Mark 14:17-25; Heb 8:6-7, 10-12
SS Lesson for 06/02/2019
Devotional Scripture: Jer 31:27-37
Israel’s greatest monuments were its annual feasts, celebrating God’s mighty acts of salvation (Leviticus 23:2–43). Passover was especially notable, commemorating God’s bringing Israel out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:1–13:16; Deuteronomy 16:1–8). As time went on, it became customary to begin that feast with a question to introduce the epic story of Israel’s deliverance: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The head of the family would then explain, telling the story of Israel’s deliverance.
The story of Jesus eating the Passover meal with his disciples before his death is a turning point in the gospel story. After Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah in Mark 8:29, Jesus began warning his disciples of his coming death and resurrection (8:31; 9:31; 10:33, 34). Yet they did not understand these warnings (9:32). For them, the Christ must triumph over his foes militarily, replacing the rule of the Gentile nations with the rule of God (Acts 1:6). Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when he was given the welcome of a king before the Passover, must have been a high mark of that expectation. Surely Jesus was to be the one to renew David’s kingdom (Mark 11:7–10)! The Passover that followed a few days later must have been tinged with this expectation. But Passover observances were always both joyous and solemn. Each of its elements was intended to remind participants of God’s triumph over Egypt. For example, bread made without leaven (yeast) was a reminder of the haste with which the meal was prepared in anticipation of leaving the land of slavery (Exodus 12:15, 17–20, 33, 34). The annual celebration of Passover affirmed for Israel that God had liberated them and made them his people (12:42). The resulting covenant was the expression of God’s actions, promises, and expectations for his people. God’s covenant with Israel had begun with Abraham (then known as Abram; see Genesis 15:18–21) and was affirmed for the entire nation at Sinai (Exodus 24:1–8). But that covenant ended up being broken time and again. A new one was needed
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises
8:1-2. The author of Hebrews opened this passage with a clear transitional statement: the point of what we are saying is this. He wished to summarize what he had been teaching and go on to new ideas. By referring to the Lord Jesus as a High Priest who sat down at the right hand... of the Majesty in heaven, he picked up the wording of 1:3 (cf. 10:12; 12:2). What he meant by this truth is reasonably clear but will be elaborated further in what follows. In the expression who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle, he touched on ideas already implicit in his foregoing instruction, yet used new terms to describe them. The idea of service (leitourgos, a “minister” in the priestly sense) is in reality the new theme. The “true tabernacle” is the heavenly sphere where that service takes place.
8:3-6. Here is an initial, preliminary elaboration of the new theme. Since the role of a priest involved gifts (dōra) and sacrifices (thysias; cf. 5:1; 9:9), it follows that this new High Priest should have something to offer. Nevertheless His service cannot be an earthly one since the Levitical ritual of sacrifice continued. (These words imply that the Jewish temple was still standing.) But the sanctuary used for that is a mere copy (hypodeigmati; cf. 9:23-24) and shadow (skia; cf. 10:1) of the heavenly one in which the new Priest ministers. Its status as a “shadow sanctuary” was secured when Moses erected the tabernacle (prototype of the temple) under strict divine direction (8:5). But Jesus’ ministry surpasses that of the Levitical priests just as the covenant He mediates supersedes theirs. (The word Mediator is used of Jesus by the author three times—8:6; 9:15; 12:24.) The word ministry (leitourgia, cf. “serves,” 8:2) again strikes the pivotal note, but it is now added that the superiority of the new priestly service is related to a superior covenant, which in turn is founded on better promises. Both the covenant and its promises will now be considered.
8:8-12. The promise of a New Covenant was made, the writer pointed out, in a passage where God found fault with the people. The Old Covenant failed because of the sinfulness of the nation, for which it had no remedy. The New Covenant, however, has such a remedy. In the passage quoted, there is first the prediction that a New Covenant will be made (v. 8) followed by a strong declaration that it will differ from the previous one (v. 9). Then follows (vv. 10-12) a description of the superior accomplishments, or enablements, of the promised covenant. These are: (1) an inner inclination to obey (God will put His laws in their minds and write them on their hearts), (2) a firm relationship with God (I will be their God, and they will be My people), (3) the knowledge of God (they will all know Me), and (4) the forgiveness of sins (I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more). These are the “better promises” alluded to in verse 6. It is clear that all these benefits belong, in fact, to all the regenerate of every age since the Cross. Though the New Covenant is specifically focused on Israel (cf. house of Israel and “house of Judah” in Jer. 31:31), it is clear that Christians of the present time also stand under its blessings (cf. Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6). This perception does not lead to an inappropriate confusion between Israel and the church. The New Covenant is God’s appointed vehicle for fulfilling the Abrahamic blessings to Israel. But the Abrahamic Covenant also promised universal blessing, so the New Covenant becomes as well God’s vehicle of salvation for believers since the Cross. To say this is not to say anything more than Jesus did when He declared that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). In no way should this impede the perception of the Christian church as a unique, interadvent body, closely united to Christ as His bride and significantly distinct from the nation of Israel. But inasmuch as all salvation is through the Cross of Christ, it is also through the blood of the New Covenant.
8:13. From the Old Testament prophecy he had just quoted, the writer then drew the justifiable conclusion that the Old Covenant was obsolete (palaioumenon) and aging and would soon disappear. The ceremonies still being conducted under it (cf. vv. 4-5) were spiritually anachronistic and the author’s words suggest that he recalled the prophecy of Jesus that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed (Matt. 24:1-2). Probably this prophecy was fulfilled soon after Hebrews was written. If so, it was a dramatic confirmation of the writer’s thesis about the Old Covenant.
9:1-5. With regard to the “aging” First Covenant, the writer wished to discuss that covenant’s regulations for worship and its earthly sanctuary. These he highlighted in order to contrast them with the superior features of the New-Covenant ministry. How “earthly” (kosmikon, v. 1), or mundane, that first sanctuary was, he emphasized by reviewing the material objects associated with it. All these had typological value, but the author could not discuss these things in detail at the time (v. 5). He confined himself to the chief features of the comparison he wished to make.
9:6-10. The “regulations for worship” mentioned in verse 1 were now dealt with so that they underlined the insufficiency of the Old-Covenant service. Whereas the outer room of the tabernacle could be entered regularly by the officiating priests, it was only on the Day of Atonement (cf. Lev. 16) that the high priest entered the inner room (i.e., the “holy of holies”) and then only with sacrificial blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. This restricted access clearly demonstrated that a true entrance into God’s presence (symbolized by the most holy place) had not yet been disclosed. That at least was the message the Holy Spirit intended to communicate by this arrangement. The Levitical arrangements were designed to convey the idea that the true way to God did not lie in them. What this indicates for the present time is that the Old-Covenant sacrificial system did not meet human need at its deepest level. It could not clear the conscience of the worshiper. Hence the regulations which formed part of the observant worshiper’s adherence to this system were chiefly concerned with externals which were only meant to apply until the time of the new order. The words of Hebrews 9:10 probably refer to sectarians for whom food laws and ceremonial washings retained great importance. The readers must remember the transitory nature of these things under the “aging” covenant and should not return to them.
9:11-12. The author then brought the discussion which began in 8:7 to a fitting conclusion. He had shown that the Old Testament anticipated a better New Covenant (8:7-13) and that the ritual of the Old Covenant, carried on in an “earthly sanctuary,” pointed to its own inadequacy (9:1-10). Now he set forth the superiority of Christ’s service as Mediator of the New Covenant (vv. 11-15). The niv rendering of verse 11 is questionable. It is not likely the writer meant to say that Christ... went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, since this cannot be distinguished from “the most holy place” which He entered according to verse 12. It is probably better to take the original word translated “through” (dia) and connect it with came as High Priest of the good things that are already here (or, per most Gr. mss., “the good things which were to come”). In that case, instead of “through” the word can be translated “in connection with” and the total statement expresses the idea that Christ’s high-priesthood is linked with “the greater and more perfect tabernacle” rather than the “earthly” one previously described (vv. 1-5). When Christ entered the most holy place once for all by His own blood (v. 12; cf. Christ’s blood in v. 14; 10:19, 29; 13:20) rather than by animal blood, He likewise demonstrated the superiority of His service because His blood had obtained eternal redemption. Thus the value of His sacrifice is immeasurably greater than the animal offerings of the Levitical arrangements. A perfect ransom price had been paid for human “redemption,” and because it need not be paid again (this sacrificial act was “once for all,” ephapax; cf. 7:27; 10:10) that redemption is an “eternal” one.
9:13-14. This “eternal redemption” through which the blessings of the New Covenant (cf. 8:10-12) have reached all believers, should affect the way believers serve God. Old-Covenant rituals served for the ceremonially unclean and only made them outwardly clean. But the blood of Christ can do much more. His was a sacrifice of infinite value because through the eternal Spirit He offered Himself unblemished to God. With this lovely assertion, the writer of Hebrews involved all three Persons of the Godhead in the sacrifice of Christ, which magnifies the greatness of His redemptive offering. “Unblemished” (amōmon) fittingly describes Christ’s perfection (cf. 4:15; 7:26) for it is also used of spotless animals brought for sacrifice. Such a great accomplishment ought to cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, but the expression “acts that lead to death” is literally “dead works” which in this context seems to refer to the Levitical rituals that, in contrast with the work of Christ, can never impart spiritual life. As also in 6:1, where such “acts that lead to death” are referred to, the writer wished his readers would give up all thoughts of returning to Old-Covenant rituals. Their consciences ought to be perfectly free from any need to engage in such things and, retaining their confidence in the perfect efficacy of the Cross, they should hold fast their profession and serve the living God within the New-Covenant arrangements.
9:15. To do so is to retain the hope of an eternal inheritance (cf. “eternal redemption” in v. 12 and “the eternal Spirit” in v. 14) which has been promised to recipients of New-Covenant life. Christ is the Mediator (cf. 8:6; 12:24) of that covenant, and the “inheritance” is available to those who are called since the death of the Mediator has freed them from all guilt derived from the sins committed under the First Covenant. The author was here perhaps countering the appeal of the sectarians, or others, to the “guilt feelings” of those Jewish Christians who must often have been charged with deserting their ancestral faith. But the blood of Christ ought to quiet their consciences permanently and lead them to pursue the “eternal inheritance” which the New-Covenant relationship brought them. Of course the writer meant here as elsewhere that it is only “through faith and patience” that his readers could “inherit what has been promised” (6:12); but if they would rest their consciences at the Cross, they could pursue this heirship undistractedly.
17 In the evening He came with the twelve.
18 Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me."
19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, "Is it I?" And another said, "Is it I?"
20 He answered and said to them, "It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish.
21 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born."
13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
20 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'"
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life." And the disciples were filled with grief.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4 "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility." 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 All men will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By standing firm you will gain life.
6 Your brothers, your own family--even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you.
Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with her who lies in your embrace be careful of your words. 6 For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law a man's enemies are the members of his own household. 7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" 22 Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."
22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."
23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
24 And He said to them, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.
25 Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
1 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-- now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.
22 Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 23 So he said to them, "Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24 No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the LORD's people. 25 If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?" His sons, however, did not listen to their father's rebuke, for it was the LORD's will to put them to death.
26 Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. 24 These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written: "Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband." 28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son." 31 Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16 "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." 17 Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." 18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
10 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 in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (NKJV)
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true-even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
11 He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
45 It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit-just as it has taught you, remain in him.
25 "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
In the first five verses of this chapter, the author has sought to show that our Lord’s priesthood (after the order of Melchizedek) is superior to that of Aaron because it is a priesthood that is carried out in heaven, not on earth, and in the “true tabernacle” rather than a mere prototype. Now He moves ahead to show that our Lord’s priesthood is also superior to the Aaronic order because it is based upon the better promises of the New Covenant, as compared with the Old, Mosaic Covenant. He sets forth his claim of superior promises in verse 6, and then states that the only reason for a “new” covenant is that the “old” covenant is flawed in some way.
We see this kind of argument all the time in advertisements we find in the media. A toothpaste is heralded as “new and improved.” Who would want to keep that old, inferior toothpaste after hearing this? Appliances are also “new and improved,” so that we dare not keep the old any longer. It is time to cast them aside and get the latest and the best. While this kind of advertising is suspect, the logic is absolutely true when comparing the New Covenant with the Old. If, indeed, the Old Covenant is flawed, then it should be replaced. As he begins to cite from Jeremiah 31, the author begins by informing us that the flaws of the Old are the reason why God declared a New Covenant with better promises.
Now what is the nature of these flaws? Here we are dealing with a matter that has divided the scholars. We will not delve into the technicalities, but will only point out the differences in the way verse 8 is translated:
But showing its fault, God says to them, “Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah (Hebrews 8:8, NET Bible; emphasis mine).
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” (Hebrews 8:8, NASB95; emphasis mine).
But finding fault with His people, He says: “Look, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (CSB, emphasis mine).
Nearly all the translations follow the rendering of the NASB, NAU95, and CSB, pointing a finger of accusation at the Israelites. Only the NET Bible points the finger of accusation at the Old Covenant. Both options are viable, and it seems to me that both are valid. We can hardly avoid the fact that the Old Covenant was flawed when this is the author’s point in verses 6 and 7. If there was nothing wrong with the Old Covenant, then why did it need to be replaced?
Now, was the Old Covenant a “bad covenant”? Is the fault only to be found here? To put the matter more bluntly, “Did God mess up by giving men a flawed covenant?” We know from Romans 7 that the problem is not entirely with the law, for it is “holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12). As the argument develops in Romans 7, we find that while the law is good, and its requirements are righteous, the problem is with sin and with the weakness of our flesh. Thus, we agree with the law in what it requires, but we nevertheless fail to obey its commands. We agree with what the Law forbids, but we do these things anyway. And so we find that the fault lies with sinful men on the one hand, and with a covenant that cannot overcome or permanently remove sin and its consequences on the other. Thus, the fault of the Old Covenant is to be found in the sinfulness of men and in the Old Covenant’s inability to remove sin.
“Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 9 “It will not be like the covenant that I made with their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not continue in my covenant and I had no regard for them, says the Lord (Hebrews 8:8b-9).
The New Covenant is one that will be fulfilled in the future, Jeremiah assures us, for “the days are coming” when this covenant will be completed. This covenant is with the “house of Israel” and with “the house of Judah.” Since the kingdom was divided at this point in time, the two kingdoms will have to be re-united. More than this, since the northern kingdom of Israel had been carried off and dispersed by the Assyrians, this would be no small miracle.
Of necessity, the New Covenant would not be like the Old Covenant that was flawed. That this “Old Covenant” that was being replaced is the Mosaic Covenant is clear in the words of verse 9. This covenant was broken by the Israelites from the very beginning, something that the author of Hebrews pointed out in chapters 3 and 4. Because His people disregarded God and His covenant with them, God had no regard for them. There was no hope for Israel under the Mosaic Covenant.
“For this is the covenant that I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and I will inscribe them on their hearts. And I will be their God and they will be my people (Hebrews 8:10).
Initially, Jeremiah indicated that the New Covenant would be executed in the “days to come” (verse 8). Now he tells us that the New Covenant will be established “after those days” (verse 10). Which days might these be? I believe the answer is to be found in Jeremiah 30:
4 Now these are the words which the Lord spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah: 5 “For thus says the Lord, ‘I have heard a sound of terror, Of dread, and there is no peace. 6 ‘Ask now, and see If a male can give birth. Why do I see every man With his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale? 7 ‘Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it. 8 ‘It shall come about on that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck and will tear off their bonds; and strangers will no longer make them their slaves” (Jeremiah 30:4-8, NASB95; emphasis mine).
I would understand the “time of Jacob’s distress” to be the time of the Great Tribulation. I believe that the church has been “grafted into” the blessings of the New Covenant, and that it will be after the “fullness of the Gentiles” is complete that God will turn, once again, to the nation Israel, bringing her to repentance and to salvation, in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant.
The New Covenant is not merely a set of external commands and standards. The New Covenant produces a change of heart. This is the circumcision of heart God promised in Deuteronomy 30:6. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, a work about which Ezekiel has much more to say.
24 “‘I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries; then I will bring you to your land. 25 I will sprinkle you with pure water and you will be clean from all your impurities. I will purify you from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave to your fathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God’” (Ezekiel 36:24-28, emphasis mine).7
The New Covenant is also a subject dear to the heart of the Apostle Paul. How clear is the contrast he makes between the Old Covenant and the New:
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? We don’t need letters of recommendation to you or from you as some other people do, do we? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, 3 revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Now we have such confidence in God through Christ. 5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6 who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 But if the ministry that produced death – carved in letters on stone tablets – came with glory, so that the Israelites could not keep their eyes fixed on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face (a glory which was made ineffective), 8 how much more glorious will the ministry of the Spirit be? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry that produced condemnation, how much more does the ministry that produces righteousness excel in glory! 10 For indeed, what had been glorious now has no glory because of the tremendously greater glory of what replaced it. 11 For if what was made ineffective came with glory, how much more has what remains come in glory! (2 Corinthians 3:1-11)
The work of the Holy Spirit is internal, changing our hearts from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. He creates in us a love for God and a desire to obey His commands. As a result, we can draw near to Him, entering into an intimate relationship free from fear and dread. How this will come to pass is yet to be seen (in verse 12). The New Covenant enables us become His people, and He becomes our God. This kind of intimacy is something that the Old Covenant could never produce.
“And there will be no need at all for each one to teach his countryman or each one to teach his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ since they will all know me, from the least to the greatest” (Hebrews 8:11, underscoring mine).
I must confess, of all that Jeremiah says regarding the New Covenant this verse is the most difficult for me to understand. I believe that the key to understanding this promise is the expression, “know the Lord.” This is a very common expression in the Old Testament. When God was demonstrating His power over the “gods” of the Egyptians at the exodus, He made it clear that the demonstration of His power was so that the Egyptians would know that He was God.
Thus says the Lord: “By this you will know that I am the Lord: I am going to strike the water of the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned into blood” (Exodus 7:17, emphasis mine).
“I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them. I will gain honor because of Pharaoh and because of all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So this is what they did” (Exodus 14:4, emphasis mine).
“And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I have gained my honor because of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen” (Exodus 14:18, emphasis mine).
In Exodus 29, God declared that the Aaronic priesthood, the tabernacle, and the sacrifices were His provision so that He could dwell among His people and so that they would know that He was God:
43 There I will meet with the Israelites, and it will be set apart as holy by my glory. 44 “So I will set apart as holy the tent of meeting and the altar, and I will set apart as holy Aaron and his sons, that they may minister as priests to me. 45 I will reside among the Israelites, and I will be their God, 46 and they will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out from the land of Egypt, so that I may reside among them. I am the Lord their God” (Exodus 29:43-46, emphasis mine).
A key text is to be found in Deuteronomy 29:
2 Moses proclaimed to all Israel as follows: “You have seen all that the Lord did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, all his servants, and his land. 3 Your eyes have seen the great judgments, those signs and mighty wonders. 4 But to this very day the Lord has not given you an understanding mind, perceptive eyes, or discerning ears! 5 I have led you through the desert for forty years. Your clothing has not worn out nor have your sandals deteriorated. 6 You have eaten no bread and drunk no wine or beer – all so that you might know that I am the Lord your God!” (Deuteronomy 29:2-6, emphasis mine)
God had performed many miracles before the eyes of the Israelites so that they might know that He is the Lord their God. And yet, we are told, to that very day the Israelites had failed to grasp this reality. And the reason He states is that He has not given them a heart to know Him.
I believe that the same condition persisted in the days of our Lord’s incarnation. He, too, performed many signs and miracles, and yet the Israelites (by and large) refused to believe in Jesus as the Promised Messiah. Their eyes were blinded, as they continue to be to this very day:
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we behave with great boldness, 13 and not like Moses who used to put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from staring at the result of the glory that was made ineffective. 14 But their minds were closed. For to this very day, the same veil remains when they hear the old covenant read. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 But until this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds, 16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed (2 Corinthians 3:12-16, emphasis mine).
Thus, throughout the Old Testament we find that with few exceptions8 God’s chosen people, the Jews, failed to know God because of their spiritual blindness, a blindness that only God could remove by changing men’s hearts. I believe this is why we find the often repeated statement in Ezekiel, “you will know that I am the Lord.”9
I understand “knowing the Lord” to be virtually synonymous with salvation. Those who are saved “know the Lord.” Those who “know the Lord” are saved. The New Covenant will achieve what the Old could not achieve, the salvation of men from their sins so that they could truly “know the Lord.” It seems clear from many New Testament texts, particularly Romans 11, that the Jews have yet to experience “knowing the Lord” as a nation. Thus, the New Covenant speaks of a future time of fulfillment when Israel and Judah will come to “know the Lord.”
We might go on to say that while we are still living in the times of the Gentiles, even we who have been drawn to faith have come to know the Lord only in part:
For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is (1 John 3:2).
The point of Hebrews 8:11 seems to be this: Under the Old Covenant, only a remnant of God’s people came to truly know God, and then only in part. The New Covenant promises that in the age to come, when the New Covenant is fulfilled, all Israel will know the Lord. Thus, there will be no need for evangelists in heaven. And since our Lord will manifest Himself fully to the saints in heaven, there will not be the need for people to teach one another. If any teaching needs to be done, our Lord will do it.
I am inclined to see a progression here. In the Old Testament days when the Israelites lived under the Old Covenant, teaching was restricted to a priestly caste – the Aaronic priesthood. So, too, priestly ministry was restricted to this same small group. But there was the promise that the nation would become a “kingdom of priests”:
We see the “priesthood of all believers” in the New Testament age, so that teaching is no longer restricted to a priestly caste. In the New Testament church, every believing man is granted the privilege of leading in worship and instruction (see 1 Corinthians 14). But the full and final fulfillment of this New Covenant promise is yet future.
“All your sons will be taught of the Lord;
And the well-being of your sons will be great” (Isaiah 54:13, emphasis mine).
Now as for you, the anointing that you received from him resides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, it is true and is not a lie. Just as it has taught you, you reside in him (1 John 2:27, emphasis mine).10
“For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer” (Hebrews 8:12).
A few years ago, I preached the funeral message of a believer who had been a part of our church. We then proceeded to the cemetery, where I shared several texts that were especially meaningful to me. A godly older man who had once served as an elder in a church where I attended came up to me afterward and said, with tears in his eyes, “You saved the best for last!” That is the way I feel about the words of the New Covenant that we find in verse 12. Jeremiah has saved the best for last. And that great news is that God has shown mercy toward sinners in forgiving and forgetting their sins forever.
This is where the Old Covenant completely failed. At best, the sins of the nation could only be set aside for another year. Someday there must be a final day of reckoning, and this would not take place in the fulfillment of the Old Covenant, but in the fulfillment of the New. This is exactly what our Lord Jesus indicated in His last moments with His disciples. His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary was to accomplish an atonement for sinners that would do away with the penalty of sin forever:
And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).
We will not belabor this point here because the author intends to make a great deal of this as he continues his argument in Hebrews. Let me give you just a taste of this from chapter 9:
11 But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, 12 and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God (Hebrews 9:11-14).
(Adapted from URL:https://bible.org/seriespage/whats-new-about-new-covenant-hebrews-86-13)
As Passover defined Old Testament Israel as God’s covenant people, so the Lord’s Supper defines Christians. This feast is a way of remembering how God covered our imperfect lives with his perfect mercy by Jesus’ sacrificial death. It represents the connections of mercy, love, and service we have with one another as God’s people. It reminds us of the greater covenant by which we serve as God’s light in the world.
1. Because of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension, every believer has a better mediator, a better covenant, and better promises (Heb. 8:6)
2. The first covenant was faulty not because God instituted it but because people failed to keep it (vs. 7)
3. Our failures in the past are not an obstacle to God's gracious work in our lives now (vs. 8-9)
4. As Christians we are not motivated by external rules but by hearts that desire to do God's will (Heb 8:10-11; Jer 1:31-34)
5. Except for the mercy of God, no one would ever be forgiven his sins (Heb. 8:12; Eph. 2:4)
Chapters 8 and 9 contain some of the richest teaching in the entire epistle to the Hebrews. As an overview, the writer began to show the superiority of the ministry of Christ as High Priest in 7:22. He continued through 10:18. Those verses state, in part, that Christ provided a “better testament” (7:22), a better sanctuary (8:1-5), a better ministry (vs. 6), and a better sacrifice (9:23). The covenant established through Christ is better than the former covenant, the Old Testament! The Lord God used the latter to bring people to the Christ of the new covenant, or New Testament. The law condemned Jews and Gentiles alike due to their sinfulness, but Christ’s covenant was able to greatly surpass the former covenant. It supplied the solution to everyone’s problems, something the old covenant could not do. To the Jews, then, the author was saying, much as Paul did to the Galatians, Why return to the Old Testament law? It did not save you! It did not set you free! Continue to embrace Jesus Christ! He has provided total forgiveness and the power and grace to live a dynamic life in Him. This lesson concentrates on the better covenant as a major basis for the unequaled superiority of Jesus’ ministry.
The Jewish Christians, who were quite familiar with the old covenant, needed to know of the new covenant’s superiority because of its better promises. A certain pizza restaurant likes to point out that its pizzas are better because the ingredients are better. The new covenant is better because its promises are better.
The former covenant, presented through the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament, was established by the Father before the Son came to earth. It was a good covenant, and it served its purpose; but it was insufficient to meet the needs of God’s chosen people. The offerings of goats and calves could not wash away their sins. Jesus, the Lamb of God, was the only One able to inaugurate a covenant that does. The old covenant was first made with Abraham. The new covenant with Israel is based on the death of the Lord Jesus (Jer. 31:31-33). The author was showing one of the relationships between the old and new covenants. Since Jesus had come to earth to seek and to save the lost, both Jews and Gentiles are included and can benefit (Rom. 1:16).
The new covenant, established by Christ, is drastically different from the old. Christ made it possible for Jew and Gentile alike to accept God’s salvation during the church age. There is more! The better covenant has an application for the future. Prophecy and the end times are involved. The writing of the law in the hearts of the people is included. The entire nation of Israel will turn to the Lord when Christ returns to earth. Hebrews 8:11 -12 describes the situation on earth during the millennium, when the King of kings will rule the world for a thousand years (Ps. 2:6-9; Zech. 14:9). The truths set forth here fit perfectly with all the prophecies in the Old Testament about the end times. Read Psalm 72.