When describing the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament, the author of Hebrews proposes, “Since what was given in the old covenant was the earthly sketch of the heavenly reality, this was sufficient to cleanse the earthly sanctuary; but in heaven, a more perfect sacrifice was needed. The Anointed One did not enter into handcrafted sacred spaces – imperfect copies of heavenly originals – but into heaven itself, where He stands in the presence of God on our behalf. There He does not offer Himself over and over as a sacrifice (as the high priest on earth does when he enters the most holy place each year with blood other than his own) because that would require His repeated suffering since the beginning of the world. No, He has appeared once now, at the end of the age, to put away sin forever by offering Himself as a sacfice” (Hebrews 9:23-26, The Voice).
The Voice commentators write, “In chapter 9 we are reminded that what is most real, what is most true, is the unseen reality. The writer tells us that the temple in Jerusalem, the holest place on earth, was merely a copy or shadow of another place, the heavenly temple. Whatever took place in this shadowy temple could not change the realities of alienation from God, sin, and death” (2106).
The most real is the unseen reality. But how often do even as today’s church attempt to build the Kingdom of God rather than invite and anticipate? We are tempted to put so much time, money, and energy in that which we can see, hear, taste, and touch. That which we can step back and say, “Mine” or “I did that.”
But really all that we see around us – even our holiest places and spaces – are mere copies. They are glimpses of glory. Foretastes of a much grander meal.
What would it look like for you and me to live in such a way? To recognize that this is not all there is? Even our church gatherings, strategies, and structures? I am not saying that such things are not good or necessary. I am not saying that we cease being excellence or intentional. Nothing could be further than the truth.
But we make sure that all we do is not that all we do. And we understand that all that we do is not all that will be done.