Hebrews 8 Bible study

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Chapter 8

 

The Old Covenant Fullfiled in Christ.

 

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. (NKJVTM)

 

In verse one Paul sums up what he has said so far. We have a high priest of the kind he has already described. As King forever, He has sat down in heaven at the right hand of God as King and Priest forever.

 

2. A Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. (NKJVTM)

 

In this role he serves God and men in those things which are true and spiritual rather than in the earthly tabernacle which was merely a figure of what was to come. The tabernacle built by Moses was material and temporal. This "sanctuary" however, is eternal since it was set up by God not men.

 

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. (NKJVTM)

 

Just as every high priest of Israel was ordained by God to offer sacrifices for sins at the earthly tabernacle, so it was necessary that Christ have something to offer that we might be enter the eternal places of God's presence in heaven. This sacrifice for sin was his own sinless life given up in death on the cross (Eph. 5:2 ; Gal. 2:20).

 

4,5. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 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." (NKJVTM)

 

Our High Priest is not among the number of those who offer sacrifices at the Temple according to the law. The function of these priests was to serve as a pattern which foreshadowed the reality which has now been brought into being by Christ. This was the whole purpose of God when he gave the Levitical law, as he warned Moses, "SEE THAT YOU MAKE ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN." The law was a complex object lesson, speaking to us of Jesus Christ and expounding the fulness of his ministry. But now that Christ has completed his once for all, perfect offering and has sat at the right hand of God, we have no more need of a figure.

 

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. (NKJVTM)

 

The ministry put into effect by Christ is not the shadow, but the substance. The Old Testament gave the pattern, but Christ is the fulfillment of that pattern. The pattern of a garment shows you how things will look when the garment is finished, but when the garment is in your possession you no longer need the pattern. The pattern provided by the Old Testament has been fulfilled in Christ, so the observance of it is no longer required. He has become the mediator of a new and better covenant which offers and delivers much more than the previous could, as Paul goes on to expound.

 

 

The New Covenant Effected by Christ.

 

7. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. (NKJVTM)

 

Paul quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34, where God had promised to make a new covenant with his people. Why would he do this, Paul argues, if there had been nothing lacking with the old? If the first covenant was able to bring us forgiveness for sin, reconcile us to God and make us righteous in His sight, then why was there any need to replace it. But the law, because of the action of sin in man, could never accomplish these things. This is why a new covenant was brought in through Jesus Christ.

 

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. (NKJVTM)

 

The law brought us an awareness of sin, but was unable to remove its guilt. The law gave men no power to keep its requirements. They remained alienated from God., So the promise of a new covenant to replace the old was given.

 

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. (NKJVTM)

 

The new covenant would not be like the old. It would not be an extension or a different version of it, but it would introduce a completely new principle, one that would deal with the very nature of sin in man.

 

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. (NKJVTM)

 

The first covenant was written on tablets of stone. The new covenant would involve God writing His law on the hearts and minds of His people. This "writing" involves a breaking of the nature of sin by the creation within of a new nature, made after God's likeness in true holiness. It is the life of Christ within. Christ is the fulfillment of God's law and to have his spirit dwelling within us and hence His mind in ours, is the very essence, glory and fulness of the new covenant (Rom. 8:2 ;Col. 1:27). Comparing the new covenant with the old,  Paul writes "for even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels" (2 Cor. 3:10).

 

The new covenant provides that God will be our God, and we shall be his people. For in the new birth, God becomes our father, and we are begotten as his children, into an inseparable relationship.

 

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. (NKJVTM)

 

The new covenant gives us an experimental knowledge of God. We do not need any man to teach us to know God, for we do know him, we are in relationship with Him. This does not mean we need no man to teach us about God from the Bible. As we are in relationship with him, we are finding out more about him each day. I know my wife, we are in a relationship, I don't need any man to tell me who she is, or introduce me to her. However, I'm finding out more about each other each day. So with God we have become his children, we know him as Father, we don't need to be taught that. But through His word we learn to know him more intimately day by day. The knowledge which God imparts to us by His Spirit does not depend on our status or intelligence, for it is obtained by being born of the spirit, The least of God's children is still one of God's children and knows him as Father.

 

12. FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." (NKJVTM)

 

Through Christ, God is able to show mercy to our unrighteousness, and forgive our sins, removing them completely that they might not be "remembered". Christ has intervened on our behalf, bearing our sin that God's wrath might be turned away from us and that we might be forgiven.

 

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. (NKJVTM)

 

Since God describes this covenant as new, it is obvious that the old is now obsolete. There is to be no return to the old covenant. What a discovery this ought to be to many Christians today, who dress in robes like Jewish high priests to show that they are set apart for priestly office. Some offer incense, and believe that a sacrifice is made in the Eucharist, and do many other such things which are modeled on the old covenant. May God open their eyes to the glory of the new covenant, where the reality and substance is the living Christ Himself.

 

 

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