Friday, 28 December 2018
…the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. Hebrews 9:8
The words here are based on what was just stated in the previous verse. Taken together, they say, “But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.”
As noted, a precept was being taught to the people through the total restriction of entry into the “second part,” meaning the Most Holy Place. As this place signifies a return to paradise that was lost at the fall of man, the people were being instructed that no return to God’s paradise was granted to the people through the Old Covenant. The cherubim on the veil symbolized the cherubim who stand guard at the entrance to Eden.
This is certain because the author says, “the Holy Spirit indicating this.” The Holy Spirit issues forth the words of Scripture, and those same words of Scripture issued forth the instructions for the priestly duties of Israel. Further, the Holy Spirit also illuminates those same words to be understood by those who pay heed. The people were being instructed that even the high priest was not granted a return to paradise because of his office. He was only allowed in to make a picture of what the coming Christ would do in reality. He went in with blood, he left after his duties were complete, and he could not enter again until the next Day of Atonement. This was to show “that the way into the Holiest of All [the Most Holy Place, symbolizing a return to paradise] was not yet made manifest.”
If the way into paradise had been made manifest, then once the rites of the high priest were complete, the veil would have been taken down and the people could have happily come streaming back in, assured of glory. But such was not the case. The high priest departed, the veil remained, and no person was authorized to enter under pain of death. This remained true the whole time that “the first tabernacle was still standing.”
Although getting ahead in the commentary, the veil is said later in Hebrews to represent the body of Christ. Also, in Matthew 27, we read this –
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.” Matthew 27:50-51
The symbolism is obvious. Christ performed the work of atonement in His suffering and death. When He died, the law died with Him (meaning the Old Covenant). That is seen in Colossians 2:14, where the law is said to be nailed to the cross. In His death, the veil (His Body) was torn. Likewise, the law, of which He is the fulfillment, was torn and ended at that time. At the same time, the veil in the temple (which was a foreshadowing of His Body) was torn from top to bottom, and thus access to Eden is restored once again for all who come through His torn Body. He is “The Way” to this restoration.
As a side note concerning this, the Talmud (an extra-biblical Jewish writing) says that the veil in the temple, which was just before the Most Holy Place, was 40 cubits (60 feet) long, 20 cubits (30 feet) wide, and the thickness of the palm of the hand. It was made of 72 squares which were joined together, and was so heavy that it needed 300 priests to manipulate it. Whether this is an accurate description or not, it was exceedingly large, and yet it was torn “from top to bottom.” Due to its height and size, no human could have done this. Whether it occurred by an earthquake cracking the mantle from which it was suspended or not (as is speculated) is irrelevant. The fact that it occurred the moment Christ died is what is of significance. God was teaching Israel a lesson concerning Christ; we are to pay heed.
Life application: Understanding what occurred in fulfillment of the Old Covenant types and shadows, no person should ever say, “We still need to observe the precepts of the Law of Moses.” The author has explained the same thing again and again. In addition to what he is saying, the words of all of the other New Testament writers are in complete agreement. And even more certain is that of the witness of the Holy Spirit – from both Testaments. We are under a New Covenant and we are in a new dispensation. To reintroduce the law is to reject the work of Christ. Who can do such a thing and be held guiltless? Come to Christ, and put away your arrogant, high handed attacks against the Lord who has already accomplished everything necessary to return His people to paradise.
Lord God, we can only look with astonishment and complete gratitude at the work which you accomplished on our behalf – the death of Jesus – which opened a restored relationship with You! And even more, the resurrection! Now we also have the hope of eternal life! Amen.