Hope from Hebrews #14 - A Better Covenant
Text: Hebrews 7:20-8:3
Thesis: To elicit a deeper appreciation for the better covenant found with Jesus.
(1) Although the OT was perfect for its intended purpose, we still needed the NT in order for God’s overall purpose of man’s salvation.
(2) Thus, let us examine why the NT is a “better covenant.”
I. First, it is better because we have a Superior Priest.
A. Because of a Divine Oath (7:20-22)
1. Cf. Heb. 6:13-18 – God’s Oath = unbreakable
2. “The ‘oath’ of God, coming many years after the giving of the law (Heb. 7:28), is assurance that the Levitical priesthood has been set aside” (LWC).
3. “God, therefore, will never set aside the priesthood of Christ, as he did that of the Levites, the proof of this being that they were made priests without an oath of God, whereas Christ was made a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, with an oath of God, and with the further promise that God will never repent of it, that is, never change Christ's priesthood as he did that of the Levites” (Coffman).
4. “ ‘Guarantee’ translates a word found only here in the NT (engyos) and it brings before us an unusual idea. The old covenant was established, as Bruce (in loc.) points out, with a mediator (Gal 3:19) but with no one to guarantee that the people would fulfill their undertaking. But Jesus stands as a continuing guarantor and that in two directions. He guarantees to men that God will fulfill his covenant of forgiveness, and he guarantees to God that those who are in him are acceptable” (EBC).
B. Because of His Eternality (7:23-25)
1. According to Josephus, there were 83 high priests from Aaron until A.D. 70.
2. However, unlike the OT priests, Jesus is eternal and therefore His priesthood is likewise eternal.
3. Thus, “Christ's inviolable priesthood, a priesthood that can never be put away, means that he has the capacity (as others have not) of bringing a complete salvation to all who approach God through him” (EBC).
C. Because of His Character (7:26-28)
1. Although OT priests, in general, were good people, they still were sinners and had to offer up sacrifices daily for their own sins first.
2. However, Jesus was perfect and did not have to offer up sacrifices for Himself.
3. Yet, He did offer up a one-time sacrifice of Himself for our sins, which brought about true forgiveness.
D. Because of His Exaltation (8:1-2)
1. Unlike OT priests, Jesus is now reigning from Heaven.
2. Thus, He is in a superior position reigning from a superior tabernacle.
II. Second, it is better because we have Superior Promises (cf. Jer. 31:30-34).
A. Sublime Inwardness (8:10a.)
- “A defect in the old had been its outwardness. It had divinely given laws, indeed; but it was written on tablets of stone (Exod 32:15-16). The people had not been able to live up to what they knew was the word from God. It remained external. Jeremiah looked for a time when people would not simply obey an external code but would be so transformed that God's own laws would be written in their inmost beings” (EBC).
B. Sublime Relationship (8:10b.)
- “While the `formula' of the covenant remains the same from age to age, it is capable of being filled with fresh meaning to a point where it can be described as a new covenant. `I will be your God' acquires fuller meaning with every further revelation of the character of God” (Bruce).
C. Sublime Knowledge (8:11)
- “This focuses attention upon the vast difference between the old and new covenants with regard to the manner of entering them. Men were physically born into the old covenant, circumcised the eighth day, and thus grew up as members of that religious community; and, as a result, all manner of irreligious and unconverted persons were legally associated with the old Israel. Thus it can never be in the new covenant. Infant membership in the new covenant is impossible, for one must know the Lord before he can enter the kingdom” (Coffman).
D. Sublime Forgiveness (8:12)
(1) Indeed, we have a better covenant with Jesus.
(2) Have you accepted Jesus as your high priest so that you may be a part of this better covenant?