Hebrews 8

Hebrews 8
by Pastor David Groendyk

Isn’t it a breath of fresh air when the Bible says, “Now the point in what we are saying is this?” Especially after a very difficult section such as Hebrews 7 and the mysterious Melchizedek. As if being patterned after the “indestructible” and forever-priest Melchizedek isn’t enough, the author now gives even more reasons to remain faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

First, Jesus is the high priest in a better tabernacle (vv. 1–5). Jesus Christ is the high priest who is ministering, not in some building on earth, but literally in heaven, in the throne room of God himself. Jesus is pleading for us before God’s actual face. Technically speaking, according to the Old Testament law, Jesus couldn’t have served as a priest in the earthly tabernacle because he didn’t descend from the lineage of Aaron (v. 4), but that Aaronic lineage along with the entirety of the earthly tabernacle was merely a shadowy copy of the true Holy of Holies and the true dwelling place of God in heaven. Think about it this way. If you were stuck exiled in the country of Denmark with no way to get home and had to plead your case for help and support, would you rather send an advocate to the embassy in Denmark, or would you rather send an advocate to the Oval Office and speak directly to President Biden? Metaphorically speaking, Jesus is in the Oval Office! There is no better chance for your plea to be heard than when Christ is pleading to the Father in his presence.

Second, Jesus mediates a better covenant with better promises (vv. 6–13). The “old covenant” that Hebrews is referring to is the covenant made between Israel and God on Mount Sinai in Exodus. That covenant was fault-full (v. 7), not in the sense of it being immoral or wrong, but in the sense that it was limited, ineffective, and could not make the people obedient and perfect (see Heb. 7:18-19). According to the ESV Study Bible, the primary purposes of this old covenant was, “to inform his people of the moral law, to convict them of sin, and…to establish the pattern of sacrifice, priesthood, and promise of salvation that is fulfilled in Christ.” The intention was never to save Israel through the old covenant but to point them to a later salvation. The old covenant was only ever a measuring stick that the people could never measure up to, thus showing them they needed God to save them. The core difference between the old covenant and the new covenant is in verse 10b: “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts…” When Christ came and earned salvation for us, he also won for us the presence of God himself (through the Holy Spirit) to abide within us, to sanctify us, and to empower us to keep his law. The Old Testament saints never had that, or, at least, not in the same way we do. While the old laws and old promises were simply carved on stone and housed in the ark of the covenant, the new laws and new promises are carved on your own heart. How much more effective and powerful is that covenant? Infinitely!

Thank God that we have a truly finished forgiveness of sins through Christ’s sacrifice (unlike the animal sacrifices), and thank God we have true ability to keep God’s law through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. If this is what Christ has won for you, why would you ever turn away from it?