For an introduction to this series, click here.
November 12, 2007
The author continues on the theme that Jesus Christ is the great High Priest for all men.
"Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying,
'See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.'
But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises." (8:1-6)
Christ offered His sacrifice once for all in heaven. This is an important difference from the old Jewish system. They certainly could not see it as they went through the rituals back then, but they were living a picture of what was to come. But the writer says that now that Christ has fulfilled the pictures, then the old covenant is no longer needed.
"For he finds fault with them when he says:
'Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts,and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.'
In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.'" (8:8-13, ESV)
It must have been hard for these Jews to read that the former covenant with God was faulty. But even the Old Testament is clear that God had a plan for a new way of dealing with His people. This quotation from Jeremiah has more to do with the Millennium rather than the church age, but the writer here applies it to our time. He says the new covenant we have in Christ is just as different from the old Law as when Christ comes to reign in His kingdom.
Note specifically the last verse of the chapter. The old Law of Moses is "obsolete," "old" and "ready to vanish away." So many Christians get hung up on things in the Law, and so many skeptics mock Christianity by quoting the Law. The Law's primary purpose is to show all of mankind how hopelessly lost they are, but a secondary purpose was to provide a national identity for Israel. Since we are not Jewish, there is no need to identify as such, and, if they will listen, the mockers need to have that explained to them as well. Christians are not required to do the frankly strange things the Law required. We are free in Christ.