Read Hebrews 8:1-2. What is Christ doing at the throne of God?
The book of Hebrews teaches that Christ is ministering in the heavenly sanctuary as our High Priest. His work there is focused on our salvation, for He appears “in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24, NASB). He sympathizes with us, giving us assurance that we will not be rejected, but instead, receive mercy and grace (Heb. 4:15-16) because of what Jesus has done for us. As in the earthly sanctuary, the heavenly is the location where “atonement” (or “reconciliation”) is made for the sins of the believers (Heb. 2:17). The Jesus who died for us is the One now ministering in heaven “for us,” as well.
The verses in today’s study are just some of the places in the book of Revelation where sanctuary imagery appears. In fact, most of the major sections of the book often begin with or contain a sanctuary scene.
The first introductory scene shows Christ, clothed as high priest, walking among the seven lampstands (Rev. 1:12–20). The second shows the heavenly throne room, and the verses reveal a wide variety of sanctuary imagery: throne, lamps, sea, slain Lamb, blood, golden bowls of incense (Revelation 4 and 5). The third scene refers to the continual service of intercession in the context of the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary (Rev. 8:2–6). The fourth and central scene gives us a glimpse of the Ark of the Covenant in the second apartment (Rev. 11:19). The fifth scene brings the entire tabernacle in heaven into view (Rev. 15:5–8). The sixth scene is unique in that it does not contain any explicit references to the sanctuary, perhaps to illustrate that Christ’s work there is finished (Rev. 19:1–10). The final scene is all about the glorious holy city on earth, which is portrayed as the tabernacle “coming down out of heaven” (Rev. 21:1–8, NASB).
A careful study of these scenes reveals that they are interconnected, showing an internal progression in the salvation accomplished by God: from Christ on earth, to His heavenly ministry in the first and second apartments, to His High Priestly ministry’s end, and finally to the new earth tabernacle.