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JESUS, THE MEDIATOR OF A BETTER COVENANT
Victor M. Eskew
A. In chapter 7 and the first part of chapter 8, the writer of Hebrews has been discussing the high priesthood of Jesus Christ.
B. This is the priesthood that is presently authorized by God. And, because the priesthood has changed, so has the law (Heb. 7:12).
C. In this section, Paul contrasts the two covenants. He begins by reminding them of three things:
D. In this part of the book of Hebrews, we will be examining four things.
i. THE BETTER COVENANT’S PREEMINENCE (Heb. 8:6b)
ii. THE OLD COVENANT’S PROBLEM (Heb. 8:7-9)
iii. THE BETTER COVENANT’S PROVISIONS (Heb. 8:10-12)
iv. THE OLD COVENANT’S PASSING (HEB. 8:13).
I. THE BETTER COVENANT’S PREEMINENCE (Heb. 8:6b)
II. THE OLD COVENANT’S PROBLEM (Heb. 8:7-9)
A. The Need for a New Covenant (Heb. 8:7)
B. The Nature of the Problem (Heb. 8:8-9)
1. Man as the real problem.
2. God had a regal plan.
a. Because man would sin under the Old Covenant, God’s plan contained a New Covenant. This was a law that did contain grace.
b. “…he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” (Heb. 8:8).
c. These words are found in a prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34).
d. “I will make”’ a new covenant
1) Strong (4931): to complete entirely
2) Thayer: to bring to an end, to finish, to complete
3) God had bestowed a promise upon Abraham in the long ago. “In thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed.” In bringing in the New Covenant through the death of Jesus, this promise was completed in its entirety.
e. It was initially for the Jews. Eventually, however, it would be proclaimed to all families of the earth.
f. The new covenant was “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt” (Heb. 8:9).
1) Not according to the Old Covenant. Many differences have already been explained in the book of Hebrews. Many more also existed.
2) He tells us two things about the Old Covenant.
a) It was made with the fathers of the Jews (See Deut. 5:1-2 and Deut. 4:11). (NOTE: It was not a covenant given to the Gentiles).
b) It was during the time God led them out of Egypt. Specifically, it was at Mount Sinai (See Exo. 19:3-6).
III. THE BETTER COVENANT’S PROVISIONS (Heb. 8:10-12)
For this will be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord…
A. Remember, this was quoted first in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah (Jer. 31:33-34).
1. He revealed to the Jews that a new covenant was coming.
2. He revealed some of the specifics of this covenant.
3. He revealed when this covenant would take effect, “after those days.”
a. This could refer to the days after the Mosaic dispensation.
b. It could be referring to the days following the fulfillment of the prophecies of the coming Messiah and His work.
B. There are several provisions of this “better covenant.”
1. The place of writing (Heb. 8:10a).
…I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts…
a. The Old Covenant had been written upon tables of stone.
1) Exodus 24:12; Deuteronomy 5:22
And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; thou thou mayest teach them.
2) This same contrast was picked up by Paul in II Corinthians 3:3
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.
b. This emphasizes the spiritual nature of the New Covenant.
1) It is designed to change the heart of man first.
2) Jesus emphasized how the gospel was to impact the heart of man in the Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13-18-23).
3) Bruce: “The implanting of God’s law in their hearts means much more than their committing of it to memory…Even the memorizing of the law of God does not guarantee the performance of what has been memorized.
4) Acts 15:9
And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
a) Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).
b) One’s faith prompts obedience to God’s will which, in turn, lead the individual to be forgiven of his sin (Rom. 6:17-18).
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free form sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
2. The people of God (Heb. 8:10b)
…and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.
a. The Lord has selected another group of individuals to be His people.
b. The Jews of Israel would no longer be the people of God. Only those who are obedient to the New Covenant would be in a relationship with God after that Covenant was made effective.
c. Romans 2:28-29
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
d. NOTE: This is one of the most difficult doctrines to teach to others.
1) The bulk of the denominational world has been inundated with premillennial teaching that is based on the idea that the Jews are still God’s chosen people.
2) They, however, are not. God’s people are those who have obeyed the New Covenant (See Rom. 9:6-8; Gal. 3:28-29)
3. The procedure for learning about God (Heb. 8:11)
And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
a. The writer is not saying that people under the New Covenant will not be taught to know God. He plainly says: “…for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”
b. The critical element of this verse is “when” a person comes to know God.
1) Under the Old Testament, a person would become a member of the covenant at birth. Males would be circumcised on the eighth day as a “sign” of that covenant. As the child would grow, he would have to be taught to know the Lord.
2) This would not be the case under the New Covenant. Individuals would come to know God before they became members of the covenant.
Jew………………………..Born into the covenant………....Taught about God
Christian…………………Taught about God……………….Becomes a member of the covenant
4. The purification from sins (Heb. 8:12).
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
a. Under the Old Testament, there was a continual remembrance of sins each year on the Day of Atonement. Thus, there was no complete forgiveness under the Old Testament (See Heb. 10:3-4).
b. This is not the case under the New Testament. Sins that are forgiven by the blood of Jesus are never remembered again. The blood of Christ is able to offer full, complete forgiveness of sins. The wording of the Greek literally means: “I will by no means remember them anymore.”
1) Merciful to their unrighteousness: injustice or wrong
2) Sins remembered no more: missing the mark
3) Iniquity: lawlessness, not having, knowing, or acknowledging, a law;
IV. THE OLD COVENANT’S PASSING (Heb. 8:13)
A. The relationship between the covenants (Heb. 8:13a)
In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old.
1. God has revealed two laws.
a. One of them is old.
b. One of them is new.
2. The New Covenant has replaced the Old Covenant. Just the idea of “old” and “new” indicates a distinction between the covenants.
B. The removal of the Old Covenant (Heb. 8:13b)
That which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
1. The Old Law was done away at the crucifixion of Jesus (Col. 2:14).
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.
2. The Jews, however, continued to practice the law since they rejected Jesus. The Hebrew writer acknowledged this in Hebrews 8:4. “…seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law.”
3. A death blow would be rendered to the Law of Moses by God when the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed in A.D. 70.
a. “…consequently the influence of that law, with all of it priestly functions to which the Jews clung tenaciously, was about to forever cease. This would occur at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. ‘Within a span of five years, all that impressive ceremonial was utterly wiped away from the face of the earth, never to appear again” (Coffman, page 179)’” (Wacaster, 311).
b. The temple would be destroyed.
c. The genealogies would be destroyed, rendering it impossible for the priesthood to continue to exist.
4. This was to happen in a short time after the writing of the book of Hebrews.
a. The words “is ready to vanish away” teach this.
b. He describes the Law as “that which decayeth and waxeth old.”
1) Strong (3822): to make or become worn out, declare obsolete
2) Thayer: thing worn out by time and use, to declare a thing old and so about to be abrogated.
b. Waxeth old
1) Strong (1095): to be senescent
2) Thayer: to grow old, to fail from age, be obsolecent