Out of the Shadows – Part 2

Hebrews 8:6-13

“New and improved” – labeling put on just about everything from cereal to software to spouses. Sometimes shake your head, wonder how label fits; maybe even wonder, cynically of course, how can be anything more than gimmick to boost sales. Many times is exactly that – new packaging, different flavor or color, no substantive change to actual product or results.

Take all those negative, critical thoughts and impressions – put aside for a little bit. When God says something is new and improved, it is. The idea of new covenant introduced in OT – Jeremiah 31:31-34 – then spoken about again by Lord Jesus during final Passover meal with disciples – Luke 22:20 “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” The covenant promised by God through prophet Jeremiah no longer future; was instituted by Lord Jesus, is the current active covenant now – the new covenant in God’s view.

Our text assures us – not only new, is a better covenant, an improved covenant. God didn’t take old covenant, shine it, tweak it, repackage it, call it new and improved. Remember, the old way of doing things, including old covenant, designed by God to be temporary. New covenant designed by God to be lasting, in fact, everlasting. Are some things about it that are temporary still: e.g., symbols that go with fellowship around Lord’s Table of limited duration: 1 Cor. 11:26 “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” Once church is full, symbol of entrance into covenant community no longer needed – won’t be baptisms in heaven! And, of course, the worship – this only a microscopic taste of what it will be!

Good news is: we have such a high priest as we need; can presently rejoice in reality, even though fullness of reality still to come.

A. such a high priest v.1

no longer waiting for the ideal high priest – we have the one shadowed in Old Covenant

had been waiting for Promised One ever since Garden of Eden; in all Old Testament/Covenant days, no one thought he had come

greatest likeness during OT period – Moses, mediator of old covenant; God made sure they knew Moses wasn’t the one

Deut. 18:18 “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.”

Jesus is the one who has brought us out of shadows into reality

he is the original, serves in the original, brings us with him into original – Jesus the original, OT high priests the copy; Jesus serves in original sanctuary, all other priests in a copy and shadow

because these things are true, those who are “in Christ” enjoy another incredible blessing: read Eph. 2:4-7

by faith, we are seated in heaven also… because Jesus is there (no merit of our own), in the real sanctuary

presently experience some of blessings associated with being subjects of exalted King and Priest; will enjoy them in fullness “then”

B. rejoicing in reality v.6-13

reality of a more excellent ministry

Jesus a more excellent minister with more excellent ministry in true sanctuary – place where God is present and revealed in his fullness

like Job prayed for (Job 9:33), “mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both.”, Jesus between us and God, drawing us together

here’s what no one else can accomplish: Jesus takes us wherever we are, changes us as he reconciles us to God

Jesus not simply using the symbols of reconciliation, promising reconciliation, he actually makes it happen for his people

those who are truly his become more like him day by day – he changes us from inside out, changing our wills, desires

don’t forget: is us who need to change and be changed in order for reconciliation – God never brings his standard down to our level; instead, by Mediator of new covenant brings us up to his standard

again, reminder, can do none of this by ourselves: no one apart from God can do it for us; Good News, Gospel is God does just that, one by one – chosen by God the Father, redeemed and reconciled by his Son Jesus, sealed and sanctified by Holy Spirit

reality of a better covenant

core values of old covenant written on stone, of new covenant written on each heart – same values, same laws, profoundly different effect

example: commandment #8, “you shall not steal”, all sorts of laws on the books addressing different kinds of theft, signs in store “shoplifters will be prosecuted” – people keep doing it!

now write that law on the heart – other day someone told of using 10-cent pen, grocery store, walking out with it, guilty conscience until returned

those who are parties to new covenant behave differently because they are different – not only about regulations, includes changed relationship as well

all 4 relationships fractured at Fall in process of being repaired/restored – God, others, self, nature – will not be fully restored until next age, new bodies/heavens/earth

all old covenant could do is identify cause of all that’s broken, make provisions for temporary repairs; need new covenant for permanent, lasting solution

significant difference we should not overlook: lots of people lived under terms of old covenant, were part of community considered as God’s people… Israel

followed basic terms of old covenant, put up with consequences when necessary, lived pretty much like neighbors – God found fault with them for that: see v.8

people who are truly new covenant members won’t do that: not because smarter, more spiritual, more enlightened; is because God has changed them

reality of better promises

old covenant promised earthly realities as shadows of spiritual ones – new covenant promises spiritual realities

Canaan a down-payment on future homeland (see that in chapter 11); tabernacle a picture of God dwelling with his people; sacrifices were a shabby yet acceptable copy of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice

old covenant promised but was powerless to deliver; new covenant accompanied by power needed to make promised effect happen

was by God’s design: God made it plain external religion had its benefits but stopped short of all that people need

greatest promise, summarized by this: ” I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (v.10) “all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them”

we belong to God as his possession, his people, his children – not only call him God, call him Father

and… God belongs to us, in a way, a fullness unknown by those under old covenant; God makes himself real to us in his Son, by his Word, through his Spirit, so God really is our God

think about promises given that require New Testament level of ministry by Holy Spirit – fullness of joy, peace that guards our hearts, unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace

OT believers had wonderful signs of God’s presence: plagues, parting Red Sea, pillar of fire and cloud; not a continual awareness / sense of God nearby like we have

C. already but not yet v.11

all shall know me

under old covenant, true in external way, and much of the time, everyone knew who God was, the basics of what he expected (2 Chron. 34), like in previous generations here in USA

under new covenant, true in internal and intimate way – all participants are God’s people through union with Christ: God doesn’t write his law on old, stony hearts

Eze. 36:26-27 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

present experience: this kind of knowing God is true for all who are members of universal church, not in our neighborhoods

remember what author said back in Heb. 5:12 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.”

even for needing milk, not being ready for meat, they still knew God – not much more, hadn’t progressed far, yet were true converts

future promise: will be true of all without exception

time is coming, full reality promised by new covenant, when everyone without exception will know God, will love and serve God, when unrighteousness and lawless deeds will be past history

old covenant promised Canaan, new covenant promises heaven; for God to keep promise about heaven, requires that he do all necessary to make us fit for heaven

the key player in all of this: Jesus – he is High Priest, he is Sacrifice, he is King, he is coming Judge, he is the Best

everything about Old Covenant pointed to Lord Jesus and our inheritance in him – Jesus is central to Christianity, Jesus through whom God has revealed himself and spoken in these last days, Jesus who promised to send another Helper

If not for God’s grace and love, we wouldn’t even be in the shadows; would still be in the dark like unreached people groups we pray for… or worse. Apostle Paul asks question

1 Cor. 4:7 “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

Author of Hebrews asking question: if God has done all this for you under terms of new covenant through his Son, Lord Jesus, what reason could you possibly have for going back to old covenant? Is a related question for us: if God has done all this for you under terms of new covenant through his Son, Lord Jesus, what reason could you possibly have for seeking help and satisfaction and pleasure and fulfillment anywhere but in Jesus?

“Who can cheer the heart like Jesus / By His presence all divine / True and tender, pure and precious / O, how blest to call Him mine.”

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