27th October 2022
Read (Hebrews 8v6-7)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
Christ's ministry is more excellent than that of the Old Testament priests because He serves in the reality of heaven and not the copy of the earthly tent (v6). In the same way the covenant He mediates is more excellent than the old covenant because it is enacted on better promises. Let's slow down for a wee second and define what we mean by the old and new covenant.
Firstly, the old covenant was made between God and the people of Israel at Mount Sinai. It was a covenant for the nation of Israel whereby they were promised the blessings of God in response to their obedience. Equally they would know God's curses in response to their disobedience. The old covenant resembled the covenant of works made with Adam in the garden of Eden. This is why some say that at Mount Sinai the covenant of works was "republished". However let me stress that the people of Israel were never saved by their obedience. Once Adam fell, the covenant of works could never save anyone. So the old covenant was made with Moses and the people at Mount Sinai. It couldn't save them but as God's law was published on tablets of stone the people were to see their sinfulness and flee to Christ.
Secondly, the new covenant is the covenant of grace fulfilled. The covenant of grace was declared by God in Genesis 3 and it was promised to Abraham who is the father of those with faith. The new covenant is therefore the promises of Genesis 3 later declared to Abraham, fulfilled in Christ. It isn't brand new and it doesn't start in the New Testament. It is the ancient covenant of grace newly administered by Jesus.
The old covenant declared "do this and live" whilst the new covenant declares "trust in Christ and His finished work". This is why we say the new covenant has better promises. The old covenant could not save and could make no one perfect. The new covenant is all of grace and calls upon you and I to trust in Christ. The old covenant was temporary and put in charge until the arrival of Jesus (Galatians 3v24). The new covenant is ancient and has never been worn out.
Do you see what Paul is saying to the Hebrews? He couldn't be clearer. These men and women were looking back to Moses, Sinai, the old covenant and the Levitical priesthood. Yet Christ was and is superior to them all. Perhaps we Gentiles don't look back to Moses but how often do lament the demands our faith places upon us? Brothers and sisters may we not be like those of Malachi's generation who had become bored of God.
The Covenant of Grace is glorious indeed and we are blessed to live in days of fulfilment. Christ has come and Christ has triumphed. Even now across the globe the mighty Spirit calls people to repentance and where there once was only darkness we now see little pockets of Christians worshipping God each Lord's Day. We do not mock the events of Mount Sinai - they were wonderful moments in the history of redemption. But we do not live at Sinai, our address is Zion where Jesus is. Why would we want to be anywhere else?
Q89 How is the Word made effectual to salvation? The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.