The Old Covenant Sanctuary and the New Covenant Sanctuary

February 29, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 3 Comments
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For the Hebrew believers the New Covenant was an extreme departure from everything they had done to attempt to keep a right standing with God. For those of us who have grown up around New Testament Christianity it would be like if we started having church standing on our heads! This is one reason why the Holy Spirit, in the letter to the Hebrews, breaks things down element by element, piece by piece, as if to say,”Look, it’s okay to draw near to God under the New Covenant.” The logical conclusion for 1st Century Jewish Christians would have been, “If we keep drawing closer and closer, we’re going to wind up in the Holy of Holies – that’s as close as you can get – AND WE CAN’T GO IN THERE!

So in Hebrews Chapter 9 the Holy Ghost explains, using contrasts, just how superior the sanctuary in Heaven (the New Covenant sanctuary) is to the sanctuary in the Tabernacle or the Temple. It is also important to remember that, for New Testament believers, our “sanctuary” is not really a “building.” Today, if you are truly a believer, the Spirit lives within you.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

However, keeping that in mind, here are some contrasts between the Old Covenant sanctuary and the Heavenly sanctuary.

1. The Old Covenant sanctuary was man-made.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

Hebrews 9:1

The earthly sanctuary was limited by decay and locale. The eternal sanctuary is permanent – spoken into existence by God.

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

Hebrews 9:11

2. The Old Covenant sanctuary was a “type” of a greater reality.

For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

Hebrews 9:2-5

The pattern for a dress lets the seamstress see what it’s meant to be, but the actual dress is much more useful and fulfilling for the wearer. The Old Covenant sanctuary, by its very nature, pointed to something greater.

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:12-14

The sacrifice made in the New Covenant sanctuary actually cleans the conscience, instead of just making someone ceremonially clean.

3. The Old Covenant sanctuary acted as a boundary.

But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

Hebrews 9:7

Only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year, but in the New Covenant sanctuary, spiritually, we can have unlimited access to God, through Christ because of His shed blood.

4. The Old Covenant sanctuary was temporary.

The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

Hebrews 9:8

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Matthew 27:50-51

The New Covenant sanctuary is not only permanent, but is home to a permanent ministry.

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

Hebrews 9:24

Even the Jewish genealogical records have been lost or destroyed, and their religions leaders and historians are not sure who is supposed to be ministering as a priest today.

5. The Old Covenant sanctuary was set up to deal with ceremonial and carnal purity.

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 9:9-10

The New Covenant sanctuary deals with the heart (the conscience). It changes what is on the inside.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:13-14

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27

Have you taken advantage of the true – the better – the superior – the everlasting ministry of the sanctuary in Heaven?

All Dressed up and Nowhere to Go

February 26, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | 1 Comment
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Most Christians, if they have been serious about their Bible study, are familiar with the armor of God. There is a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, a shield of faith, etc. There are also shoes:

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Ephesians 6:15

It sure sounds like we’re getting all dressed up and ready to go somewhere, but the Bible actually tells us that we’re getting dressed up not to go somewhere, but to stand.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Ephesians 6:10-14

The Christian life is a walk.

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Ephesians 4:1

It pleases God when we walk with Him.

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Genesis 5:24

That’s what we must remember. We’re not walking to GET TO God. We’re walking WITH God – and growing as we walk. Enoch drew nigh unto God by walking with Him. As Christians, we need to be on the move, but we need to be more concerned with being WHO God wants us to be, than we are with being WHERE God wants us to be.

A Long-Distance Swim

February 22, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Posted in BiblicalSwimming | Leave a comment
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This is the 1000th blog post on The Deep End! I don’t know if that sounds like a big number to you, but it does to me. It has taken me a little over six years to “swim” this far, and I thank the Lord for allowing me to continue doing it. It has been a blessing to me personally, and I can only pray that it has helped others. Thank you to those of you who read regularly, subscribe, and share posts from here on other outlets.

The idea of giving the blog a “swimming” theme came from a series of Bible lessons that I had written for my church’s weekly prayer emails, featuring different swimming “strokes.” Later, I came up with another series having more generally to do with water, based on the vision described in Ezekiel 47, and, later still, I added one post featuring shark attacks. My wife is the one who devised the acronym S.W.I.M. In honor of the occasion, I am using this 1000th post to provide links to the category called “Biblical Swimming.” As you read (IF you read) don’t forget to come up for breaths, kick your feet, remain calm, and keep swimming!

Getting Ready to Swim

The Back Stroke (Acts 27:41-44)
The Breaststroke (Isaiah 25:11)
The Butterfly (Matthew 23:27-28)
The Crawl (Psalm 104:19-20)
Freestyle (Galatians 5:1)
The Dog Paddle (Philippians 3:2)

Waters of Grace (*)

God’s Plan for Water Pollution (Ezekiel 47:8-9)
The Grace of Running Water (Ezekiel 47:1-2)
The Grace to Swim (Ezekiel 47:4-5)
Swimming for Spiritual Fitness (Ezekiel 47:5)
Getting Your Feet Wet (Ezekiel 47:3-4)
Seeking the Source (Ezekiel 47:5-6)

Breaching Reality (II Corinthians 4:4,6)

* most-viewed post in category

The Great Peradventure

February 18, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Posted in Exodus | 4 Comments
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Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

Exodus 32:26

“The gate of the camp” was just as significant as the location where Moses had chosen to smash the tablets. It was the official dividing line between God’s “chosen people” and just “people.” These were people who had forfeited their claim to God’s special protection and in fact had “exposed themselves” (both literally and figuratively) to God’s judgment and wrath.

Do you remember hearing or reading about the legendary incident from the Alamo when Colonel Buck Travis is said to have drawn a line in the sand to see who wanted to stay and who wanted to leave? Moses did something similar here – and the Levites made a wise choice in front of everyone. Imagine Aaron’s shame as he walked from the people over to Moses.

And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.

Exodus 32:27

Moses used classic prophetic-command speech: “Thus saith the LORD God of Israel…” = “This is God’s idea, not just mine. Get your swords, go in and out, make inquiries about who wants to stick with the idolatry and who wants to repent. Kill the ones who won’t confess and repent.” This was an observance of the legal death penalty. It didn’t matter who – their neighbors, their friends, their own family members. It sounds barbaric to us, doesn’t it? I hope you don’t want to throw out your Bible and become a Liberal at this point, although, sadly, many have. You’ll have to reject the truth to do it – and you’ll also have to blame God for protecting your soul about 3000 years before you were even born. Remember, these were enemy combatants in a war – the war for truth – and those that chose to take the side of idolatry by refusing to repent are the ones who were willing to send everyone to hell for the sake of a pathetic bull-god orgy – even after waking up with their hangovers. I’m glad we don’t have to kill the apostates and the pagans today as New Testament Christians, but it would be good for us to remember that the stakes are just as high, in a sense.

And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

Exodus 32:28

3000 executed criminals sounds like huge number, but that is just a fraction of the number that had been partying, because some of the guilty ones apparently repented and were spared.

For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.

Exodus 32:29

This gives more insight into how the fathers and male leaders were given an opportunity to repent and survive the Levite purge.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.

Exodus 32:30

You can see the heaviness that was on Moses the next day, but he knew the job was not finished. He still refused to sugarcoat their sin, because he knew there are consequences to even forgiven sin. In Exodus 32:30 the Holy Spirit has recorded the words of Moses – not as a prophetic revelation – but as a heavy sighing fumbling for the right word to describe what he knows he is going to have to attempt: atonement. “Peradventure.” What a terrifically descriptive word for the man who had been in the presence of this holy God – who knew His hatred for sin – but who also knew His mercy in response to confession and prayer. “I shall make;” “at one ment.” “Maybe I can somehow bring us back into loving fellowship with our God Who we’ve offended so greatly.” I hope you can hear that word “atonement” echoing all the way through the Old Testament into the New Testament and on into your life. I myself remember the estrangement from God – the horror of knowing He was completely beyond my sinful reach – when Jesus – the Rescuer – the Atoner – the AtoneMENT – brought me to Him!

The Beauty of Holiness

February 16, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I know I’ll probably get called old-fashioned or even legalistic, but I do think Christians ought to consider what type of clothing is appropriate for a church service at the local Christian church to which they belong. Obviously, we know that we place a high importance on what we wear to “special occasions” or to meet earthly dignitaries, so it only makes sense when we are going to formally “meet with God,” or, better, to corporately worship Him while meeting with His people.

Having said that, though, as we worship, we need to place an even greater consideration on how God Himself is “attired.”

O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

Psalm 96:9

We tend to think of “beauty” as something which attracts us, and, certainly, the Lord God is the God of beauty, and beauty is itself one of His immutable attributes. However, notice that His beauty is a beauty of “holiness.” It is a singular beauty, a one-of-a-kind, a unique beauty. There is, truly, none like Him. Even as His beauty attracts us, it is so foreign to us – so alien – so severe – that it forces us to bow down as we worship. It forces us, if we are rightly considering His majesty, supremacy, and might, to tremble with a reverent fear.

Has something gone missing from your worship? Perhaps you have never, in a worship service, felt the fear of the Lord in the first place. Let me encourage you to recover a sense of awe in the holiness of God. Formal worship is not a time for relaxation and calm introspection. It is a time when we, by His grace, challenge ourselves to receive by faith the love of God Whose unmediated brilliance and beauty would obliterate those who would approach Him frivolously.

A Glimpse of His Glory

February 10, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Matthew | 5 Comments
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In Matthew Chapter 17 the King gives His closest followers a glimpse of His glory. In Chapter 16 He had told them:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Matthew 16:27

They would get a preview of this glory very soon.

Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

Matthew 16:38-17:2

This is what is known as the “Transfiguration.” Transfiguration is change, but not from outward forces, like remodeling a building or plastic surgery. It is change from within – transformation, not conformation.

Christ is God, so all His glory is self-generated. We cannot produce our own glory; only He can.

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Matthew 17:5

Part of God’s glory is His holiness. No one is like God. Here, He says that we should listen to and obey Christ because He is God incarnate.

And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

Matthew 17:6

“Glory” also speaks of the “weight” of God – the magnitude of God. No one can stand in His presence – not even angels. We talk about “weightier” and “lighter” matters, and God is the “heaviest” subject about Whom we could ever speak.

The King’s glory helps us to understand the King’s power. The nine Disciples who had not gone up into the Mount of Transfiguration were now faced with a demon they couldn’t handle.

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

Matthew 17:14-16

They could not handle this demon because they had been guilty of a lack of discipline. They had not been praying and fasting. If the glory of the King – Who Himself was disciplined – doesn’t motivate us to be disciplined, then we can’t be trusted with the power of the King.

Now the Holy Spirit inspires Matthew, the former tax collector, to tell about what happened when the King was challenged to pay taxes. (Normally kings receive taxes!)

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Matthew 17:24-27

The King not only disciplines Himself, but makes Himself a servant, paying taxes He does not rightfully owe, just to keep from causing trouble. Have you ever been asked to do something you really shouldn’t have to do? To put up with some nonsense you shouldn’t have to put up with? Remember the King – the GLORIOUS King – Who didn’t even have a half-shekel to pay His taxes.

The glory of the King is a necessary motivation to being a follower of the King – to doing what God said, and learning of His ways, and living His principles. This is the only recorded miracle in Jesus’s earthly ministry involving money, and the only miracle I can think of where the Bible doesn’t confirm that it actually happened. The King said He was going to do it, and Matthew, having understood something of His glory, just expects us to take it for granted that He did it. We are not even told if the precise miracle is that Jesus caused a fish to swallow a coin, and then caused that exact fish to be the one caught, or if He just created the coin, and exercised dominion of the fish to make it be caught.

The Meaning, Majesty, Ministry, and Maintenance of the Mediator

February 3, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 4 Comments
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Jesus, the Great High Priest, ministers in a better sanctuary than the Levitical priests of the Old Testament.

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

Hebrews 8:1

Jesus sits on the throne of God at the Father’s right hand, but He is not seated because He doesn’t care about us. He is seated because He is doing an everlasting job. He has been ordained to an everlasting ministry. He is also seated because of His majesty. He is the King, so He sits on a throne. He sits on a throne of truth and of grace.

His Heavenly tabernacle is better than the earthly Tabernacle known to the Hebrew believers. Jesus is a High Priest Who is perfectly suited for us because we need something more than the blood of bulls or lambs. We need a better sacrifice.

For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

Hebrews 8:4-5

The Law showed a picture of the eternal reality in Heaven. Earthly priests were suited to that ministry. They gave gifts and made sacrifices for themselves. But our Great High Priest did not need to sacrifice for Himself, and He does not need to repeat the sacrifice each year for atonement.

But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Hebrews 8:6

He is a better Priest, with a better ministry, ministering a better covenant, established upon better promises. His role as “Mediator” reminds us of the “daysman” longed for in Job 9:32-33. Our Mediator/Daysman brings us into eternal loving peace and familial relationship with God. Job had a desire to draw near to God – to “come together in judgment” – but he lived in the time of shadows – shadows of better things to come. He had the desire to draw near to God, but not the means.

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

Hebrews 8:7

Was the old covenant wrong? No. It’s “fault” was that it was temporary and it led to what was to fulfill it. If the Old Testament Israelites had obeyed it, they would have been blessed, but it didn’t have the power to transform – to create new hearts.

Does the Law have any ministry for believers today? Yes, the righteousness of the Law should be fulfilled in us as we yield to the Holy Spirit.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:1-4

But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

I Timothy 1:8-11

What better way to draw nigh unto God than by letting Him (His Holy Spirit) completely take over? If the Spirit glorifies Christ, and we let the Spirit have control, where will we be drawn?

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

Hebrews 8:10

This shows the fulfilling of the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-34. The laws of the Old Covenant are inside Christians (Zechariah 8:8) in righteousness and in truth, as the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts and to our minds and actually lives inside us.

Lord, thank You for Your saving grace. I praise You because You can not lie, and because You do not change Your plan of salvation. Lord Jesus, we are grateful to You for making intercession for us before the Father. As You do so, let us draw ever closer and closer to You. Make me more like You today than I was yesterday. Amen.


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