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. — Hebrews 8:10
“Have you finished your homework?” “Don’t forget to pick up your clothes.” “Please put away your backpack.” “Did you remember to brush your teeth?” These are all familiar reminders around homes with children. Training in all the various areas of life is a long-term project, and one that never feels perfectly accomplished. How much easier life would be if children just wanted to do everything right without being prodded! What if the guidelines for every facet of life were written on their brains so each child knew exactly what was expected of him or her, and cheerfully obeyed?
God faced similar issues with the Children of Israel, who sometimes carefully followed God’s laws, and at other times drew back. It seemed as if they quickly forgot God’s expectations of them and took other paths. The tables of stone that God handed down to Moses were not sufficient to keep them upright: they needed His words inscribed on their hearts.
Today, that is possible! The new, superior covenant established through Jesus’ supreme sacrifice is not merely a little better than the old practices of the Law: it is perfect! His Blood brings about a radical change in the heart of the repentant sinner. God forgives our sins when we come to Him in sincere repentance in the Name of Jesus, and His Blood covers the penalty. There is no payment necessary from us other than a yielded heart and life and true belief in Him. We are forgiven and changed! Old things pass away, and all things become new. Our desires change, our actions are different, and we want to learn more and more about this One who redeemed us. He writes His laws in our hearts, and our desire is to live to serve Him.
The Hebrew word covenant comes from a root word that means, “to bind.” Among the ancient Israelites, a covenant was a relationship between two parties wherein each bound himself to perform a certain service for the other. When two men made such a covenant, they invoked divine retribution if either one tried to avoid fulfilling the covenant obligations. That was how binding such covenants were considered to be.
The Old Testament speaks extensively in terms of covenants. A covenant could be between two equal parties or between unequals. It could be a bilateral agreement (in which two parties made the proposal and agreed on the terms), a pact between friends, a marriage commitment, a political treaty, or a business contract.
God’s covenant with Israel was unilateral between unequal parties, resembling a treaty between a king and his subjects. It was an act of unearned grace for the benefit and blessing of the people. God was motivated by what the Hebrews called hesed (lovingkindness, steadfast love, mercy, loyalty, or covenant love).
The Old Covenant was limited, and was replaced by the New Covenant. If there had been no limitations with the Law and the sacrifices, Jesus’ death would not have been necessary. However, under the Law, frequent sacrifices were required to atone for one’s sins. These sacrifices were a reminder that none of the sacrifices in themselves produced salvation. The symbolic act of sacrificing had to be combined with consecration and faith in God in order for a person to be made righteous.
God’s New Covenant, explained in Hebrews 8, was meant to supersede the old. It is better than the Old Covenant in the following ways:
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The argument: the preeminence of Christ in His person and work
D. The superiority of Christ to Aaron
5. Superior because of a better covenant (8:1-13)
a. The place of His ministry (8:1-6)
b. The promise of a new covenant (8:7-13)
We have entered into a New Covenant. As members of the Blood-washed band, sin no longer has dominion over us. Let us embrace this New Covenant with praise to the One who made it possible!