1. What is the meaning of "the true tabernacle," in Hebrews 8:2?
Answer. If it be remembered that the tabernacle in the wilderness was a revelation of heavenly things, that it was made after the pattern showed to Moses on the mount, it will be at once apprehended that the "true tabernacle" signifies the place and scene of the exercise of the Lord's heavenly priesthood. Thus everywhere in this epistle the earthly tabernacle is regarded as the antitype of the heavenly, as, for example, where we read, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures (antitypes) of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." (Chap. 9:24.)
2. Does "heaven itself" and the "presence of God" refer to the same thing?
Answer. "Heaven itself" is the place into which Christ has entered, whereas the presence (literally, the "face") of God teaches us that it is before God in that place that He appears as the great High Priest, as the representative of His people. This is clear from the words "for us," or "on our behalf," at the end of the verse. (9:24.) As Aaron was to bear the names of the twelve tribes on his shoulders and on his heart before Jehovah, so Christ, in a more excellent way, presents and represents all His people, in the exercise of His priesthood, before God, and it may be added, in all the acceptance of His own person, and in the perfect efficacy of His work.
3. Is the "holiest," in chap. 10:19, the same as "holy place," in chap. 9:12?
Answer. The words in the original are the same in both scriptures; and no doubt the same place is indicated. But it may be noted that the words here used are general, and might be rendered "holy things," or "holy places," and would thus cover the whole of the heavenly sanctuary, that is, if we apply them, for the moment, to the earthly tabernacle, the holy place as well as the holy of holies. There is another expression in chap. 9:3 which could only be translated "holy of holies," or "holiest"; but as already said, the more general terms in 9:12 and 10:19 cannot but refer to this, because they refer to the place into which Christ has gone as the great high Priest.
4. Does not "boldness to enter" show that a believer has now access to God by the blood of Jesus?
Answer. It is not exactly "by" the blood that we have access; the meaning of the expression is "in virtue of," or "in the power of," and it teaches that it is in the efficacy of the blood of Jesus that we find our absolute and indefeasible title of entrance. But it must be noted that it is by a new and living way, which Christ has initiated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh, that we can alone enter. In other words, Christ entered through death and resurrection, and it was thus He opened up the new and living way. To enter, therefore, into the holiest, we must travel by the same path - through death and resurrection - only in our case morally; for the holiest is outside of this scene, and only to be approached through the pathway of death and resurrection. To understand this is of all importance.
5. If the way is thus opened, what is it that hinders our enjoyment of access?
Answer. The answer to this question is found in v. 22, where we have the exhortation to "draw near." Two things are in this scripture - the title to draw near, and the practical condition of soul, without which the title cannot be used. The title lies in the words, "having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water"; the condition of soul necessary for the enjoyment of the title is expressed in the words, "a true heart in full assurance of faith." A true heart is one that has no reserves from God, nothing unconfessed or unjudged (compare 1 John 3:19-22); and full assurance of faith is entire confidence in the perfect and abiding efficacy of the one sacrifice of Christ, combined with unshaken trust in God and His grace, as displayed in Him who by His one offering hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (v. 14.) Indeed, it is only when we are in the knowledge of God's grace in redemption that we can welcome the action of the light which exposes our hearts before God, and desire that everything which is unsuited to His presence should be removed. To sum up, then, the only thing to hinder our access, when we possess the title, is the neglect of self-judgment and confession, the absence of a true heart.