Hebrews 8:1 – 13 Jesus Christ, Mediator of A New Covenant
Jesus Christ is superior to the law of Moses and to the Levitical priesthood.
Jesus Christ is incomparable, superior over every being, whether it be angels or humans.
Jesus Christ completed the work His Father sent Him to do. This brought glory to His Father. (John 17:4) What was the work He completed? The purification of sins! He became a propitiation (substitute) for us; He washed away our sins (expiation)! Perhaps you remember the old hymn, “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!” (#252 in Korean hymnbook) A very simple hymn, but a very powerful message!
Now Jesus has taken His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on High! We are not talking about ideas or philosophies; this is reality! We have a High Priest who is available 24 hours a day.
Hebrews 8:1 is Coronation Day! “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest.” (Hebrews 8:1) Jesus won the battle, returned home and was crowned. He now ministers in the “True Tabernacle,” the true “Holy Place” which the Lord has erected, and not man. Our study has shown us that God planned long ago (before He created the world) a salvation for the world that is superior, not only to the Jewish religion but to every religion.
We are wealthy! We have a superior Savior, superior covenant, and a superior way of living. We are destined to bless the world!
The Problem of the Old Covenant – Hebrews 8:1-6
The old covenant God made with the Hebrew nation was not bad; it was good. Exodus 19:3-6 – God told Moses to tell the children of Israel to remember how He had led them out of slavery: “I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
How wonderful this is! God’s covenant contains two things: His promise and His command! God was revealing to them His righteousness and the way they should live.
The problem with the old covenant was not in its content. The fault of the old covenant was that it was not able to justify and transform those who failed to keep it. It was external.
Hebrews chapters 8 through 10 is one unit. Each of these three chapters teaches us about the covenant; about the law, and about grace. We will study each chapter, but reading them together will help us understand what God’s covenant with man actually is, and how we should respond in faith.
A New Covenant – Hebrews 8:7-13
God tells us that He will make a new covenant with His people that is not like the old covenant.
- New – It is a covenant of a new heart, a new nature, a new creation.
- Know God – It is a covenant where everyone can know God intimately; each person will have access to God. (Ezekiel 37:26-27)
- Holy Spirit – It is a covenant where the Holy Spirit dwells within the believer. (Ezekiel 37:14; Romans 8:9-17)
- Forgiveness – It is a covenant of mercy and grace in which God forgives all sins. He even says that He will no longer remember our sins! (Hebrews 8:12)
Old covenant – law, external, no power to enable obedienceNew covenant – grace, inward transformation, power over sinThe old covenant is obsolete, useless and helpless, and is ready to disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)
The New Covenant of which the author of the letter to the Hebrews speaks is based on the Covenant Love of God – hesed. This Hebrew word is not easy to define, but it includes the idea of God’s unfailing love, His mercy and compassion towards us and also His commitment to us. Psalm 23:6 uses this word and translates it as God’s steadfast love, or mercy. It includes both God’s mercy and His grace.
God’s covenant love is based on His covenant name. A powerful verse to remember is Proverbs 18:10 – The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are safe. Whenever we see the name LORD in all capital letters, we know that it means the covenant love of God. God first revealed this name to Moses, when He told him to tell the Israelites in Egypt who had sent him – “tell them I AM sent you.” Jesus claimed this name for Himself when He told the Pharisees that before Abraham was, I AM! “I AM is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)
As we consider the New Covenant, let us remember that I AM is giving it to us. This name includes not only who God is, but also what He does for His people.
His covenant names: (By reading the attached Scripture verses, you will understand the context for each of these names and be greatly strengthened.)
Jehovah Jireh – our Provider, our Provision (Genesis 22:14)
Jehovah Rophe – our Healer (Exodus 15:26)
Jehovah Nissi – the Lord our Banner, our Victory (Exodus 17:15)
Jehovah Makeddesh – our Sanctifier
Jehovah Shalom – our Peace (Joshua 6:24)
Jehovah Rohi – our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
Jehovah Tsidkenu – our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5,6)
Jehovah Shammah – the Lord Is There (Ezekial 48:35) Wherever we go, the Lord Is There! (see John 8:29-30)
Promises of the New Covenant
- Total forgiveness of sins – Hebrews 8:12; 10:17-18
- Cleansing of our consciences from dead works – Hebrews 9:14 Dead works are any work we do that begins in death and therefore ends in death.
- Planting a love for God in our hearts, which gives us the desire to obey Him – Hebrews 8:10; 10:4-9; 10:16; Romans 5:5. Take a moment to read these verses; then thank God that He loves you so much that He has even given you the power to love Him.
- Restoring intimate fellowship with God (the ability to know God) – Hebrews 8:11; 10:19-20. David Holdaway, a powerful teacher on the Wales’ Revival of 1904-05, and a friend we met on our visit to Wales in 2019, reminds us that “the greatest work of the Holy Spirit through the New Testament is to bring us to Christ and to make us more like Him. Some carry the presence of heaviness, fear, anger, negativity and death. Others carry hope, peace, life and joy.” What do you carry? Whose presence do you bear? (2 Corinthians 3:18)
- Promise of an eternal inheritance – Hebrews 9:15; Acts 20:32; Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Peter 1:3-5
- Reconciliation of those divided – Hebrews 8:8 The key verses that tell us of our reconciliation are Romans 5:1-2 – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace (reconciliation) with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Because we are reconciled with God, and have peace, God calls us to be His agents of reconciliation with all people – individuals who are not reconciled; social, racial and ethnic division, and nations that are separated.
- Power in prayer – When we consider the prayers of the Bible, we discover a power in prayer that we want to have in our own prayer. When we learn that the biblical prayers are based on two things, we will have power in our own prayer life. The two things are:
- God’s character – all our prayers are based on who God is.
- God’s covenant promises – the more we know God and trust His covenant promises, the greater and more effective our prayers will become.
What is the relation of the New Covenant to the law?
- Nothing is said about getting rid of the law. A “new” law is not mentioned. Grace is not the abrogation of the law, but rather a fulfillment of the law at the deepest level. Read Psalm 1, Psalm 19, and Psalm 119. When we acquire a truly deep relationship with God, then the law becomes our delight!
- Someone once said, God gave us the law so that we would desire the Spirit. God gave us His Spirit so that we could obey the law.
- If the law becomes a barrier to our salvation, to our communion and fellowship with God, it becomes legalism. Unfortunately legalism has not disappeared from the Church. Many think that by keeping all the laws of the Old Testament we can earn certain rights that will put us in more favor with God. This is legalism. But it is not legalism if we love the law out of a deep love for God and gratitude for His grace and love for us.
- The way the law is “written on our hearts” is that it is written in Jesus! His Holy Spirit writes it in our hearts. The law does not make us right with God; it does not save us. We love the law because Jesus has made me righteous and given me a great desire to please the Father by obeying everything He tells me to do. This is why we love the law.
- We appreciate the law only when we live the abundant life in Christ Jesus. The law of the old covenant was not effective, because the people were burdened with the necessity to obey but had no power to obey.
- The law as we find it in the Old Testament, or old covenant, was limited to Israel. Although the ten commandments of Moses were far more righteous than any nation’s laws at that time, they cannot be imposed on the whole world. The New Covenant is universal, for the whole world, without distinction of class, race, or ethnic group. Christians obey the moral and spiritual laws of the old covenant (Old Testament). But we do not need to obey the ceremonial laws, such as the observance of certain feasts, or certain days.
- Grace replaces the law as the way to salvation. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law completely; He delighted to obey God. And He has given us the same joy.
Questions to consider:
- We spoke last time of the Sabbath Rest, which is the Rest of God. Remember that the true rest of God is faith in His finished work on Calvary and in the empty tomb. Would you say that now you are living and walking in the Rest of God?
- How would you explain the finished, complete work of God in Jesus Christ to an unbeliever? Practice by writing out a short (100 words or less) statement of what you would say.
- Consider again the promises of the New Covenant. Spend a little time with God and thank Him for each of the promises. Memorize Romans 5:1-2; this is a key verse for you, and this word will lead you into a deeper relationship with Christ and with others in your community.
- Is there anyone with whom you need to be reconciled? Act on it today. You will feel much better when you are healed.
- Do you have joy in obeying everything God asks you to do?
Recommended reading: Our Covenant Keeping God, by David Holdaway (www.lifepublications.org.uk – E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )