Through the Book of Hebrews—Exploration and Discussion Chp. 8
The writer of Hebrews goes on to develop Christ’s “More Excellent” ministry. It was a radical truth for the Jewish reader of the day (A.D 66-70) to accept and maintain that Judaism is superseded by Christianity and the old system of priests and sacrifices were not only weak and useless (7:18), but unnecessary now that the sacrifice of Jesus had been offered. Under the new covenant, Pett (www) writes,
“Thus they are no longer bound by the ritual requirements of the old covenant, and while still required to live out its moral teaching, are to do so under the new covenant, not as a legal duty, but because they have been made acceptable to God and because His Spirit is at work within them.”
So too the Holy Spirit abides inside (indwelling God) and continuously works through our transformed, yet broken self.
Have you experienced Christ to the point that: In Christ, we can’t help but to share Christ (our High Priest) with those around us?
Genuine believers understand that Jesus died for our sins and rose again that we “in Christ” are forgiven, empowered, and possess the precious gospel message of eternal life.
I think an important question: have we died to our “self”? And, do we die to our self everyday? Take up your cross? Daily? Follow me?
When we don’t engage in this process do we sense our indwelling God tugging our heart?
Do you recall at time when you experienced a broken and contrite heart before our holy God?
Have I totally exchanged my “self” life for “Christ” life? How do you know?
How do you know you are acceptable to our Holy God? Regardless of what you do! Only Christ Christ Christ through faith! We are saved by the grace (unmeritted) of God through faith, trusting, depending, crying out with a broken heart that understands “unworthy” yet believes Christ is worthy and has allowed me to enter the most holy place.
Do others (outside of your local church) know you are a Christian? What makes you different from those around you who do not accept Jesus as their high priest?
Let’s continue to explore what the new covenant is all about:
v. 1 “…such a high priest” 7:26-28
a. meets our every need
b. Jesus according to these verses: holy, blameless, pure, and set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens, sacrificed himself for our sins & perfect forever.
“Being ‘seated at God’s right hand’ indicates that the work of redemption is complete and that Christ is actively ruling with God as Lord over all” (NIV notes 1:3).
Jesus is now in a position of highest honor and authority. “Majesty in Heaven” is a reverent reference to God the Father.
v. 2 What is Jesus doing in the sanctuary? Although Christ is in a position of honor and authority, He continues to _________________on our behalf.
As Christ “indwells” and dynamic fellowship is taking place through obedience, prayer, study, maturity, our role/desire to be a servant of others is a reflection of Christ.
“This is the true tabernacle of which the earthly was but a copy. It is the heavenly tabernacle, pitched by God and not man, without fault, permanent and secure and necessarily perfect. It is the tabernacle which will never need again to be removed…. There is therefore not only a new and superior High Priest, but He ministers in a superior sanctuary and a superior tabernacle. (Pett, www.).
v. 3 NIV omits “For” (gar) at the beginning of this verse, which ties this verse to the preceding. The author has already (5:1) said that high priests offer gifts and sacrifices. How often was this offering done by the priests? (7:27)
“…day after day, for his own sins and then for the sins of the people.” However, Jesus, “He sacrificed for their [our] sins once for all when he offered himself.”
Who/what does “…to have something to offer refer to? (cf. 7:27 later 9:14) Once and for all when He offered up Himself (7:27).
v. 4 Why would Jesus not be a high priest here on earth?
“…for there are already _________ who offer the gifts prescribed by the________.
Remember that high priests were from the tribe of Levi. Jesus was from the tribe of __________ and appointed high priest in the likeness of _________________. The writer is emphasizing that the old covenant was a shadow or copy of the Great Reality—namely Jesus our High Priest in heaven.
v. 5 They (high priests) serve at a sanctuary that is a ____________ and ______________ of what is in _______________.
Moses was warned to build the tabernacle according to the________________ shown you on the mountain.
This highlights that what Moses instituted, although directed by God and holy, was a copy/pattern of the reality now in Christ. Pett (www.) said,
“…But above all it is He Who is the One Who has come as the High Priest of a greater and more ancient priesthood than that of Levi, and Who, having offered Himself up as the perfect sacrifice, has now passed into Heaven on their behalf, there to carry out His ministry in the true and better Sanctuary.”
v. 6 The ministry of Jesus in the heavenly realm is as _________________ to theirs as the covenant of which he is ________________ is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better_________________.
Morris (1981) writes, “Mediator is a legal term for one who arbitrates between two parties. The thought is that Christ mediates between men and God; it is he who establishes the new covenant.”
v. 7 We learned that the old system (law/priests) was weak and useless because it could not make us acceptable to God the Father (7:18). However, Pett reminds us, “And yet in all this he gives due honour to the old, for he is not seeking to denigrate it but to put it in its proper place, as an honourable priesthood that had fulfilled an important function.” The fulfillment is Christ!
v. 8-12 (from Jeremiah 31: 31-34)
1. God’s laws will become inner principles that enable his people to delight in doing his will (10a).
2. God and his people will have intimate fellowship (10b).
3. Sinful ignorance of God will be removed forever (v. 11).
4. forgiveness of sins will be and everlasting reality (v. 12).
v.8 God initiates the new covenant. “I will make a new covenant” can be translated “I will bring a new covenant to accomplishment” (Morris, 1981). With the house of Israel and Judah—does this include gentiles—even us today? (yes, by faith we are heirs of Abraham).
v. 9 God lead His people out of Egypt, “but they did not continue in My covenant.” God turned away from them. The NASB says, “And I did not care for them, says the Lord.”
v. 10 In reference to “the house of Israel,” Pett (www) writes,
“God’s new covenant is now quoted. It is made ‘with the house of Israel’, the people of God now combined in one, with all differences broken down and incorporating all who are His (note how Israel and Judah are here now seen as one under the name of Israel)…. God’s love was set on all Abraham’s seed, and Abraham’s seed are such as have been incorporated into Israel by faith, whether Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3).”
In the new covenant God puts His laws in our______________ and write them on our_____________. Paul reminds us that God works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose (Phil 2:13). In Christ, we have intimacy and fellowship—an abiding moment by moment.
According to His sovereignty God initiates and fulfills. We do have a response, but it is always according to God and His power through us (Romans 8:28-30). The same principle is true under the old covenant. God is sovereign and calls people to Himself for salvation and intimate fellowship.
What did (v. 9) “turned away” mean for them at the time and us today? God did not let His people go completely! Nor does God let genuine believers go completely today.
When we sin we have consequences according to God’s unchanging character. As far as the Israelites are concerned, the principle holds true even today. Because of their unfaithfulness/unbelief they were not able to enter into His rest physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
So too, under the new covenant, when we (believers) are disobedient and unfaithful to our Holy God what happens? We also forfeit the full blessings that God desires to pour into our lives. Under the old covenant there were consequences for disobedience and unbelief. Today, if we are disobedient, for our own good we experience tribulation, discipline, and the consequences of our behavior.
If one (non-believer) maintains a life without faith in Jesus, the consequence is no hope for the promise land/eternal life. Moreover, as genuine believers if we sin and even fail to confess our sin we forfeit “fellowship” and intimate communion with our Father. Psalm 66:18.
Does God “turn away” from us today (genuine believers) when we are disobedient and unfaithful? Only in the sense of “fellowship.” God will discipline those He loves, but is always faithful to keep us. Heb 12:5-8; 2 Tim 2:13. It was no different for those having faith and obedience under the old covenant.
v. 11 Under the old system, the priests interceded on behalf of the people, even today many seek out ‘priests” or “pastors” for God’s will. However, the point of the verse seems to be emphasizing that God the Holy Spirit helps us mature in our shared faith. Of course we still need “one another” to teach and guide toward maturity.
v. 12 Pett (www) writes, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And their sins will I remember no more.” And this will be because He has been merciful to their ‘iniquities’, (that which comes from the evil heart within); and has blotted out their ‘sins’, (that which constitutes a coming short of His glory (Romans 3.23)), from His memory.
There will not only be temporary forgiveness, there will be permanent and total forgiveness and reconciliation.
v. 13 We see that the old sacrificial system has become obsolete; it was ineffective and unable to meet the people’s need for a “permanent” and “complete” forgiveness of their sins.
However, Morris (1981) reminds us “The new arrangement retains the term covenant and it is established on the basis of sacrifice. It refers to the fulfillment of what is superseded rather than outright opposition to it” (pg. 79).
Under this new covenant how then should men and women now approach God and what must they believe?
These were the same type of questions the Jews at the time this letter was written had to ask themselves.
In light of the new covenant, Jesus our High Priest, the good news of the gospel, are we willing to be equipped and allow our indwelling God to love others and share our motivations for loving and serving those around us?
Are you able to contrast your “old” way of life with your “new” found relationship with Jesus? Do others see how your life is different since coming to Christ as Savior?
What are the basic signs/behaviors that are evident from those growing/maturing in their relationship with Christ?
Expositor’s Bible Commentary (1981) Frank Gaebelein (ed)
Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible NASB (1977) Zodhiates, S.
NIV Study Bible (1985).
Pett, Peter; http://www.angelfire.com/planet/lifetruth/hebrews2.html