Hebrews chapter 8, class 11, Jesus Christ is the high priest mediator of a new and better covenant

March 25, 2009

Tod Kennedy

Main points to emphasize in Hebrew 8

  1. Jesus is our high priest and is now seated at the right hand of God.
  2. Jesus, our high priest, serves in the true tabernacle which is in heaven.
  3. Jesus mediates the new and better covenant, the covenant based upon his final sacrifice for sins.
  4. The new covenant has replaced the old covenant and it stands because of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection. Therefore believers should not go back to living under the old covenant (Moses Law).

Relationship of Hebrews 7, 8, 9, 10

  1. Hebrews 7 teaches that Christ’s priesthood order is a better.
  2. Hebrews 8 teaches that Christ’s covenant is better.
  3. Hebrews 9 teaches that Christ’s sanctuary is better.
  4. Hebrews 10 teaches that Christ’s sacrifice is better.

Outline

  1. Jesus, God’s son, has the position of honor at the right hand of God the Father and He serves in the heavenly true tabernacle (8:1-3).
  2. Jesus, on earth, would not be a Levitical priest. The Levitical priests serve a copy and shadow that Moses constructed, while He serves in the real heavenly tabernacle (8:4-5).
  3. Jesus has a better ministry than the Levites and mediates a better covenant than the Mosaic covenant (8:6-13).

Hebrews 8 Study

  1. Jesus, God’s son, has the position of honor at the right hand of God the Father and He serves in the true heavenly sanctuary and tabernacle (8:1-3).
    1. Verse 1. Jesus Christ is the high priest and He is our high priest. ἀρχιερεύς, έως, ὁ archierius. S749. This word is used many times in the New Testament: for Jewish high priests during Jesus life on earth and throughout the book of Hebrews. See the brief doctrine of Jesus high priest at the end of this chapter study. Since He is our high priest we benefit.
    2. Jesus took his seat at the right hand of the Father. This is the place of authority. This does not mean that He sits all the time. It is His place of honor.
    3. Verse 2. He also serves in the sanctuary. This is the heavenly holy of holies from which the earthly holy of holies was patterned. The Lord, probably Jesus, made this heavenly holy of holies.
      1. Minister (λειτουργός, οῦ, ὁ S3011) is public servant (Romans 13:6), private servant (Philippians 2:25), religious minister (Romans 15:16; Hebrews 1:7; 8:2). Here it refers to spiritual service—priestly service.
    4. Verse 3. Gifts are non bloody offerings such as grain. Sacrifices are the animal sacrifices. See 2 Kings 8:64, Hebrews 5:1, and 9:9.
    5. The true tabernacle is the heavenly tabernacle from which the earthly Hebrew tabernacle was patterned.
      1. There are a number of Scripture passages that inform us about the tabernacle and help us make some reasonable conclusions about the heavenly tabernacle: Exodus 25:9; 26:30; 39:32; Leviticus 15:31; 17:4; Numbers 9:22; 2 Samuel 7:6; Acts 7:43-44; Hebrews 8:2, 5; 9:11; Revelation 7:15; 13:6; and 15:5.
      2. From these we see that God, at Mt Sinai, gave Moses very specific direction about the earthly tabernacle that Moses was to build. God apparently gave him a vision picture of the tabernacle.
      3. The earthly tabernacle was built on the pattern of the heavenly tabernacle. This heavenly tabernacle was created by God at some unknown time in the past before the creation of the earth.
      4. The earthly tabernacle was for the physical presence of God in a visible way in the cloud and fire, during the exodus and after until Solomon built the temple.
      5. The heavenly tabernacle was probably in some way the central location for God and his glory, though God is omnipresent. Scripture that speaks of God’s throne seems to indicate this. At that place the angel creation would assemble before God. Possibly this was related to the mount of assembly to which unfallen Satan aspired (Isaiah 14:13). When Satan approached God for permission to test Job, Satan likely approached the heavenly tabernacle (Job 1:6; 2:1, 7). We may well associate the throne of grace with the heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 4:16). Creation is limited to time and space. The heavenly tabernacle may allow creation, especially angels and mankind, to better understand God.
      6. The heavenly tabernacle with the heavenly holy of holies was where Christ entered after He sacrificed Himself on the cross for the sins of the whole world. He was accepted there. This demonstrated that His sacrifice was complete and sufficient. Note that the text does not say that He took his blood there. It says that he entered the holy place through His own blood—through his sacrificial death.
      7. Think back to the Day of Atonement. The high priest first sacrificed an animal for his sins (Jesus did not do this). Then the high priest sacrificed an animal for the sins of the people and took some of the blood into the holy of holies and put the blood on the mercy seat, the cover of the ark. God accepted that as a temporary covering for sins. Jesus, the lamb of God, sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world and then entered into the heavenly holy of holies where he was accepted because of the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:11-14, 23-24).
      8. Jesus entered the heavenly tabernacle and into the heavenly holy of holies through his own blood (διὰ δὲ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος dia de tou idiou haimatos; preposition dia plus the genitive of his own blood expressing means instrument). His sacrifice—blood—was the means by which he was able to enter the holy of holies. God accepted his once and for all sacrifice (Hebrews 9:28).
      9. The results of Jesus entrance into the heavenly tabernacle and holy of holies are his present high priestly ministry for believers. He sympathizes with us. He gives us mercy and grace. He prays for us. He defends us.
      10. In summary, the heavenly sanctuary and tabernacle is real. It is the central location for God’s presence and glory. It was the model for the earthly tabernacle. Jesus is now there. It is the throne of grace. From it believers gain sympathy, mercy and grace, prayer support, and legal defense against Satan’s accusations.
  2. Hebrews 8:4-5. Jesus, on earth, would not be a Levitical priest. The Levitical priests serve a copy and shadow that Moses constructed, while He serves in the real heavenly tabernacle (8:4-5).
    1. Verse 4. Jesus, on earth, would not be a Levitical priest. He was of the tribe of Judah.
    2. Verse 5. The Levitical priests serve a copy and shadow, not the real thing..
    3. Verse 5. They serve (λατρεύω latreuo, work for hire, enslaved, serve religious duties. S3000) the copy. The earthly tabernacle was a copy( ὑπόδειγμα, ατος, τό sign, illustration, example, pattern. S5262) of the heavenly, the real tabernacle.
    4. A shadow (σκιά, ᾶς, ἡ shadow, reflection, representation. S4639)is an image cast by the real thing, but the shadow is not as precise and revealing. A shadow gives the basic shape or form. The real tabernacle has much more detail.
    5. God told Moses to make the tabernacle according to His divine pattern (Exodus 26:30).
  3. Hebrews 8:6-13. Jesus has a better ministry than the Levites and mediates a better covenant than the Mosaic covenant (8:6-13).
    1. Verse 6. Jesus has a more excellent ministry than the Levitical priests. More excellent is the word διάφορος ον, (diaphoros S1313 different, excellent, distinguished). Ministry is (λειτουργός, οῦ, ὁ leitourgos S3011) the same as in verse 2. Jesus is the more excellent priest and His ministry was much more distinguished than the OT priesthood.
      1. The author continues to demonstrate that with Jesus Christ there is nothing better. They should move on and leave the old priesthood and sacrifices.
      2. Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant. A mediator is one who works out an agreement between two parties to remove a disagreement or to reach a common goal (μεσίτης, ου, ὁ mesites, S3316). The better covenant is the new covenant stated in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:25-27. He made promises that go with the new covenant. This covenant will be completed just as sure as God created, regulates, or maintains the sun, moon, stars, and oceans (Jeremiah 31:35-37).
    2. Verse 7. The old covenant was not able to provide what was necessary and what the new covenant will do.
    3. Verses 8-12 restate the new covenant from Jeremiah 31.
      1. Verses 8-9. The covenant will be with Israel and Judah. This new covenant is different from the covenant made through Moses during the exodus.
      2. Verse 10. The covenant will be with the House of Israel. After those days means when the covenant goes into actual operation. There will be an internal change in the people. God will put his laws in their minds and hearts. He will be their God and they will be His people. Since the Mosaic Law, the old covenant, Israel has not listened to or obeyed God. That will change in the new covenant period.
      3. Verse 11. Israel will know God. This is different from the post Mosaic Law time because in that period many of Israel did not know God personally nor did many want to know God or know about God.
      4. Verse 12. God will have put Israel’s past sins and failures away. They will have been forgiven.
    4. Verse 13. This restates that the old covenant is (was) becoming obsolete. “New” refers back in context to verses 8 and 10. The contrast has been between the old covenant which operated through the Levitical priesthood and the new covenant based upon the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
      1. The old covenant depended on a priesthood who sinned. The old covenant could not forgive sins. The old was only temporary. The old needed a continual supply of men to fill the priesthood because the priest would in normal aging die. This old covenant was made with Israel, though Gentiles could participate in the temporal blessings if they accepted Yahweh and His law.
      2. The new covenant was based upon a sinless God-Man priest who once and for all offered Himself as the final sacrifice for sins. This Melchizedek kind of priest was and is eternal God. He arose from the dead and continues to serve as high priest to God for all those who accept Him. This new covenant was made specifically with Israel and will bring Israel into a relationship with God and with His word in their promised by God land. Non Israelites share in the forgiveness and eternal salvation blessings of the new covenant if they accept Jesus Christ as savior by trusting him for forgiveness and eternal salvation. But the new covenant remains promised to Israel.
      3. A few exegetical points.
        1. “He made the first obsolete” (παλαιόω palaioo, perfect active indicative, 3rd singular; to decay, lapse through time, abrogate, cancel. S3822). God canceled the old covenant when Jesus died and arose. The old covenant stays canceled.
        2. “But whatever is becoming obsolete (παλαιόω palaioo,S3822, present passive participle neuter nominative singular, subject of this sentence) and growing old” (γηράσκω gerasko , S1095, present active participle neuter nominative singular, subject of this sentence).
        3. “It is ready to disappear is near extermination” (ἀφανισμός, οῦ, ὁ aphanismos, destruction, extermination, S854). It is genitive after the word “near” (ἐγγύς eggus, adverb frequently functioning as a preposition).
        4. That which was legally canceled at the cross is now slowly dying in Israel. With the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem the temple and the ritual will be gone.
  4. Review main points to remember.
    1. Jesus is our high priest and is now seated at the right hand of God.
    2. Jesus, our high priest, serves in the true tabernacle which is in heaven.
    3. Jesus mediates the new and better covenant, the covenant based upon his final sacrifice for sins.
    4. The new covenant has replaced the old covenant and it stands because of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection. Therefore, believers should not go back to living under the old covenant (Moses Law).

Appendix on the new covenant. I have quoted this for your better understanding of the new covenant. Taken from Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003; 2003). Heb 8:13.

The New Covenant is a branch of the Abrahamic Covenant. In the Abrahamic Covenant, God promised Abraham a piece of real estate for his descendants, an incalculable number of descendants, and blessing for his descendants and for all people through his descendants (Gen. 12:1–7; et al.). Deuteronomy 29–30, sometimes called the Palestinian Covenant, gave more information about the land God had promised to Abraham. The Davidic Covenant gave more information about God’s promises regarding descendants (2 Sam. 7). The New Covenant revealed the particulars of the promised blessing (Jer. 31). Each of these later covenants relates to the Abrahamic Covenant organically. In contrast the Mosaic (Old) Covenant does not relate organically but “was added” (Gal. 3:19). It explained how the Israelites could maximize the benefits God had promised in the Abrahamic Covenant. Consequently when God terminated the Old Covenant it did not eliminate anything He had promised Abraham.

Dispensational commentators have taken various positions on the relationship of the New Covenant promised in Jeremiah 31 to the New Testament references to the New Covenant. Was it the same covenant, or is a second New Covenant in view? Some believe there are two new covenants, one with Israel and one with the church.[1]250 This position rests on the fact that the New Covenant promised in Jeremiah 31 was specifically with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Jer. 31:31). Those who hold this view take the New Covenant under which Christians live as a different New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 8:8; 9:15). They regard Jesus’ references to the New Covenant as to a New Covenant with the church (Luke 22:20; cf. 1 Cor. 11:25).

Most dispensationalists believe there is only one New Covenant.[2]251 Most of those who hold this view believe that the church enters into the blessings of this covenant. Even though the New Covenant was “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31), many of the benefits promised extended to all believers after Jesus Christ died (cf. Isa. 19:24–25; 42:6; 49:6; Rom. 15:9–12). Christians experience the blessings referred to in a measure now, but God will fulfill the covenant completely in the Millennium when the Jews will experience all the blessings promised fully (Rom. 11:25–32).[3]252 According to this view, when Jesus said the cup at the Lord’s Supper represented His blood that is the New Covenant, He meant this. His death was the basis for the fulfillment of the promises that the New Covenant contained. I prefer this view mainly because I do not believe there is adequate basis in the text for applying the term “New Covenant” to two different covenants. There are few writers who hold the two New Covenants view today.

Covenant theologians explain how the church benefits from the New Covenant promises by saying that the church is spiritual Israel. These promises, they claim, belong to Abraham’s spiritual seed, not his physical seed. It is clear from Galatians 3:13–29 that Christians are the spiritual seed of Abraham, but that is not the same as saying the church is spiritual Israel.

“Once we are permitted to make such plain words as ‘Israel’ and ‘Judah’ mean something else, there is no end to how we might interpret the Bible!”[4]253

[5]

  1. 250 250. E.g., L. S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, 4:325; J. F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, pp. 208–20; C. C. Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, pp. 105–25; John R. Master, “The New Covenant,” in Issues in Dispensationalism, pp. 93–110.

  2. 251 251. E.g., J. N. Darby, Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, 5:286; C. I. Scofield, ed., The Scofield Reference Bible, new ed., p. 1297; J. D. Pentecost, Things to Come, pp. 116–28; Hodges, “Hebrews,” p. 800. Walvoord and Ryrie also adopted this view after publishing their books cited in the previous footnote.

  3. 252 252. Thomas, p. 107.

  4. 253 253. Wiersbe, 2:306.

  5. Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003; 2003). Heb 8:13.