By Mary Wenzl
Several years ago, I undertook an in-depth study of the Tabernacle. We learned about how the Tabernacle was built, the symbolism involved in its construction, and in the objects placed in it. This knowledge helped me better understand and appreciate this week’s lesson covering Hebrews chapter 9. We learned that when Christ died, he offered himself up as a better sacrifice, which granted us access to the “true and better tabernacle.”
The Tabernacle was built by Moses and the early Israelites as a place to worship God. Sacrifices of animals were done there to receive atonement for the sins of the people. Every detail of its construction had to be executed exactly because the earthy tabernacle was meant to be a COPY, or shadow, of what was found in Heaven. It could never be a perfect copy since the tabernacle, and the objects inside it used in the rituals, were made by man. The copies of the heavenly things were purified by sprinkling them with the blood of calves and goats before being used. This was a requirement not only to obtain forgiveness of sins, but to allow the High Priest the right to gain access to enter the Most Holy Place (the inner tent) where he could come close to God’s presence. If anything was not done to perfection the High Priest could die.
There were several references to legal principles in chapter 9. My background as an attorney gives me a more in depth understanding of the concepts presented. In a court of law, in order to present a document or other object into evidence, two things must be done: the document or object must be shown to be the original item, and its authorship, or origin, must be proven by accepted procedures. If exact steps are not followed, opposing counsel can object to the item being entered into evidence. If the item is not accepted by the court as valid evidence, it cannot be considered by the court when making its decision. A proper “foundation” must be made for the submission of an object or document into evidence.
In the Tabernacle, the “foundation” required was the adherence to the prescribed rituals of the blood sacrifices. This included the High Priest getting direct access to the Judge (God) in the Most Holy Place. Since the Tabernacle was only a copy of what is in heaven, no ritual or foundation could be made for the High Priest to have total, unrestricted, access to God’s presence. Total access is needed to receive total forgiveness of sins. This could not happen unless the High Priest had a better sacrifice that could be offered, or laid, as a foundation.
Since the High Priest was not able to have direct, unrestricted access to God, the forgiveness of sins could not be complete and had to be repeated each year. A perfect sacrifice, allowing for complete forgiveness of sins, was only able to happen when Christ died for us on the cross, shedding His blood. It was Christ’s sacrifice which finally allowed us humans to have direct access to God, since Christ can stand face-to-face with God in Heaven, the place of the better Tabernacle. There, Christ acts as our Mediator, our High Priest, to petition for forgiveness of our sins.
Knowing that God is Holy, is Transcendent, shows me I am worthy as a person, as God’s daughter and as Christ’s sister. I have value and am loved.