JohnSWilson3 Blog

“…which was a parable for the time now present…”
October 16, 2011, 1:26 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

The author at the end of chapter 8 concluded with the words “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” Jesus’ ministry is “superior” to that of the high priest, “the first one” is now “obsolete.” Then in chapter 9 the author then describes “the first covenant” which “had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary” but then concludes his thought by saying that everything about the “first covenant” “was a parable for the time now present.” (1) The reason “the first one” is “obsolete” is because it is a parable of Christ! All of the physical regulations described in the first covenant were nothing more than a “parable” of the life and service of the Son, and the Son has fulfilled and finished it! (2)

So why should we go back and practice the first regulations, when they have been fulfilled, they have been finished in Christ? To fall back to a form of institutionalism, legalism, Jewish or otherwise, is to disregard everything Christ has done! The physical regulations were “only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings” and they applied only “until the time of the new order” and Christ is “the new order!” That is why the author plainly points out that God had planned a “new” covenant in Christ, so that instead of following physical regulations we would now live by His life in the inner man: “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

All of Scripture speaks of Christ! Everything about the tabernacle, the priest and his ministry was about Christ! How the tabernacle was set up, the Holy Place, the lampstand, the table, the consecrated bread, the second curtain, the Most Holy Place, the golden altar of incense, the gold-covered ark of the covenant, the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, the stone tablets of the covenant, the cherubim of the Glory, the atonement cover, the ministry of the priest, the entering of the high priest into the inner room only once a year, the blood, offering for the sins the people had committed, everything represents something of Christ! (3) It was only a parable, a story acting out the life and work of Christ, the spiritual reality, the spiritual lesson in whom it shadowed and copied and was patterned after. The once a year ministry of the high priest in the tabernacle was a parable of the reality of the once for all ministry of Christ Jesus our Lord! The bottom line is that all of “the gifts and sacrifices” that were “offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper!” They were never intended to because the first regulations were only a parable of the One who could!

“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. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 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! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Christ in us is the guarantee of our inheritance now and is our “promised eternal inheritance” in the future! Christ is the kingdom of heaven, our “promised eternal inheritance!” Christ’s ministry is superior to any human ministry! May we only look back to see more of Christ in the first and the cost of the life of the Son on our behalf, and realize that it is only a parable for His life and work He has already accomplished and He desires that we live by Him now and in the future!

(1) Marshall translates verse 9 as “which (was) a parable for the time – present.” While Vines’s adds that the Greek word “present” should be translated “now present” versus “then present” as the KJV incorrectly translates. Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 657. W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 484.
(2) Vine’s translates the Greek word “parabole” as “a placing beside” and “signifies ‘a placing of one thing beside another’ with a view to comparison.” This word is only used in the gospels and in the letter to Hebrews 9:9 and 11:19. Vine’s also points out that “it is generally used of a somewhat lengthy utterance or narrative drawn from nature or human circumstances, the object of which is to set forth a spiritual lesson” and “the hearer must catch the analogy if he is to be instructed.” W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 457.
(3) For more on how Christ is specifically typified in the tabernacle. Ervin N. Hershberger, Seeing Christ in the Tabernacle, 1995, Campbell Copy Center.


1 Comment so far
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Thanks so much, John…..I really liked the use of the word parable….I had always heard foreshadowing, but not the use of parable. Great insight there.

Comment by graftedinbyfaith

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