The Better Covenant
7 July 2019 AM – Hebrews 8:1-13 – Heb19 – Scott Childs
Introduction: When Melody and I were first married, we had an old washing machine that had a wringer consisting of two rollers between which the wet clothes are squeezed to remove the water from the clothes. Each piece of clothing was manually fed through the wringer. Today, we have a front-load automatic washing machine that washes and then spins the clothes dryer than the wringer ever did. Both were washing machines, but the latter is better than the former.
We see something similar in the Bible. A covenant is an agreement between two parties. God gave Israel His old covenant on Mount Sinai. He listed commandments required for righteousness and a priesthood and sacrificial system to cover man’s sins. Because of man’s sinful nature, no one could keep the old covenant. Even the Ten Commandments are beyond our reach.
Christ instituted the new covenant of grace. He died for man’s sins so He can now offer us full forgiveness. (Mark 14:24) “And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” “Even though the new covenant of grace brings with it freedom from the Law of Moses (Gal. 5:1), it does not bring freedom to disobey God and sin.” (Wiersbe) Both Covenants were from God and are good, but the latter is far better than the former. Christ’s sacrifice graciously paid sin’s debt in full forever and offers complete forgiveness and eternal life.
Transition: In Hebrews 8, the apostle presents three evidences that the new covenant is better. This ought to cause us to praise God for it. This morning I am going to borrow Warren Wiersbe’s three main points.
The first evidence that the new covenant is better is that…
1. It is ministered by a better High Priest, v.1-2
a. This is the sum of the book of Hebrews
1) We must take note of this for it is the “sum” or the main point and the climax of the book of Hebrews.
2) This is what the book of Hebrews is all about. Jesus Christ is our high priest in heaven. He is better than any human priest because He is God.
b. Christ is on the right hand of God’s throne
1) The priest of the new covenant is not just a man. He is God the Son. He is far better than any human priest.
2) Last week in Hebrews 7, we learned three benefits of having Christ as our high priest.
a) Being unchangeable, He is able to save us completely.
b) Being sinless, He is perfectly fitted for our needs.
c) Being our eternal sacrifice, He ended the need for daily sacrifices.
3) Christ is now seated on the right hand of God’s throne in heaven.
4) He is the minister of God’s tabernacle in heaven which was never pitched (i.e., put together) by man.
O Christ being a better high priest is clear evidence that the new covenant ministered by Him is better also.
The second evidence that the new covenant is better is that…
2. It is ministered in a better place, v.2-5
a. God’s true tabernacle is in heaven
1) We just established that Christ is in heaven, v.1
2) God, not man, pitched His tabernacle, v.2. Every earthly tabernacle or temple was just a type of the real tabernacle in heaven.
3) Earthly high priests offered gifts and sacrifices in the earthly tabernacle, v.3-4. As our divine high priest, Christ did not offer animal gifts and sacrifices according to the Law. Such sacrifices were only types of Christ’s true sacrifice. He alone was the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29).
b. The earthly tabernacle was just a shadow
1) Moses built the first tabernacle after the pattern of the heavenly tabernacle that he saw from Mount Sinai. That tabernacle was only a replica of Christ’s tabernacle in heaven.
2) Moses’ tabernacle was a tent that they moved as they travelled through the wilderness for forty years. Later, Solomon build a temple to replace the tabernacle. It was destroyed and rebuilt by Zerubbabel. Every earthly tabernacle and temple was only a shadow of the real one in heaven.
² We have all walked in the sunlight and seen our shadow following us. It is an image of our shape, but it is not us. The same was true of the earthly tabernacle. It was a shadow or replica but not the real thing.
3) If Christ offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice and He returned to heaven to minister in the true tabernacle, why would someone want to keep depending on the shadow? Christ is now ministering for us in the heavenly tabernacle under the new covenant.
The third evidence that the new covenant is better is that…
3. It is founded on better promises, v.6-13
a. Christ provided the new covenant of grace
1) When Christ became the divine, eternal sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, He said, “It is finished.” He had fulfilled God’s required propitiation for man’s sins.
2) The old covenant demanded endless repetition of imperfect sacrifices. The new covenant provides a once and for all, perfect sacrifice of the Son of God Himself.
3) The old covenant was not bad. It was just incomplete.
b. Jeremiah announced better promises
1) Verses 8-12 are a close rendering of Jeremiah 31:31-34. Note carefully how they are addressed to Israel and Judah.
2) God made these promises to Israel and Judah not to Gentiles. As a nation, Israel rejected Christ as their Messiah. Therefore, God will fulfil the Jewish aspects of these promises during the Millennium when Israel and Judah will reunite and everyone will know the Lord. There will be no more need to preach the Gospel.
3) When the Jews rejected Christ, He offered salvation to the Gentiles as well. The apostle Paul wrote in (Romans 1:16) “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Today we can enjoy the benefits of the new covenant of grace through faith in Christ.
c. The new covenant is internal
1) The old covenant was external. Human priests physically too animals and sacrificed them to cover men’s sin. This needing to be done repeatedly.
2) The new covenant of grace is internal. Through faith in Christ’s sacrifice God will cleanse our sin. Christians can maintain righteousness through confession of sin to God. God’s Holy Spirit indwells the believer to comfort, guide, convict, and teach him the Bible.
3) During the Millennium (a 1,000-year period when Christ will reign as king on this earth), the nation of Israel will accept God’s new covenant of grace. Then they will enjoy the promises recorded by Jeremiah. God will then be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will he remember no more.
4) When God forgives our sins, does he remember them no more? How can God forget our sins if He knows everything? Answer! God does not forget our sins, but He chooses not to hold them against us. That is how we are to forgive others. Forgiving is choosing not to hold the sin against the person who wronged you. We must treat them as though they never did it.
Conclusion: God’s old covenant with Israel was good but inadequate. Christ’s new covenant of grace is adequate in every way. It is totally by grace through faith in Christ, not of works. It permanently cleanses the believer of sin. It provides him continual access to forgiveness through confession to God. It brings him into God’s family. It gives him God’s Holy Spirit who will comfort, guide, convict, and teach the Bible. It promises him eternal life.
If you have not received God’s new covenant of grace, stop trying to earn God’s salvation and place your faith in Jesus Christ today.
Song: Are You Washed in the Blood – 208