Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 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.
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.
And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”
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.
- Our high priest is seated at the right hand of the throne of Majesty in heaven.
- Our high priest is a minister in the holy places.
- Our high priest is a minister in the true tent set up by God.
- Our high priest is not ministering in a tent set up by men.
- Every high priest offers gifts and sacrifices.
- It is necessarily for a high priest to have something to offer.
- If Christ were on earth He would not be a priest.
- Christ would not be a priest on earth because there are already priest on earth offering gifts according to the law.
- The earthly priests server and imitation of the heavenly things.
- God gave Moses a pattern for the tabernacle on the mount Sinai.
- God told Moses to so follow the instruction on how to erect the tent/tabernacle on the mount Sinai.
- Christ had a ministry that was better than Moses had.
- Christ mediates a new covenant.
- Christ’s covenant is better than Moses covenant
- Christ’s covenant has better promises than Moses covenant.
- The first covenant had faults.
- If the first covenant were faultless there would be no need of another covenant.
- God had said He would replace the old covenant with a new covenant.
- God said the new covenant would not be like the old covenant.
- God said the Israelites did not keep the old covenant.
- Because they did not keep the old covenant God showed no concern for them.
- God will make a new covenant with the house Israel.
- Under the new covenant God will put the law into the house of Israel’s minds
- Under the new covenant God will write on the house of Israel’s hearts
- Under the new covenant God will be the house of Israel’s god.
- Under the new covenant the house of Israel will be God’s people.
- Under the new covenant the house of Israel will no longer teach to “Know the Lord” because the Lord will be known.
- Under the new covenant God will be merciful to the house is Israel inquiries.
- Under the new covenant every member of the house of Israel will know God fro the greatest to the least.
- Under the new covenant God will not remember the house of Israel’s sins.
- By speaking of a new covenant God make the old covenant obsolete.
- The old covenant was growing old.
- The old covenant was ready to vanish away.
The writer to the Hebrews has already shown that Christ is a high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Now he argues Christ’s priesthood is not only better but celestial. He does this by reminding us of Christ ascension into heaven. Christ ministers from heaven in the true tabernacle in heaven. The author intends to show that Christ’s priesthood does not and cannot coexist with the Levitical priesthood. This is his logic. The whole propose of the Levitical priesthood was to offer sacrifices to God. Therefore, without a sacrifice, the Levitical priesthood is an empty office. Christ’s sacrifice was Himself it was not a sacrifice under the Law. Therefore, His priesthood was not earthly but of a more noble character.
If Christ were on earth there would be no need for Him to be a priest. There already are several priests. We do not need one more. In addition, under the Mosaic Law Jesus would not be a priest. He could not be a priest because he was not from the tribe of Levi. The office of priest Christ fills in not an earthly office. What the author intends to demonstrate is that the sacrifices required by the law have ceased with the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
The author says that the Levitical priesthood, the tabernacle, the Law were only a shadow of heavenly things. They point to the spiritual realm in which Christ ministers. In short, the author is teaching that the true worship of God is not found in ceremonies of the Law which the priests performed. So the question arises, was the worship of God in that form worthless? The answer is, “no.” The ceremonies of the Law pointed to higher heavenly realities. That is why God instructed Moses exactly how to construct and erect the tabernacle as well how to perform all the ceremonies. However, all of the Law of Moses, with its ceremonies, gave way to the better ministry of Christ. Christ’s ministry is based not only on better promises but on an oath from God Himself.
The author says the first covenant was not faultless. This seems to imply the problem rested in the covenant and not the people. That would be a misunderstanding of the text. The Law was perfect as far as it went. The imperfection is not in the Law in is in the people. There was no power to cause keep the people the Law. The fault, therefore, does not lie in the Law’s imperfection. The fault lies entirely with our inability to keep the Law.
As a result of our faults and weaknesses God promises a new covenant. This new covenant will not be like the old covenant. The old covenant relied on us to keep its requirements. The new covenant does not rely on us at all. The new covenant is all about God’s grace and mercy. God keeps the covenant. The author quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34. Its fulfillment is the abrogation of the old covenant. Notice God, in Jeremiah does not say, “I will renew the covenant which you brought to nothing.” No, God says, He will establish a new covenant which is unlike the old covenant.
There are three parts to the new covenant. The first is the illumination of the mind, a knowledge of God Himself. The second is the a renovation of the heart. Third, the remission of sins allowing us to be God’s people.
Near the end of the quote it says, “they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” This is not saying all men will be in a relationship with God. It simply says they will know who God is. This also is not to say that we no longer need to teach. Rather we no longer need to teach saying,” Know the Lord.” God has made Himself known. We were commanded by Christ to teach others “…to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28 20). Teaching has a twofold purpose; first, to inform those who are ignorant, second, to aid those who are initiated to make progress. No one is so wise they cannot be taught.
The new covenant is of a completely different character than the old. The new covenant abolished the ceremonies of the old covenant. We no longer need to abide by them. The new covenant makes the old covenant obsolete. The new covenant is God’s keeping it. It does not rely on our keeping it. Praise God!
The fact that Christ is our priest and established a new covenant gives us such freedom. The old covenant required we keep the Law. It rested in us and our abilities. The new covenant has no such imposition. Under the new covenant God is responsible keeping and maintaining it. God justice requires payment for sin. But even here God provides. Christ even provided the sacrifice and in doing so established the new covenant.
Therefore, if we want our prayers to be heard, we do not need to present a sacrifice. We must present our prayers through the sacrificial death of Christ. Sacrifice is required to precede us, for any benefit from prayer. Praise God, Christ is that sacrifice.
The new covenant abolished the symbols and ceremonies of the old covenant. No ceremony or symbol of religiousity can conform to what God requires. Therefore, we must be careful not to create new symbols and ceremonies. It is not our right to devise a form of worship which is pleasing to us, which is so much of contemporary worship today. Rather our worship is to be pleasing to God alone.
Let us not try to return to the old covenant by establishing a new set of ceremonies and rites.