Jesus – The High Priest
The plan of salvation is laid out in the Sanctuary. God’s people have always known that God has a Sanctuary in heaven. The first earthly sanctuary built in Moses’ time was made after the pattern of the one in heaven (Exodus 25:8-9, Hebrews 8:5, 9:24). It was to be a teaching tool to show God’s people how the plan of salvation works (Psalm 77:13-15, Hebrews 9:23-28).
The New Testament also confirms this truth: “…We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man” (Hebrews 8:1-2; Psalm 102:19).
The concept of a heavenly sanctuary was not new to the Israelites, as shown by the following passages from their books of about the 1st century B.C.: “The angel opened to me the gates of heaven, and I saw the holy temple, and upon a throne of glory the Most High” (Testament of Levi 5:1; R. H. Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. 2, p. 307); “Thou gavest command to build a sanctuary in thy holy mountain, And an altar in the city of thy habitation, A copy of the holy tabernacle which thou preparedst aforehand from the beginning” (Wisdom of Solomon 9:8; ibid., p. 549).
While there were many priests in the earthly sanctuary, there was only one high priest. This high priest was a symbol of the true High Priest, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:17, 3:1, 5:5). God’s people are all called to be priests (Revelation 5:10, 20:6), but we must follow after the true High Priest (Hebrews 2:18).
In the sanctuary service, the high priest made a special intercession for God’s people that only he had the responsibility and authority to do by the sprinkling of blood from an animal sacrifice for the sins of all of God’s people (Leviticus 16:15-16). This was a symbol to the true High Priest who would shed His blood and offer it on behalf of all believers (Hebrews 9:11-15).
The sanctuaries built on earth by Moses, Solomon and Zerubbabel were all symbolic of the true Sanctuary in heaven where the Lamb of God would intercede for the sins of God’s people (John 1:29, Hebrews 7:22-27). In essence, the Sanctuary is where we come spiritually to remove sin and be washed in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14-15, 1 Peter 1:18-19). It is the place where we spiritually meet with God and receive grace and power to overcome sin.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
In His service,