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?

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  1. […] went into the Old Covenant sanctuary to make sacrifices. These sacrifices had to be repeated time and time again, but the New Covenant […]

  2. […] to draw near to God, and, even in our preparations, we are already “near,” but, as the shadows of the Old Covenant are fulfilled in the New, the sprinkling of the blood of animals becomes the sprinkling of our hearts from an evil […]

  3. […] (Hebrews 7) 24. The Meaning, Majesty, Ministry, and Maintenance of the Mediator (Hebrews 8) 25. The Old Covenant Sanctuary and the New Covenant Sanctuary (Hebrews 9) 26. The Greatest Sacrifice (Hebrews 10) 27. The Danger of Slandering God (Hebrews 10) […]


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