Yesterday we saw that regarding the basic elements, the old and new covenants were the same. The bottom line is salvation by faith in a God who will forgive our sins, not because of anything worthwhile in us but only because of His grace. As a result of this forgiveness, we enter into a relationship with Him in which we surrender to Him in faith and obedience.
Nevertheless, the book of Hebrews does call the new covenant “a better covenant.” How do we understand what that means? How is one covenant better than the other?
Where did the fault lie with the “failure” of the old covenant? (Hebrews 8:7-8).
The problem with the old covenant was not the covenant itself but with the failure of the people to grasp it in faith (Hebrews 4:2). The superiority of the new to the old lies in that Jesus — instead of being revealed only through the animal sacrifices (as in the old covenant) — now appears in the reality of His death and high-priestly ministry. In other words, the salvation offered in the old covenant is the same offered in the new. In the new, however, a greater, more complete revelation of the God of the covenant and the love that He has for fallen humanity has been revealed. It is better in that everything that had been taught through symbols and types in the Old Testament has found its fulfilment in Jesus, whose sinless life, His death, and high-priestly ministry were symbolized by the earthly sanctuary service (Hebrews 9:8-14).
Now, though, instead of symbols, types, and examples, we have Jesus Himself, not only as the slain Lamb who shed His blood for our sin (Hebrews 9:12) but who stands as our High Priest in heaven ministering on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25). Though the salvation He offers is the same, this fuller revelation of Himself and the salvation found in Him, as revealed in the new covenant, make it superior to the old.
Read Hebrews 8:5 and Hebrews 10:1. What word does the author use to describe the old covenant sanctuary services? How does the use of that word help us to understand the superiority of the new covenant?
|Think about this: Why would knowing about Christ’s life, death, and high priestly ministry on our behalf give us a better understanding of God than one would get merely from the earthly sanctuary-service ritual of animal sacrifices?|