And I’m Tyler.
This is Scripture Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.
Today, Hebrews 7-13.
This is a very powerful set of chapters that we’re going to cover today. These are important concepts. We’re going to begin talking about the priesthood, and we’re going to talk about tabernacle temple symbolism. Again, remember from last episode when we talked in the first half of Hebrews about the greater-than concept, how the savior is greater than. Concept, how the savior is greater than. All of these things that the Hebrews, more specifically probably the Judaismizers, are holding near and dear. It’s beautiful to watch as we jump into the second half. This one to me is a lot more applicable to us today to see the relevance of what God has given to us and to keep things in their proper perspective and order so that we don’t focus too much energy and attention on the wrong things. Let’s begin with the priesthood, where he begins in verse 1 and 2 of chapter 7. Keep in mind his audience, what they understand is the Levitical priesthood. What those priests do in the temple, it is the pinnacle rites, the pinnacle ordinances of their religion. They see that as the end-all, be-all. Paul and others, whoever is involved in writing this epistle, they’re making it very clear that there is an inequality.
Something is greater than this priesthood and those ordinances that are being performed by even your high priest, and we pick that up in verse 1.
I can imagine how exciting this would be for a Jewish Christian to hear this for the first time. But you’ve grown up in that Jewish religion. You’ve seen the power and the meaning in the temple rituals, and you understand them. Suddenly you realize, Wait, there’s more. It’s like a great book you’ve read, and it just keeps on giving. I guess that sounds like the scriptures.
Sounds just like the scriptures. Verse 1, for this Melchizedek, King of Salem, priest of the most high God who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the Kings and blessed him to whom also Abraham gave a 10th part of all. This King of Salem or King of Peace, that’s what Salomir, shalom, means, he received tithing from Abraham. Watch what happens. This is an important pedigree. You have Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel, who has the 12 tribes and these first sons, Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah. We’re going to focus on Levi for a moment, down the line from Levi 400 years, you get Aaron and Moses. Then Aaron’s posterity, they become priests. Levi’s posterity coming down the line, those are the Levis. This is where the priesthood resides, as in that third son of Jacob. Now, with this pedigree on the board, you’ll notice Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, who is not a part of this same family. He’s not a part of the House of Israel. He’s above it. He’s separate. He’s distinct. This epistle is making this very clear in chapter 7 that you’re looking at this priesthood as the end-all, be-all, the priesthood of Levi or Levitical priesthood.
You’re seeing how we’re setting them up to say, Oh, wait, there is something greater than what we currently have.
It reminds me of the Book of Abraham and the Perlgrape Price. When Abraham himself is in Egypt, he’s teaching principles of the Gospel, using the principle of greater than, trying to convince the people there that there is greater than what they even recognize, and he’s using the principles of astronomy. He’s like, well, you might think the moon is amazing, but there’s something greater than that. It’s called the sun. But then there’s something greater than that. He talks about Kolob and then eventually the throne of God. You get these concepts that there are great things, but eventually there’s greater than. We could even expand the board and say for Melchizedek, there is greater than all the way until we come to Jesus Christ and the throne of God.
Which some of you are thinking, so why should I care about this? I think one of the takeaway principles, at least for me, one way to look at this is sometimes we get so excited about a certain practice or policy or procedure that sometimes we artificially elevate it or make it bigger than it was intended to be in the bigger scheme of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and through the history of time. That’s what’s going on here. Look at verse 4 and 5. Now, consider how great this man was unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the 10th of the spoils. And verily, they that are of the sons of Levi, who received the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take ties of the people according to the law, that is, of their brother, though they came out of the loins of Abraham. He’s saying, look, the sons of Levi, they’re taking tithes from the Jews, from the people, but the great-grandfather paid tithes to Melchizedek. There’s the line of reasoning here. Now, you jump down to verse 11, If therefore perfection were by this Levitical priesthood, for under it, the people received the law, that’s where the law of Moses was given under this Levitical priesthood.
Why? Because Aaron’s brother is named Moses, the law of Moses, and Moses is of the tribe of Levi. What further need was there that another priest should arise after the order of Melchizedek and not be called after the order of Aaron? He’s saying, Look, there is another priest that’s arrived, and by the way, he’s not from the tribe of Levi. It tells us this, look at verse 14, For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood. Here’s Judah, the younger brother to Levi in these 12 sons of Jacob. Judah is sitting right there, and he tells you there’s nothing. Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood when it came to Judah. In fact, Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood on any of the 11 tribes except for Levi. That’s it. Now let’s contrast in this inequality or greater than you could say the Melchizedek priesthood is greater than the Levitical or erotic priesthood. Aaron, Levi, Levitical, erotic. Why? He gives you the reason why here in verse 20 and 21, In as much as not without an oath, he was made priest, for those priests were made without an oath.
There is no oath associated with the erotic priesthood, but with the Melchizedek priesthood, there is an oath and a covenant. It’s a higher priesthood. It’s a higher power. It’s more access to heaven’s capacity, to heaven’s authority to do God’s work on the earth that has been given to people to accomplish those missions. That Oath and the covenant of the priesthood, if you cross-reference that verse right there, 21, with Doctrine and Covenants, Section 84, verse 33-40. Look at what the wording in those verses shows about this oath and the Covenant that are attached to this higher or greater-than-priesthood that we’re talking about here in this chapter, which now brings us to verse 22. He says, By so much was Jesus made assuredly of a better testament. Now, the word here, testament, is the exact same word diath A-K in the Greek as the word covenant. In fact, diath A-K is translated as testament here in verse 22. But in chapter 8, verse 8, 9, 10, you’re going to see the word covenant show up multiple times? It’s the exact same word in the Greek. The King James translators chose to use testament in chapter 7 and covenant in chapter eight, but it’s the same word.
It’s the same word for the New Testament. It’s the new covenant. The old covenant, the new covenant, old New Testament. It’s interchangeable, which now, if you translate that back into the priesthood context, the oath and covenant of the priesthood, it’s the oath and the testament of the priesthood. It’s all the same word as far as the Greek is concerned.
Abraham is this key character throughout scriptures. If you go back to Genesis 15, that is where God secures what we might call the Old Testament or the Old Covenant. He secures it with blood. It’s a passage that sometimes is confusing, but what happens is God has made promises to Abraham. This key character here says, There’s all these great things I will do for you, Abraham, and to demonstrate that I will obligate, I, God will obligate myself to you and your posterity to make these blessings available, we’re going to cut some animals in half and I’m going to walk the path, symbolized by a burning torch. The New Covenant, you now have, that was Jehovah in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, he shows up again, enflashed, and he allows his body to be the lamb who dies, comes back and he now secures the updated covenant, which is building upon these promises to Abraham that the opportunity for salvation is freely offered to everybody who chooses to be in league with Jesus. It’s a free gift. When we talk about Old Testament and New Covenant or Old Testament and New Testament, Old Covenant, New Covenant, that’s what we’re talking about.
Frankly, they’re not different. One was for one generation and that was the Old Testament. Now the New Covenant, the New Testament, it is for our generation, our time. And Jesus has secured both. So both Old Testament and New Testament both matter.
That is a beautiful insight. This messenger of the Covenant, this mediator of the covenant being Christ, as you’re showing Jehovah in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ in the New or New Covenant. And look at verse 24, But this man, because he continuous ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. You’ll notice the Levitical or eronic priesthood doesn’t have those same promises attached to it, the same unchangeableness attached to it as the higher priesthood does. Wherefore, he, Christ, is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever to make intercession for them. Isn’t that the essence of what the priesthood is? Is to the person who is functioning in a priesthood office, in a priesthood calling, or with the power of the priesthood in different settings. Is that not the essence of what is happening? They’re becoming Christ-like in that they’re taking on this role of an intercessor, a mediator. They’re serving, they’re appealing to God in behalf of an individual or a group of people. They’re performing some ordinance, they’re blessing, they’re lifting, they’re healing, they’re helping, they’re ministering to. It’s powerful. When you see that priesthood isn’t about what can I get from God through priesthood, it’s how can I become more like Christ by turning outward after having turned heavenward to say, What would thou have me do?
Thy will not mine be done, and to then minister to the needs of people around me in an inter-industry, a way.
The invitation is for us to strive to be more like Jesus, who is currently greater than, but the promise, the invitation is all of us can be as He is. But until then, we see in verse 26, For such a high priest became us, so Jesus, formerly Jehovah, in the Old Testament, now has become in flesh like a human who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and made higher than the heavens. Remember, the book of Hebrews, major theme is greater than. Jesus is greater than all of it. Verse 27, Who needeth not daily as those high priests to offer up sacrifice first for his own sins and then for the peoples. For this he did once when he offered up himself. The Levitical priesthood had a whole set of rituals about seeking atonement, killing animals, and then the high priests going into the Holy of Holies once a year. What we’re learning here is that Jesus did that once for all of us. There’s no need to reenact the high priests bringing blood into the Holy of Holies. Jesus is that high priest. He brought his own blood into the Holy of Holies and thereby invited all of us in.
Which now brings us to chapter 8, verse 1. Remember, again, we’ve mentioned this many times before, the chapter breaks. Those are our modern additions. This letter originally was just a letter, so it would go straight from verse 28 in chapter 7 to verse 1 of chapter 8. Look at the opening here of verse 1. Now, of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum. There are many ways that you can draw people’s attention to a summary statement. In the Book of Mormon, for instance, Mormon often will use the phrase, thus we see. It’s this draw your attention to a lesson that he’s hoping you gain from everything he just got through writing. In this case, this is the sum. Thus, we see, of everything we’ve been talking about up to this point, don’t miss this point right here. 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, not man.
We’re not talking about the tabernacle that existed out in the wilderness that eventually became the built temple in Jerusalem. All good. We’re not trying to disparage any of that. Those are all good things, but there’s a greater than.
I love that comparison to say to the Hebrews in this first-century context, you love the high priest, and he should be respected and revered. It’s not a bad thing. But we have a high priest that is greater than the high priest in Jerusalem. Your high priest has to perform sacrifices to go into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement. But he’s saying, Jesus Christ, the son of God, this new high priest of the New Covenant of a different order of priesthood that comes with an authentic covenant, he performed a sacrifice that didn’t involve animals, it involved himself, and thus passed into the presence of Majesty on high. Remember what happened at the crucifixion of Christ? The veil of the temple was rent, ripped from top to bottom, a heavenly ripping as Christ goes in. We’ll talk a lot more about that when we get to chapter 10. Now, when you jump down to verse 5, you’ll see that there are priests, officializing the ordinances of the Levitical or erotic priesthood in the temple. He describes these priests in verse 5, They 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 showed to thee in the mount. Everything you see in that temple, the sacrifices, the rituals, the ordinancees, the seven candles of the candorabra, the altar of incense before the veil, the table of showbread. All of those are a pattern, a type, a shadow of heavenly things. They’re not the heavenly things. They’re just a placeholder for those heavenly things, symbolic.
What’s also significant here is the writers of the Epistle of Hebrews are not only speaking to people with a Jewish background, but these are people who’ve grown up also in a Greco-Roman environment. There’s a particular scientific worldview at that time that’s been dominated by the thinking of Plato and Aristotle that assumes that the heavens contain totality and perfection. This world is simply a shadow of things that are greater. The writers here are both calling upon the memory of the Old Testament and also appealing to people’s understanding of how the world is to convince them that that heavenly world that you have heard about is greater than anything you’ve seen here, and Jesus is the way. He is the one who has shown us how to get out of the shadow world and get into full reality, which is in heaven.
Which, by the way, is the covenant path. That’s how we get on this journey from where we are to the real thing. We pick that up. Look at verse 6 and 7. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry by how much also he is a mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. You’ll notice in verse 6, it used that word better. This is a better covenant. How is it better? Well, the Old Covenant, the Old Testament, allowed for one man, the high priest, once a year to go into the presence of God, and everybody else had to be out there with him mediating and taking our prayers and our desires to God. Why is it a better covenant? Because now everybody gets to symbolically come into the presence of God, have table fellowship with him once a week at the sacrament table. In a more beautiful way, those who are willing to make and keep covenants at a higher level with him, it’s not just one man once a year. Anybody who’s willing to make and keep those covenants, live those standards that he has outlined for us, they’re all invited to come into our modern-day equivalent of the ancient tabernacle, first century temple, Holy of Holies being the celestial room in the temple of our God.
Everyone who is willing to enter into a covenant with him and keep those commitments is invited to come in, and not just once a year.
We should mention again, this important point of sacrament. Every week it’s made available. In the ancient world, table fellowship or having a meal with people was crucially important. In the ancient world, you wouldn’t have meals with your enemies. You would have meals with those that you are bound to in a covenantal relationship with, that you’re at peace with. Consider this. Every week, God invites you into his house to have table fellowship. Every week, he declares, I’m not at war with you. I am at peace with you. I am serving you the emblems of my peace. I invite you to also demonstrate that you’re not at war with me by receiving these emblems of peace. Every week, no matter what we’ve done, we’ve all failed during the week. God knows it. But he’s saying, It’s okay. I want to stay in relationship with you and please demonstrate that you also are working and making effort to stay in relationship with me. Even though you’re not perfect, you need to practice to get better. The only way to practice is to deal with failure. I have given you an opportunity to have that failure blotted out every single week.
It’s so simple and so powerful.
It is so powerful. Now, as you look at the rest of chapter 8, so from verse 8 through verse 13, it might be beneficial for you and your scriptures to do a deeper dive and mark every time you see the word covenant and take it personally. Don’t read this from arm’s length and picture antiquity, picture saints 2,000 years ago learning these principles. Picture the relevance, the sense of timeliness and urgency for us today in the assignments that we have been given by God to gather all of the people that we possibly can on both sides of the veil into this covenant with God and jointly with us. Look at starting in verse 8, For finding fault with them, he saith, ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah. Back in the second half of the Old Testament, remember, you had the split kingdom, the Kingdom of Israel, the Kingdom of Judah. He’s saying, That covenant that was given originally to Abraham and then renewed with Isaac and Jacob, it’s for all of the House of Israel. Then he says, Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, the Mosaic covenant, because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord, 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. Pause here. You’ll notice what’s happening in the spreading of the gospel today in our day. I could be totally wrong on this, but it’s my observation, it’s my assumption that we have more people who are learning more of the scriptures and more of the words of God and listening more to the prophets and apostles, sears, and revelators than ever in the history of the world. That’s my perspective. Look what he says here. God is going to put His laws into their mind and write them in their hearts. What does that lead to? Look at the wording here. And I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people. That nutshell definition of what the Abrahamic covenant and every covenant that’s ever existed at the bottom layer of all those details of the covenants, you find that statement, I will be your God. You will be my people. That’s what all covenants are. They’re these connecting points between heaven and earth, which now brings you to verse 11.
Yeah, I love how it goes on and says, Because this knowledge will be spread everywhere and they shall not teach every man his neighbor. Essentially, we won’t need missionaries anymore, even Sunday school. Now, we’re not there yet, but eventually, Because they will know the Lord for all shall know me from the least to the greatest. This next verse, one of my favorites, Farewell, worth marking, for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. God is not saying, Oh, and by the way, I’m going to be so surprised when you guys make mistakes. I’m going to be really fed up and angry and upset. He says, No, I will be merciful. I will be merciful. Remember, chassad, this ancient Hebrew word, is the essence of this covenant that is God’s loving, kindness and mercy that he extends unfailingly and ever-lastingly to you no matter what you’ve done, where you are, no matter your station in life, that is the gift that God has promised. His end of the bargain is to always offer you mercy. And like we go to the sacramat table, we receive those peace offerings, and in return we obligate ourselves to him in relationship.
That’s all he wants. He wants to be in relationship with us.
I love this. Often, we as human beings, we complicate things. We make them more complex than they need to be, or we overemphasize certain attributes of the gospel and minimize others. I love the simplicity of this covenant as it’s outlined from verse 8 through verse 13, to the degree where every time I go to the sacrament meeting and those priests kneel down and bless the emblems of the sacrament and the deacons deliver that to the congregation. It’s an opportunity for each of us, for me and you to make a new covenant again. But what is it? Sometimes we want to be better. We want to be more engaged in keeping our gospel covenants, our gospel commitments, keeping the commandments better. But we sometimes don’t know how. I’m a big fan and a firm believer in that simple yet profound statement by President Boyd K. Packer years ago when he said, True doctrine understood changes, attitudes, and behavior. A study of the doctrines of the Gospel will change behavior quicker than a study of behavior will change behavior. Instead of focusing on the surface, I love this because it gets us down into the heart of the matter to say, When I’m sitting in a sacrant meeting or when I go to the temple, instead of treating going to church and going to the temple as just socially acceptable things for a member of the church to do to check off a box, but rather to say, I am going to make a covenant.
I’m going to connect with God. What does that mean? It means as I’m sitting there in sacrant meeting or in the temple, my thoughts can be elevated to the degree where I’m saying, Dear God on high, I want thee to be my God, and I want to be thy faithful son. But I’m not very good at this. Please help me. Please forgive me. Please strengthen me. Help me to be an instrument in thy hands to reflect thy love, thy goodness, thy light into as many lives, into as many corners as I can to be a mediator for thy goodness in this covenantal connection that I’m not just renewing, but strengthening every time I go to the temple, every time I go to the sacrament table. These are powerful, powerful verses to study deeply on your own.
So scripture has been lovingly preserved over centuries, and I can imagine that this one in particular was chosen because of its thrilling nature and its clarity for helping us to understand not only is Jesus greater than all, he descended below all things that he might uplift us that we also can be greater than. And of all the teaching and all the preaching that happened in the ancient times 2,000 years ago, the ancient inspired Christians realized that this was one of the best representations to clearly witness of the work of Jesus Christ and his invitation for all of us to be aligned with him in covenantal union.
This now shifts gears in this next section to the tabernacle, where he’s going to discuss the significance of those elements in the tabernacle. If we just draw a very simple representation of the tabernacle here, you have the minora, you have the altar of incense, you have the table of showbread here, you have the labor and the altar in the outer courtyard, and here’s the east gate. In here, we have the Holy of Holies with the Ark of the Covenant, the holiest of all.
A couple of these items. The minora represents the light of Jehovah that led the Israelis through the wilderness. The showbread represents the manna that sustained the people and took care of their hunger and invited them into relationship with God. This incense represented the prayers that went up to God. Of course, the Ark of the Covenant is where the law of Moses was written on tablets, and it was God’s sign to say, I’m in covenantal relationship with you, and here’s the covenantal instructions I expect you to live. We’re going to put the wholedo you spot this covenantal agreement.
On top of that Ark of the Covenant are the two cherubim, which represent the Mercy seat or the symbolic throne of God. You’re in the presence of God, and inside of that chest, you have the of Aaron, you have a pot of manna, and those two tablets of the law that Moses received on.
Mount Sinai. Now we’re going to talk about all these, and we’re going to hear how Jesus, all these awesome things, Jesus is greater than.
Verse 1, Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service and a worldly sanctuary.
Or this tabernacle.
For there was a tabernacle made. The first wearing was the candlestick—that’s the minora or the candelabra—and the table and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary. After the second veil, the tabernacle, which is called the holiest of all, that would be the Holy of Holies, which had the golden sensor and the arc of the covenant overlaid roundabout with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had mana and Aaron’s rod that budded and the tables of the Covenant. Over it, the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat of which we cannot now speak particularly because they haven’t had the Ark of the Covenant for over seven centuries. Seven or eight hundred years previous to the time of Christ, we’ve lost the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark of the Covenant was lost when the Babylonians, around 587 BC, came to Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, and the Ark was lost to memory. Of course, there’s a really popular movie that claims that it’s in some US government warehouse.
Yes, verse 7. 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. Now, just a quick reminder of what’s going on with these sacrifices and the blood, because when you perform certain sacrifices following the directions in the Book of Leviticus, you would sprinkle blood or smear blood on the altar’s horns on the four corners or on the base of the corners of the altar outside the altar of sacrifice, rather. But then on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, which happens in late September, early October every year, depending on the lunar calendar, the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies with a basin filled with blood from the sacrifice that was performed. This is where all of the symbolism of the scapegoat comes in and the sacrifice of the heifer. He would come in because they have a belief about that blood. The blood would then be sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant back in the tabernacle when they had the Ark of the Covenant, and in the time of Christ, when there is no more Ark inside of the Holy of Holies, the high priest would still sprinkle the blood on the stone where the Ark would have rested.
The belief is that wherever the blood of that sacrifice lands, it doesn’t stain, it actually purifies and cleanses. When the priest in the Old Testament would sprinkle the blood out on the people instead of trying to avoid it and not get touched by that blood, you would want to be touched by that blood. You would want the blood on the land because it was seen as a purifying, cleansing element, not a defiling or staining element. You see that symbolism in multiple places in the scriptures when it talks about washing our garments white or making them clean through what? What is the cleansing agent that’s always listed? It’s the blood of the lamb. There’s nothing more staining to white clothing than blood, and yet the irony is it’s the blood of the lamb that becomes this most profound cleansing agent better than Fuller’s soap to clean the clothing.
Why blood? One reason is that it is the life force. People understood this anciently. No blood, no life. We want you to consider this a bit more. God offers you life through his blood. These ancient rituals were all meant to symbolize the life that is offered because of blood, that blood ultimately is the source of life, symbolically, meaning it symbolizes the real source of life, God himself.
Now you pick up verse 8, The Holy Ghost, this signifying. The Spirit is testifying that what we’re teaching is true, he’s saying, that the way… Notice those two words. The way. Remember John 14:6, Jesus telling his apostles, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Where’s the Father? Symbolically in the Holy of Holies. No one gets there but by me. He is our high priest who opens the way. Now, watch this. We’ve talked about this back in the Book of Mormon, when we did Second, Ephi 31. This symbolism is incredibly connected to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, those first principles and ordinances of the Gospel. If you consider coming in the outer courtyard as an expression of your faith in Christ, that brings you to the altar. This is the way, the way back into the presence of God. Have faith in Christ, repent of your sins, symbolically represented by the altar of sacrifice, where the natural instincts inside of us have to be sacrificed. They have to be consumed. They have to be burned, purified.
The Great Lamanight King says, I will give all of my sins away to know thee. You have to drop everything here in order to get in.
And then you come to the labor, and it’s not a big baptismal font, it’s a washing, and there’s some oil for anointing on that labor as well. But it’s a beautiful symbol in the metaphorical realm here of our baptismal covenant, where we enter in now to the church or the holy place into this relationship with the Godhead, relying on the Holy Ghost, the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking, seeking, knocking at the veil, and feasting upon the words of Christ at the table of showbread, the scriptures, the words of the prophets, patriarchal blessings, things, the counsel of wise people, incredibly inspired books, other things. We keep going through this process until the day comes when that veil opens up, allowing us to enter into the presence of God. The amazing thing to me is Jesus didn’t just come to Earth and go straight here. He showed us what this path looked like. He is the way. He marked the way. He demonstrated exactly how we do this. He didn’t just teach us about it. He showed us.
We have this phrase, enduring to the end. Sometimes we think, Well, that’s negative. I just got to somehow to suffer. But endure means to become hard or strong. We’re being strengthened over time and becoming like God as we seek to be in His presence.
From the bird’s eye view, like we’ve shared, like I said back in second Samuel 31, from the bird’s eye view, this looks like inside the church, the holy place symbolically represented here, it does look like you’re going in circles. You’re doing the same things again and again and again and again. But if you look from a side view, you recognize that it’s actually more beautifully symbolized by a spiral staircase. Hopefully, you’re not just going through the motions. Hopefully, you’re actually doing those things through the power of God, and in the process, we’re becoming more and more like God. Which brings us now, look at verse 11. But Christ being come and 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, 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 sanctifyeth 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.
That whole sequence of three or four verses right there is so powerful. When you look at it in the context of the Old Testament with the New Testament with Christ being willing to fulfill the law of Moses, not destroy it, fulfill it. But how did he fulfill it? He placed his whole will on the altar of God and allowed his own blood to be shed so that when he goes into the holiest place, the Holy of Holies, the presence of God, he’s not carrying the blood of goats or of lambs. He’s bringing his own offering of the blood that was shed. It’s such a powerful reminder. Every time we go to the sacrament table, we get a little cup of water lest we forget the price that was paid by Christ for us. Now we pull it together. Remember, this is the sum. This chapter right here, this is the sum of everything that this epistle has been teaching up to these points.
Of course, this epistle says in Chapter 13, verse 22, this 13 chapters is simply a brief word of exhortation. What I love about that is there’s so much powerful goodness to share about Jesus that even 13 chapters is considered brief to declare the awesomeness of God. I love it.
That’s powerful. Now, look at verse 15. For this cause, he is the mediator of the New Testament, or we could say the New Covenant. It’s the same word again. That by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant or first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. Brothers and sisters, there was no promise of eternal inheritance attached to that Levitical Old Testament or Old Covenant law. It was all a symbolic placeholder until the real thing would actually come, embodies in the being of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the messenger of the covenant, the mediator of this new covenant from God.
In these next couple of verses, we should set just a little bit of context. If you imagine today, somebody before they die writes a Last, Will and Testament about what they expect to happen with their resources when they pass on. Now, if the person has not passed on, you can’t just go grab all of their resources. For example, when my grandparents died in their Last, Will and Testament, they passed on their house to my mother and her siblings. Now, my mom and her siblings did not go and take the house while her parents were still alive. When the parents had passed on, when my grandparents had passed on, then the will stipulated this resource, this house now becomes the property of these children. Again, the person who has the will and testament has to die in order for that agreement to be enforced. Now, Jesus owns everything, and in his will, he said, I am going to give everything away to everybody, but he has to die in order for the will to take effect. That’s what we’re going to see here in the next two verses.
Verse 16 says, For where a testament is or a covenant, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator, or the person who is making this covenant. Joseph Smith changed the word there in verse 16 from testator to the word victim. Look at verse 17, For a testament is of force after men are dead, otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Which brings us now to verse 18 and 19, whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood, for when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats with water and scarlet wool and hisp and sprinkled both the book and all the people. Once again, when he would sprinklele all the people with the blood mixed with that water and hisp and other things, it wasn’t this, Oh, no, now I’m stained. It was this glorious, I have the blood of these sacrificial animals on me. It will purify me and my family and my house. It was seen as a sanctifying thing, totally opposite of how we would look at being sprinkled by blood today.
Now, verse 21 and 22, Moreover, he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry, and almost all things are, by the law, purged with blood. They’re cleansed, they’re purified with that blood, and without shedding of blood is no remission. Isn’t that fascinating? Before you and I can be made clean, now we take this Old Testament practice of sprinkling blood of the sacrifice, and we translate it now into the New Testament of Christ shedding His blood so that we can now wash our garments pure, spotless, and white in the blood of the lamb that was slain for us. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these that heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 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. He had to shed His blood to then resurrect and ascend into heaven. He, God, Jehovah, condescended, took upon Him flesh, took upon Him blood, shed that blood so that he could then resurrect and ascend back to heaven.
Remember, every time we talk about resurrected bodies, it’s never bodies of flesh and blood. Blood is an earthly, mortal element. It brings mortal life, not eternal life. You don’t have blood. You’re quickened by the Spirit in the resurrected form. It’s a body of flesh and bone is how it’s always referred to in scriptures.
And the word quick and means to be alive.
To be alive. It’s this incredible element, blood, this mortal symbol that brings us life. We don’t live without it, and we don’t live eternally unless Christ is willing to give up that which gave him mortal life, his blood, and he was willing to shed it and lay down his life freely. And verse 26, For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world. But now, once in the end of the world, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. He doesn’t have to keep performing atoning sacrifice for us. He did it once. It was an infinite and an eternal sacrifice that has effect across space and time for all who are willing to embrace that covenant with Him. Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Powerful promise there, which brings us to, in my mind, one of the most incredibly profound chapters of scripture as far as the practicality of our covenant path progression back into the presence of God. Let’s begin with chapter 10, verse 1 here.
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, everything’s symbolic, it’s a metaphor, and not the very image of the things can never, with those sacrifices, which they offered year by year, continually make the comers their unto perfect.
The comers would be the worshippers, meaning this process of worshippers coming here, as good as this is, the ancient tavernacle itself doesn’t ultimately save you. It’s Jesus. Now, this process is beneficial, but don’t replace the process with the product and the individual, Jesus, who makes the product possible.
Just like for us, when I go to a sacrament meeting, I don’t look at that piece of bread and that cup of water and think that those two elements are going to save me. Those, like verse 1, are a shadow of the real thing. They’re emblems of the body and blood of our savior and our redeemer. Look at verse 3, But in those sacrifices, there is a remembrance again, made of sins every year. We go to remember what happened to redeem us. Verse 4, It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. They’re just placeholders. We could add today, since we don’t go to sacrifice meeting, we go to sacrament meeting, we could say, It is not possible that the blood or that the bread and the water would take away sins. They’re placeholders, they’re symbols to connect us in a new covenant with God through the blood and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He is the one who saves us by offering us these reminders and help us to remember always Him and what He has done. Now let’s jump over to verse 10. By the witch will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Isn’t that fascinating? He allows us to now make an offering. What is that offering? It’s the body of Jesus Christ, Jesus who did that once for all. He made His offering. Now we go and remember that offering by partaking of that bread and that water. By going to the temple and going on a symbolic journey, and we replay it again and again and again lest we forget what he has done.
Yes, we’ll jump down to verse 16 and 17. This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord. I will put my laws into their hearts and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now we’ve heard this phrase just a few chapters ago. It’s being repeated because it’s so important to remember. Of all the things that you might walk away with today, I individually hope that you walk away with this, that Christ who is above all, he will remember your sins and iniquities no more, that his everlasting mercy and kindness is immediately accessible and available to you today.
Now, this leads us to a beautiful… One of the most beautiful principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that perhaps gets overshadowed by others, and it’s the principle of forgiveness. Now, you’ll notice there’s the principle of repentance. That’s us with the grace of Christ working through that process to repent, to turn to God, to change our mind, to change the way we think, change the way we feel. That’s the repentance process. But then there’s forgiveness that comes. Verse 18, Now, where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Once forgiveness is granted, he’s saying, There’s no more offering for that sin. We can let it go. Yet, we as human beings, how often do we keep beating ourselves up for things that we did wrong, even after we have felt that sweet, grace-filled forgiveness coming from God and in certain situations from priesthood authorities who have worked with us through that process and told us that we are forgiven. Yet some people still struggle thinking I’ve got to repent more. They emphasize the principle of repentance rather than trusting in the grace of God and the principle of forgiveness. One of his greatest attributes is his mercy, his willingness to forgive us.
Sometimes we’re not willing to forgive ourselves and we’re not willing to move forward. But stop and think about what that does on this covenant path journey forward. If I keep going back and I keep returning back to what I did wrong in the past and I won’t forgive myself, even if God has forgiven me, it’s stifling my forward progress because I keep looking back. It’s as if I have this negative anchor holding me back on my Covenant Path progression. I am so grateful for all of God’s mercy and His grace and His attributes. But one of them that I am the most grateful for is His willingness to not hold me hostage to my past mistakes so that I can spend my time turning to Him, repenting, meaning changing how I think and feel and focus on Him today, not focus on when I was 16 and what I did wrong or when I was 25 or so on and so forth. But I can move forward.
I use this example. Imagine that you have taken out a very large loan from a bank so you can have a home to live in. You’ve been dutifully paying off that mortgage, that home debt over years, but it’s still a large amount. Then somebody who loves you comes and pays off the debt, gives the rest of the money to the bank, and the bank says, You are free and clear. The house is yours. Yet you feel like, No, I don’t deserve this. I’m going to continue to pay money to the bank, and I’m going to make my life hard. I’m going to take on a second job so I can pay even more money to the bank. The bank’s like, No, this is taken care of. That’s a very mundane example. But the debt has been paid. Once you’ve been forgiven, you do not need to pay the price again and again. Now, the reality is sometimes the memory of past pains comes to our minds. I think that’s in my mind, that is to help us to avoid those circumstances again in the future. But don’t pay a debt any more than has already been paid off and has already and is no more owed.
God has paid everything and when he has given you full forgiveness, you don’t need to pay a greater price.
Which brings us to two of the most profound verses in the entire New Testament, possibly even the entire scripture, canon, verse 19 and 20. Having therefore, brethren, boldness. You’ll notice we have this license or this authority, if you look at that Greek footnote there, to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. We can go into the Holy of Holies with boldness, not cowering, not fearful, not trembling, not, I don’t belong here because of all these bad things I’ve done. We let the savior pay those debts. We drop them at his feet. He changes us. Now we can come in with boldness. How do we get in there? Verse 20, by a new and living way. It’s not an old and dead way. It’s a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us through the veil. That is to say, his flesh. You’re in the holy place living by the light of the Holy Ghost, by the Spirit. You’re asking, seeking, you’re knocking at that veil, you’re feasting on the words of Christ, pressing forward with a steadfast faith in Christ. That veil represents the flesh of Christ. When you go to the temple and you go on that covenant journey symbolically, metaphorically, from a fallen state to that glorified state that Christ offers to all of us as joint heirs with him, you can’t get into the presence of God on your own.
You can only get in through Christ. You come unto Christ. He is symbolized in every element of that journey. He’s the outer gate, faith in Christ, the door. I am the door. He is the symbolic fulfillment of the altar of sacrifice. There’s no person who has sacrificed more than he did. He is symbolized by the cleanliness, the purification of the labor, this living water that can take away the stain and the soil of our mortal struggles. He’s symbolically represented by all of these elements in here. Now you get to the veil. Christ has been in and through, and now we go through the veil to get into the presence of God. Remember what happened at the crucifixion? The veil was ripped. Christ’s body was torn for us in that process, which becomes the ultimate gateway for us to get into heaven through Him, the high priest.
This phrase, boldness to enter, we have the opposite today. We have this idea of imposter syndrome. Many people feel like they don’t belong or they’ve been received opportunities that they don’t qualify for. This phrase, imposter syndrome. If the writer of Hebrews was here today, he might use that phrase and say, You don’t have to have imposter syndrome because when you were baptized, you took upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ. That gives you the authority to be in the presence of God. If you try to go in on your own name, you would be an imposter. But with Jesus Christ, you do not need to experience imposter syndrome.
I love that. You can be bold. Let us draw near with a true heart and full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. You’re seeing the Old Testament, the old covenant elements being repackaged, presented in a new way, which is beautifully symbolic of our temple endowment.
The endowment presentation has been clarified to help people more clearly see how the symbols point to Jesus Christ. We should expect change. We are part of a living church. Things that are dead don’t change. Things that are alive are continuously growing, evolving, changing. We declare with boldness that we are part of a living church because we are part of the body of Christ.
Then if you turn the page over here, verse 23 down through 30, give us some further instructions as to how we should act now on our covenant journey. Also some cautions. Verse 26 If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. It’s this idea of where much is given, much is required. You can’t start on this journey, get all of these blessings and this endowment of power and then say, okay, but I want to enjoy the desires, appetites and passions of a fallen world.
If you are in covenant and choose to leave the covenant, you will lose access to the blessings. But the power is from God. If you choose to reenter the covenant, you’re welcome back in. The idea is just don’t get off the path if you’re on. But there is a way to get back on the path if you find yourself off for whatever reason.
He then brings us into a beautiful concept here in verse 34, For ye had compassion of me in my bonds and took joyfully the spoil of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. There has been persecution going on in this early first century among the Christian converts. They’ve had their goods spoiled by other people around them who haven’t agreed with them, both from the Jewish side and from the Gentile side. He says in verse 35, Cast not away, therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For you have need of patience that after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise. It’s that, don’t let your… Cast not away your confidence. Stay on that covenant path. The implication here is it’s not a walk in the park. It’s not a smooth, paved, flat sidewalk with a guardrail. It’s a steep climb, and some parts of the climb are steeper than others, and it’s at times very painful, very difficult. But don’t cast away your confidence. Keep going. Keep trusting in Christ. He says, verse 37, For yet a little while and he that shall come will come and will not terry.
Now the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Chapter 11 is such an inviting chapter because we are given many case studies of what faith is. Now, faith could also be used. You could use the word trust or belief or love. When you see the word faith in this scripture, you might look at the word also, replace it with trust, hope or belief. As you look at chapter 11, which we’re not going to dive into here, we encourage you to look at these many examples of these ancient people from the Old Testament who demonstrated trust in God, belief in God, hope in God, faith in God. Then the invitation is, how can you do something today to be more faithfulful, trusting, hoping, and believing?
That’s a beautiful intro. If you look back in Chapter 10, verse 38, he started that verse by saying, Now the just, the just meaning the righteous, those who are right with God, the righteous or the just shall live by faith. Then as Taylor introduced, everything in chapter 11 is object lesson after object lesson, example after example of what faith actually looks like, how it is embodies. With all of these examples, starting with chapter 11, verse 1 with the definition. Now, faith is the substance. It’s the assurance of things that are hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The substance of things that you hope for, and it’s the evidence of things that you haven’t seen yet. I love the talk. If you’re not familiar with this talk, I highly recommend you read it. One of the best that I’ve ever read on this topic, as far as the practicalities of, so what do I do to more fully live my life in faith? It was given by Elder David A. Bednar years ago to religious educators. It’s called seek learning by study and by faith. In here, he talks about the three aspects of faith that you have three levels or three layers.
There are a lot of ways to interpret his talk, this article. But this is my favorite, is he says, There’s faith that is at the assurance level or the belief level. I believe in things similar to what it says here in chapter 11, verse 1. That level of faith then leads me to the action phase of faith. Because faith is not just a belief. Faith is also manifested in action. I do things through faith. That action then leads to the evidence level of faith, which then becomes higher assurance for the next phase of decisions or part of my life that I need to navigate. It becomes the spiral staircase of faith. If I’m struggling to act, if I’m struggling to move forward in faith to do something, Elder Bednar’s invitation is, trust in God more fully. Put more of your faith at the assurance level in Christ, which will cause you to be able to act more fully in faith, and then the evidence comes. You receive no witness until after the trial of your faith to connect with Ether 12. By the way, if you want to do a deep study on faith in Christ, Hebrews 11 has to be on your shortlist to study along with Alma 32 and Ether 12 and many, many other sections.
But those are the chapters of scripture that focus extensively on this incredibly important topic of the Gospel. As you read these verses here, you’ll notice the people Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, all these- And Rehab.
And Rehab. Which by the way, non-Israelite woman.
The Walls of Jerico in 30, Rehab in 31. Then you get this long list in 32: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Yefta, David, Samuel, and the prophets, and verse 36, and others. So as you read in their stories, you’re going to find a common thread. Not a single person listed in Hebrews 11 had a life filled with ease and comfort and nothing but success. Every single one of these people had to move forward in the face of great adversity, great opposition, great trials, relying on their assurance in God’s goodness and in God’s promises to then act in faith. Brothers and sisters, faith is not just assurance. I can sit here all day and just believe in God. But until it causes me to do something, to move forward on that covenant path to draw closer to God and to turn my heart more to Him, then it’s just stuck at this level. Chapter 12 is loaded with incredible one-liners, with powerful principles that you can turn to. If you need a spiritual thought for a meeting, try Hebrews 12. It’s that good. Notice verse 1, Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.
We have how firm a foundation is laid for our faith is basically the sentiment here. Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily that they beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. We need to lay aside these sins. Verse 2, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right-hand of the throne of God. That verse 2 connects very beautifully back to chapter 1 in Hebrews, verse 3, where Christ did his work. He’s the author and the finisher of our faith, and now he’s sitting down on the right-hand of God. Now we jump down to verse 5, And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children. My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. We talked about this concept back in the Gospels where the Lord is constantly correcting Peter. Because Peter takes it so well, what happens? He keeps getting correction. He keeps getting direction.
If we get offended when somebody gives us correction, then they’re less likely to give us correction in the future. We’ll keep going along doing what we’ve done, which decreases our capacity to repent or to change, to improve, to get better. Because we’ve allowed pride to get in the way. We’re now more interested in defending our position than in focusing on Christ and moving forward and being a better disciple, a better instrument in his hands. He concludes that with verse 6, For whom the Lord loveth, he chaseneth, and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. The concept continues, If ye endure chasening, God dealeth with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father chaseneth not? If we pray for humility to be able to be meek and to take that correction, we’re likely to get more of it. It’s not exactly fun, it’s not painless, but it’s beautiful when you’re on this covenant journey. Look at verse 11. Now, no chastening for the present seems to be joyous but grievous. It hurts. Shaping is painful. Nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceful fruit of righteousness unto them, which are exercised thereby, wherefore lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees.
As you study this second half of chapter 12 on your own, look for the principles and the promises attached to those who are willing to give themselves over to the Lord for that correcting, shaping, chastening, disciple-molding process that God is willing to give to those who are humble and meek. Now, he gives the final exhortations in chapter 13, and it’s a long list of things to do. Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels, unawares. Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them, and them which suffer adversity as being yourself also in the body, the body of Christ. If one member is suffering, we’re all suffering with them, and we should bind up their wounds. He talks about marriage or conversations following leaders. After looking at this long list of things to keep in mind and to do, he finishes off with starting in verse 20. Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing.
Do you notice again this reminder to focus on His perfection, his goodness, his mercy, and his grace. Not focus on my badness, my weakness, my sin, my past wrongs. Repent appropriately, seek his forgiveness, and once you get it, move forward in faith in Christ. Verse 22, I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation, for I have written a letter unto you in few words, and the final conclusion to this incredible epistle, one line long, verse 25, Grace be with you all. Amen. As we conclude this incredible epistle to the Hebrews, it’s our hope, it’s our prayer that we will all stay focused on the future, the glorious future with Christ at the center and this covenant path progression with faith in Him, relying on Him, not holding ourselves hostage to the past and finding Him in all of the symbols, not just of the ancient Testament and the old covenant of the ancient world, but of our world, of our life and of our time moving forward, relying completely upon Him, putting our full trust in Him. That’s our prayer. And we leave it with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. Know that you’re loved.
And spread light and goodness.