OceanSide church of Christ
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JESUS, THE MEDIATOR OF A BETTER COVENANT
Victor M. Eskew
A. In chapter 7 and the first part of chapter 8, the writer of Hebrews has been discussing the high priesthood of Jesus Christ.
1. It is a priesthood after the order of Melchizedek.
2. It is a priesthood that is far superior to the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament.
B. This is the priesthood that is presently authorized by God. And, because the priesthood has changed, so has the law (Heb. 7:12).
For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
C. In this section, Paul contrasts the two covenants. He begins by reminding them of three things:
1. Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant.
2. It is a “better covenant” that the old covenant.
3. It is a covenant that is established upon better promises.
D. In this part of the book of Hebrews, we will be examining four things.
i. THE BETTER COVENANT’S PREEMINENCE (Heb. 8:6b)
ii. THE OLD COVENANT’S PROBLEM (Heb. 8:7-9)
iii. THE BETTER COVENANT’S PROVISIONS (Heb. 8:10-12)
iv. THE OLD COVENANT’S PASSING (HEB. 8:13).
I. THE BETTER COVENANT’S PREEMINENCE (Heb. 8:6b)
…by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
A. The writer refers to the New Testament as “a better covenant.”
1. Definition: better
a. Strong (2909):
1) This word comes from a word that means “vigor” or “great.”
2) It is defined as stronger, better, nobler
b. Thayer: more useful, more serviceable, more advantageous, more excellent
2. Definition: covenant
a. Strong (1242): a disposition…(specifically) a contract
b. Thayer: a disposition, an arrangement, compact, will, testament
c. There were two types of contracts in the Greek world.
1) A “suntheke” which involved a contract between equals.
2) A “diatheke” which was a covenant between a superior and an inferior. (The word “diatheke” is used in Hebrews 8:6).
B. Two things show why the new covenant is so much better than the old.
1. It has as its mediator, Jesus Christ.
1) Strong (3316): a go between, an internunciator
2) Thayer: one who intervenes between two…to form a compact or to ratify a contract, a medium of communication
b. “…grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
c. Jesus spoke the words of God to mankind (John 12:49).
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
He gave His life to bring the covenant into force (Heb. 9:15-17).
For where a testament, there must also be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead…
2. It has as its message, better promises.
Old Testament New Testament
Earthly promises Spiritual promises
Temporary promises Eternal promises
Promises pertain to the outer man Promises pertaining to the inner man
II. THE OLD COVENANT’S PROBLEM (Heb. 8:7-9)
A. The Need for a New Covenant (Heb. 8:7)
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for a second.
1. The writer tells us that the first covenant was not faultless. If it had been, a second would not have been needed.
a. Strong (273): irreproachable
b. Thayer: blameless, deserving no censure, free from fault or defect
3. The law was just that, law.
a. It was a system of do’s and don’ts.
b. As long as man lived in complete obedience to the law, there was absolutely no problem at all.
c. But, there were no provisions in the law to provide for man once the law was violated (See Gal. 3:21).
Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
d. Herein, is where one could “blame” the law. There was no forgiveness once man had transgressed the Old Covenant. (NOTE: One could say that there was no grace therein).
B. The Nature of the Problem (Heb. 8:8-9)
1. Man was the real problem.
a. The writer begins these two verses with the words: “For finding fault with them…”
b. He concludes these two verses with these words: “…because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
1) The Jews did not continue in the covenant.
a) They violated various commands and failed to keep some of the commands God gave them (Jer. 7:24-26)
But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants and prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: but they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.
b) “The overall character of Israel as a nation of God’s people is nothing but rebellion, disobedience, and punishment” (Wacaster, 304).
2) Thus, God regarded them not.
a) God rejected them.
b) God held them in disdain.
c) “I took no farther care of them, and gave them up into the hands of their enemies, and so they were carried away into captivity” (Clarke, e-sword).
c. Only Jesus lived in complete obedience to God under the Old Testament. Because of this He did not need a Savior and could be a Savior.
d. All of the Jews, both men and women, violated the Old Testament.
e. Two thoughts:
1) God knew this about the Old Testament.
2) God never intended for the Old Covenant to be permanent.
2. God had the regal plan.
a. Because man would sin under the Old Covenant, God’s plan contained a New Covenant. This was a law that did contain grace.
b. “…he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” (Heb. 8:8).
c. These words are found in a prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34).
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord.
d. “I will make”’ a new covenant
1) Strong (4931): to complete entirely
2) Thayer: to bring to an end, to finish, to complete
3) God had bestowed a promise upon Abraham in the long ago. “In thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed.” In bringing in the New Covenant through the death of Jesus, this promise was completed in its entirety.
e. It was initially for the Jews. Eventually, however, it would be proclaimed to all families of the earth.