Substance over Symbolism (Heb 9:11-12)

But Christ being come an 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.” (Hebrews 9:11–12, KJV 1900)

In Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, he often used the expression, “symbolism over substance,” to describe some of the actions and decisions of politicians. The idea was that their symbolic acts did nothing to initiate permanent and effective solutions to the problems that confronted the nation. There is a difference between a symbol and the real thing. The real thing is always better than the symbol of it. Let me give you a simple example. The symbol for gold is Au. The symbol Au has no purchasing power. You can write it on a piece of paper, but it is still not worth anything. However, if you have a bar of gold, you have the real thing with much value.

In these verses the writer of Hebrews transitions again from speaking about the earthly Tabernacle, the priest’s duties, and the system of sacrifices to the true Tabernacle. The Tabernacle built with human hands and the work done in it functioned as a symbol of the true Tabernacle, the holiest place where Jesus, the great high priest, is seated at the right hand of Majesty. While the symbol is good, the real thing is infinitely better.

We have covered this before, but there are many ways in which the real thing is better. First, we have a better high priest in Jesus. He is our eternal priest-king who is seated in the holiest place in Heaven. This place is both the place of Jesus’ ministering in the role of high priest and as king. He served in this capacity eternally.

The holiest place in Heaven is better than the earthly Tabernacle since the holiest place in Heaven is not built with human hands using perishable materials. It is a permanently glorious place that will never fade away.

Jesus’ sacrifice is infinitely better than the earthly sacrifices of animals. His sacrifice once for all cleanses those who believe from sin and guilt. He provides for us eternal redemption.

We who have believed have access to the holiest place in Christ. In the earthly Tabernacle, the people were excluded. Even the high priest only entered once a year into a place that represented God’s presence. Our position in Christ places us in the true holiest place in Heaven. This gives us direct access to God.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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