Summary: # 14 in a series on Hebrews. Four ways the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant.
A Study of the Book of Hebrews
Jesus is Better
Sermon # 14
“A New and Better Covenant”
In our modern age we define a host of relations by contracts. These contracts whether they are formal or informal, helps to specify when the terms have been fulfilled.
But “the Lord did not establish a contract with Israel or with the church. He created a covenant. There is a difference. Contracts are broken when one of the parties fails to keep his promise. If, let us say, a patient fails to keep an appointment with a doctor, the doctor is not obligated to call the house and inquire, “Where were you? Why didn’t you show up for your appointment?” He simply goes on to his next patient and has his appointment secretary take note of the patient who failed to keep the appointment. The patient may find it harder the next time to see the doctor. He broke an informal contract.
According to the Bible, however, the Lord asks: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isa. 49:15) The Bible indicates the covenant is more like the ties of a parent to her child than it is a doctor’s appointment. If a child fails to show up for dinner, the parent’s obligation, unlike the doctor’s, isn’t canceled. The parent finds out where the child is and makes sure he’s cared for. One member’s failure does not destroy the relationship….” [ I.H. Marshall, Jesus the Savior, (InterVarsity Press, 1990) p. 275 -www.bible.org/illus/covenant]
Let’s pick up the theme by looking back to Hebrews 8:4, “…there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; (5) who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” (6) But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.(7) For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.(8) Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— (9) not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. (10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (11) None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. (12) For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”(13) In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”
The secret to understanding Chapter eight is to understand the meaning of a covenant. The key to understanding biblical covenants is to understand the difference between an unconditional covenant and a conditional covenant. Our Bible is divided between old covenant and new covenant. The Old Covenant or Old Testament is the record of the conditional covenant given to the nation of Israel. The blessings of the Old Covenant were conditioned on Israel’s obedience to the law that God gave with the covenant.
The New Testament is the unconditional covenant with all who believe on the Son of God. The second intentionally replaces the first, the former even predicting and foreshadowing the new.
When it says in verse seven, “For if that
first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.” This is not suggesting that the Law itself had flaws, but that the experience of human beings under the law was faulty. The Law could reveal sin, but it could not remove it. The sacrifices could cover sin, but it could not forgive it. In fact verse eight reveals the problem as, “Because finding fault with them…” Moses announces the covenant in Exodus 19:5-6,8 we read, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. (6) And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”,,,,(8) Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord.”