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10 September 2019

New Covenant and the Law

SYNOPSIS – The “word spoken in the Son” inaugurated the New Covenant that rendered the old one obsolete Hebrews 8:1-13

Sunrise - Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash
The letter to the Hebrews is structured around a series of comparisons that demonstrate the superiority of the “word spoken in the Son” over the past revelations of Yahweh “spoken in the prophets,” including Moses. The previous “words” were true revelations of God but partial, promissory, and preparatory – Here a little, there a little. But now, “upon the last of these days,” He has “spoken” with great finality in one who is a “Son.” - [Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash].

The word spoken in the Son is complete and, therefore, “better than” the partial revelations given through the “prophets.” The Son, “having achieved purification of sins,” sat down at God’s right hand and was “appointed heir of all things.” Logcally, this means the old word spoken “in the prophets” did not achieve “purification of sins” - (Psalm 110:1, Hebrews 1:1-4).

After demonstrating the superiority of the Son over angels, the letter warned that if the previous incomplete word included “just recompense” for disobedience, so we will not escape a far worse punishment if we ignore the superior word in the Son - (Hebrews 2:1-4).

In chapters 7-10, the letter continues to demonstrate the superiority of the “word spoken in the Son” by contrasting his priesthood, covenant, and sacrifice with the Levitical priesthood, the old covenant, and the repeated animal sacrifices performed in the Tabernacle.

The fact that God promised a future priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” demonstrated that the Levitical priesthood could not achieve the “purification of sins.” Under the previous regime that required multiple priests and sacrifices, the people received the law. However, the change in the priesthood meant also a “change of law”:
  • (Hebrews 7:11-12) – “If indeed, therefore, there had been a perfecting through means of the Levitical priesthood—for the people thereon have had based a code of laws, what further need according to the rank of Melchizedek for a different priest to be raised up, and not according to the rank of Aaron to be designated? For seeing there is to be a change of the priesthood, of necessity, of law too a change cometh” – (The Emphasized Bible).
Due to human mortality, The Levitical priesthood was dependent on lineal descent and multiple generations of priests. In contrast, the priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” is perpetual because it is based on an endless resurrected life - (Hebrews 7:15-17).
Unlike the Levitical priests, the one priest after the “order of Melchizedek” was installed by the declared word and oath of Yahweh - (“The Lord swore and will not regret, You are a priest everlastingly”). Therefore, Jesus holds the priesthood “un-transmissible.”
Furthermore, the Son became the “guarantor of a better covenant” and is able to save “to the uttermost” everyone who approaches God through him, because he “lives evermore to intercede in their behalf” - (Hebrews 7:19-25).

Unlike the Levitical priests, Jesus “sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,” becoming the minister of “the Real Tabernacle” rather than a tent assembled and pitched by man. The old priesthood and its sacrificial system constituted “glimpses and shadows of the heavenly realities,” just as Moses was told to make the earthly Tabernacle “according to the pattern he had seen in the mount”:
  • (Hebrews 8:1-5) – “A crowning point on the things being spoken:—such a one as this have we as high-priest, who hath sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,— Of the Holy place a public minister and of the Real Tent, which the Lord pitched and not man. For every high-priest for the offering of both gifts and sacrifices is constituted; whence it was necessary for this one also to have something which he might offer. If, indeed, therefore, he had been on earth he had not, in that case, even been a priest, since there are those who are offering the gifts according to the law:— Who, indeed, are rendering divine service with a glimpse and shadow of the heavenly things; even as Moses hath received intimation, when about to complete the tent,—For see! saith he—Thou shalt make all things according to the model which hath been pointed out to thee in the mount.”
Since Jesus attained a more distinguished ministry, he also is the mediator of a better covenant legislated upon better promises. If the “first covenant” had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second one.  However, having found fault with it, the Lord announced the coming days when “I will conclude a new covenant.”
  • (Hebrews 8:6-7) – “But now hath he attained unto a more distinguished public ministry—by as much as of a better covenant also he is mediator, which indeed, upon better promises hath been legislated. For if that first had been faultless, not in that case for a second had there been sought a place.
This promised new covenant is expressly stated NOT to be “according to the covenant” made at Sinai - It is not a “renewed” or modified covenant but an entirely new one.  This was necessary because the old legislation was incapable of “achieving the purification of sins.”

The new covenant in the Son enables all citizens of the kingdom to know God - His righteous requirements having been written on their hearts. Moreover, unlike the covenant at Sinai, the new one does achieve “purification of sins”:
  • (Hebrews 8:8-13) – “For finding fault with them, he saith—Lo! days are coming, saith the Lord, when I will conclude for the house of Israel and the house of Judah a covenant of a new sort: Not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by their hand to lead them forth out of the land of Egypt,—because they abode not in my covenant, and I disregarded them, saith the Lord. Because this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord:—giving my laws into their understanding, upon their hearts also will I inscribe them: and I will become their God, and they shall become my people; And in nowise shall they teach—everyone his fellow-citizen and everyone his brother, saying,—Get to know the Lord! Because all shall know me, from the least unto the greatest of them; Because propitious will I be as to their unrighteousnesses, and of their sins in nowise will I be mindful anymore. In saying, Of a new sort, he hath made obsolete the first; but the thing that is becoming obsolete and aged is near disappearing!
By establishing the promised new covenant, the Son “has made the first obsolete” and it is even now in the process of disappearing (from the perspective of the letter). This means the covenant established under Moses at Mount Sinai has ceased to be in effect – Its jurisdiction has been replaced. Therefore, anyone who wishes to remain or place himself under the old legislation chooses that which is obsolete and incapable of achieving the “purification of sins.




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