Hebrews 8:1-13 – Out with the old, in with the new!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 23, 2012 AM
Some folks love to talk about the “good old days” as if they think that everything in the past was way better than what we have now. I don’t know about you but I like the newer HD flat-screens with the better picture and reception than the old black and white TVs that you had to use tinfoil on the antenna to sort of get a picture or where could cook dinner on them because they ran so hot. I like the way electronics have gotten smaller, faster, and more useful. Instead of computers the size of a room, we have handheld tablets and way more computing power. Phones we can use anywhere and use as mini-computers. Cars have superior gas mileage and protect us better in case of a crash. Instead of armor-plated dashboards we have vehicles that are designed to crumple safely with multiple airbags. Modern kitchens, heaters and air conditioners, and bathrooms are a lot more enjoyable than woodstoves, fireplaces, and outhouses! And of course medicines, hospitals, and healthcare are far better now than what they used to be. Why then are some folks so reluctant to replace the old way of doing things when the newer way is so much better?
Interestingly, we find this to be true with some spiritual things as well. We have had arguments in the past concerning whether to use musical instruments like pianos and organs or just sing a cappella, singing hymns or choruses, what kind of Bible translation is best to use, wooden pews or padded chairs, and of course the Law verses faith in Christ. Of course I am not advocating that any new thing spiritually is better than what we have been given in the gospel message or the foundations of our theology. Hebrews, however, does dive deep into teaching that faith in Jesus is way better than the old Mosaic Law. For Hebrews it is a matter of out with the old, in with the new! Let’s see how…
Last week we learned that “the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever!” In fact, “unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices!” Jesus is the superior high priest and for the author it is therefore…
I. Out with the old, in with the New Mediator and Sanctuary! (Vv. 1-6)
1. If you were wondering what the point was concerning Hebrews, he immediately relates that the “point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest!” He therefore ties what we just learned to what he is now going to teach us concerning Jesus. Jesus is an active authoritative high priest, one who is alive and not dead, one who is way better and one who sits “at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven!” Jesus “serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.” Jesus’ sanctuary is not made with bricks and mortar but by his blood and sacrifice! So, contrary to the Levites who served in an earthly building constructed by men, Jesus serves in heaven, in a building constructed by God for men! There is also kind of a note of a double-entendre meant by the author here because Jesus also serves the church, which is sometimes called a tabernacle, and it is the true church, and is his body here on earth that he ministers to and through, being the high priest over the house of God! We know that “Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, (which Jesus willingly did by offering himself) and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.” However, because Jesus is in heaven at the right hand of God, he is not an earthly priest “for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.” These men “serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven,” one that was a mere “pattern” shown to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Jesus’ ministry “is as superior to theirs as the (new) covenant of which he is mediator” a go-between “is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises!” Believers have a new high priest and a new sanctuary in which we are served and where we serve! Not some pie-in-the-sky-when-we-die kind of thing; we serve a living high priest who continually ministers! Paul reminds us that “we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NIV) and that we “are the body of Christ, and each one of (us) is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV) Therefore, Hebrews affirms that it is out with the old, in with the New Mediator and Sanctuary!
EXAMPLE: I remember years ago when a church I was a member of decided to build and all of sudden folks who had not been attending for ages began showing up for business meetings. One man cried over the fact that we might rebuild and replace the rafters he had built. Another reminded us that “a sanctuary is for birds and an auditorium was for basketball!” Some people really love their church buildings while others are in love with their worship more than the church they never join. Both are convoluted views of the church and boarder on heresy. Hebrews tacitly teaches us about the church Jesus established that was bought with his blood and sacrifice. We have a new high priest who serves us in a whole new sanctuary that is established here on earth and in heaven as well! Hebrews teaches us that it is out with the old, in with the New Mediator and Sanctuary!
F. B. Meyers writes that “A covenant is a promise, made on conditions to be fulfilled, and attested by an outward sign, like the rainbow, or circumcision, or the Lord’s Supper. The covenant under which we live is between God and Christ on behalf of those who belong to Him.” This is why Hebrews teaches us that it is…
II. Out with the old, in with the New Covenant! (Vv. 7-13)
1. That there is a promise of a New Covenant the writer will shortly prove by quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34. Hebrews argues that it demonstrates the inadequacy of the old covenant. In fact, “if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another!” The Old Covenant failed because of the sinfulness of the nation and its people, for which it had no remedy. “God found fault with the people and said: ‘The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.’” It would not be like the old covenant when the Jews were lead out of Egypt and rescued by God. It failed but God promised that after a time “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” The covenant will be written not on stone but on the hearts and minds of men! It will be by faith alone. When the Messiah comes, the good news of God will not be found in rules and regulations, but in the faith found in the gospel message! The Holy Spirit will so infuse people’s lives that “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” Habakkuk prophesized, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea,” (Habakkuk 2:14 NIV) and John would also write, “the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real… remain in him.” (1 John 2:27 NIV) In this new covenant relationship God “will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” simply because of faith in his Son, Jesus! What the old covenant could never do by enforcing the law the new one does by faith! Just as the grass withers and the flowers fade, the old covenant became archaic. We now enjoy a new covenant, a new testament, and “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” Hebrews emphatically teaches us that it is out with the old, in with the New Covenant!
EXAMPLE: I began this sermon by relating how some folks long for the good-old-days. I like the good-nowadays! I like all the fruits and vegetables you can now buy year-around. I like digital photography. I like how homes are insulated, hot water heaters, and our new memory foam mattress! Now, I can understand why folks would long for a simpler time of honesty and integrity; however, spiritually I do not long for following a set of rules or guidelines in order to be made right with God. I do not know about you, but I do not have room to raise sheep for a yearly sacrifice! I am glad that we live by faith alone because of God’s mercy. Hebrews emphatically teaches us that it is out with the old, in with the New Covenant!
Hebrews teaches us two wonderful truths concerning how much better new things can be. We learned about: Out with the old, in with the New Mediator and Sanctuary and out with the old, in with the New Covenant!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.