HEBREWS 8:1-13 (delivered 21JUL2013)
Hebrews spends a great deal of time contrasting the Old Covenant from the New Covenant. Given the audience, this only makes sense. The main point of focus in Chapter 8 is how the New Covenant in Christ is far superior to the Old Covenant. To clearly show this, the author makes several distinctions that would have hit home with the Jewish Christians to whom he was speaking. I'd like to cover several of these as well as a few highlights.
Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,
TAKEN HIS SEAT - This is something that set apart Christ from the high priests of the Old Testament. Hebrews 10:11 says, "Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;" However, Hebrews 1:3 says, "When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." The work of the Old Testament priest was never finished. He continually stood making sacrifices for his people. The work of Christ was finished at the cross. It was thorough, complete, and fully adequate.
AT THE RIGHT HAND - This is important to note. Most people understand the simple fact that Jesus sits at the Father's right hand. In fact, we can even see this is Psalm 110:1 where it plainly states this. However, there is more to it. The Sanhedrin were a very powerful group of ruling elders among the Jewish people. When they would be holding their court of law, two scribes would be in attendance. The scribe on the left would be in charge of tallying up the votes for condemnation while the scribe on the right would be responsible for tallying the votes of acquittal. The imagery is of the High Priest sitting at the right hand of God, writing acquittals for His people. John 3:17 tells us, "God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him." Apart from Christ writing our acquittal, we all stand condemned.
a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.
A MINISTER IN THE SANCTUARY - What does it mean when it says that Christ is a minister in the sanctuary? In Hebrews 7:25, it says, "He always lives to make intercession for them." Though Christ's work in completed, He still makes intercession for us with the Father. This was part of the ongoing work of Christ. His work was so grand, it would have continual and lasting effects long after it was finished. Though our High Priest is now seated, He still makes intercession on our behalf.
TRUE TABERNACLE - (read Wisdom of Solomon 9:8 and note on the book itself)
For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer.
ALSO HAVE SOMETHING TO OFFER - If the work of Christ is finished, what else could He possibly have to offer? This goes back to Verse 2 where it says that Christ continues to minister. Though the sacrificial work has been completed, Christ's priestly duties are still very active. What was the purpose of the priest but to make intercession on behalf of their people? Without Christ, we could never go before the Father. We could never ask forgiveness. We could never offer up thanks to the Lord. We could never seek communion with God. The only reason this is possible is because, just as the Old Testament priests offered reconciliatory services between God and man, Christ actively serves in this same role. Any good work we do today is only recognized because Christ is offering that up to the Father on our behalf.
Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law;
IF HE WERE ON EARTH, HE WOULD NOT BE A PRIEST AT ALL - Simply put, Jesus came from the line of Judah. The priests were all from the tribe of Levi. From an Old Testament perspective, Christ would not have qualified to be a priest. This is covered in Hebrews 7:13 where it says, "For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar." The Levitical priests were founded upon the Law whereas Christ's priestly role is founded on the oath of God as seen in Hebrews 7:21.
who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.”
A COPY AND SHADOW - This goes back to Verse 2 where it speaks of the true tabernacle. The author of Hebrews touches on this more in Chapter 9 when he says, "For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." I'll refrain from going too much further into that passage as it'll probably be covered next week.
WARNED BY GOD - This is just quoting Exodus 25:40 where God warns Moses to make the tabernacle exactly as He had described to him on the mountain. It may have only been a copy or a shadow but it still needed to reflect the actual thing in the best manner available on this Earth.
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
COVENANT - A covenant is nothing more than a mutual agreement. In all covenants, there are promises made. Here, we see the New Covenant is being referred to as the better covenant that is enacted on better promises. As per Hebrews 7:12, "For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also." By now, we can probably see this is because the Old Covenant was based on a copy and shadow whereas the New Covenant is based on Christ and God's grace. With a new High Priest under a new covenant came the necessity of a change in the law. No longer as we bound to a law that we are unable to fulfill. We are now bound to the One who fulfilled it for us.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.
FAULTLESS - The Old Covenant was still a very real covenant between God and man but it wasn't without its faults. Jeremiah prophesied that a new covenant would be coming. Despite this, when it finally came, countless Jews rejected it. Even today, they cling to the Old Covenant instead of accepting the New Covenant which God promised was coming so many years ago through His prophet.
(QUOTE) Verses 8-12 are a direct quote of Jeremiah 31:31-34.
For finding fault with them, He says,
“BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD,
WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT
WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;
NEW COVENANT - All too often, we tend to look at the Old Testament with antiquity. We view it as being something for a people of another time. We then look at the New Testament as something entirely different. While this is true to a point, we must also see the relation between the two. While the New is definitely superior, it isn't all that different on a foundational level. In fact, while they can be contrasted all day long, they can also be compared. The New Covenant is really just a RE-newed Old Covenant. For instance, both have a High Priest. Both have a blood sacrifice. Both have reconciliatory offerings. There are many parallels. That being said, we also must take into account that it is "not like the covenant which I made with their fathers" as verse 9 says. It is far superior!
NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS
ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND
TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT;
FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT,
AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD.
FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE - Under the Old Covenant, continued obedience was a requirement. Israel did not continue in their obedience and, as a result, they were no longer in God's care. This is just one way in which the New Covenant is superior to the Old. Be thankful God's care for us is not contingent upon our strict and unwavering obedience!
“FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS,
AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS.
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD,
AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS - This is not a new concept by any means. In fact, the Old Testament Law was also meant to be written on the hearts of Israel. Deuteronomy 30:14 says, "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it." We see several examples where this was the case with the righteous:
Psalm 37:30-31 - The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, And his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.
Psalm 40:8 - I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.
Psalm 119:11 - Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.
Unfortunately, this was not the case with the unrighteous. They ignored the Law of God. They refused to keep it in their hearts.
Deuteronomy 5:29 - Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!
Just as was the original intent of the Old Covenant Law, so is the renewed intention. Of course, it is in a superior manner. Whereas Israel had the Law on tablets which could be kept in their heart, we have the Law written within us and have the Spirit to guide us. As 2 Corinthians 3:3 says, "being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." We can see this in both Ezekiel and John:
Ezekiel 11:19-20: And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.
John 14:17: "that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."
“AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN,
AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD,’
FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME,
FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.
NOT TEACH - This is in no way minimizing the importance of teaching sound biblical doctrine. Nor is it saying we are to neglect teaching others about Christ. It is referring to the Helper who would be sent as a part of the New Covenant.
1 CORINTHIANS 2:13: which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
Without going over all the verses, similar statements can be found in 1 Thessalonians 4:9 and 1 John 2:27. Isaiah 54:13a tells us, "All your sons will be taught of the LORD;" All of our authority in teaching comes from the Word of God. Apart from it, we can't make any declarations regarding God. He has given us His revealed Word along with His Spirit. Again, this is not minimizing the importance of teaching sound doctrine. After all, teachers have a very stern warning against teaching falsehoods. This is because of the importance of the position. That is not the point being taught here. Interestingly enough, the Greek words used are two different words. The first instance is "ginosko" (jee-no-sko) which refers to an intimate knowledge, oftentimes used with a sexual connotation. The second instance actually uses the word "eido" (ay-doe) which is simply basic knowledge or perception. With Scripture, all can come to know of God. However, only those moved by the Spirit will come to KNOW (gee-no-sko) God. His illuminating Spirit is our primary teacher who teaches in accordance with the Word. The superior part is that, instead of being told to know the Lord, we will have a personal and intimate knowledge of Him that cannot be taught by any mere person. It is taught by God Himself.
“FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES,
AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”
REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE - This is infinitely superior to the Old Covenant in that the Old never actually covered their sins. God never truly forgave sins as the blood of animals was not worthy. The blood sacrifices were all temporary and had to be repeated. This is because they were only foreshadowing the one true sacrifice that was yet to come. In Christ, our sins are not merely temporarily covered. They are forever forgiven and God remembers them no more.
When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
READY TO DISAPPEAR - All of the Old Testament pointed to the coming of Christ. The priests, prophets, sacrifices, etc were all merely types that foreshadowed Christ. Just as Hebrews 7:12 says the covenant changed out of necessity due to a change in priesthood, this verse shows how the New Covenant rendered the Old obsolete. Interestingly enough, the author of Hebrews specifically states the obsolete was "ready to disappear." The sacrificial system had been abolished when the temple veil was torn from top to bottom giving men direct access to God. Within only 5 years of Hebrews being written, the physical temple of Jerusalem was destroyed along with the altar. By the author stating it was getting ready to disappear, it makes you wonder if he had any idea how spot on his statement really was.