Hebrews 8 and 9 (2)
The Old Covenant was not sufficient to help the people of Israel realize the promised rest of God. Why should the first readers of the book of Hebrews think that had changed? The fault was not in the covenant; it was in the people themselves, who routinely broke God’s covenant whenever they thought they might be able to find better “rest” in other religions or their own best ideas concerning what was right for them. But the God of grace and faithfulness would not allow His promises to fail, and He instituted a new and different covenant, mediated by a better High Priest.
Read Jeremiah 31.23-37.
Read Hebrews 8.7-13.
Think it through.
1. How can you see in verses 7 and 8 that the “fault” leading to the inadequacy of the Old Covenant was not in the covenant itself? What was the nature of this “fault”? What does it mean to “continue” in God’s covenant? Were the people reading this epistle for the first time in danger of following in the footsteps of those who had failed to continue with God before? Explain. What are the signs today that someone may no longer be continuing with God in His covenant?
2. Verse 10 summarizes the essence of the New Covenant. How would you explain that essence? How does Jesus, as the “Mediator of a better covenant” (v. 6), fulfill all this essence of the New Covenant? The New Covenant is more of an inward covenant, while the Old Covenant was more of an outward covenant. Explain. How can you see that both of these are “covenants of promise” (Eph. 2.12)? How can we know that we “know the LORD”? The Old Covenant has become “obsolete”, but does this mean it no longer has any value? Obsolete airplanes can still help us understand how to build better airplanes. The Old Covenant, though obsolete, has continuity with the New Covenant, especially in its most essential components (v. 10). Explain. Meditate on John 17.3. Should we expect both covenants to help us in realizing more of the promise of eternal life? Why?
“[He bestows] on us the truly great, divine and inalienable inheritance of the Father, deifying us by heavenly teaching, putting his laws into our minds and writing them on our hearts. What laws does he inscribe? ‘That all shall know God, from small to great’; and, ‘I will be merciful to them,’ says God, ‘and will not remember their sins.’ Let us receive the laws of life, let us comply with God’s exhortations; let us become acquainted with him, that he may be gracious.” Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD)
…at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2.12, 13
You have shown me mercy, Father; You have forgiven my sins; and You have written Your Law on my heart so that I…
Pray Psalm 22.9-18.
Continue to meditate on the suffering of Jesus, and to thank God for the price Jesus paid to become the Mediator of God’s better covenant with us.
Psalm 22.12-18 (St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
Like raging bulls they bellowed, like lions set to feast.
Each gaping mouth raged loudly like an all-consuming beast.
Like water slipped His life away, disjointed hanged He high;
His tongue clung to His jaws as He prepared His heart to die.
His foes, like dogs around Him, with glee did gloat and stare.
They pierced His hands and feet; they stole the garments He did wear.
Though not a bone was broken as He promised in His Word,
Yet, wounded for our sins, thus died creation’s sov’reign Lord.
T. M. Moore
For a better understanding of the book of Hebrews, and all the books of the Bible, order a copy of the workbook, God’s Covenant, from our online store. The studies in this workbook will show you how the parts of the Bible connect with one another to tell the story of God’s redemption and glory (click here). To learn more about Christ in His exaltation, order the book, The Kingship of Jesus (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006.