Hebrews 8:6-11: The New Covenant
Read: Hebrews 8:6-11
Jesus’ first coming was a time of refreshing and renewal. He wasn’t coming to spruce up the old; rather he came to make it new in the sense of superseding it with something else, namely himself. The author of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34, which comes toward the end of two chapters in Jeremiah that are talking about how God was going to reestablish the prosperity and strength that Israel had once known. God declares that he will make a “new covenant” not like the one he made with the people leaving Egypt. The old covenant was written on stone tablets and was given to show the Israelites their need for a savior Galatians 3:22-26), as the sacrifices made year after year were never enough to atone for sin (Hebrews 9 explains this in detail). God was going to write the new covenant on “on their hearts” and put his law “in their minds”. In many ways, this was foretelling the coming of the Holy Spirit – the blessings that Christians receive when they believe in Jesus. The law of God will be so pervasive that there will not be a need to teach it, because everyone will already know it.
The promise of the New Covenant was given to the nation of Israel. The promise, however, is not to those of a particular nationality, but those who are of a particular faith. Romans 11:16-27 likens Israel to an olive tree, and the Gentiles to wild olives. The wild olives were grafted in (a process through which part of a one plant are merge into another plant) to the main tree. And even though some Jews rejected Jesus and were cutoff, some of these branches that were cut off may also be grafted back into the tree. Romans 11:26-27 quotes from Isaiah 59:20-21 where Isaiah is talking about the new covenant too and here he is promising to put his Spirit upon them. All those who have faith in Jesus are the ones who are grafted into the tree, and it is these who are partakers in of the New Covenant which mediated by Jesus and sealed by the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who believe.
The New Covenant is still being fulfilled in part by the proclamation of the Gospel. There are people still declaring “know the Lord” all over the globe to people who haven’t heard about Jesus. Jesus has done and is doing his part by acting as high priest, and as Hebrews later explains, was the sacrifice. The duty of Christians is to be about the proclamation of the New Covenant to all peoples everywhere so a day will come when people will not have to say “know the Lord” because the name of Jesus will be known by every person everywhere.
Lord, help me to take part in the New Covenant so all may be grafted in!