Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hebrews 8 - Christ, Better than the Old Covenant

LINK: Hebrews 8


BACKGROUND


Jesus Christ is God's superior High Priest who also ministers on the basis of a better covenant (Hebrews 8), in a better sanctuary (Hebrews 9), and because of a better sacrifice (Hebrews 10).


The writer starts this chapter by making "summary arguments" in order to prove that Jesus is a superior High Priest. He refers back to Hebrews 7 for this. Jesus, as high priest, offered Himself as the better sacrifice, one time and forever (9:24-28). Jesus is in heaven in the "true tabernacle" since the one on earth was only a copy and shadow (Exodus 25:40; Hebrews 8:5; 9:11, 24; Revelation 6:9-11; 8:3-5; 11:19; 21:22). He has a more "excellent ministry" and is a mediator of a "better covenant." 


The Old Covenant was inadequate because it did not deal permanently with sin, but the New Covenant takes care of that because Christ's blood shed on the cross makes a full provision for the forgiveness of sin. The writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34, and this is what I wrote in the BACKGROUND for that chapter:
The most important part of this whole chapter is the promise of a New Covenant (31:33) in which God would put His Law within them and write it on their hearts. The Old Covenant was the Mosaic Covenant from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. God had announced a series of punishments that would occur if they transgressed it (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28), and the final judgment would be the deportation to Babylon in 586 B.C. God's New Covenant would be an internalization of His Law, giving them the inner ability to obey. This would result from God giving them the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:24-32; Joel 2:28-32). The Holy Spirit did not universally indwell all believers in the Old Testament times. So, this was a new concept.
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption 
As part of the New Covenant, God would forgive Israel's wickedness and remember their sins no more. A holy God could not "overlook" sin. So, sin's penalty would be paid for by a Substitute (Isaiah 53:4-6): JESUS
In the Upper Room, Christ proclaimed that the New Covenant was to begin through the shedding of His blood (Matthew 26:27-28); Luke 22:20). Their sins (and ours too) would be "overlooked" because Jesus would pay the penalty required of man for His sin and avert the wrath of a holy God. 
As believers today, we enjoy the spiritual blessing of the New Covenant by the forgiveness of our sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual and physical blessings will be realized by Israel at a future day when they acknowledge their sin and turn to the Substitute for forgiveness (Zechariah 12:10-13:1). 
REFLECTION


Here is a comparison chart of the Old and New Covenant adapted from The Life Application Bible. It is excellent. Reflect on it and marvel at God's great love for YOU!  Here it is for download too: Old and New Covenant Contrasted


The Old Covenant under Moses
The New Covenant in Christ
Application
Gifts and sacrifices by
those guilty of sin
Self-sacrifice by
guiltless Christ
Christ died for you
Focused on a physical where one goes to worship
Focused on the reign of Christ in the hearts of believers
God is directly involved in building your life
A shadow
A reality
Not temporal but eternal
Limited promises
Limitless promises
We can trust
God’s Promises to us
Failed agreement
By people
Faithful agreement
By Christ
Christ has kept the agreement
where people could not
External standards and rules
Internal standards –
a new heart
God see both actions and
motives – we are accountable
to God, not rules
Limited access to God
Unlimited access to God
God is personally available
Based on
fear
Based on
love and forgiveness
Forgiveness keeps our failures
from destroying the agreement
Legal cleansing
Personal cleansing
God’s cleansing is complete
Continual sacrifice
Conclusive sacrifice
Christ’s sacrifice was
perfect and final
Obey the rules
Serve the living God
Relationship, not regulations
Forgiveness earned
Forgiveness freely given
We have true and
complete forgiveness
Repeated yearly
Completed by
Christ’s death
Christ’s death can be
applied to your sin
Human effort
God’s grace
Initiated by God’s love for you
Available to some
Available to all
Available to you
adapted from The Life Application Bible, p. 2231

APPLICATION



Meditate on the blessings of the New Covenant found in 8:10-12 and thank God for them! Here are more verses on God's law being written on human hearts: Psalm 37:31, 40:8; Jeremiah 31:33; Romans 2:15, 7:22; 2 Corinthians 3:3; Hebrews 10:16.


PRAYER


Thank You, Jesus, for the shedding of Your blood for the forgiveness of my sin. Lord, thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit who continues to lead me and works through me to bear the fruit of righteousness as I yield. Thank You for writing Your Law upon my heart.  Amen. 
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