Hebrews 8:4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:
5 Who 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 shewed to thee in the mount.
6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
In verse 4 we see here that Jesus Christ could not have been a priest after the earthly plan. Aaron and all the priests were of the tribe of Levi. That was God’s choice. However, Jesus Christ was not a Levite. He could not have been a priest according to God’s prescribed plan. The Old Testament priests needed to function according to God’s law given by Moses. That law was correct for that time. It established the Levitical priesthood. According to that law animal sacrifices were required. God gave precise commands as to how the priest was to deal with the various sacrifices. Nadab and Abihu died because they abused God’s commands. Aaron and his remaining sons were found having failed in God’s commands after the death of these two sons. God accepted their reasoning, but He reminded them of the importance of following His orders carefully. In spite of the detail and the demand for obedience to God’s commands, none of those sacrifices could remove sin. They were not designed to do that. They were a picture of a better sacrifice that God would provide.
In verse 5 we see that those priests serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. They were not the real thing and God knew that. He did not make a mistake. He designed the Levitical priesthood for a specific purpose. A shadow is a copy of something real. When you walk along and create a shadow, that shadow is never an exact replica of the real you. You are either much taller in the shadow or there are some other distortions.
The earthly priesthood was inferior to the heavenly reality. That was true in that the priests were all born as lost sinners and they needed to offer sacrifices for their own sins before they could offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. If they did not deal with their own sin properly, God could strike them dead immediately.
Moses was given very clear instructions of the design and building of the Tabernacle. Solomon later copied that design and expanded upon it in the building of the Temple. God gave Moses a clear pattern. He gave Moses an accurate blueprint, but it was not nearly what the Tabernacle in Heaven was. Earthly things can never duplicate that which is in heaven. God knew that. He gave the people what they needed at that time to prepare them to receive the real thing when Jesus Christ would come. Those like Moses who believed in God were saved by trusting in the God Who gave the instructions. They were not saved by doing things, but by trusting in God’s promise of a Saviour. The same is true for all those born after Jesus’ first coming. We do not work our way into God’s favour. We trust in God’s promise of a Saviour. The Old Testament saint’s faith was rewarded when Jesus Christ came and shed His blood and set the “captives free”. He completed what the sacrifices of the Old Testament could not do. Those who trusted in God’s promise were fully delivered after Jesus’ sacrificial death. Today we look back at His coming and those who are saved trust in the same Jesus and the same works that He did for salvation.
In verse 6 we see that Jesus Christ is the mediator of a better covenant. Jesus Christ has a more excellent ministry. He sets the captive free. The godly Old Testament priests could not do that. They could bring a blood sacrifice that God would receive as an atonement for the sin of the God-fearing Old Testament saint. Kind David could pray in Psalm 51 for forgiveness and cleansing because he trusted in the Lord to provide that forgiveness and cleansing that He needed. He knew no amount of self-effort could forgive him. He also knew that Jesus Christ would provide the forgiveness he needed. He knew that by faith in God.
The covenant of Jesus Christ is better in that It provides forgiveness of sin. It is established on better promises. Jesus Christ is better than the Old Testament priests. He is without sin. There is only One true Jesus. There will never be another. There were many Old Testament priests, and they all died. Jesus Christ cannot die. He died on the cross as the sinless Son of Man. He also rose again as the sinless Son of Man. That is why He can provide salvation for sinners. Aaron will rise again one day, but not under his own power. He will be raised up by the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ laid down His own life and He took it up again. He is better.
In verse 7 we see that if that Levitical system had been faultless, there would have been no need for Jesus Christ to come. God did not make a mistake in setting up the Levitical system. He used that as a shadow of that which was in heaven and which will be seen by all true saints in the future. John the apostle was given a vision of that heavenly Tabernacle. He also saw the risen Saviour in His Heavenly home. He was given a unique privilege. He recorded that under God’s direction in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. However, he was not given anything better than any other saint will eventually receive. Those who are saved are saved by hope in a God Who cannot lie. Our salvation is sure. Nothing more will ever be added to it. The only thing we are awaiting is when our faith will be sight. That day is soon approaching.
God is giving many warnings right now. He is encouraging those who are saved to live for Him. We need to get away from the fear of man which is bringing a snare. We need to exalt the true and living Saviour now and we need to live in anticipation of the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many all around us are lost today. They are living very carelessly. In some ways there are too many carnal Christians who are encouraging the lost to live carelessly. We did not learn that from God. We accept that because we do not obey God. We do not see that Jesus Christ is better. We need to see that and we need to acknowledge that today!