Hebrews 9:1 (NIV) - Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary.

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1 Text: Hebrews 9:1-14; Exodus 25:10-22 Title: Enter His Presence Pt.5 INTRODUCTION This morning we are standing on holy ground. I can t tell you how awed I ve been as I ve immersed myself in the text we have before us. There s nothing cute about what I m going to say to you in the next minutes. I pray that God will put in your heart the same awe and fear of Almighty God that He put into mine this week. You may ask, What s the point of spending all this time studying the Tabernacle. Maybe it all seems so pointless for what you re facing in your life. Well let me tell you why we need to spend time on it. First, it is God s Word and it s all profitable for teaching and for study. Second, it was obviously very important to the Holy Spirit to give so much detail about the worship that went on in the Tabernacle. Only two chapters in the Bible are devoted to Creation. There are some 50 chapters devoted to the design, construction and function of the Tabernacle (most of it contained here in Exodus 25-40). Third, it all points to Jesus Christ. Everywhere you look in the Tabernacle you see our precious Lord and we re reminded of the Gospel. Today my prayer is that the study this morning will cause us to see Jesus, the treasure Jesus, to adore Jesus, to savor Jesus perhaps more than we ve ever seen, treasured, adored and savored Jesus before. God said to Moses, Make this Tabernacle exactly according to the pattern I showed you on the mountain. Why the strict details? God was painting a detailed picture, not just for the Israelites but also for us a picture of the Savior a picture of the Gospel. Well how do we know that? We know it from reading Hebrews. Turn with me to Hebrews 9. Let s start reading in Hebrews 9:1 (NIV) - Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. Hebrews 9:2 (NIV) - A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Hebrews 9:3 (NIV) - Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, Note: The veil was there to hide God, but also to protect us. Hebrews 9:4 (NIV) - which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Note: Now there s something here that is a little confusing. It says in v.4 that the golden altar of incense was located inside the Most Holy Place. The description in Exodus seems to place the Altar of Incense in the other room, the Holy Place, up against the curtain that separated the two rooms. It

2 may be that the writer of Hebrews is referring to what we see in Leviticus 16 where Aaron was to carry a censer filled with coals with him into the Holy of Holies when he entered one time a year. And incense was to be burned in that censer in the presence of the Lord, and the smoke of the incense was to conceal the Ark of the Covenant. But the most important feature of the Holy of Holies was the presence of this gold-covered ark of the covenant. Hebrews 9:5 (NIV) - Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. The writer of Hebrews wasn t going to spend time discussing these things in detail, but we will study the details of the Holy of Holies in just a moment. Hebrews 9:6 (NIV) - When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. Hebrews 9:7 (NIV) - But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. In the way of the Old Covenant only one person could ever enter the Holy of Holies, and then only on an extremely limited basis. And that one man, the High Priest, had to enter by virtue of all the sacrifices and cleansing that we ve seen as we ve made our way through the Tabernacle. We ll talk more about this in a moment Aside from this men had no access to God at all. The regular priest could go no further than the Holy Place, and the ordinary Israelite who wasn t a priest could go no further than outer court. Hebrews 9:11-12 (NIV) - When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. This happened through the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus became our Great High Priest who came into the presence of Almighty God, not with the blood of animals, but with His own precious, sinless blood to make atonement for our sins. Hebrews 9:14 (NIV) - How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! SUMMARY So Hebrews 9 tells us that there are basically three things about the Old Tabernacle Covenant:

3 The worship of God was limited. There was no access to God for the ordinary person. The priests and the people could only come so close. The Old Covenant offered imperfect cleansing. There was no real assurance of cleansing. The people never really knew if their sins were forgiven. That s why the offerings and sacrifices had to be made repeatedly. The Old Covenant was temporary. It was important to point us toward the permanent solution that God had in mind for our redemption. To better understand this I want you to turn to Exodus 25. Let s see what Exodus has to tell us about this last remaining item inside the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant. Sometimes it is referred to as the ark of the testimony or the Holy Ark or simply the ark of God. 1. THE PRIORITY IT HELD Exodus 25:10 (NIV) - Have them make a chest of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Now the word chest here is later translated ark. So the ark is a chest that measures 23 wide, 39 long, and 23 high (based on the cubit as 18 ). Notice that this is the first thing that God describes for Moses after He gives him the plan for the Tabernacle. The reason is that the Ark of the Covenant is central to everything. And whenever the Lord moved His people, the Ark of the Covenant was always out in front first. Remember when the Israelites were getting ready to cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Joshua 3:3 - When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. The Bible says that God parted the waters of the Jordan River when the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant set their feet in the water. Once they were in the Promised Land they came to the great walled city of Jericho. God was about to deliver that city into their hands, but He didn t do it in a conventional way. The priests were to carry the Ark of the Covenant and lead a procession of the people of God, marching around the city once a day for six days. Then on the seventh day they marched around the city seven times and on the last time around the city, the trumpets were to blow and the people were to shout and the walls came tumbling down. And the Ark of the Covenant held a position of priority in all this. 2. THE PERFECTION IT DISPLAYED

4 Now Hebrews 9 showed us that the Ark of the Covenant was placed behind an absolutely exquisite veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. And the Holy of Holies was a place of perfect dimensions a cube 15 by 15 by 15. And in this room was displayed the Ark of the Covenant. Exodus 25:11 (NIV) - Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Exodus 25:12-15 tells us that it was to have four feet and four rings, two on each side, each made with pure gold. And then there were poles to be fashioned in the same way that were placed inside the rings as a way of carrying the Ark of the Covenant when it was moved. And all this points to the next thing: 3. THE PURPOSE IT SERVED Exodus 25:16 (NIV) - Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. Now I said earlier that the ark is a chest. If you have a chest (like a cedar chest) in your house, what is it used for? To store things or preserve them. And in this chest was placed the Testimony. The Testimony is the Law that God will give to Moses summarized in the Ten Commandments. And the commandments on two stone tablets will be placed inside the Ark of the Covenant. Hebrews tells us that there were two other items in there. Hebrews 9:4 - This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. We don t have time to talk about the other items. But here s the big deal. The Ark of the Covenant contained the Ten Commandments or the basis for God s covenant with His people. But of course, no one could keep the commands. Everyone sins, and thus no one could come into the presence of Almighty God. But God created the Tabernacle so that He could dwell among His people, so He put in the design something called the atonement cover or the mercy seat. Exodus 25:17 (NIV) - Make an atonement cover of pure gold two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. The atonement cover is sometimes called the Mercy Seat. The atonement cover was to be mounted over the golden chest. And there s something special on the top.

5 Exodus 25:18-19 (NIV) - And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. Apparently these golden cherubim were to resemble winged angels in God s presence. We also know that cherubim were also woven into the curtains that covered the tabernacle itself and into the curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. Exodus 25:20 (NIV) - The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. Why the angelic activity? This is the very Throne of God. His heavenly servants will be where He is. Exodus 25:21 (NIV) - Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. Now here is why it was called the atonement cover. The Lord is referring here to what happened on the Day of Atonement when the high priest took some of the blood of a sacrifice that was made on the Altar of Burnt Offering. He walked past the Basin for Washing and into the Holy Place where the Table of Showbread, the Golden Lampstand and the Altar of Incense were placed. He came to that exquisite veil. I m sure the high priest must have taken a deep breath at this point. If something was not done properly, the high priest would perish in the presence of the Holy God. If everything had been done according to the instructions of the Lord the high priest would go in and sprinkle that blood on the atonement cover and that blood would cover (atone for) the sins of the nation. So the Ark of the Covenant actually is made of two pieces: The bottom part was the chest that contained and preserved the Law of God. And the lower chest containing the Law represents the awesome, glorious holiness of God. If that s all that is in the Holy of Holies, there would be no hope of anyone being able to come into the presence of God, because everyone breaks the Law sins. But remember that all of this is about God taking the initiative to dwell among His people and for them for us to ENTER HIS PRESENCE. So something must be added. The top part was a lid called the Atonement Cover or Mercy Seat. For God s presence to dwell with people who did not and could not keep the Law there was the provision for mercy and forgiveness. Blood from the sacrifice made on the Altar of Burnt Offering was brought by the high priest into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled on the Atonement Cover. THIS IS KEY: The only place where God s presence could dwell with sinful human beings is where God s holiness and God s mercy meet. God s glory dwells where truth and grace meet.

6 QUOTE: Here's the gospel: you're more sinful than you ever dared believe; you're more loved than you ever dared hope. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian and author of The Reason for God Now here is where our precious Savior comes into the picture. Remember, God never intended the Tabernacle rituals to be the permanent solution to man s sin problem. Romans 3:25a (NIV) - God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood 1 John 2:2 (NIV) - He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 4:10 (NIV) - This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Note: When scholars translated the OT into Greek, that translation was called the Septuagint. And when they translated Exodus 25 into Gk, the word that was used for the atonement cover is the very same word that was used in the NT describing Jesus as the atoning sacrifice. THIS IS THE KEY: So when you look at the Ark of the Covenant you see God's law satisfied and God's love is shown. God s glory dwells where truth and grace meet. Now here s the most important thing about the Ark of the Covenant: 4. THE PRESENCE IT REPRESENTED Exodus 25:22 (NIV) - There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites. So God would meet with Moses at the Ark of the Covenant, and through Moses with all of Israel. Moses would go in and commune with the Lord in the Tent of Meeting, and the people would stand outside and wait to hear what the Lord said to Moses. God was dwelling with and among His people. CONCLUSION Now here s something that you may or may not know. Do you realize that there were only a handful of people who every saw the Ark of the Covenant with the Atonement Cover on top? The book of Numbers tells us that when the Ark was moved, it was covered with 3 layers of cloth. Even the priests who carried it didn t know what it looked like. They came into the Tabernacle only after Aaron and his sons had covered it with the 3 layers of cloth, one of which was the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.

7 The priests carried it and everyone else had to stay about a thousand yards away. The presence of God was always veiled to the ordinary person, even the regular priests. But God was with His people and His people knew He was with them and dwelling among them. But God wasn t content with that arrangement. It was temporary provisional. It was all completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ. John 1:14 (NIV) - The Word became flesh and made his dwelling (TABERNACLED) among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of GRACE and TRUTH. THIS IS KEY: The only place where God s presence could dwell with sinful human beings is where God s holiness and God s mercy meet. God s glory dwells where truth and grace meet. So now you better understand what the writer of Hebrews was saying Hebrews 10:19 (NIV) - Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 10:20 (NIV) - by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, Hebrews 10:21 (NIV) - and since we have a great priest over the house of God, Hebrews 10:22 (NIV) - let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:23 (NIV) - Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

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