In our study of Hebrews chapter eight, we will look at the reality of Jesus as our High Priest and how He was promised to the people of Israel.
"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." NIV translation
In chapter 7, Paul explained how Jesus was declared to be our High Priest by the power of His resurrection and this was compared to the earthly Levitical priesthood. He continues, here, to share some differences. First, we see that Jesus went to heaven and sat down at the Father's right hand. This is a very big detail because the earthly priests that served in the temple and tabernacle never had a chair or sat down. Their work was never done as they were constantly required to offer sacrifices and present offerings for the people. But, the work of Jesus was finished when He was sacrificed on the cross as the atonement for our sins. The second thing we see is that Jesus serves in the "true" tabernacle in heaven. The actual word means "genuine" and is a reminder that the earthly tabernacle was simply a copy of the tabernacle in heaven. In our world today, there are cheap copies of just about everything that we can imagine and most people would rather have the real thing.
"Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: 'See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.'" NIV translation
Jesus had to present Himself as our sacrifice because the earthly priests did not have a perfect sacrifice. The earthly tabernacle is described here as a "shadow" of the sanctuary in heaven.
As a child, many of us have spent time chasing our shadows for amusement. The attempts of the priests to present sacrifices for sins was much like that in the fact that you can never really catch a shadow. Their sacrifices did not have the power to eliminate sin permanently and so they were continually chasing forgiveness. It is sad to say but the same type of thing is happening even today in the church. There are many people running around trying to do something for God in hopes of finding forgiveness. They will perform all of the rituals on cue but still leave without a realization that Jesus has already done the work. He is the real priest and we must look to Him and His finished work and not the efforts of others (earthly priests) or ourselves. This constant effort is simply like chasing our shadows as a child. When we accept Jesus' finished work, we can have the security in our hearts and minds that the work is finished. We all must ask ourselves the question: Is Jesus real to me or am I just chasing a shadow?