Day after day the rituals at the sanctuary continued, for when the one priest offered the last sacrifice at the conclusion of a day, the next priest made preparations for the first sacrifice the next morning. Literally rivers of animal blood flowed because of these continual sacrifices; and the succession of the priests, who served by division and were chosen by lot (Luke 1:8-9), seemed to be unending. Innumerable priests had served in times before Jesus’ appearance and many served during his ministry. The work of the priest was essentially futile; he had to do the same thing over and over again, and thus his work was never finished. He could never sit down to take a rest from his labors. As the writer of Hebrews puts it, “Every priest stands” (italics added). In the sanctuary the furniture included table, lamp, altar of incense, and the ark, but no chair. Furthermore, the sacrifices offered by the Levitical priest were powerless to free man from sin. The words take away actually mean to take away sins that completely envelop man and from which only Christ can free him.
By contrast, after offering his one sacrifice for all time Christ sat down because he had finished his redemptive task and terminated the Levitical priesthood. His sacrifice effectively removes sin and breaks the power of sin. He entered a period of rest after accomplishing his work, much the same as God rested from his labors upon concluding his work of creation.11
Christ entered heaven and took his seat of honor at the right hand of God. He was fully entitled to that place as the priest who has fulfilled his task of removing sin and as the king who has conquered sin and death. What a difference between the priest who performed his religious duties at the sanctuary and Christ, who sat down next to God.
11 Michel, Hebräer, p. 266. Luke’s description of “the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56) ought not be forced, because of the symbolism involved. Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953-2001). Vol. 15: New Testament commentary : Exposition of Hebrews. Accompanying biblical text is author’s translation. New Testament Commentary (280). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.