Hebrews 8:3-5 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 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. 5 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.”
One of the jobs of a priest is to bring a sacrifice to offer to God. The Old Testament law in Leviticus describes in detail these sacrifices. If there is nothing to offer, the work of a priest is meaningless because nothing is done about the problem of sin. The purpose of the sacrificial system is to atone for the sins of the people and to point their hearts back to God in sincere worship. Jesus did not need to offer a sacrifice in the earthly temple because priests had already been appointed to do this. Jesus needed to offer a sacrifice on a whole other level. The human priests had a role in God’s plan of redemption. They served as the mediators between sinful humanity and the Holy God. Their ministry, however, went even beyond that. They were “types” or forerunners for the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Their ministries pointed to something even greater. Everything that God told Moses was intended to point to something greater. Paul the Apostle points out in Galatians 3-4 how the law pointed to Christ. The author of Hebrews points out in verse 5 how the tabernacle that Moses guided the people of Israel to make pointed to something great, namely, the heavenly temple of God. The ancient tabernacle (and later temple in Jerusalem) were more than ancient architecture or places of worship. They were archetypes of what God intended to do someday through Jesus. The pattern of the tabernacle was designed with God’s plan of redemption in Jesus in mind. This idea helps us piece together the two parts of the Bible and interpret Exodus-Leviticus through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
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