Lesson #2


The Better Covenant

Text:     Hebrews 8:1-13


     The first part of the Book of Hebrews is more like a sermon than
a letter.  In this "word of exhortation" the author shows his Jewish
Christian readers how the New Covenant mediated by Christ Himself
is superior to the Old.

           1.  It Is Ministered By A Superior High Priest  8:1

     Verse 1.  The "summary" of his point made in the previous
paragraph (chapter 7) was that Christ being a high priest of the order
of Melchisedec enjoyed a superior priesthood than the Levitical priests
of Aaron's line.  One proof of his superiority is seen in "where" he
now sits?  Christ sits on the right hand of the throne of God!

     We may not recognize the full significance of this, but folk
acquainted with a monarchy (and those of the writer's day) would well
grasp the preeminence given Christ.  The Oriental kings placed at the
right hand of their throne a son whom they associated with themselves
in all the prerogatives of royalty.  Thus Jesus was not just a high
priest, but "royal" and associated with God in His Kingdom, and
"reigns" also as "King" with the Father.

     And only a priest "after the order of Melchisedec" could be
enthroned, for Melchisedec was both "king" and "priest" (7:1f).  The
"priests" of the order of Aaron were of the tribe of Levi, and the kings
were of the tribe of Judah, and there was no way one could be "both"
in that current system.

             2.  It Is Ministered In A Superior Place  8:2-5

     Verse 2.  The fact is that this "Priest-King" also ministers in a
superior sanctuary, in heaven (cf. 4:14).  The Old Testament was full
of 'types' and 'shadows' of the real things that God had in store for his
people.  The tabernacle at Sinai with all its parts was on a 'type' of the
"true tabernacle" made by God and not man.

     The conclusion the readers ought to understand, is that a
"superior" High Priest, ministering in a "superior" place argues the
point that the New Covenant itself is SUPERIOR.

     Verse 3.  To be a priest means that one has something to "offer"
to God.  (To be a 'preacher' means that one preaches.)  The High
Priest entered into the Holy of Hollies once a year with the atoning
sacrifice for the sins of the people.

     Verse 4.  At the time Hebrews was written, all the readers knew
that there was real temple in Jerusalem, and in that temple were priests
offering gifts and sacrifices.  [Thus, Hebrews must be dated before
A.D. 70.]

     How tempting it would be to turn back to that which can be
"seen" with the eyes, and turn away from the "real" High Priests who
made the "real" sacrifice for sin in the "real" superior sanctuary.

     Many of the Jewish Christians were tempted to turn back to the
traditional Mosaical system.  But before many years passed (see verse
13) that visible system would pass from the scene and no longer
present this temptation.

     Verse 5.  Moses' tabernacle was a 'shadow' of the true heavenly
things.  The items in that tabernacle and the service rendered there
were a 'type' of what was really to take place when the 'true' High
Priest made the offering "once and for all" for the sins of the world.

     And just as Moses was faithful in constructing his tabernacle
according to the "pattern" we need to be sure that our worship and
service before God today is done according to the "pattern" given to
us in the New Covenant.

      3. The Better Covenant Is Established on Better Promises --

     Verse 6-7.  Moses was the mediator (go-between) of the Old
Covenant in the giving of the Law (Galatians 3:19-20).  The people
of Israel were so frightened at Mount Sinai that they begged Moses
to speak to them so that they could not have to hear God speak
(Exodus 20:18-21).  Sadly, this fear didn't last long; for they soon
disobeyed the very Law they promised to keep.

     The Mediator of the New Covenant is Jesus Christ, and He is its
only Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).  Christ's ministry as Mediator is more
excellent than that of the Old Testament priests because it is based on
a better covenant, and the Lord's Covenant is founded on better

     Verse 8-9.  These verses introduce the better covenant as the one
announced by the prophet Jeremiah  (31:31-34).  When Jesus in the
upper room instituted the "Lord's Supper" He took the cup and said,
"This cup is the new testament [covenant] in My blood, which is shed
for you" (Luke 22:20; Mark 14:22-24).  The Apostle Paul quoted
these words and applied them to the church in 1 Corinthians 11:23-27. 
And the writer of Hebrews states clearly that Jesus Christ in now "the
Mediator of the New Covenant" (Hebrews 9:15;  12:24).

     Verse 10.  Parts of the first covenant were inscribed on tables of
stone.  Israel continued not in that covenant (v. 9) and was forsaken
because of her unfaithfulness.

     God planned for the New Covenant to be one not laid upon the
ears to be forgotten, but in the mind to be remembered.  The New
Covenant is not written on stone to be broken, but to be treasured in
the heart and followed.  Those who are faithful to this New Covenant,
says God, will be my people!  And I will be their God!

     Verse 11.  Under the covenant mediated by Moses, the people
were born into it  (circumcised the 8th day) and later had to be taught
it.  But before one ever came into the Lord's New Covenant he would
be taught, cf. John 6:44, 45.

     Verse 12.  The New Covenant would truly impart forgiveness. 
The Law of Moses couldn't impart "forgiveness" to Israel let alone to
all mankind.  It is only through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus that
forgiveness is possible. The Old Testament sacrifices brought a
'remembrance' of sins, not a 'remission' of sins  (Hebrews 10:1-3, 18).

     The statement that God would "remember no more" the sins of
those forgiven under the New Covenant is repeated in ch. 10:16-17. 
Does this mean that our all-knowing God can actually "forget" what
we have done?  If God 'forgot' anything, would He not cease to be

     The phrase "remember no more" means to "hold against us no
more."  Once sin has been forgiven, it is never brought up again.  It is
not held against us!

     One today might say, "I'll forgive, but I can't forget."  Of course
we may not "forget," but we can act in such a way that we don't ever
hold the past against that person.  We can treat them as though they
never did us wrong.

     Verse 13.  The Law of that first covenant had been nailed to the
cross of Christ (Colossians 2:14) and even the lingering ceremonies of
it were now ready to pass from the scene forever.  Those Jews
walking by "sight" probably thought that their Christian friends were
foolish to abandon such a "solid religion" whose priests and offerings
could be seen for a "faith" that couldn't and whose high priest was in
another world.

     But in A.D. 70 the city of Jerusalem and the temple were
destroyed by the Romans, and the Jews have not had a temple or a
priesthood to serve them ever since.  In fact, with the destruction of
all their records, no Jew could demonstrate that he was of Aaron's
line, thus that he qualified to be a priest.  They have no one qualified
to serve their ceremonies even if they tried to re-initiate them.

     However, the New Covenant brings eternal blessings.  Jesus is the
author of "eternal salvation" (Hebrews 5:9) to all those who obey him. 
The New Covenant will never become old and disappear.  The Lord
is ministering today, interceding in our behalf before the throne of

Home Page
Email: Windell Gann