Promises of the New Covenant
Up to this point, the focus of Hebrews has been on Christ. His superiority to prophets, angels, and Moses. We also looked at the superiority of his priesthood to the Levitical priesthood.
Now the focus shifts to the new covenant. A new covenant in which Jesus has already been described as: the surety and mediator. In both passages, this covenant was described as a “better” covenant.
Better than what? Better in what way? In Hebrews 8, we learn the answer. It is better than the first covenant and because of the promises contained in it. Tonight we are going to examine how the New Covenant is better, especially with regard to its promises.
I. God’s Promise of a New Covenant (vv. 7-9, 13)
a. The First Covenant was not faultless (v. 7)
i. Otherwise, there would have been no need for a second covenant.
ii. We have already seen concerning the first covenant that…
1. The Levitical priesthood could not bring perfection.
2. The law made nothing perfect, and was therefore annulled due to its weakness and unprofitable ness.
iii. This inadequacy has special reference to the sacrifices of the first covenant…
1. They could not make those who approach perfect.
2. The blood of animals offered by the priests could not take away sins.
b. The People of the First Covenant were also at Fault (vv. 8-9)
i. God found fault because they did not continue in His covenant
“For I solemnly warned your fathers in the day that I brought them up from the land of Egypt, even to this day, warning persistently, saying, ‘Listen to My voice.’ Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked, each one, in the stubbornness of his evil heart; therefore I brought on them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not. Then the Lord said to me, ‘A conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors who refused to hear My words, and the y have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers.”
ii. For this reason He disregarded them, allowing them to be taken away by their enemies.
1. Even so, He did not leave them without some hope, for through the prophet Jeremiah He made a promise.
c. God promised a New Covenant
i. Promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34
ii. In which God would make a new covenant with Israel and Judah
iii. A covenant different than the one make at Mt. Sinai
d. The New Covenant has made the First “Obsolete” (v. 13)
i. By even calling the promised covenant “new”, God made the first covenant obsolete.
1. The old covenant actually continued on for about 500 years after Jeremiah.
2. But with the promise of the new, attention would be taken away from the old covenant and directed toward the new one that was coming!
ii. Its obsolescence was especially seen in the days of the Hebrew writer…
1. It was “becoming obsolete and growing old”
a. The death of Jesus rendered the sacrifices of the first covenant unnecessary.
b. Before long, the temple itself would be destroyed, and along with it, the last vestiges of the Levitical priesthood.
2. Truly, it was “ready to vanish away”
So God promised a “new covenant” to replace the “old covenant” and Jesus is the “Mediator” of this covenant, which is “a better covenant.” But better in what way?
Better because it “was established on better promises.”
II. God’s Promises Involving the New Covenant (vv. 10-12)
a. It will be inward and spiritual (v. 10)
i. “I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts”
ii. The first covenant had its laws written on tablets of stone; the new covenant is one that requires God’s laws be written in our hearts.
iii. It is not enough to have God’s Word in our hands, on our coffee table, etc.
1. We must plant God’s Word into our hearts.
2. For only then can we truly be born again by the incorruptible seed, the word of God.
b. It will provide a closer relationship with God (v. 10)
i. “I will be their God, and they shall be my people”
ii. The actual terms of this promise are really nothing new.
iii. But in each successive “age”, its promise is filled with fresh meaning; for example…
1. In “this age”, we enjoy a closer relationship with God.
2 Cor. 6:16-18
“Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord. And do not touch wheat is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.”
2. But even more so, in the “age to come”, which is in eternity.
iv. The question here is this: are you utilizing the blessings whereby you can have a closer relationship with God?
c. It will be with people who know the Lord (v. 11)
i. “None of them shall teach… saying, “Know the Lord’, for all shall know Me…”
ii. The new covenant will be with people who have already come to know the Lord.
1. Unlike the first covenant, in which people entered it at birth; as they grew up, they needed to be taught about the Lord.
2. In the new covenant, one must come to know the Lord before they can enter the covenant.
iii. So it is that one must believe in Jesus before they can enter into a covenant relationship with their Lord through baptism.
Such are the promises of God’s new covenant. As foretold through the prophet Jeremiah. Now fulfilled through the coming of Jesus and His death on the cross. By virtue of better promises, Christ is truly the Mediator of a better covenant.
But there is more to be said about why the new covenant is a better covenant, but that we will save for a later date.
At this point it might be appropriate to ask:
Have you truly entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord?
The entrance terms of this New Covenant are simple: they involve faith in Christ as a confession of that faith, along with repentance of sins and baptism into Christ.
The promised blessings of the new covenant await any and all who are willing to so respond to the gospel of Christ! Let us pray.