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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

June 6, 2012

Hebrews 8:1-13

I.    Verses 1-2. This passage is a summation of the previous four chapters and hammers home the significance and importance that we have a God who cares and who is our Most High Priest. The qualifications and the role of Christ had been explained to harden Jews and confused and disheartened Jewish Christians who were seeking to return to the old ways; how foolish and ineffective that would be. The main point is this: Jesus Christ is our High Priest; He sits in honor at God’s right hand and ministers to us, His people. Right hand. An ancient term meaning the one who is the true and right representative and who holds the power of the King. He is a God who cares and who is present in life along with us. We worship His trueness--not a human temple or building, but He who is eternal and sacred. True tabernacle/tent/ sanctuary. Meaning the “Most Holy Place,” the “holy of holies” or holy things, referring to the Old Testament tent meetings where one met with God, the only way sinners can approach our Holy God and receive forgiveness; it was replaced by Solomon’s Temple and is now replaced by Christ. Also the earthly building is an imperfect and temporary replica of the heavenly one. It is just a representation, whereas Christ is the reality. The loss of the Temple and its innermost sanctuary is, in fact, no big deal when we have the real One--Christ (Lev. 16: 13-15, 34; Heb. 7:25). Not by man. The Temple was a meeting place for the priests, who made intercession, and the people who went before the presence of God, but God does not need man’s buildings. Now Christ takes us from the impermanence of the old system to His permanence; He is the one who meets us where we are (1 Kings 8:27; Acts 7:48-49; Heb. 9:11, 24).

II.    Verses 3-5. Jesus is our sacrifice so no human priest is needed to make atonement or sacrifice for us; He is the ultimate Redeemer. Christ does not operate under Moses or the priestly laws--He supersedes them and is far better for us to know and surrender to. These are mere representations and copies, but Christ is the real, effectual deal for us. Buildings are mere representatives and not the True Representative that Christ is. Because Jesus is the real high priest he must serve in the real temple and not a copy. Sanctuary that is a copy/example. This is a philosophical term from Plato that means that the “ideal template” is in heaven and the earth’s is a mere shadow. The Jewish philosopher Philo also taught this as a pattern (20 BC--50 AD, contemporary of the N.T. writers and very influential and popular then). The meaning is that the real one is in heaven and anything that is on earth is a mere “sketch” as in a shadow or copy. This infers that Christ is Real and His presence is real, (not an idea as Plato taught; rather Christ, in biblical thought, is God in our present reality and our LORD) and the priests and system of worship prior to Him were mere copies pointing to Him who was to come and who is here now (Ezek. 31:2-9; 42:15).

III.    Verses 6-7. Christ supersedes and fulfills the old laws of Moses so now we can go directly to God, person-to-Person. The Old Testament priesthood was flawed and imperfect and could not save anyone or truly mediate one’s sin and/or life. It only pointed to Christ who is perfect and has no flaw, and is here with us both now and eternally; He is Superior. This new Way is better--better promise, better oath, and better able to meet our needs (Heb. 7:12, 22). This is a far better Covenant for us so why would we want to follow the Old Covenant? If the original covenant had worked, why would Christ have needed to come, die, and be raised for us? The Law was right and holy and pointed to a Holy, Righteous God; it is only deficient because we can’t live up to it. God demands holiness and righteousness; something we can’t do as sinful humans, and why we need our Mediator, Christ. (Rom. 7:11-12).

IV.    Verses 8-9. God told Jeremiah this old system would pass away and a new and better one would come and supersede it. This was the promise Adam, Moses, and the Prophets looked forward to; now that Promise has come--Christ is here! As God took the hand of His people and led them then, He will do the same with us personally and now. He will write His law in our hearts and minds, give us His Word and Spirit so we will have all we need, and lead us with His Mighty Hand. He will be our God and we will be His people; we can know Him and He will empower us to make Him known to others too. New Covenant. God renews His relationship with His people and gives a renewed covenant; the law is still in place, but now we also have an age of grace in Christ by faith alone (Deut. 30:11-14; Psalm 37:31; 40:8; 119:11; Isa. 51:7). The Hebrews broke the covenant by their refusal to trust and obey God; they were not living for Him nor did they care for Him. God was not in their hearts and minds, so now God has to write it down--not in stone, but in our hearts (Rom. 1).

V.    Verse 10. I will put my laws in their minds…hearts. Meaning God's Law and precepts will become our inner principles so we can no longer claim ignorance or remain in our sin. We will want to know God not out of obligation, but out of a response to Who He is and what He has done. This is a call to know God, obey His principles, and grow in Him. This was a prelude for the Old Testament Jews, that one day they would have a personal relationship with God, as we now have with Christ because of this new covenant. Also, it is a retort by Jeremiah that the people of his day were not concerned about God, only about their own thinking and sins. This is a call to intimately know Christ, and receive Him, and His precepts so He will clear our conscience with forgiveness and a contented life in Him when we do His will; we will delight in Him (Deut. 5:29; Jer. 31:31-34, Ezek. 36:26-27; Rom. 8:2-4; Heb. 10:26; 13:21). I will be their God. This is the King Creator of the Universe, calling to a nation in history and us as people here and now to know Him. The Prophets had this, as did Moses and many others, but it alluded most of the Jews and peoples of the earth, A more effectual covenant was needed and Christ was it. This is also an echo of the first covenant of God to His people, the Jews: I will be your God. This is a commanding, yet loving promise for them to be His people. It comes with two sides. One, He will be our God; two, our part is that we must respond by faith and obedience. The difference is that now, it is easier to know Him. We have the Holy Spirit, Christ’s work, His word, and His grace. Knowing God declaring a peace treaty with us as an agreement (what a covenant means).

VI.   They will all know me/shall all know me...meaning access to God’s presence was restricted, something that only a few like Moses and the prophets had; now we all can enter His inner sanctum, He offers us wisdom as well as forgiveness, and holiness that we can all have when we are in Christ (Heb. 9:7-8; 10:19-22).

VII.   Verse 13. God made a new covenant. And by giving a new he made the first one obsolete, old decaying, disappearing, and aging. Referring to the First Covenant and that it was merely temporary and insufficient waiting for and pointing to Christ. It could not force obedience or inspire people to love or live for God. The faith of the Old Testament people looked forward to Christ, we look backward to what He has done, and now we partake in Him (Heb. 4:8 7:11). Soon/about to disappear. The early Church was already in the New Covenant, but the Old was still there too; the temple was still standing and priests offered sacrifices to God to appease His wrath and atone for sin. The Temple would soon be destroyed, as would the old Levitical system. All that the Jews knew to know God will be discontinued and gone in 70 AD, just a couple of years from when this letter was written and received.

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