Even in its best days, it was but a shadow. When the cloud descended upon it; when the pillar of fire hovered over it; when the wilderness soil beneath it became holy ground, it was still but a copy of something much, much greater.
This morning I’m chewing on three words in my reading in Hebrews 8. I’m noodling on the implications of the true tent.
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.
(Hebrews 8:1-2 ESV)
If you’re at all familiar with the book of Hebrews you know that its theme is: “Jesus is Better.” He is the better means by which God speaks in these last days (1:1-3). He is better than the angels (1:4). He is greater than Moses (3:3). What’s more, He is the better High Priest (4:14-15). And, He has become the better sacrifice (2:14-15, 7:27).
And if He is the better, than that which He is the better of is better too. A better salvation (2:3-4). A better rest (4:9-10). Part of a better covenant founded on better promises (8:6). Thus, making way for a better access to a better tabernacle, the true tent.
Thought it was conceived of God, commanded of God, and covered by God, for all the glory associated with the tabernacle in the wilderness, the tent was still “set up” by man. Though meticulously constructed according to God’s detailed instructions, it was still, ultimately, fashioned by man, borne by men from place to place, and assembled and disassembled by men. Thus, as good as it was, it wasn’t the better. Instead, it pointed to something better.
Though it was made with the finest materials this world had to offer, it was but an indicator of something that existed made of that which is out of this world. Though it housed the glory of God, the hem of His presence, it was but a foretaste of a better place where men and women would engage the very person of God Himself. Though it was accessible through the mediation of consecrated priests who could enter occasionally, it was just a whisper of the true tent whose High Priest has been set apart since before the foundation of the world, having a permanent place inside the tent. A place at the right hand of God’s majesty. A Mediator whose place is “in the holy places.”
The true tent–the place not set up by man, where the glory dwells perpetually and not just occasionally, where there ever lives a High Priest interceding on our behalf–is heaven. Unimaginable, unfathomable, heaven. The place where, more than just the presence of God is sensed, the very person of God is encountered (Rev. 4 & 5).
And because that’s where our better High Priest has gone, where He, even now, is preparing a place for us (Jn. 14:2), where He has promised to come and take us to be with Himself (Jn. 14:3), we anticipate one day entering also into the true tent. Something more than just the throne of grace we access by faith today (Heb. 4:16) through the active agency of the Spirit–as mind blowing as that thought is. But one day entering the true holy of holies where we will stand before the very throne upon which God is seated. And there, we shall behold Him.
What will that be like? I really don’t know. I can only try to imagine the unimaginable.
But one day I will. The shadows and foretastes of what I do know today yielding to the realities of being in the true tent in a not so distant tomorrow.
By His grace. For His glory.