Summary: The New Covenant is Greater because it is an INNER, RELATIONAL, INCLUSIVE, and ETERNAL Covenant.
The Greater Promise
SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 8:6-13
I was talking to one of the Pueblo Group leaders this week and they mentioned that their group “had a lot of fun last week with Melchizedek.” Maybe we should have called the lesson, “fun with Melchizedek.” To most people, Hebrews is a difficult book to understand. The part about Melchizedek is just one example of the obscure and sometimes difficult theology in the book of Hebrews.
It’s not a book for Spiritual Babies who only want milk. It is definitely a “meaty” book. But Hebrews does not have to be hard to digest. It’s like eating a big juicy steak. If you eat it one bite at a time --- and take time to chew --- it’s delicious. (Now everyone wants me to say “in conclusion” and break for lunch.)
We are about 2/3 of the way through Hebrews now. So far we have seen that ---
· Jesus is greater than the angels
· And greater than the prophets
· Jesus is the greater man
· And the greater High Priest
· He offers the greater rest to those who trust in him
· He is the fulfillment of the greater promise to Abraham
· He is the Greater Priest and King
· And in Chapter 8 we see Jesus brings a Greater Covenant.
Hebrews 8:6 says The ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.
The secret to understanding chapter 8 of Hebrews is to understand the meaning of Covenant. About a year ago I taught a Precept Class on Covenant. One of the main things I remember from that class is the difference between a Conditional Covenant and an Unconditional Covenant. The Bible is actually divided according to those two Covenants. We call them the Old Testament and the New Testament, but we could also call them the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
The Old Testament tells about a Conditional Covenant made between God and Israel. In short, God promised to bless Israel IF Israel would love and obey God. The New Testament introduces an UNconditional Covenant. Today we will examine the reasons why the Covenant of Christ is called a superior covenant that offers a better promise. For one thing, the New Covenant is AN INNER COVENANT.
1. An Inner Covenant Hebrews 8:10
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. Hebrews 8:10
The Old Covenant was a set of Laws written in Stone. The New Covenant is written in our minds and hearts. Because of the New Covenant, we don’t have to answer to a long list of Laws we can’t even remember --- much less keep!
When people want to become Citizens of the United States, they have to pass a test on the Laws of our Nation. (And if they break those Laws, they can’t even apply for Citizenship.) Imagine what it would be like if they could go to a Free Clinic and get a “shot” that contained all the History and Laws of the Country. Everything they needed would be injected into their Minds and Hearts. There would be no need to pass a test.
That’s what God has offered to do for you. God will place His own Spirit within your Heart. The Holy Spirit marks you as a Citizen of God’s Country. The Holy Spirit leads you into Truth, and shows you God’s will by speaking directly to your conscience. The Holy Spirit lives within you, changing you from the inside out.
The New Covenant is Greater than the Old Covenant because the New Covenant focuses on the inner man. Transformation is much better than religious rules and rituals. Some people still think that religious rituals can make them holy. They don’t realize that a person can do seemingly Holy Routines and still have a Filthy Heart.
I was told this week about a person who wanted to get baptized here. He wanted to get a baptismal certificate and show it to a Priest so he could marry a Catholic girl. Obviously he had no understanding of the meaning of Baptism. He thought an outward ritual was all he needed. But no Certificate from a Church can give us the change of Heart that we so desperately need.
God wants more than outward obedience. It is God’s loving nature to relate himself to the humans he has created. That’s why His New Covenant is A RELATIONAL COVENANT. That’s why he says in Hebrews 8:10: I will be their God, and they will be my people.