What is Jesus doing in the heavenly sanctuary?

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By BibleAsk Team


Exploring what Jesus is doing in the heavenly sanctuary delves into the realm of Christian eschatology and the role of Christ as High Priest. The Bible provides numerous references that shed light on this profound topic.

Understanding the Heavenly Sanctuary

God’s way, the plan of salvation, is revealed in the earthly sanctuary. “Your way, O God, is in [a]the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God?” (Psalm 77:13, NKJV). The Bible teaches that everything in the sanctuary—the dwelling, furniture, and services—are symbols of an act Jesus did in saving us. This means we can understand the plan of redemption as we understand the symbolism linked with the sanctuary.

In the Old Testament, we find descriptions of the earthly sanctuary, a physical representation of the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:5). The earthly sanctuary consisted of two main compartments: the holy place and the most holy place (Exodus 26:33). It had two rooms: the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. A thick, heavy veil (curtain) separated the rooms. The courtyard—the area around the sanctuary (Exodus 27:18).

Similarly, the heavenly sanctuary is composed of these two compartments, with Jesus Christ serving as the High Priest (Hebrews 8:1-2).

Jesus’ Role as High Priest

Central to understanding Jesus’ activities in the heavenly sanctuary is His role as High Priest. The book of Hebrews elaborates on this, portraying Jesus as the ultimate and eternal High Priest who intercedes on behalf of believers (Hebrews 4:14-16). Unlike the Levitical priests who served in the earthly sanctuary, Jesus offers Himself as a perfect sacrifice and continually ministers in the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 7:24-25).

Entering the Most Holy Place

One significant aspect of Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary is His entry into the most holy place. In the earthly sanctuary, the high priest entered the most holy place once a year on the Day of Atonement to make atonement for the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:2). Similarly, Jesus, as the High Priest, has entered the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary to intercede for believers and apply the benefits of his sacrifice (Hebrews 9:11-12).

Interceding for Believers

A crucial aspect of Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary is His ongoing intercession for believers. The book of Hebrews emphasizes this, stating that Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him because He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25). Through His intercessory work, Jesus advocates for believers before the Father, presenting His sacrifice as the basis for their forgiveness and acceptance (1 John 2:1-2).

The Bible says that it is not a dead but a living Christ upon whom we depend. It is not only a living Christ but a Christ enthroned in power. It is not only a Christ in power but a Christ of saving love, who ever lives to make intercession in the heavenly sanctuary for His struggling people (Hebrews 7:25). The Lord gives the assurance that nothing can separate the Christian from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35).

Mediating the New Covenant

Another vital function of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary is His mediation of the New Covenant. The book of Hebrews contrasts the Old Covenant, which was mediated by the blood of animals in the earthly sanctuary, with the New Covenant, which is established on better promises through the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:6-7). Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary ensures the efficacy and permanence of the New Covenant, providing believers with access to God’s grace and forgiveness (Hebrews 9:15).

Applying the Benefits of His Sacrifice

As the High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, Jesus applies the benefits of his sacrifice to believers. Hebrews describes Jesus as having obtained eternal redemption for believers through His own blood (Hebrews 9:12). Through His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, Jesus continually offers the merits of his sacrifice, providing believers with forgiveness, cleansing, and sanctification (Hebrews 10:19-22).

This must not be taken to mean that God the Father needs to be persuaded to do good things for His people, for it was He who so loved the world that He gave His only Son (John 3:16). The nature of this divine intercession may, perhaps, be illustrated by Christ’s intercessory prayer for His disciples (John 17:11, 12, 24).

Conquering Sin and Satan

Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary also involves the defeat of sin and Satan. The book of Hebrews declares that Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has destroyed the power of the devil and delivered believers from bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15). In the heavenly sanctuary, Jesus enacts the final victory over sin and Satan, ensuring the ultimate triumph of God’s kingdom (Hebrews 9:26).

The Scriptures picture all of heaven continually at work to save the God’s children. It teaches of the work of the Father in calling, justifying, and glorifying. It describes the leading and intercession of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The angels are represented as ministering spirits, who are “sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). The Godhead could do nothing more. If a man is eternally lost, it can only be the result of his own decision to resist and reject the Lord’s loving call and power to save.

Preparing for His Second Coming

Additionally, Jesus’ activities in the heavenly sanctuary include preparing for His second coming. The book of Hebrews portrays Jesus as the forerunner who has entered the heavenly sanctuary on behalf of believers (Hebrews 6:20). Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary signals the culmination of God’s redemptive plan and His imminent return to establish His kingdom (Hebrews 9:28).

Conclusion: The Hope of Glory

In conclusion, the New Testament provides a profound portrayal of Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary after He sacrificed His life on the cross, representing the Old Testament sacrifices in the court yard. As the eternal High Priest, Jesus intercedes for believers, mediates the New Covenant, applies the benefits of his sacrifice, conquers sin and Satan, and prepares for His second coming.

Through His ongoing ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, Jesus perfects the believers and offers the hope of glory. As Hebrews 12:2 encourages us, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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