A covenant is a contract or agreement between two parties involving mutual obligations. In Hebrews 8 this morning I was reminded of why Jesus is such a superior High Priest and why His ministry is so much more excellent. I was also reminded of the superiority of the new covenant which was first promised by the prophet Jeremiah.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
Hebrews 8:8-12 (quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34)
When you read that, what jumps out at you as reasons why the new covenant is better than the old? Here are a few things I see in these four verses.
Divine Initiative – did you catch how many times “I will” shows up? God is outlining what He will do and because He is faithful, God’s people may rest in those promises and trust that His will be done.
Divine Inscription – Whereas the old covenant was written on tablets of stone, God promises in the new covenant that He will write His laws on human hearts. Hearts of stone are replaced with hearts of flesh. God gives His people an undivided heart and puts a new spirit within them.
Divine Identity – “I will be their God and they shall be my people”. Membership in this new covenant community is based on the sacrificial work, and most excellent ministry of the better High Priest – Jesus Christ. A new identity as God’s people is realized.
Divine Intimacy – “…they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” One of the benefits of God putting His law into His people’s minds and writing it on their hearts is that He will be known and experienced in a new, more direct way. In the new covenant, God’s people may boldly and confidently approach His throne of grace.
Divine Cleansing* – “I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” In the new covenant, there is no longer any need for repeated sacrifices that serve as a reminder of sin. God’s people may rest in the fact that Jesus provided a perfect, once-for-all sacrifice that has brought forgiveness, holiness and perfection.