Summary: A study of the book of Hebrews 8: 1 – 13

Hebrews 8: 1 – 13

Out With The Old – In With The New

1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, Who Is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since 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.

This chapter continues where the previous chapter left off. The writer had amply demonstrated that our Lord Jesus Christ was proclaimed to be a priest, and a High Priest, and that not of the Levitical order, but ‘after the order (likeness) of Melchizedek’. This, he argued, therefore meant that there would be a change of law and a new and better covenant. It was necessarily so because the old Law and the old covenant were ministered by the Levitical priesthood and had failed. And besides, having already described precisely the type of High Priest The Lord Jesus Is in chapter 7.26-28, it should be obvious to all that the old priesthood was finished. For the new sacrifice of Himself that the Holy Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus has offered could not be offered under the old priesthood. There is thus no point in seeking back to them. And if they look to the new and better sacrifice it requires a new and better priesthood. He now continues with this theme.

In the course of the chapter he declares,

• 1). That the priesthood of the Son (7.28) is heavenly, to do with what is real, and permanent, while that of the Levitical economy was earthly, was to do with ‘copies’, and was destined by its own nature to be temporary (verses 1-5).

• 2). That it was fit and proper that He be removed to heaven to perform the functions of His office, since if He had remained on earth, He could not have officiated as priest, as that privilege was by the law of Moses entrusted to others pertaining to another tribe (verses 4, 5). Thus should they see that He has to operate in Heaven.

• 3). That the Son had obtained a more exalted ministry than the Levitical priests, because He was the Mediator of a better covenant, a new covenant which related to the heart rather than to external observances (verses 6-13), and of a better sacrifice which could not have been mediated by earthly priests.

Yet in all this he gives due honor to the old, for he is not seeking to denigrate it but to put it in its proper place, as an honorable priesthood that had fulfilled an important function.

We should perhaps note what is apparent from all this. Firstly that Jesus was made High Priest while on earth, but as a minister of the heavenly Tabernacle, connecting earth with Heaven. For it was as High Priest that He offered Himself as a sacrifice (7.27) on an ‘altar’ (through the cross - 13.10) appointed by God outside Jerusalem. This fact that it was outside Jerusalem is later emphasized (13.12). The earthly ‘holy city’ is seen as ‘the camp’, that is the equivalent of the old camp of Israel in the wilderness, under the jurisdiction of the Levitical priesthood, outside which must be put all that was unclean, and outside which was burned as belonging to God all that was excessively holy. And so Jesus, Who was condemned as unclean, but was in fact truly holy, was thrust out of the camp, bearing the reproach that was thrust on Him. But that He was there ‘sacrificed’ indicates, as the whole context requires, a priesthood on earth but outside the camp, just as Melchizedek came out of Jerusalem to perform his functions with Abraham.

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