Friday, December 19, 2014

Hebrews 8:1-13 The New Covenant

It has been so long since I last sent anything out from this wonderful book of Hebrews. Forgive me for being so lapse. Most likely you never even noticed! Getting used to my new job has been exhausting, but I love what I’m doing! However, my routine has changed somewhat, and this has made it harder for me to sit before the computer at home! It’s been so long that we were here, that I’m sure you have forgotten where we were. However, the good new is that chapter 8 is a summary and, therefore, a reminder!

In chapter 8, the writer of Hebrews summarizes what has come before as he stresses his main point:
Now the main 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,  and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. . . But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. (Hebrews 8:1-2, 6-7)

I love how Jon Courson emphasizes the importance of having Jesus as our only High Priest and Mediator:

“What Jesus did for me on the Cross of Calvary opened the way for me to fellowship with the Father regardless of whether I have morning devotions, regardless of whether I made it to church last Sunday; regardless of whether I’ve been tithing or worshiping. Those are not the issues. Yes, it benefits me greatly to cultivate my walk with the Lord through prayer and worship, through tithing and devotions. But my relationship with the Father is not based on any of these things. It’s based on the High Priestly work of Jesus Christ. “So if you have need in any way, you can come boldly before the Father - even if you haven’t prayed in the past ten years. You can come boldly before Him because of one thing and one thing only: the High Priestly work of Jesus Christ and what he accomplished on Calvary. Nothing must be added to that; indeed, nothing can be added to that.” (Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: New Testament, P.1480-1481)

The point is that we have a NEW covenant that replaces the ineffective old one. God knew we would need a new covenant, because He knew we could not keep the old one. So He foretold the fact that the new covenant would be one written in our hearts, not on tablets of stone. The writer of Hebrews quotes the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:

The days are coming, declares the Lord,

    when I will make a new covenant

with the people of Israel

    and with the people of Judah. 
It will not be like the covenant

    I made with their ancestors. . . 
I will put my laws in their minds

    and write them on their hearts.

I will be their God,

    and they will be my people. . . 

By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:8-9a, 10b, 13)

This is the most miraculous thing that God does when we receive His gift of salvation: He writes His law in our hearts. He changes us from the inside out. We are transformed by His work in our minds and hearts. Paul tells us, in fact, that when we submit to God’s will for our lives, we will be changed:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

David knew the importance of having the Law in his heart:
I have hidden your word in my heart

    that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)

Jon Courson points out in his commentary that the first Christians did not have the benefit of small group studies in the book of Romans or in this book of Hebrews. They did not have the written New Testament in their hands. God’s Word was written in their hearts. Isn’t that amazing? We DO have the written word to help us! We have the testimony of those early believers and the exhortation in their letters to encourage and strengthen us through constant study. And, with the Holy Spirit living inside of us, God is able to transform our thoughts and hearts as we read His Word.

Shouldn’t we be turning the world upside down? If it ever needed it, now is the time! And now is the opportunity. At Christmas this year you may be the “token Christian” in your family (Greg Laurie’s words). You surely will have opportunity to share the good news about God becoming a man, the baby born to die for us. Praying this Christmas, as you think about that awesome act in history, that you will be filled with a new amazement at who Christ is and what He did on that cross! Halleljuah! What a Savior!

My sweet friend, Pamie, sent me this link to a musical video about that first Christmas that brought tears to my eyes. Take a few minutes to enjoy this reminder: