This was one of the more intense Bible studies that I’ve done in a while with a ton of Bible verses! For this reason, I would strongly encourage you to download the powerpoint slides and to watch them with the audio. You will get a lot more out of it!
The book of Hebrews contains such a beautiful message about Jesus Christ. What is Jesus doing as our High Priest? As a child I remember feeling sorry for Jesus as I imagined him confined to a building in heaven, swinging a censor and pleading with the Father for us. I wondered, “Does he ever leave the building? Isn’t this a rather boring activity that he is engaged in, day after day?” I believe that the reality Paul is trying to describe (using the symbols of the Old Testament sanctuary system) is that Jesus’ ministry as High Priest is to cleanse our hearts and minds through the revelation of his character of love. This is what restores our trust and our relationship with God once again. This is what cleanses the temple!
Speaking bluntly, it seems to me that the domination of the legal model in our time as the only means of understanding the plan of salvation, the sacrifical system, and the death of Jesus gets in the way of seeing the beauty of what God is really up to. The relational model, the marriage model, the at-one-ment model, and the medical model all provide a much richer understanding (from my perspective).
Finally, if you haven’t read the book of Hebrews in the J.B. Phillips translation, it’s a good one! Here’s how Phillps translates the opening verses:
“God, who gave our forefathers many different glimpses of the truth in the words of the prophets, has now, at the end of the present age, given us the truth in the Son. Through the Son God made the whole universe, and to the Son he has ordained that all creation shall ultimately belong. This Son, radiance of the glory of God, flawless expression of the nature of God, himself the upholding principle of all that is, effected in person the reconciliation between God and man and then took his seat at the right hand of the majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:1-3, J.B. Phillips)