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Wednesday, September 27th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Hebrews 8

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

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Verse 1


We have more, and more precious Views of the Lord Jesus in this chapter. Christ the true tabernacle. God's Covenant Love, secured in Christ, by Word and Oath.

Verses 1-2

(1) Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; (2) A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

I would not for the world knowingly strain a single word in scripture, by way of making it speak more, or less, than is intended; but would pause over these verses, and humbly ask, whether God the Holy Ghost, in the opening of this Chapter, did not mean to call the Church to behold Christ as the sum and substance of all revelation? Let the Reader recollect, how blessedly the Holy Ghost had been speaking, in the seven preceding Chapters, concerning Christ. Beginning in the first Chapter with proclamations of his eternal Power and Godhead, then of his Mediator glories; and in the second Chapter, of his human nature; and in the following, largely dwelling upon the many sweet, and endearing features of his offices, and particularly of his Priesthood: and, having followed him from the time of having purged our sins by himself, until he held him forth as seated as a Priest upon his throne, in glory, the Lord the Spirit begins this Chapter in a form of words, such as can hardly be found in the whole book of God. Now of the things (saith the Lord) which we have spoken this is the sum. As if the whole of revelation was here brought into one view, in the Person of Christ. And no doubt it is. For Christ, as Christ, is the visible Jehovah. There could have been no revelation of Jehovah in his threefold character of Person, but in, and by Him. He is come forth from the bosom of the Father to declare him, John 1:18 . And, let the Reader further observe, how blessedly the Holy Ghost represents him, as having passed into the heavens, and there sat down, contrary to the priests on earth, who always stood ministering, Hebrews 10:11 . Numberless beauties are contained in this short verse. First. Jesus being seated as the High Priest of his people, on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, carries with it the most palpable conviction, that he hath by himself purged our sins; and in proof, is set down on the right hand of God. Secondly. It becomes no less a proof, that Christ hath been accepted as our Surety in redemption, or he never would have been received there. Christ's sitting down on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, is in perfect conformity to God's word, and oath, Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool, Psalms 110:1 ; John 17:4 . Thirdly. Having such an High Priest there, our Advocate, whom God the Father heareth always; the same becomes an everlasting assurance, that all the concerns of his people, Jesus undertakes, and accomplisheth. No prayers can go unheard. No petitions remain unanswered. And all the ascension-gifts he is purposely exalted to bestow, are as certain, and sure, as if they were already in hand. God the Holy Ghost is come down, in confirmation, that Christ is gone up. He doth led captivity captive, and received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell among them, Psalms 68:18 . And, lastly, to add no more; the sum and substance of the whole scripture being to tell the Church, that He who was dead, and is alive, and now liveth forevermore, and is on the throne of the majesty on high, is purposely there for his people, waiting to be gracious, and delighted to be by them employed. So he appeared to John , in his priestly vesture, dipped in blood, as if to say: See! I wear the vestments of office. Bring all your causes to me, and leave all with confidence in my hand.

But we must not stop here. He that is our High Priest, the Holy Ghost adds, is also a Minister of the Sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man. These offices also, are special, personal offices, peculiarly belonging to our Lord Jesus Christ, and to no other, and in which his people have everlasting concern. This sanctuary is not a worldly sanctuary of carnal ordinances; such as we read of, Hebrews 9:10; Hebrews 9:10 . Neither is it an earthly sanctuary; neither is it an heavenly one; for then, it needed not to have been said, which the Lord pitched and not man. For it is well known, none but the Lord is the maker of heaven. But by the sanctuary, I should apprehend, is meant, the whole body of the Church, whom Christ, by the one offering of himself, once offered, hath perfected forever, as sanctified in himself, Psalms 114:2 ; Isaiah 63:18 . And by the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man, can be meant no other, according to my view, than the human nature of Christ, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And I am the more inclined to this opinion, because, all that is here said, is with the intention to magnify and exalt the Lord Jesus, by shewing, that all that was in the wilderness Church, was designed, but as the shadows of good things to come, and that all pointed to, and centered in Christ. Now, as the tabernacle in the wilderness, had frequently the Shechinah, or manifestation of the divine presence in it; here, was a lively representation of the Son of God, tabernacling in our nature, when he became flesh, and dwelt among us. And as the tabernacle was but a poor building, and to outward appearance, looking very wretched and mean; so the human nature, in which the Son of God tabernacled, was poor indeed, and had nothing of beauty, that we should desire him.

But the greatest point in this description remains to be considered. It is said, that the Lord pitched this true tabernacle, and not man. Yes! The whole Persons of the Godhead co-operated in the work. God the Father, prepared the body. So spake Christ by the Spirit of prophecy. Compare Psalms 40:6-7 with Hebrews 10:5 . God the Son took the nature of man upon him, Hebrews 2:16; Hebrews 2:16 . And God the Holy Ghost, formed that holy thing, so called, Luke 1:35 . Reader! do not hastily pass away, from the view of a subject so truly blessed. This true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man, is the only real temple, either in heaven, or on earth, for the divine residence., The divine essence, may, in one sense, be said to dwell everywhere; for, in the perfection of his Omnipresence, he fills heaven and earth. And God dwells by the influences of his Spirit in the hearts of his people. But it is not in either sense of this meaning, the tabernacle of the human nature of the Son of God, is inhabited by the indwelling residence of Jehovah. It is bodily in Christ, as fire in iron; essentially, personally, and eternally. Moreover, this is the only temple, Christ's body, for meeting with his people. Here, the Lord comes to meet and bless them. In him, the Lord speaks to his people and they to him. Oh! the blessedness of this true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. How ought the redeemed to delight in Christ, and to be always going to Christ. It was the consciousness of this made David cry out; One thing have I desired of the Lord that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple, Psalms 27:4 . Oh! for grace, to be often eyeing Christ, as the sum of the things the Holy Ghost hath here spoken. Such an High Priest, set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man!

Verses 3-4

(3) For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. (4) For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:

In the close of the first of these verses, I beg to observe, that there is no word in the original for what our translators have rendered man. And as the pronoun this might have been more properly connected with the word person, being more agreeable to the analogy of faith, I confess that I prefer it. The reading then will be, wherefore it is of necessity that this person have somewhat also to offer. And this is true. As man, considered without an eye to the Godhead, he had nothing equivalent to offer. And, as God, without respect to his manhood, he could not offer. But in the union of both, as one person, God and Man, oh! what an offering did he make, whereby he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified, Hebrews 10:10-14 .

I have so largely dwelt on the blessed features of the Lord Jesus in his priestly office, in the preceding Chapters of this Epistle, that it will be the less necessary to enlarge on them here. It is very true, indeed, God the Holy Ghost evidently takes pleasure in bringing them continually forward. And what that matchless Teacher delights in, we may well follow. And so I would indeed, if the limits of a Poor Man's Commentary admitted it. But as this is not the case, I rather refer the Reader to what hath been offered upon Christ's priesthood, and particularly in the fifth Chapter, than swell the present pages.

But one point must be noticed here, as not being noticed before, in relation to Christ's priesthood, namely, when it is said, for if he were on earth, he should not be a priest. This is a subject very highly interesting to be considered, and which ought to be well understood. In the explaining of which, it will serve to throw no small light on it, if we look back and observe, how the Holy Ghost hath throughout scripture, shadowed forth Christ in the law. When the High Priest, on the Day of Atonement, had made the sacrifice for the sins of the people, he entered with the blood into the holy place, Leviticus 16:34; Leviticus 16:34 . And this is explained to the Church of what God the Holy Ghost intended by it, Hebrews 9:6-12 and Commentary. Now, then, had the High Priest, when making the sacrifice, not gone into the holy place, the service would have been incomplete. Hence, in like manner, if Christ, to whom this whole service referred, remained on earth, after that he had made his soul an offering for sin, the presentation of it before God on the mercy-seat would not have been complete. It was one great part of his office to carry up his blood to the throne, (the propitiatory,) as a full and complete propitiation. Having paid the ransom of his Church by his blood, he virtually takes the price, the current coin of the merchant with him to heaven, and puts it down upon the mercy-seat. Here was, in tire fullest sense of the words, offering both gifts and the sacrifice for sin. And hence it is said, that the priests on earth serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.

And, moreover, it must be further added, that Christ's priesthood, which, after the order of Melchizedec, was an everlasting priesthood, could not have been accomplished had he remained on earth. For, in this case, how would he have entered into heaven as the forerunner of his people? How would he have gone as a public head, and been placed above all principality and power? How would he have taken possession of heaven in our name; and we, by faith, beholding ourselves now raised up together, and made to sit together with him in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus? Ephesians 2:6 . Reader! do you not know what it is now, by faith, thus to realize and substantiate things that are far off, and bring them nigh? If your faith be the faith of God's elect, the faith once delivered to the saints, you cannot but know it by this divine property, which the Holy Ghost hath marked it by; it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the Elders obtained a good report, Hebrews 11:1-2 . True, indeed, you are not yet entered upon the heavenly country. But, like them, you have seen it afar off, and are persuaded of it, and have by faith embraced it. We see not yet (saith the Apostle,) all things put under Jesus. No! For he hath not yet made all his enemies his footstool. This will take place at the final retribution of all things, when he shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied, Isaiah 53:10 . But, in the mean time, we see him crowned with glory and honor; and ourselves, by faith, crowned with him, in the sure and certain expectation of it, when he will come to take us home to himself, that where he is, there we may be also, John 14:3 .

Verses 5-6

(5) Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. (6) But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

It is very blessed to behold how attentive the Holy Ghost was, in all his appointments relating to the Church in the wilderness, that everything should be the express pattern of Christ, and his Gospel Church. And, while it serves to teach us how infinitely important the things themselves must be to which those shadows ministered; how sure is it also, that God the Spirit was the Almighty Minister then, as He is now.

In relation to the better ministry of Christ, and the order of the New Testament dispensation being established upon better promises, every part and portion of the word of God most fully shews. But what I beg the Reader more immediately to keep in view, and never lose sight of, is this, that Jesus himself is the whole of the covenant. So Jehovah declared him to be, Isaiah 49:8 , and so his people, when regenerated of the Holy Ghost, prove him to their soul's comfort, It was formed with Jesus in the eternal counsels, before the world. It was confirmed by Jesus, during the time state of his abode on earth, To Him the whole was entrusted. By Him the whole hath been fulfilled. All the blessings of it are in his Almighty hands; and from Him, all must flow of grace here, and glory hereafter, So that the Lord Jesus comprehends in his own Person, as God-Man Mediator, the one, full, and complete covenant. He is the Messenger, the Administrator, the Head, the Sum, the Substance of the whole. Precious Lord Jesus! blessed be God, who hath given thee for a covenant of the people!

Verses 7-13

(7) For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. (8) For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: (9) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. (10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: (11) And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. (12) For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (13) In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

In order to have a clear apprehension of what is here said, it will be necessary to attend to the words of scripture, simply as they are. When the Holy Ghost speaks, as in this place, of a first covenant, and a second; and of a new covenant, and an old; the Reader must not suppose is meant, that the one differed from the other in substance, or that any change had taken place in the mind of God. Not so. There hath been from everlasting in reality but one and the same covenant, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the sole covenant of the people. Neither can his Gospel be called a new revelation, differing from the Old Testament in sum and substance, for the Gospel was preached to Abraham, Galatians 3:8 . I have shewn this, I hope, very clearly, in the Preface to this Poor Man's Commentary. But the meaning of this most beautiful passage (which is taken from the prophecy of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 31:31-34 ), is the spiritual illustration of God's covenant in Christ, in which the several agencies of each glorious person of the Godhead, are blessedly shewn In the Father's electing, pardoning, justifying, accepting love; God the Son's betrothing, redeeming grace; and God the Spirit's quickening, sanctifying, sealing mercy. And the blessed effects arising from the whole are also here displayed, in the spiritual knowledge which the whole Church of God in Christ shall derive from the latter-day dispensation. So much of divine light, and divine knowledge, shall be diffused by the openly tabernacling of the Son of God in our nature, that from the highest to the lowest, and from the least to the greatest, all the children shall know the Lord; and that not in an hearsay or speculative apprehension of God, but a personal, spiritual, soul-enjoyment of Him. God shall be known in his threefold character of Person, in the Father's love, the Son's grace, and the Spirit's fellowship, and in such a blessed way and manner, as shall refresh the whole Church, and raise up a revenue of glory to the Lord, Isaiah 54:13 ; John 14:23-27

Verse 13


READER! is this indeed the sum and substance of what God the Holy Ghost hath been blessing the Church with, in such gracious teachings concerning the Lord Jesus; that He is gone into heaven, and is set down on the right hand of the throne of Majesty: oh! then, for grace to follow him thither by faith! For, as sure as Jesus the Son of God is one there, so sure is He gone as the Head and Husband, the Surety and Representative of his body the Church, the fulness that filleth all in all. Yes! He hath taken possession of heaven itself in their name. And all his redeemed ones may ready, by virtue of their union with Him, behold themselves by faith, as raised up together with Christ, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Oh! glorious Jesus! Minister of the Sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord hath pitched, and not man!

And blessed be God the Holy Ghost for this precious scripture! We now see, through thy divine teaching, how needful it was for our Lord to go away. Had he remained on earth, though he had made his soul an offering for sin, yet could he not have been a priest. Yes! thou dear Lord, it was necessary that thou shouldest priest it also for thy redeemed in heaven. Oh! Lord the Spirit! give us grace to be always following our Jesus by faith, and employing our great High Priest with our daily prayers and praises, until we come to see him, as He is, and dwell with him forever.

Praises to our God and Father for his covenant Christ. Oh! may God the Father be to me a God in Christ, and make me his among his people. Oh! that Jesus, my Husband, may be to me my unceasing High Priest, Advocate, and Intercessor. And God the Holy Ghost, my Teacher, and the Glorifier of Jesus unto the day of his coming!

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/hebrews-8.html. 1828.
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