Daily Thoughts from Hebrews: New Wine

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. (Hebrews 8:1-7)

When Moses is on Mt. Sinai with Yahweh he is told, according to Exodus 25:40, to make a tent, the Tabernacle, according to the pattern God shows him on the mountain.  The word “pattern” in Hebrew is tavnit and is used in 2 Kings 16:10 of king Ahaz making a model or perhaps sketch of an altar he saw in Damascus that he wanted to reproduce for the Temple of Yahweh.  The word in Greek is tupos or type with a similar meaning.  The author of Hebrews is arguing that Moses saw a heavenly tent on which he modeled the Tabernacle with its two chambers, holy place and most holy place, and its furniture.

He calls the ritual they enacted in the Tabernacle a “copy” and “shadow” of the heavenly things.  By nature the copy is inferior to the original, and a shadow is an imprecise representation of that which blocks the light and casts the shadow.  And since Christ has obtained a ministry that is more, indeed much more, excellent than that of the old covenant, the priesthood of Melchizedek built on better promises (the oath), then it only stands to reason that the first covenant had faults that the second was meant to correct.

When Jesus ministered in Israel he was often accused of doing things it was not lawful to do (letting his disciples eat grain they gathered on the Sabbath) or that were seemingly required but that he did not do (keep certain fasts).  At one point Jesus used an illustration as an answer, saying, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins” (Luke 5:37-38, ESV).

The point of the illustration seems to be that with the coming of the new covenant and Jesus’ adoption as high priest after the order of Melchizedek, the old format or system can no longer “contain” the new way of doing things.  Are you still using old wine skins?  Having come to Christ are you still living like you are under the old covenant, working as if you needed to overcome your deserved condemnation?  Rest is the mark of the new wine and wine skin.


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