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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

A BETTER COVENANT

Hebrews 8:6 But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

In preceding chapters we learned that the ministry of Jesus Christ was proven to be more perfect, therefore a more excellent ministry, than that of the Levitical priesthood. Their priests served God's chosen children of Israel from an earthly tabernacle, while Jesus serves faithful children of God from a more perfect tabernacle (Heb. 9:11) - that is to say, from the sanctuary of heaven. Notice how Paul explained the ministry of Jesus Christ as more glorious under New Testament law, in his letter to the church at Corinth, which concludes with this phrase: For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious (See 2 Cor. 3:6-11). Under Old Covenant law, the high priest served as a mediator, interceding with God for the children of Israel.

Jesus is the Mediator of the better covenant. It was a better covenant because it was established upon better promises. Paul tells us that these better promises were made to the Seed of Abraham, which is Christ, and four hundred and thirty years after, was confirmed before God in Christ (See Gal. 3:16-17)). These better promises culminated in the hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began (Titus 1:2). Although eternal life was a relevant factor, under the Old Covenant, God's promises dealt mainly with physical life on earth. However, under the New Covenant, the spiritual core value being taught is God's promise of forgiveness of sins, and the inheritance of eternal life in Christ.

The verses in this chapter, following the lesson text, explain the better covenant in detail. Under the ministration of the Levitical priesthood, the first covenant had a fault; not that there was error being taught, but it was insufficient. It did not provide for the perfect pardon of sin required to inherit the hope of eternal salvation. If it had accomplished this, then should no place have been sought for the second (Vs. 7). For finding fault with them, that is, with the insufficiency of the Old Covenant, the writer of this epistle quotes the prophet Jeremiah when he said, 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.

Unlike the covenant made with Israel that was given on Mount Sinai, and was written on tables of stone, the New Covenant would be written in their hearts. In this covenant God makes this promise to his obedient children: I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (See Jer. 31:31-34). Obedience to the Old Covenant consisted mainly of physically performing rites and ceremonies, and observing feasts, as required under the Mosiac law. This covenant was done away with, and replaced by the New Covenant law, which requires mental exertion to hear, read, understand, believe, and obey God's will.

This being done, God's law was written in their hearts (Vs. 10). Every physical act of obedience to God can be performed by mankind and still have no spiritual benefit. Although those around you may deem you to be a very pious person by your outward actions, but only God can see into your heart and discern your sincerity. It is the will of mankind, that comes from the mind and heart, that makes acts of obedience acceptable to God. God requires willful obedience. There must be an acceptable and righteous desire to become, and remain, faithful to the commandments of God, as it has been given to us through Christ in His New Covenant law.

Throughout all biblical eras God has professed this covenant relationship with His obedient children: I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people (Vs. 10). However, under the Old Covenant that was given to the Jewish nation, all were descendants of Jacob, and were born into this covenant relationship with God. Under the New Covenant, one enters this covenant relationship with God through acts of obedience that culminate in being baptized into the body of Christ. The teaching of God's will was necessary under the Old Covenant in order to maintain the proper relationship with God. Under the New Covenant one must learn, beleive, and obey God's will in order to enter the proper relationship with God (See Vs. 11).

Verse 12 tells us that all that enter into, and faithfully maintains this New Covenant relationship, God promises thattheir sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:14). With the establishment of the New Covenant, God hath made the first old (the Mosiac Law established on Mount Sinai).

Thank you, dear God, for the new and better covenant under which sins and iniquities can be forgiven, and the hope of eternal salvation in heaven is assured to all of your faithful children.