the table, and the bread of the presence -- which is called 'Holy;'
The outer one - The outer (first) room of the Tabernacle which was separated by a veil from the inner room which contained the Ark of the Covenant, representing the place where God dwelled.
Outer (4413) (protos) refers to the former or first in a series or set.
Lampstand (Dictionary Article) (3087) (luchnia from luchnos = portable lamp fed with oil, not a candle <> leukos = White, shining) refers to a candlestick and was used in the Septuagint (LXX) for the Menorah, the golden lampstand in the Holy Place, the first or outer division of the Tabernacle (Ex 25:32, 33, 34, 35, 26:35 )
On the left, as the priest entered, was a pure gold lampstand having seven branches, each filled with the purest olive oil, which was kept burning night and day, serving as the only light in the Tabernacle. (Ex 27:20).
The believer is instructed to
Jesus is the Lamp in the New Jerusalem for
Are you walking in darkness, not knowing where you are going? Believers are now His "lights" for Jesus declared…
AND THE TABLE AND THE SACRED BREAD THIS IS CALLED THE HOLY PLACE: kai he trapeza kai he prothesis ton arton etis legetai (3SPPI) hagia: (Exodus 40:4; Leviticus 24:5,6) (Exodus 25:23,30) (Exodus 26:33)
Table (Table of Showbread) (5132) (trapeza from tetra = four + peza = foot) is "four feet" and so is a table. Trapeza is a word seen on the front of banks in Greece today. Bankers sat at small tables and changed money (Mt 21:12).
Nelson's writes that…
Sacred (4286) (prothesis) means a setting forth of a thing and so placing of it in view (the KJV keeps the sense of this meaning in its rendering showbread)
Nelson's writes that this was…
The Holy Place (Dictionary Article) (40) (hagios) refers to that which is set apart, separated, sanctified referring to that which is set apart (sanctified) as having been so separated for a special purpose. Specifically this place was set apart by God for sacred use.
The Hebrew word for sacred bread meant "bread of face" or "bread of presence" because the bread was being set before God. There were 12 loaves of bread representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Every Sabbath these were eaten by the priests and fresh bread placed upon the table. This shadow also pointed to the substance fulfilled in Christ.
In the Old Testament, Moses records that loaves were replaced weekly on the Sabbath…
In the New Testament Jesus declares He is the fulfillment of the shadow in the Old Testament declaring
By way of application, dear believer, what are you eating to satisfy your spiritual hunger? Only the "Bread of life" the "Bread of heaven", the Lord Jesus Christ, will ever satisfy your innermost hunger. Jesus the "Bread of Life" is also the Living Word, the Word of Life, and He Himself declared that "Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Eat the Word of God, for nothing else will satisfy.
Emulate Jeremiah's example, for even in the midst of a stressful time (read the entire chapter for the context), he affirmed…
Thy words were found and I ate them,
And David's affirmation…
And the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 119…
Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
TODAY IN THE WORD - This past spring a group of passengers bound for Los Angeles from the east coast sat aboard an airplane waiting for take off. After a long delay the pilot announced that there was a maintenance problem–the ground crew could not get the cargo door to seal properly. He told them that the mechanics had sent some digital pictures of the door to the airlines experts. But as good as the pictures were, the experts still couldn’t solve the problem. They needed to be there to see the real thing in order to fix it. The flight was cancelled, leaving the passengers to scramble for alternative flights.
Pictures are wonderful things, but ultimately they are not adequate substitutes for the objects they represent. Hebrews 9:1-10 makes a similar point. As great as the earthly tabernacle was, its ultimate purpose was only to represent or point toward something far greater.
F B Meyer
THE eye is quicker than the ear. And there is therefore no language so expressive as the language of symbols. The multitude will better catch your meaning by one apt symbol than by a thousand words. The mind shrinks from the intellectual effort of grappling with the subtle essences of things, and loves to have truth wrapped up in a form which can easily be taken in by the eye, the ear, the sense of touch.
This explains why there is such a tendency toward ritualism in the Romanish and Anglican Churches. Where man's spiritual life is strong, it is independent of the outward form; but when it is weak it leans feebly on external aids. And it was because the children of Israel were in so childish a condition that God enshrined his deep and holy thoughts in outward forms and material shadows. The untutored people must have spiritual truth expressed in symbols, which appealed to the most obtuse. For fifteen hundred years, therefore, the Jewish worship gathered round the most splendid ceremonial that the world has ever seen
ceremonial which these Hebrew Christians sadly missed when they passed into the simple ordinances of some bare upper room.
Let us for a moment study those ancient symbols.
Choose an expanse of sand; mark out an oblong space forty-five feet long by fifteen feet broad. Lay all along upon your outlines a continuous belt of silver sockets, hollowed out so as to hold the ends of the planks that form the walls of the Tabernacle. Now fetch those boards themselves, beams of acacia wood fifteen feet high, covered with the choicest gold, and fastened together by three long bars of gold, running from end to end. The entrance doorway must face the east, composed of five golden pillars, over which fall the folds of a rich and heavy curtain. Then measure thirty feet from this, and let another curtain separate the holy from the most holy place. Now fetch more curtains to make the ceiling, and to hang down on either side over the gilded acacia beams that form the outer walls; first, a gorgeous curtain wrought with brilliant hues, and covered with the forms of cherubim; next, a veil of pure white linen; third, a strong curtain of rams' skins, dyed red; and, lastly, to defend it from the weather, a common and coarse covering of badgers' skins. The court is constituted by heavy curtains that hang around and veil the movements of the priests within.
Let us cast a brief glance at each item as we briefly pass from the outer to the inner shrine.
THE BRAZEN ALTAR, with its projecting horns, to which animals designated for sacrifice were tied (Psalm 118:27), or on which the fugitive laid hold for sanctuary and shelter (Ex 21:14), stood in the outer court. There were offered the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering. It was deemed most holy (Ex 31:37) And well it might be; for it was the symbol of the cross of Calvary, that wondrous cross where Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice for sin; himself both priest and victim and altar too.
None could enter the holy place, save by passing this sacred emblem, any more than we could ever have entered into fellowship with God, unless there had been wrought for us upon the cross that one all-sufficient sacrifice and oblation for sins, which purges our heart from an evil conscience. The longer we live, and the more we know of God, the more precious and indispensable does that cross appear: our hope in sorrow, our beacon in the dark, our shelter in the storm, our refuge in hours of conviction, our trysting-place with God, our pride and joy.
Blest cross! blest sepulcher! blest rather be
And if the brazen altar speaks of the one sacrifice, once for all, of Calvary, the laver speaks of the daily washing of the stains of our wilderness journeyings, as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples (John 13).
THE SEVEN-BRANCHED CANDLESTICK
THE SEVEN-BRANCHED CANDLESTICK, from which the light was shed which lit up the holy place, would first arrest the eye of the priest, who might cross the threshold for the first time. Its form is familiar to us from the bas-relief upon the Arch of Titus. How eloquently does it speak of Christ! The texture of beaten gold, on every part of which the hammer strokes had fallen, tells of his bruisings for us (Ex 25:36). The union of the six lesser lamps, with the one tall Center one, betokens the mystery of that union in light-giving which makes the Church one with her Lord forevermore in illuminating a dark world. The golden oil, stealing through the golden pipes that needed to be kept clean and unchoked, shows our dependence on him for supplies of the daily grace of the Holy Spirit (Zech 4:2). And the very snuffers, all of gold, used wisely by the high-priest to trim the flame, are significant of those processes by which our dear Lord is often obliged to cut away the unevenness of the wick, and to cause us a momentary dimming of light that we may afterward burn more clearly and steadily. His life is the light of men. In his light we see light. He sheds light on hearts and homes and mysteries and space; and hereafter the Lamb shall be the light of heaven.
THE GOLDEN SHEWBREAD TABLE
THE GOLDEN SHEWBREAD TABLE must not be over looked, with its array of twelve loaves of fine flour, sprinkled with sweet smelling frankincense, and eaten only by the priests, when replaced on the seventh day by a fresh supply. Here again, as in the last symbol, is that mysterious blending of Christ and his people. Christ is the true bread of presence. He is the bread of God. Jehovah finds in his obedience and life and death perfect satisfaction; and we too feed on him. His flesh is meat indeed. We eat his flesh and live by him. The table was portable, so as to be carried in the journeyings of the people; and we can never thrive without taking him with us wherever we go. This is the heavenly manna; our daily bread; our priestly perquisite. But the people also were represented in those twelve loaves, as they were in the twelve stones of the breastplate. And doubtless there is a sense in which all believers still stand ever before God in the purity and sweetness of Christ; "for we, being many, are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread." Oh, is it possible for me to give aught of satisfaction to God? To believe this would surely instill a new meaning into the most trivial acts of life. Yet this may be so.
THE CENSER, OR ALTAR OF INCENSE
THE CENSER, OR ALTAR OF INCENSE, is classed with the most holy place; not because it stood inside the veil, but because it was so closely associated with the worship rendered there. It was as near as possible to the ark (Ex 30:6). It reminds us of the golden altar which was before the throne (Re 8:3). No blood ever dimmed the luster of the gold; the ashes that glowed there were brought from the altar of burnt offering; and on them were sprinkled the incense, which had been compounded by very special art (Ex 30:34, 35, 36, 37, 38). That precious incense, which it was death to imitate, speaks of his much merit, in virtue of which our prayers and praises find acceptance. Is not this his perpetual work for us, standing in heaven as our great High Priest? ever living to make intercession, catching our poor prayers, and presenting them to his Father, fragrant with the savor of his own grace and loveliness and merit?
THE VEIL, passed only once a year by the high-priest, carrying blood, reminded the worshipers that the way into the holiest was not yet perfect. There were degrees of fellowship with God to which those rites could give no introduction. "The way into the holiest was not yet made manifest." "The veil, that is to say, his flesh" (Heb. 10:20). Oh, fine twined linen, in thy purity, thou wert never so pure as that body which was conceived without sin! Oh, exquisite work of curious imagery, thou canst not vie with the marvelous mysteries that gather in that human form! Yet, till Jesus died, there was a barrier, an obstacle, a veil. It was bespattered with blood, but it was a veil still. But at the hour when he breathed out his soul in death, the veil was rent by mighty unseen hands from top to bottom, disclosing all the sacred mysteries beyond to the unaccustomed eyes of any priests who at that moment may have been burning incense at the hour of prayer, while the whole multitude stood without (Lk 1:9). It is a rent veil now, and the way into the holiest lies open. It is new and living and blood-marked; we may therefore tread it without fear or mistake, and pass in with holy boldness to stand where angels veil their faces with their wings in ceaseless adoration (He 10:19, 20).
THE ARK. A box, oblong in shape, 4 ft. 6 in. in length, by 2 ft. 8 in. in breadth and height; made of acacia wood, overlaid with gold; its lid, a golden slab, called the mercy-seat, on which cherubic forms stood or knelt, with eyes fixed on the blood stained golden slab between them; for it was on the mercy-seat that the blood was copiously sprinkled year by year, and there the Shekinah light ever shone. In the wilderness wanderings the ark contained the tables of stone, not broken but whole, the manna, and the rod. But when it came to rest, and the staves were drawn out, the manna, food for pilgrims, and the rod, which symbolized the power of life, were gone; only the law remained.
The law can never be done away with. It is holy, just, and good. Not one jot or tittle can pass away from it. It is at the heart of all things. Beneath all surfaces, below all coverlets, deeper than the foam and tumult and revolution of the world, rests righteous and inexorable law. We must all yield to its imperial sway. Even the atheist must build his walls according to the dictates of the plumb-line, or they will inevitably crumble to ruin.
But law is under love. The golden mercy-seat exactly covered and hid the tables, as they no longer leaped from crag to crag, but lay quietly beneath it. An ark without a covering, and from which tables of stony law looked out on one, would be terrible indeed. But there need be no dread to those who know that God will commune with them from above a mercy-seat which completely meets the case and is sprinkled with blood. We are told by the Apostle, who had well read the deepest meaning of these types, that "God hath set forth Christ Jesus as a mercy seat, through faith in his blood" (Ro 3:24, 25-See notes Ro 3:24; 25). Jesus has met the demands of law by his golden life and his death of blood; and we may meet God's righteousness in him. Our own righteousness would be an insufficient covering, too narrow and too short; but our Substitute has met every possible demand. "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died." Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life.
But ah, no blood of goat or calf can speak the priceless value of his blood, by which we have access into the holiest. Oh, precious blood! which tells of a heart breaking with love and sorrow; which betrays a life poured out like water on the ground in extremest agony; which gathers up all the meaning of Leviticus and its many hecatombs of victims; the pledge of tenderest friendship, the purchase money of our redemption, the wine of life: thy scarlet thread speaks to us from the windows of the past in symbols of joy and hope and peace and immortal love. The precious blood of Christ!