“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;” (Hebrews 8:1, KJV 1900)
Often may wife and I will watch mystery shows on the television. We kind of try to figure out the whodunit before the show reveals it to us. In some of the shows, there will be a hard-nosed detective who is looking for an explanation of some evidence from a pathologist or forensic investigator. After hearing a lengthy scientific explanation, he will say basically, “Enough, just get to the point.”
In the letter to the Hebrews, the author has spent roughly three chapters building the case that Jesus is now the bona fide final high priest who will serve forever. So now he comes to this grand conclusion. The ESV states it this way, “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest.” (Hebrews 8:1, ESV). This high priest is Jesus who has been appointed not by the Law of Moses, but by an oath from God, as David prophesied that the Messiah would be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). It was an order established before the Law and Jesus fulfilled the prophecy to be the priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
The author now gives us a picture of where Jesus is performing this ministry. The Levitical priests would minister in the Temple. Sacrifices would be offered there. However, when Jesus began His appointment as the great high priest, this meant that the Levitical system had technically ended. There was no longer need for repeated sacrifices of animals, because the final offering for sin had been made and Jesus was now mediating the New Covenant for us permanently.
You can imagine that as a Jew in those days, they might have asked, “Where is the Temple in which this Jesus is serving?” They could see the Levitical priests in the earthly Temple, and Jesus was not visible there. So, where would He be performing His priestly duties?
The author answers this by stating that Jesus, the high priest, is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. It is in heaven that Jesus is fulfilling the role of high priest. He is fulfilling this role in the holy places there, in the true Tabernacle in heaven. It is a Tabernacle not built by men on earth, but by the Lord, himself. He goes on to explain that the earthly Tabernacle was merely a copy and shadowing of the real thing in heaven (v5).
The blessing for us is that Jesus is the eternal incarnate God and king – priest, who serves forever at the right hand of Majesty. There, He is our connection with God, our mediator in the holiest place. We cannot see this glorious place with our eyes, and we do not need to. We understand by faith that Jesus is our great high priest and because of this, we have guaranteed forgiveness and access to God.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians and affirmed this truth. We have been made alive in Christ and have been raised up with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph 2:4-6). While we cannot see this place with our eyes, and cannot touch it with our physical hands, in some marvelous way, we are already there. I cannot explain it fully, but this is what God has done for us.
For the Jews to whom the author of Hebrews wrote, and for us, this is a matter of faith. The author explains this later in His letter, that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV)