THREE THINGS WITH THREE PARTS
IN THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
Hebrews 4:9 says, "So then there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God." This Sabbath rest is Christ as our rest, typified by the good land of Canaan. Then verse 11 says, "Let us therefore be diligent to enter into that rest lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience." There is a rest waiting for us, and we have to be diligent, to labor, to strive, to enter into it lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience, the example of the disobedient Israel. Indeed, most of them fell in the wilderness and did not enter into the rest—the good land.
Right after verse 11, we have verse 12. Verse 12 begins with for, indicating a continuation of what was previously said. "For the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart." We need to carefully consider this verse. Why is the dividing of soul and spirit mentioned here? Why is discernment mentioned here? Why are they not mentioned in other places or other books? If we are going to understand a verse, we have to take care of the context. The previous verses tell us that a rest remains for us to enter into and that we have to be diligent, to labor, to strive, to enter into that rest. Then this verse tells us that we have to divide the soul from the spirit, to discern the soul from the spirit. Why? We need to look into the whole book of Hebrews to find the answer.
The Type of the Tabernacle with Three Parts
The book of Hebrews mentions three things with three parts. The first thing is the tabernacle or temple with three parts: the Holy of Holies, the Holy Place, and the outer court. The ark of God is neither in the outer court nor in the Holy Place, but in the Holy of Holies. The ark of God is the testimony of God, which is Christ Himself. Christ is the testimony and witness of God (Rev. 1:5; 3:14). Christ is neither in the outer court nor in the Holy Place but in the Holy of Holies. The book of Hebrews charges us and encourages us to enter into the Holy of Holies (10:22).
We have to look at the picture of the type. In ancient times when the people of Israel came to worship God, most of them came into the outer court to deal with the altar of burnt offering and the laver. A small number of priests entered into the Holy Place, where the showbread table, the lampstand, and the incense altar were. Therefore, to be in the Holy Place is much better than to be in the outer court. In the outer court you have only the altar for offering your sacrifices and the laver for washing yourself, but when you get into the Holy Place you have the showbread, the light, and the incense to please God. That is much better, but it is still not the best. The outer court is good, the Holy Place is better, but the Holy of Holies is the best. In the Holy of Holies was the ark, which typifies Christ Himself. Only the high priest had the right to enter into the Holy of Holies. But today we all are priests (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10), and we are charged and encouraged to enter into the Holy of Holies.
Since we are Christians, no doubt, we have experienced the altar of burnt offering, typifying the cross, and the laver, typifying the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, in the outer court. Some of us may have already entered into the Holy Place. We are enjoying Christ here as the showbread, the life supply; as the lampstand, the light of life; and as the incense, the acceptance by God in Christ’s resurrection. Now we have more experience of Christ. However, this is not the best. We are encouraged to enter into the holiest of all, the Holy of Holies, to enjoy Christ Himself. We need to press on to enjoy not only Christ as life, as light, and as the acceptance to God, but also Christ Himself as the ark in the Holy of Holies.
(The Centrality and Universality of Christ, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)