May 21st 2019 – Hebrews 8:6-13

"6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

For he finds fault with them when he says:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
    on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
    and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbour
    and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.”

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away."

Hebrews 8:6-13

One further question needs to be discussed before we leave this chapter. The teaching has been that the new covenant came because the old was faulty and ineffectual. But this must be understood in the particular context of the Apostle's argument. For the question must inevitably arise, if we take the above statement in an absolute sense, "If the old covenant merely foreshadowed, but could not provide, a remedy for sin, what was the position of all Old Testament believers?" Had they in fact forgiveness, because on this thesis in the epistle to the Hebrews, it would almost seem as if they did not. This, however, cannot be the meaning of the Apostle, for in fact later on, in ch 11, he indicates that the patriarchs of old had a living and indeed victorious faith. The Old Testament symbols, shadows as they were, were surely efficacious for those who trusted, but - and this is the point - they had, so to speak, a provisional salvation, dependent upon the sacrifice that Christ was in the fulness of the time to make on the Cross. This is the real significance of the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration with Christ and of their discoursing with Him, as Luke informs us, about the decease He was to accomplish at Jerusalem, reminding Him, as it were, that the entire Old Testament economy depended upon that death for their standing before God. Now, until that death on the Cross, the sins of the old economy were covered. At the Cross they were removed. (This is the meaning of the phrase in Romans 3:25, "to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past"). The Cross in fact stands at the centre of history, having a backward reference as well as a forward one, casting, so to speak, its shadow backwards and forwards at the same time, availing as to eternal salvation both for the saints in the old economy and for those in the new.