Our Great High Priest: Part 2 (Hebrews 8:1-13)

What do the following things have in common: Rotary Phone, VHS, 8 Track, Black and White TVs? They have all become obsolete. They served their purpose at one time but not they have been set aside for something better.

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As we arrive at Hebrews 8, we remember that we are in the midst of a discussion of the superiority of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of everything in the Law of Moses. He alone is our Redeemer, Advocate, Savior, and Lord—worthy of all praise and glory and honor. He is greater than the Prophets (He is the final Word), the Angels (He is the Son), and Moses (He is the Builder of the House of God).. He is greater than Aaron as He has a more superior priesthood. In this sermon, we will discuss how the Old Covenant was good, yet weak; therefore, it was made obsolete in order to pave the way for the new and better covenant initiated through Jesus Christ.

The Old Covenant was Good; Yet Weak

Good Because it was Holy. 

The Apostle Paul was a staunch proponent of abandoning the Old Covenant with its law-keeping and embracing the New Covenant in faith. However, this does not mean that Paul thought the law was bad or a mistake. On the contrary, in Romans 7:12, he wrote: “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” The Psalmist wrote: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart’ the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7-8). In fact, Psalm 119 is a meditation on the excellencies of God’s rules, statutes, and ordinances. The Law of Moses was based on God’s covenant with Abraham and revealed the character of God and His holiness.

Weak Because it Exposed Sin, Yet Did Not Remove Sin. 

The Old Covenant and the Law of Moses revealed God’s holiness and exposed sin. Paul wrote in Romans 7:7, “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” He also wrote in Romans 3:20, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” The Law of Moses was holy, but it was a “ministry of death” (2 Cor 3:7) and a “ministry of condemnation” (2 Cor 3:9) because it brought awareness of sin. With the awareness of sin brought death (Rom 6:23). One major weakness of the Old Covenant was that—while it exposed sin—it could not remove sin (Heb 10:4). Hebrews 10:4 reminds us that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” It exposed sin and brought condemnation because of our inability to obey the law. Galatians 3:10 says, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’”

The Old Covenant Became Obsolete; And Replaced

Obsolete Because of Disloyalty. 

According to Hebrews 8, we are told that there was a need for a new covenant because of the failure of God’s people to keep the old one. Hebrews 8:7 says, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” Also, in Hebrews 8:13, we read: “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.” The Old Covenant had priests who “serve a copy and a shadow of the heavenly things” (8:5). The Old Covenant was conditional (If…then) and continual (repeated sacrifices). The reason the Old Covenant was continually broken was because of the people’s failure to abide by the terms of the covenant. God said, “Keep the whole commandment that I command you today” (Deut 27:1). He also said, “If you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God…these blessings shall come upon you” (Deut 28:1-2). He also said, “But if you will not obey…these curses shall come upon you” (Deut 28:15). The people broke the covenant (see Neh 1:6-8 & Dan 9:5-6).

Replaced with God’s Faithfulness.

The Prophet Jeremiah prophesied about the New Covenant God will establish with His people. It is “not like the covenant that I made with their fathers…” (Jer 31:32). In this covenant, “I will put My law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer 31:33). The new covenant is different because God promises to transform them internally. Also, the promised new covenant involves the complete forgiveness of sin: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer 31:34). The Old Covenant was not abolished but fulfilled. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt 5:17). Being fulfilled, they are now obsolete and replaced with the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood: “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20). The New Covenant is not based on our faithfulness, but on God’s. This is not an “If…then” based on how well we perform. This is an eternal covenant based on the perfect work of Jesus.

New, Better, and Forever Covenant

As we learned in Hebrews 7, we have a High Priest who is the guarantor of a better covenant (7:22). He ministers forever (Heb 7:24). He is able to save completely (7:25). He is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (7:26). He does not have to first purify himself (Heb 7:27). Jesus is not a man who is weak, but the Son of God who is perfect forever (Heb 7:28). In Hebrews 8, we are reminded that Jesus ministers in the holy places…seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (8:1-2). Christ “has obtained a ministry that is more excellent than the old as the covenant He mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises” (Heb 8:6). As we continue in Hebrews, let us praise our Lord Jesus Christ.

Published by First Baptist Church of Scott City, MO

Bringing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

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