Confusing A Copy With The Original
When you don't know what you are looking at, it is easy to be confused. God's people in Old Testament times thought that in the physical tabernacle (and then temple), the sacrifices and priestly intercession, they were looking at God’s permanent arrangement for worship. They could never conceive of approaching God directly or that a mediator could possibly live perpetually in the presence of God's holy majesty. The law taught them that they were sinners and that priests had to offer sacrifices on their behalf. The sanctuary was out of bounds to ordinary people and the Most Holy Place in the sanctuary could only be accessed once a year. So, God's people were used to being remote from God, and being utterly afraid of His presence (Hebrews 12:18-21).
But the old covenant was only a shadow or copy of the permanent new covenant (Hebrews 10:1). The real sanctuary is heaven, the real priest is Jesus; the real sacrifice for sins is His body and His blood (Colossians 2:17). Jesus is the real mediator. The old covenant sacrifices could never take away sins or clean any guilty conscience, but the new covenant in Christ's blood brings total forgiveness and free access to Father God (Hebrews 9:15). In the Old Testament, God's Spirit was only given to selected individuals; but now, the Spirit is given to all who trust in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9).
The old covenant was necessary to show us our sin and the need for our sin to be atoned for. In the law of Moses many pictures are embedded which help us to understand that Jesus is our permanent High Priest. But Christians cannot live under the old law. It can never bring us peace. So God has made it redundant now that Christ has died as our sin-substitute. In Him we were brought to new life through the Holy Spirit who lives in us; we have God's law written on our hearts; we have personal access to the Father through the Son; the only sacrifice we need for our sins has already been made, at Calvary; we do not come to God in fear but in joy.
So why do we sometimes like to live under religious rule and regulations, as though 'getting it right' can possibly save us? We need to look again at Jesus Christ and see Him as God the Son who is our High Priest, the sacrifice for our sins, the Mediator who continually intercedes for us in the Father's presence, the One who brings us close to God and who gives His Holy Spirit to live in us. To know Him is to know the Father (John 14:7). To receive Him is to become a child of God (John 1:12). So do not let religious practices, worship styles, different patterns of church government, or your own sinful heart confuse you. If you are in Christ you are a new creation, a beneficiary under the new covenant: you are destined for a new home in heaven where you will see Jesus face to face without shame or fear. That is the reality.
© Dr Paul Adams