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with Shelby Hazzard
The New Covenant Needed (1-6) Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father, Ancient of Days (Dan 7:9-10), from this position he mediates for us (1 Tim 2:5-6). Christ himself is our minister, as he has passed through the heavens, to the holy places (2 Cor. 12:2) in the true tent that God has made without hands. Christ is there…right now…at this very moment I’m writing and you are reading (Eph. 3:10). 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices…; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Christ made an offering of himself once and for all, never to be offered again or repeatedly. He was born once of a virgin and died once on Calvary’s cross. He was once raised from the dead and ascended once to heaven…and now and for all eternity will mediate our salvation! 4 Now if he were on earth…“It follows, therefore, that his priesthood belongs to a sphere that is not earthly…Thus from the very beginning the gaze of the believer has been fixed not on earthly shadow, but on the heavenly reality; for this life is the time of pilgrimage, not rest, and this present world, prior to the renewal of all things, is the realm of all that is transitory, and is thus no fit sphere for him who is our High Priest forever.” (Hebrews, Hughes, 292) 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things…”Elevated to this position of eminence, our ever living High Priest is the minister in that sanctuary which is the true tent, in contrast to the perishable tent from the wilderness wanderings, the true tent is the heavenly reality into which the ascended Lord has entered, the genuine sanctuary, the imperishable holy of holies.” (Hebrews, Hughes, 282) As a set of blueprints contains the shadow/representation of the actual structure, so the Tabernacle was a “shadow” of the heavenly dwelling. “His high priestly work of atonement has activated the “better promises” of the new covenant - promises fulfilled in the cleansing of our consciences from the deadly contagion of sin, in the planting of the love of God and his will in our hearts, and in the restoration of that intimate fellowship with our Creator which the curse we brought on ourselves and destroyed.” (Hebrews, Hughes, 297)
The New Covenant Promised (7-9) - 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second…Here Hebrews inserts Jeremiah 31:21-24 as prophetical evidence for his thesis. If the first covenant had been faultless, then why would God have moved Jeremiah to make a new covenant promise? Jeremiah writes of a day when there will be a “new covenant” made with Israel and Judah that was different from the one their father’s had and breached. “The fault of the old covenant lay, not in its essence, which, as we have said, presented God’s standard of righteousness and was propounded as an instrument of life to those who should keep it, but in its inability to justify and renew those who failed to keep it, namely, the totality of fallen mankind. (Hebrews, Hughes, 297-98)
The New Covenant Described (10-13) - 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord…This new covenant would move the law from dwelling on stone tablets to dwelling within human heart and soul. No longer would there be a separate Levitical priesthood, now all that call upon Him would be His people, from the least to the greatest, 1 Peter 2:9, “9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Verse 13 seems to indicate that the author senses, in light of Christ’s prediction of the temple’s destruction (Mark 13:2), that this old order “will shorty disappear.” Delitzsch comments, “the temple service, though to continue it may be a few years longer in outward splendor, is only a bed of state on which a lifeless corpse is lying.” (Hebrews, Hughes, 302)
We needed a new covenant of grace and truth to transform us and we have it in Jesus Christ, the eternal High Priest!
Hazzard is pastor of Woodland Church, Columbus.