A Better Covenant (Hebrews 8:4-13)

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“The priests who offer the gifts according to the Law serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; ‘See,’ He says, ‘that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.’  But now Christ 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.  For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second” (Heb 8:4-7).  The recurring theme of Hebrews continues.  Moses and the Old Testament priests and the Law were a foreshadow of what was to come.  Jesus is better, and the covenant He initiated, the new covenant, is superior to the old.

The author continues in chapter 8 by quoting the promise of Jeremiah chapter 31.  “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, 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…for this is the covenant I will make…I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts, and I will be their God, and they will be My people” (Heb 8:8-12).

John the Baptist prophesied that when the Messiah came, He would not baptize with water but with the Holy Spirit.  When you received the new covenant offer of Jesus – “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (Jn 3:36) – your sins were forgiven and you were baptized (indwelt) by the Holy Spirit.  You now have, by the indwelling Spirit, God’s law written on your heart and mind.  The promise of Jeremiah chapter 31, the promise of a new covenant, has come true in us; God is our God, we are His people, and His law is written upon our hearts and minds.

The author concludes chapter 8 with, “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete.  But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear” (Heb 8:13).  This hearkens back to II Corinthians chapter 5.  On the basis of “Christ died for all, therefore all died” (II Cor 5:14), we know that “the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (II Cor 5:17).  May all the “new” of the new covenant be much more than just an observation, may it be our experience as well.