1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
Have you ever heard of the PBS television series called Antiques Roadshow? The program features local antique owners who bring in items to be appraised by experts. Provenance, history, and value of the items are discussed and then there is the big dramatic moment where the expert declares if, in fact, the item is an antique and how much the item is worth.
Sometimes the antiques are authenticated as originals and are quite valuable. But other times, the antiques in question are determined to be merely copies of the originals only holding a sentimental value for their owners.
The original or the copy. That’s at the heart of the contrast that Hebrews is drawing between the Temple in Jerusalem, as well as the tabernacle that the Israelites had during their wilderness wanderings (Exodus 25-31, 35-40), compared to the true, or real holy places, the true tent that the Lord has set up (verses 1-2).
In this contrast, the encouragement from Hebrews is to celebrate and enjoy the true tent and not hold onto a copy of the Temple and tabernacle, or the old covenant, which is merely a shadow of heavenly things. That’s a massive and stunning thing to say in that context which we certainly don’t appreciate today.
In that context, the Temple in Jerusalem was the place where heaven and earth met and when you walked into the Temple you were going into heaven itself.
So for early Jewish Christians to say that the Temple, the tabernacle, and the old covenant were merely copies and shadows of the true tent and that Jesus is the great high priest of this true tent who ushers us into the very presence of the God, that would have caused an uproar which would have been met with persecution and at times violence (more on that in chapter 10).
The point and encouragement that Hebrews is again making is for us to keep our hearts and minds fixed on Jesus, our great high priest, and not settle for some copy, which may hold sentimental value, but in fact, is worthless.
Jesus isn’t just one good thing among many good things, Jesus is better, superior in every way, and above all. And yet, we often settle for something so much less. We’re so easily distracted by the many things of this world. What holds your attention? What do you treasure? If it’s not Jesus, then what you’re holding onto, what you’re worshipping, is only a shadow and a copy. It will ultimately fade, it will pass away, and it won’t gain you access to heaven.
The true treasure worth holding onto, worthy of your whole life, is Jesus Himself.
2 Corinthians 8.9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
God bless you and know that I am praying for you constantly.