Friday, October 5, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 8

Today's chapter focuses on Jesus' role as the high priest and the breaking down of the old covenant. Where it can be confusing, however, is in thinking about the role that the old covenant served. If it was imperfect and was going to be torn down anyway, why was it set up in the first place? Why did God give mankind something He knew was going to fail only to break it down and throw it away when Christ replaced it?

There are two major reasons for this, and it takes looking at the old covenant to understand them. First, the old covenant, temple, and priesthood were given to Moses and set up between only the Israelites and God. Second, God gave us this example to show how short man's attempt to reach Him would fall even under explicit instruction. Read the book of Leviticus some time. It outlines the system of sacrifices and rules to live by according to the old covenant. If you take into account everything that is there it sets up an impossible standard that no one can hope to match. This only shows our needs for Christ and the new covenant. The new covenant is also opened to all mankind as we see in this chapter, and not just the Jews and we see that in Hebrews 8.

"1The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man." – Hebrews 8:1-2

I have been repeating this over and over this week since it is a common theme in the book of Hebrews, but it is the most important truth we can learn. A tabernacle set up by man is merely a shadow of the one in heaven as it is mentioned in a later verse. Christ serves in this tabernacle and He is sinless. As we learned earlier in Hebrews the high priests of old, being men, had to cleanse themselves of sin before they could serve. Even then they could only enter the Holy of Holies one day out of the year. Jesus can do this at any time in the heavenly tabernacle for us because He is sinless.

"6But 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. 7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another." – Hebrews 8:6-7

Having Jesus mediate for us is like have God Himself as a lawyer for our case. We are all short of the Glory of God, yet all he asks is that we accept Him as our Savior. At that point He then takes on our case no questions asked and fights for us. The victory is then won regardless of the evidence against us. This is such a freeing and liberating promise and is so much better than the old covenant because it is a commitment that only needs to be done once instead of a system of sacrifices for the rest of your life.

I've done some terrible things in my life even after I came to know Christ, but the beauty of His Majesty is that I am forgiven for them. This does not mean all sin is free of consequence once we know Christ, because even forgiven sin has consequences, but it is liberating to know that I am free and loved.

At the end of the chapter we are reminded once again that the old covenant is gone. Think of this from a practical standpoint for a moment. Can you imagine trying to find a pair of perfect turtle doves as a sin offering? Now imagine trying to find these doves while everyone else is looking for them. You can't exactly find these at Wal-Mart. Next try to imagine the mess created from all of these animal sacrifices. Aren't you glad we have the new covenant through the sinless blood of Christ?


  1. Read a small portion of Leviticus for a moment. How difficult are those standards?
  2. Why is it a good thing that Jesus can intervene on our behalf at any time compared to the old covenant?
  3. Why was God so exclusive with the old covenant, but so inclusive with the new one?

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