Hebrews Chapter 8: Jesus our High Priest, The New Covenant

Jan 6th, 2010 | By | Category: Hebrews, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Hebrews Chapter 8: Jesus our High Priest, The New Covenant

Heb. 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

Heb. 8:2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

This summation has to do with Jesus’ role as High Priest “after the order of Melchisedec,” not Aaron (Heb. 5:6,10; 6:20; 7:11,17,21). In contradistinction to Jesus, who is “alive for evermore,” the high priest under the Mosaic order died and had to be frequently replaced down through history (Rev. 1:18). Jesus is an abiding and enduring High Priest of the Melchisedec order. Even the Melchisedec priesthood itself is far more effective than the Aaronic priesthood. The apostles Peter and John confirmed the Melchisedec priesthood by saying that Christians are called to be kings and priests (1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). Where is the Tabernacle of Moses? It is gone.

Where is Solomon’s Temple? It is gone. Therefore, even the institution has decayed. In fact, the Dome of the Rock sits on the land reserved for the future Temple.

With regard to the time period, God said He would make a New Covenant with the house of Judah and the house of Israel, which covenant they broke (Jer. 31:31-33). Paul reasoned that once there was a new priest “after the order of Melchisedec,” there was also a new covenant, the Grace Covenant, which makes the Law Covenant archaic. Although not completely dead yet, the old Law Covenant is dying. To get out of that covenant, the Jew has to die to self-will, to the Law, and become alive to Christ. In that way, the old Law Covenant no longer has a hold on him. For the unconverted Jew, the Law is still binding, but its days are numbered, for it waxes old. Paul used powerful, simple, wonderful logic, and one does not have to be a college graduate in order to understand it.

“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest [not like Aaron], who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.”

When we read verses 1 and 2, there appears to be a contradiction at first glance, but that is not the case. For instance, when Paul said, “The Lord pitched [the true tabernacle], and not man,” he was not speaking of the measurements or pattern of the Mosaic Tabernacle because the pattern of that typical Tabernacle was as much from God as is the new spiritual tabernacle. Both are of God, but the making of the Tabernacle in the wilderness was by man, for Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the measurements and superintended the building of a literal structure,  and Bezaleel, Aholiab, and others were involved. But that literal structure did not endure.

Heb. 8:3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.

Paul was talking about the Day of Atonement. The high priest offered the sacrifices of the people, but “this man” Jesus had “somewhat also to offer,” that is, himself and the merit of his sacrifice. In other words, Jesus had to do two things. He had to obtain the prize of the Law, which was everlasting human life through perfect obedience. Jesus cannot come back to earth as a human because he gave that right to life for the Christian’s justification in the Gospel Age and the Ransom of mankind in the next age. He turned over to God his right to human life, and God gave him a different life, a new life, to replace that human life. As a spirit being in heaven, Jesus is out of the Mosaic arrangement and has real life, real merit, to give.

Comment: A good marginal reference for “somewhat also to offer” is Ephesians 5:2, “Christ … hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”

Reply: Yes. Jesus gave his life once and for all, but that merit lasts. Like money in the bank, his merit is imputed, or loaned, to the consecrated to justify them in the present life. In the next age, Jesus’ merit will be turned over to the human race; having been given for Adam, it will be paid in a legalistic fashion. In ransoming Adam, Jesus will be ransoming Adam’s children, who never had a right to life but were condemned through Adam’s sin.

Heb. 8:4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:

If Jesus “were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are [Aaronic] priests that offer gifts according to the law.” At the time of the writing of the Book of Hebrews, there was a Temple in Jerusalem with a functioning priesthood. Not only was that priesthood not canceled, but also the Jew was obligated to follow the Law to the best of his ability, which included offering sacrifices. Even when the Temple was destroyed in AD 69-70, unconverted Jews were still under the Law. Therefore, if Jesus were on earth, he would have interfered with an already existing priesthood, which was God’s arrangement. Although the Aaronic priesthood was not canceled immediately per se for Jews who remained under the Law, there was a different circumstance for Jews who did not remain under the Law, and Paul would proceed to talk about those Jews who had accepted Christ. His point was that Jesus, the High Priest of the new arrangement, had to be in heaven so that he could offer his life as a ransom.

Had Jesus remained down here and not died on the Cross, he would have had nothing to offer to cover sin except in a typical fashion, and typical sacrifices, being ceremonial, did not have any real merit. But since Jesus had died on the Cross, been raised, and ascended to heaven as a High Priest, he now had his ransom sacrifice to offer, and that sacrifice, which did not have to be repeated, became the basis for real salvation.

The subject of the Melchisedec priesthood was very difficult for Jews living back there. Paul tried to reason effectively with people who had been indoctrinated under the Law for generations. He wanted them to see that they could be released from the bondage of the Law and find freedom because Jesus had “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”—a new way (2 Tim. 1:10).

Heb. 8:5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shown to thee in the mount.

The priests under the Aaronic priesthood “serve[d] unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle.” When Moses was up on Mount Sinai for 40 days, he was told to “make all things according to the pattern shown to thee in the mount.” Not only did Moses see the Tabernacle in vision for that length of time—with the right proportions and materials—but also the Holy Spirit impressed the details on his mind. Certainly the exceedingly long sermon that Moses gave to the nation of Israel at the end of his life, as recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy, showed the excellence of even his natural mind and memory. Moses was providentially born to be a mediator of the old Law Covenant, but as wonderful as he was, he could not produce life, even though he had the power to condemn and many died. But when Moses passed off the scene, how long did obedience last? When Jesus passed off the scene, a little group of followers survived, even though Satan tried to stamp them out. He started by crucifying Jesus, the Head of the Church, but he failed in other respects, for both the Jew and the true Christian Church have maintained their identity. Paul’s arguments were wonderful, but if one does not have a hearing ear, even the tongue of Jesus would not penetrate a heart that is not in the proper condition.

Heb. 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Jesus obtained a “more excellent ministry” than Aaron, and he will be “the mediator of a better covenant [the New Covenant]” in the Kingdom Age. The New Covenant will have a better Mediator and “better promises,” that is, promises of real life to those who obey and maintain obedience through the testing of the Kingdom Age. The gospel Church has a covenant of faith, whereas the world will have a covenant of works or deeds. As long as the people diligently apply themselves to obey, they will get health as a reward, and that health, leading to perfection, will enable them to keep the New (Law) Covenant, which will have principles similar to those of the old Law Covenant. The New Covenant, to be made with the nation of Israel, will take time, and to get life under the terms of that covenant, the Gentiles will have to become proselyte Jews.

Heb. 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

What simple logic! If the first Law Covenant had been “faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second [Law Covenant].” The very fact that God, who made the old covenant, will make a new covenant proves that the old one was not effectual as far as bringing salvation to the Jews—whether as a nation or as individuals.

Heb. 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

“For finding fault with them [the Jews under the old Law Covenant], he [the Lord] saith, Behold, the days come … when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” Verse 8 is self-explanatory.

Heb. 8:9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

Verse 9 brings in some new details. The Israelites “continued not in my [old Law] covenant.”

At first, they obeyed, for they observed the Passover and left Egypt. Having seen God’s judgments—the ten plagues and the opening of the Red Sea—they were obedient at the very beginning of the Exodus, but it took only three or four days of being in Sinai for problems to begin. Proof of their initial obedience is the fact that there is no mention in Holy Writ of any Jew dying in the departure from Egypt. The last seven plagues affected only the Egyptians, so we know that the Jews were inviolate after the first three plagues. And even though the Jews suffered in the first three plagues, the account does not state that any died. Real deaths occurred under the tenth plague to those who did not have blood on their doorposts; the firstborn of the Egyptians died throughout the land.

“Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt.” Paul was saying that the Law Covenant began not at Mount Sinai but when it was proposed to the Israelites in Egypt, prior to the start of the plagues. When God appeared to the Israelites at Mount Sinai on the third day, He talked to them in solitude. Some had already died, such as in the battle with the Amalekites. God had promised Moses earlier at the burning bush that He would see the Israelites at Mount Sinai, thus giving a visual confirmation of His dealing with His people (Exod. 3:12).

The point is that after crossing the Red Sea and going a three-day journey into Sinai (seven days from the time they had left Rameses), the Israelites began to murmur and disobey. In fact, ten noteworthy disobedient acts were committed by the nation as a whole.

Heb. 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

Paul indicated earlier that the Law was not completely terminated but would abide for a while and then eventually fade out of existence in due time. Accordingly, “after those days” would be the days subsequent to the Gospel Age. During the Gospel Age, the Jews were scattered. In the Diaspora, they had no Temple, just local synagogues which they built as houses of worship and congregation to serve the Lord as best they could, and this spirit was proper. But here Paul was saying that God would put His laws and name into the minds and hearts of the Jews so that He would be their God and they would be His people. To date, this has not happened in a real sense because during the Gospel Age, God turned His back to the Jews. Only recently in history, since 1878, can we begin to see a turnabout, a change of direction, where the Jews are regathering to Israel. Beginning in 1878, the first signs of a measure of favor were seen in a very real way to those who willingly sacrificed and went back to the homeland.

“I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” Before a law can be written accurately in the heart, it has to enter the mind. The heart is the seat of emotions, but it also responds to the instruction of the mind as best it can. When will this writing in mind and heart, in word and deed, begin? It will start after Jacob’s Trouble, when Israel becomes a recognized nation under God.

Comment: Proof that this “writing” is progressive is Revelation 21:7, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” The progress one makes will not be finalized until after the Little Season.

Heb. 8:11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

When Jacob is delivered, will there be any need to tell the Jews that their God is God and that they are His people? Certainly the Jewish survivors in Israel and in other lands—the living generation—will know. For those in the tomb, who will be raised in waves, this instruction will take most of the Kingdom Age. The governmental, educational, religious, and civil systems will all operate under a holy influence. Even a fool will know the way (Isa. 35:8). The eyes and minds of the people will be opened to receive instruction. We think that some children among the Holy Remnant will be delivered, probably due to their family relationship with the ones whose names are “written in the book” (Dan. 12:1; Isa. 4:3). The individuals whose names are written are guaranteed to survive Jacob’s Trouble, but that does not mean God cannot save others as well. Thus when the Kingdom is initially set up, the people will be of all ages: children, middle-aged, adults, and elderly. In other words, in addition to the Holy Remnant, whose names will be written in advance, subsidiary people will be saved, with some kind of screening being done from the spirit realm. Instruction will be complete and pure. What is written, said, done, and shown will be pure, not distorted as at present. As a result, the people will know the Lord almost immediately—perhaps in a couple of days from the time they are awakened from the tomb. All will know the Lord “from the least to the greatest.”

Heb. 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Heb. 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

At that time, God will remember no more “their sins and their iniquities,” starting with the living generation. When others come forth from the tomb, they will be given an opportunity for life. Those who arise will know about their dying moments and preceding circumstances. Whether they have been asleep in death for thousands of years or for only a short time, to come forth under this new condition will be a traumatic experience. After the shock wears off, sanity will sort of become normalized where the people can then begin to understand this new situation. Family reunions will take place in reverse order, starting with those who most recently died and going back to Adam.

(2000 Study)

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