Made Without Hands
Jesus is the true Sanctuary of God that was foreshadowed in the ancient religious structures and worship rituals of the nation of Israel. He is the place where God’s presence and glory are found and the final High Priest who now mediates between Heaven and Earth for his people. The man from Nazareth is the real Tabernacle where Yahweh dwells and he was the Temple “MADE-WITHOUT-HANDS” destroyed by evil men but restored when God raised him from the dead.
With his death and resurrection, questions about the proper location of the Temple building are no longer relevant. With his arrival, “the hour is coming, and NOW IS when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” Holy ground is found wherever he is - (John 4:20-24).
|[Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash]|
In him, the fullness of God dwells forevermore, and Jewish and Gentile believers are “circumcised with the circumcision MADE-WITHOUT-HANDS.” Once restricted to the outer courts of the Temple complex in Jerusalem, Gentile followers of Jesus now have full access to the presence of Yahweh through His Son.
Moreover, the “middle wall” of separation between Jews and Gentiles has been dismantled by Jesus FOREVER. Attempting to erect it again by rebuilding the old structures is a fool’s errand - (Colossians 2:9-17).
His disciples are quickened by and in him. No longer are they subject to the calendrical cycles, dietary restrictions, repeated sacrifices, and assigned holy spaces of the old Levitical order. Such practices amounted to “shadows of the coming things.” What was foreshadowed in the old system has come to fruition in Jesus.
God never intended to achieve perfection through the Levitical system; otherwise, He would not have promised a new greater High Priest and a “better sacrifice.” The change of priesthood meant also a “change of law.”
The Levitical system was powerless to perfect anyone, therefore, Jesus became the “guarantor of a better covenant,” appointed to a better and an “un-transmissible priesthood” - (Hebrews 7:11-28).
He inaugurated the “new and better covenant” that was “legislated on better promises.” The old covenant was “not faultless,” and it was incapable of achieving the “purification of sins” so desperately needed by his “brethren.” Moreover, the arrival of the promised New Covenant has rendered the old one “obsolete” - (Hebrews 1:1-3, 8:1-13, Jeremiah 31:31-33).
THE SUPERIOR HIGH PRIEST
The Son is the supremely superior High Priest, the final mediator who entered the “greater and more perfect Tabernacle, one NOT MADE-WITH-HANDS,” where he appears in the very presence of God Himself to intercede for his “brethren.” He is the “True Light of the World,” and not Ancient Israel, a portable tent made from goatskins, or any stone building erected by men in Jerusalem - (John 1:4-9, Luke 1:78-79, 2:32, Acts 26:23, Hebrews 9:11-24).
|[Photo by Joseph Sintum on Unsplash]|
The mission given to Israel at Sinai to be a witness and light to the nations has now fallen to Jesus and his disciples. He fulfills that role because he is the true Israel of God, the “light” that enlightens men, and the High Priest “forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Likewise, his disciples become lights in this world as they reflect his light and testimony - (Matthew 5:14, Philippians 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, Revelation 1:20).
He came to the “circumcision to confirm the promises made to the fathers.” This included the promise that the “Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” As Isaiah prophesied, Jesus was the “root of Jesse risen to reign over the Gentiles.” Moreover, he now reigns over the nations in this present age. He is the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth” - (Romans 15:8-9, Revelation 1:4-6).
When he testified before the Sanhedrin, Stephen reminded the priestly authorities that “the Most High does not dwell in places MADE-BY-HAND.” The Temple building and the Tabernacle were man-made structures – Shadows and types of the true habitation of God’s Spirit, namely, Jesus Christ and his “Body, the Assembly of the saints.”
With his victory over sin, Satan, and death, the time of shadows has come to an end. He is the ‘telos,’ the “goal” of the Mosaic legislation, as well as the true and greater Sanctuary and nonrepeatable sacrifice. The structures of the old regime have reached their intended conclusion - (Romans 10:4).
The New Testament does not abandon the promises of an ideal Temple and pure worship described in the Hebrew Bible, but it reinterprets them in consideration of the teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Those promises are not forsaken or replaced, but they are fulfilled in and by him.