HEBREWS 8:1-13 (NIV – UK)
The high priest of a new covenant
1 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: we do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.
3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ [Exodus 25:40] 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.
7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said:
‘The days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbours,
or say to one another, “Know the Lord,”
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.’ [Jeremiah 31:31-34]
13 By calling this covenant ‘new’, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
A NEW COVENANT
We are introduced here to two covenants – one instituted through Moses on Mount Sinai (v. 5) and one ushered in by Jesus (v. 6). The old covenant was bound up in the law and sacrificial system – centred on the temple, which Moses received instructions to build (v. 5).
But that covenant was a shadow – it was a pre-cursor, a signpost of what was to come – the glory of the incarnation, the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the eternal salvation found in him. So, of course the new covenant is superior to the old (v. 6) – the old covenant was merely a shadow of the new!
The Lord wants each one of us to enter into his new covenant – a description of which we find in verses 10-12, which is a prophecy from Jeremiah 31. If we ask him, God will put his law ‘in our mind’ and ‘in our hearts’ (v. 10). He wants to be our God – and he wants us to be his people (v. 10). And if we truly receive him and enter into his covenant of grace, we will receive grace indeed – even though we are unworthy, God says: ‘I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more’ (v. 12).
Question: Do you feel as if you have entered into a covenant with God? Do you feel as if his law is in your mind and heart? Do you feel as if you have been forgiven?