Hebrews 8





Christ’s heavenly priesthood, shown above to be of a higher order than that

of Aaron, destined to supersede it, is in this section of the Epistle (as

intimated in the concluding verses of ch. 7) set forth in full as the reality

foreshadowed by it. The two priesthoods are compared with respect to


(1) their spheres,

(2) their functions,

(3) their effects; and,


in the course of the exposition, the two (διαθήκαὶ - diathaekai – covenants) to

which they respectively belong are explained and contrasted.



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;”  Now the chief matter in (or, in regard to) the things

which are being said is (or, to sum up what we are saying). The word

κεφάλαιον – kephalaion – sum - in itself may mean either “summary” or “chief

point.” We have such a High Priest (i.e. such as has been described; compare

ch. 7:26), who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty (or, of

Majesty) in the heavens (compare ch. 1:3, and what was there said).


Hebrews 8





Christ’s heavenly priesthood, shown above to be of a higher order than that

of Aaron, destined to supersede it, is in this section of the Epistle (as

intimated in the concluding verses of ch. 7) set forth in full as the reality

foreshadowed by it. The two priesthoods are compared with respect to


(1) their spheres,

(2) their functions,

(3) their effects; and,


in the course of the exposition, the two (διαθήκαὶ - diathaekai – covenants) to

which they respectively belong are explained and contrasted.



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;”  Now the chief matter in (or, in regard to) the things

which are being said is (or, to sum up what we are saying). The word

κεφάλαιον – kephalaion – sum - in itself may mean either “summary” or “chief

point.” We have such a High Priest (i.e. such as has been described; compare

ch. 7:26), who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty (or, of

Majesty) in the heavens (compare ch. 1:3, and what was there said).



The Minister of the True Tabernacle, His Position and His Office (v.1)




Ø      It is in the heavens. He has passed through the veil into the heavens. He

is no longer a localized priest, near to some and far away from others, but

is in heaven, which is near to all of us. This bringing of heaven in contact

with every human being is set forth by the teaching of the natural world.

No one man has come in contact With more than a very tiny piece,

comparatively, of the world in which he lives; but once in twenty-four

hours every man in the world sees the sun, which is the great visible

representative of heavenly resource and blessing.


Ø      In the most glorious position a mediator can occupy. He is at the right

hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. This throne is the

heavenly counterpart to the ark of the covenant in the earthly tabernacle.


Ø      In this position the High Priest Jesus is seated. Seated, for He is there

permanently. Incessant are the needs of that human race for whom He

acts.  Seated also to indicate:


o       sonship,

o       heirship, and

o       Divine dignity.


  • HIS OFFICE. The high priest is a liturgical minister, He does holy

offices in connection with a holy structure, on behalf of the people. The

word true here is doubtless to be taken in connection with the holy

things as well as with the tabernacle itself. Jesus is Minister of the true holy

things in the true tabernacle. This word “true” is a most comprehensive

one, as showing the inward compared with the outward, the essence

compared with the form, the abiding compared with the changing, type as

compared with antitype, ends that are spiritual and invisible, as compared

with means that are material and visible. Notice the frequency of this word

ἀληθινῆς, - alaethinaes – true - in the New Testament. We read of:


Ø      the true riches,

Ø      the true light,

Ø      the true worshippers,

Ø      the true bread,

Ø      the true vine,

Ø      the true God, and

Ø      the true witness.


The priesthood of Jesus is a new and perfect thing, and

indicates a new and perfect system. If a number of types are related

together, then the bringing in of the antitype to one of them means the

bringing in of all the other antitypes. God has a glorious place of abode

in the invisible world, a true holy of holies, where Jesus has gone, where

JESUS REMAINS and to that holy of holies all true worshippers shall,

in due time, be gathered.


2 “A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the

Lord pitched, and not man.”  A minister of the sanctuary (τῶν ἁγίων –

ton hagion – of the holies; sanctuary - , neuter, as in ch.9:12, equivalent to

“the holy places;” compare Ibid. v.8; ch.10:19), and of the true tabernacle,

which the Lord pitched, and not man. The sphere of Christ’s priestly

ministration (λειτουργος – leitourgos - minister, λειτουργεῖν – leitourgein –

λειτουργία – leitourgia – ministry -  being the recognized words in the Septuagint

and Josephus for denoting sacerdotal functions, — hence Liturgy) is thus in the

first place pointed to as being a heavenly one, symbolized only by the

earthly sanctuary. But what is the true tabernacle, in which Christ

ministers? Are we to suppose that an actual prototype of the earthly

tabernacle is regarded as existing locally beyond the sky? No; it is only

implied that there are, in the suprasensuous sphere, facts and relations

which are symbolized and made level to our comprehension by local

imagery. Still, there may be conceived as present to the writer’s mind an

ideal picture of a heavenly temple, such as was seen in vision by prophets,

and served to aid their conception of realities beyond their ken. Thus in

Psalm 29, where the thunderstorm is described, the LORD is conceived, in

the introductory and concluding verses, as enthroned above it in His

heavenly temple, sitting there a King for ever, and worshipped by the “sons

of God.” Thus in I Kings 22:19 Michaiah sees in vision “the Lord sitting

on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him, on His right hand

and on His left.” In Isaiah 6 this throne is seen as the distinct counterpart

of the mercy-seat in the earthly temple, with the winged forms above it,

and the “house” filled with the smoke of incense, and live coals upon the

altar. Ezekiel’s still more remarkable visions (Hebrews 1., 10., 11.) are in

like manner enlargements of the idea of the Shechinah in the holy of holies

(compare also ch.2:20; Psalm 11:4; Micah 1:2). Then the visions of John in

the Revelation have the same basis; there is still seen a glorious counterpart

above of the temple below; though now with new accessories, expressive

of accomplished redemption. But that John’s visions are meant only as imagery

representing the incomprehensible is evident throughout, and especially from

the ideal description of the holy city in Revelation 21, in which v. 22 is

peculiarly significant: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty

and the Lamb are the temple of it.” In the same way is to be understood the

“true tabernacle.” If, as we may suppose, the writer had before his mind the

prophetic visions of such a heavenly temple, he entertains them only as imaging

spiritual facts and relations in the regions of eternity. “Which the Lord pitched,” etc.,

may have reference to Isaiah 42:5 - ποισας τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ πξας αὐτν  -

ho poiaesas ton ouranon kai paexas auton -who is the Maker of heaven and fixed it –



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.  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:”  These verses are in proof of the assertion of v. 2, viz. that

Christ has His ministry in the heavenly tabernacle. He has been shown to be a

High Priest: therefore He must make some offering, this being the very

purpose of a high priest’s office (ch.5:1). But where? Not certainly in the earthly

tabernacle, this being served already, and exclusively served, by the sons of Aaron.

Therefore it must be in the heavenly sphere symbolized by the earthly tabernacle.

And then, in v. 5, that there is a HEAVENLY REALITY, of which the earthly

tabernacle is but a SHADOW,  is shown by what was said of the latter when it

was made. (What Christ offers in the heavenly sphere is surely His own atoning

sacrifice. Some commentators have found a difficulty in this conception on the

ground that this his sacrifice had been completed once for all before His ascension.

True; but He is regarded as carrying its efficacy with Him to the mercy-seat above,

and so for ever offering it; even as it is continually commemorated and pleaded

in the Eucharist by the Church below. (Personally, although I can’t explain it,

I believe that what Jesus said to Mary in John 20:17, “Touch me not; for I am

not yet ascended to my Father” is connected with this, and that it had

something to do with the offering of the blood!  CY – 2014)  And thus,

be it observed, the symbolism of the Day of Atonement is accurately fulfilled.

For the high priest did not sacrifice within the tabernacle; he only carried to the

holy of holies the blood, representing the atoning efficacy of the sacrifice made

outside before his entrance.)



The High Priest — For What Appointed (v. 3)



GENERAL. All high priests, whether they be Aaronic priests or Jesus

Himself, are appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices. Thus the classification is

made of offerings for God. There are gifts, the expressions of thankfulness

and devotion, which may be offered, which ought to be offered, but which

can only have value as they come spontaneously and of free-will. To give

them only in response to a Divine commandment would be to alter their

character altogether. Their very name indicates this, as being not simply

things given, but δῶρά - dora – gifts; oblations; presents - things given freely.

Then there are also sacrifices, the purpose of which is more particularly

defined in v. 1, where they are mentioned as sacrifices for sin. And all this


scattered about in individual manifestations, left to each one’s own time

and place and manner, was reduced to order, AND MADE A NATIONAL

PROCEEDING!   As to gifts, a man was free to settle in his own

mind whether he would give or not; but if he gave, he must give in a

particular way.



discharge a priestly office in respect of gifts and sacrifices? With respect to

sacrifices the answer is given plainly, not only in this Epistle, but in all

apostolic teaching. A reference to ch.9:14 may be enough to

illustrate this. Jesus, the true High Priest, offered up HIMSELF as the

TRUE SACRIFICE!   But what about the gifts? These, be it remembered,

we still have to provide. A sacrifice for sin we cannot provide, BUT IT

IS PROVIDED FOR US!  Gifts, however, we are bound to bestow

gifts, more in quantity than ever, and better in quality, seeing that our

obligations are added to by Christ’s provision of a sacrifice for sins.

And we lay these gifts on God’s altar when most of all we serve the needy.

As it is true that he who gives to the poor lends to the Lord (Proverbs 19:17),

so he who gives to the needy because of their need, hoping for nothing again

(Luke 6:35), makes an offering to the Lord. It is by the Spirit of Jesus Christ

that we are led into that sort of gratitude which is acceptable to God. The

gifts which are most acceptable for God to receive are those which indicate

our appreciation of HIS SPIRITUAL MERCIES!   It is a poor business if

we have not received more from God than the things which He bestows

equally on the good and the evil, the just and the unjust.  Our best gifts are

those which promote the cause of Christ, which are offered with a distinct

intention towards the progress of that cause.   (Our greatest gift to Him

is our heart – Proverbs 23:36 - and the greatest gift He gives to us is


REWARD!” – Genesis 15:1 – CY – 2014)


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 shewed to thee in the mount.”  Who (i.e. being such as do so;

οἵτινες – hoitines - who) serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things

(ὑποδείγματι  - hupodeigmati – to example - here, as in ch.9:23, means

“representation,” in the way of copy, not of pattern. (σκιᾷ - skia - shadow”) is

opposed in Hebrews 10:1 to εἰκόνα – eikona - image, which denotes

the reality, and in Colossians 2:17 to σῶμα – soma - body), even as Moses is

admonished of God when about to make the tabernacle (literally, to

complete; but not in the sense of finishing a thing begun, but of carrying

out a design to entire completion); for, See, saith he, that thou make all

things according to the pattern that was showed thee in the mount. For the

sense of κεχρημάτισται – kechraematistai – has been apprized, according to

Hellenistic usage, compare Matthew 2:22, (χρηµατισθεὶς δὲ κατ’ ὄναρ

chraematistheis de kat’ onar - being warned of God in a dream; being

apprized yet according to trance).” The reference here is to Exodus 25:40;

the words which “the LORD spake unto Moses.” Rabbinical writers,

holding the view of an actual heavenly tabernacle, the prototype of the

earthly one, have concluded from the passage in Exodus that Moses had

a vision of it, or that a visible representation of it was exhibited to him on

the mount. All that is necessarily implied is that he was divinely admonished

to make the tabernacle after the fashion conveyed, in whatever way, to his

apprehension when on the mount, so that it might be a true representation of

some heavenly reality (compare Acts 7:44).


6 “But now (νυνὶ - nuni – now -  in its usual logical, not temporal, sense; compare

ch. 11:16; also 2:8; 9:26; 12:26) hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by

how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which (ἥτις – haetis –

which - equivalent to quippequae, as usual) was established upon better promises.”

Here the idea of the new διαθήκης – diathaekaes – covenant - introduced first in the

way of anticipation at ch. 7:22, is brought to the front, to be carried out in what

follows. There the proved superior greatness of the predicted priest was made the

measure of the superior excellence of the covenant of which He has become Surety;

here the superior excellence of the new covenant, which is now to be shown from

prophecy, is made the measure of that of Christ’s priestly ministry, which

has just been proved to be of necessity in the sphere of heavenly realities of

which the Mosaic ritual was but a copy and shadow. The word here used is

not ἔγγυος  - egguos - surety, as in ch.7:22, but μεσίτης – mesitaes - mediator;

on which it is to be observed that the mediator of the old covenant was not

Aaron, but Moses (see Galatians 3:19): it was he that intervened

between God and the congregation in the establishment of the covenant;

and thus, in this respect also, the priesthood of the new covenant

transcends the old one, in that (as was shown also in the earlier part of the

Epistle) the type of Moses, as well as of Aaron, is fulfilled in it. The word

νενομοθέτηται nenomothetaetai - (established in Authorized Version.; enacted

in the Revised Version) expresses the promulgation of a law — appositely in the

first place to the Law of Moses, which constituted the conditions of the old

covenant; but also to the description of the new covenant, which follows from

Jeremiah, according to which the law remains, but to be written on the heart.

The gospel is elsewhere regarded under the idea of law, though not a law of

bondage, but of liberty — a law, not of the letter, but of the Spirit (see

Romans 3:27; 8:2; 9:31; James 1:25). The “better promises” are

such as the passage from Jeremiah, quoted below, notably represents.

Other passages might be referred to (such as Ezekiel 36:25-28; 37:24-28),

of similar significance, though not with the same marked mention of a

new covenant to supersede the old one. This memorable passage

(Jeremiah 31:31-34) occurs in a distinct section of Jeremiah’s

prophecies (chapters 30 and 31), delivered after the commencement of the

Captivity, and directed to be written in a book. The subject of the whole section

is the restoration of Israel, its ultimate Messianic reference being patent to all

who acknowledge any such at all in prophecy. In evidence of this there is

not only the passage before us, pointing to an entirely new covenant with

Israel, and the ideal tone of the whole prophecy, but also, in particular, the

view of all the scattered tribes, not Judah only — the whole ideal Israel

being gathered together from all countries to Zion, and of David himself to

rule over them as king. The national and local framework, which the

picture has in common with other prophetic visions of the coming days, is

of course no difficulty to those familiar with the style of the prophetic books.



The Chief Point (vs. 1-6)


This passage does not present a recapitulation of the topics already

considered; it emphasizes, as the crowning topic in connection with our

Lord’s priesthood, the fact that he has been “made higher than the




dwells now in heaven, His native home. He occupies there the loftiest place;

for He shares the sovereign authority and the universal dominion of THE

ABSOLUTE GOD!   Aaron exercised his priesthood in an earthly sanctuary

made by men’s hands; Christ officiates as our High Priest in the eternal

uncreated heavens. Aaron, when he entered the holy of holies once a year on

the great Jewish fast-day, merely stood for a short time before the symbolic

throne — his attitude one of lowly service; but Christ has “sat down” at the

right hand of the Eternal — His attitude that of royal government. It is

noticeable that in this treatise the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus does

not receive the prominence which is given to it in almost every Epistle of

Paul. Indeed, it is only once mentioned (ch.13:20). But doubtless

the reason of this is to be found in the unique design of the treatise. This

book alone, of all the books of Scripture, expounds the doctrine of the

priesthood of Christ; and it brings into the foreground, accordingly, only

those acts which He performed as the Antitype of Aaron — His sacrifice of

Himself in the outer court of this world, and His passing within the blue veil

of heaven to sprinkle His blood upon the mercy-seat. So the writer dwells

only upon the death and the ascension of the Savior.


  • HIS HEAVENLY MINISTRY. (vs. 2-6.) The ministry of the

Redeemer is not incompatible with His majesty; for He performs it as the

Plenipotentiary of the Godhead, and in virtue of His session at “the right

hand of the throne.” The heavenly sanctuary in which Christ officiates is

here contrasted with the Hebrew sanctuary. We are reminded that the

Mosaic tabernacle and its ritual were nothing more than an adumbration of

the realities of the true tabernacle. They were only a shadowy prophecy of

the priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus. The very furniture of the sacred tent

had a symbolic meaning; and every article was formed after a Divine

“pattern” (v. 5) — the snuffers and incense-spoons as well as the

magnificent lamp-stand. But how different the scene of Christ’s continual

intercession from the Jewish tabernacle or temple! Having offered Himself

as a Sacrifice upon the altar of burnt offering which had been set up on

Calvary, He had to appear within the sanctuary of God with His atoning

blood. Not being, however, a high priest after the order of Aaron, He could

not go for this purpose into the temple at Jerusalem; so, if he was to

continue to be “a Priest at all’ (v. 4), it behooved Him to seek another

temple. Jesus accordingly ascended to heaven, “the true tabernacle;’ and

He carries on His ministry there in “the sanctuary,” i.e. in the holy of holies

which belongs to that true tabernacle (v. 2). The Levitical high priests

were but typical mediators, who performed typical services in connection

with a typical sanctuary. Jesus is the anti-typical High Priest, who has

offered a real sacrifice for sin, and who makes prevailing intercession for

his people within the true archetypal tabernacle. His ministry, therefore, is

“more excellent” than Aaron’s.




Ø      For the materialist. The Mosaic tabernacle was a “copy” of the

celestial sanctuary; but are not all nature and all earthly relations

just an adumbration of the unseen?


“What if earth

Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein

Each to other like, more than on earth is thought?”



Ø      For the sacerdotalist. Jesus is the one mediating Priest of the New

Testament Church; and even He is no longer a sacrificing Priest.

He bled and died in the outer court; and He mediates in “the

sanctuary” now by intercession.


Ø      For the formalist. How great the guilt of the man who, while

professing to be a Christian, does not make the priesthood of

Christ a main theme of his thoughts, and the joy of his heart!


Ø      For the Christian believer. The saint should more and more rejoice in

Jesus as his Priest, and constantly recommit his soul into His hands,

to be introduced to God by Him.


Ø      For the gospel minister. While the teaching of the pulpit ought to

range, as far as possible, over the wide sweep of thought which is

embraced in the orbit of the Bible, the doctrine of the mediation

of our glorified Redeemer must be its “chief point”the

key-stone of all its utterances, whether evangelical or ethical.



Three Better Things (v. 6)


But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry” etc. In these words

the writer states in brief what he at once proceeds to illustrate and establish

at considerable length, from this point on to ch.10:18. We may perhaps with

advantage take a general glance at these three better things, leaving their

particular  examination until summoned to it by the development of the Epistle.


  • THE BETTER MINISTRY. “But now hath He obtained a more

excellent ministry” than the high priests of the Jewish Church. The

proposition of the text is that our Lord’s ministry is as much better than

theirs as the new covenant is better than the old, and the new covenant is

better than the old because it has been enacted upon better promises. His

ministry is that of our great High Priest, or, in the word used in the text,

our Mediator. Let us mention a few particulars in which this ministry of

His is more excellent than that of the Jewish high priests.


Ø      Because it is exercised in a higher sphere. They ministered in the

material tabernacle and temple, and for a brief season once a year

were permitted to enter the holy of holies where God manifested

His presence by a symbol; but these were only copies and shadows

of the heavenly realities.  Our Savior is a Minister of the heavenly

“sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched,

not man.” He “appears before the face of God for us.”


Ø      Because it extends to greater numbers. The ministry of the Jewish

high priests was exercised for the Jews only. It was limited to their

own race, and to the proselytes to their religion. But the ministry

of Jesus Christ is FOR ALL MANKIND!   He “tasted death for

every man.”  (ch. 2:9)  He is the “Mediator between God and men”

(I Timothy 2:5) of:


o       every nationality,

o       every race, and

o       every age!


Ø      Because it is enduring. The ministry of individual Jewish high priests

ended at their death, if not before; and that ministry as an institution

waxed old and vanished away. But the ministry of our great High Priest

is of perpetual vitality and efficacy. His mediation will never be

superseded, never lose its attractiveness and glory, until man is fitted

to approach God without a mediator.


Ø      Because it secures richer results. These results, or some of them at

least, are referred to in the “better promises.” The results of the

ministry of the Aaronic priesthood, like its functions, were to a great

extent symbolic and shadowy rather than essential and real. But

through the ministry of the Christ we obtain real benefits and

essential blessings: e.g. reconciliation with God, forgiveness, etc.


  • THE BETTER COVENANT. “He is the Mediator of a better

covenant.” But what are we to understand by the word “covenant”? As

used in human relations it denotes a compact or agreement between two or

more parties, who are equal, each of whom has the right to propose

alterations in the terms of the compact, and to accept or reject such terms.

In this sense there can be no covenant between God and man; for there is

no equality between the parties, and man cannot reject any requirement of

God without committing sin. Perhaps it is for this reason that the word

which strictly signifies covenant is not used in the New Testament. But as

applied to God and man the “covenant” denotes His method of revealing

Himself to men, and His will concerning their salvation, His arrangement

of agencies and means and conditions by which they may be saved. “The

word ‘covenant’ becomes appropriate in view of the solemn assent and

consent with which man accepts God’s proposal, involved in His scheme or

plan. In this context the ‘old covenant’ is the scheme revealed to Israel

under Moses; the ‘new’ is the gospel scheme involving the gift and work of

both the Son and the Spirit of God.  The old covenant was good, as our

text implies. It originated in the grace of God. It involved on His part

condescension towards man. It was designed and fitted to benefit and bless

and save man. It promised life and blessing to those who complied with its

terms; and its promises were true. But the new covenant is very much

better than the old. This will appear when we come to notice the “better

promises.” At present we mention only two aspects of its superiority.


Ø      It presents a more spiritual revelation of the character and will of

God.  Under the old covenant nearly everything was expressed by

means of material forms and symbols — nearly everything appealed

to the senses. Its laws, its ritual, its promised blessings, pertained

largely to the visible, the sensuous, and the temporal. It was a revelation

suited to the childhood and youth of our race. But the new covenant

gives us a more spiritual manifestation of the Divine mind and will;

it is a revelation for the manhood of our race. It proclaims the spirituality

of God and of His worship. It writes the Divine law upon men’s hearts.

It promises spiritual blessings.


Ø      It is a fuller expression of the grace of God. (Compare John 1:14-18;

Romans 3:24; 5:21; 6:14.) The next division of our subject will show

us that there is more of Divine grace manifested in the new than in

the old covenant.


  • THE BETTER PROMISES. “A better covenant, which hath been

enacted upon better promises.” The promises which the writer has chiefly

in view are those mentioned in vs. 10-12. Let us mention some of these

better promises of the new covenant.


Ø      It proffers strength to comply with its own conditions. The old covenant

promised blessings to the obedient; the new promises blessings to enable

us to render obedience. The Holy Spirit is promised to incline our hearts

to the good, to strengthen us for duty, etc.  (“But as many as received

Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them

that believe on His name.”  - John 1:12)


Ø      Justification for the sinner on condition of faith in Jesus Christ.

(Compare Romans 3:20-26; 10:5-10; Galatians 3:10-14.)


Ø      Sanctification of the believer by the Holy Spirit. (Compare John

14:16-18, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15; Romans 15:13, 16; II Corinthians 3:18.)


Ø      Glorification of His people forever in the future state. (Compare

Romans 8:17-18, 30; II Corinthians 4:17; II Timothy 2:10; I Peter

5:10.)  Verily, these are better promises than those of the old covenant.

And the covenant to which they belong is far better than the old one.

By so much, also, is our Lord’s ministry better than that of the Aaronic

high priests. Let us give earnest heed to secure our personal interest in

this new and “better




A Verse of Comparisons (v. 6)




How all this illustrates the way of God! Whatever He appoints and plans is good,

and good just because it is exactly proportioned to good ends. But these

ends have to be measured by the power of men to fall in with them. Man,

with his limited prospect, reckons to be an end what God reckons as only

the means to A GREATER END!   God made to Israel promises of a land of

inheritance on earth, just that they might thereby be prepared in time to see

that there was something much better. Higher demands were made, a

completer obedience was possible, and the conditions existed for fulfilling

richer promises. And of this new state of things Jesus, as the Mediator, is

THE CENTRAL FIGURE; it is His presence and His power that make the

new state of things possible. The better covenant is only better because it can

become a reality, and Jesus it is who makes the reality. The old covenant, as we

clearly see, was a broken covenant. God brought His people into the land of

promise; but, after all, this could not be called the keeping of His promise.

His promise was made upon conditions to be supplied by the people to

whom the promise was made. They did not supply these conditions,

consequently the promise could not be fulfilled. And now, instead of

Moses, the mere proclaimer of law, there comes Jesus to complete law, to

expand promises into their spiritual fullness, and, at the same time, act as a

Mediator in really receiving these promises for men.  If God’s laws are to

be written upon our hearts, it can only be by the work of Jesus. If we are to

be persuaded into a living interest in God’s promises, and to care for the

things He wants us to care for, it must be by the work of Jesus. He only can

inspire us individually with an inclination to set our names to the new

covenant. He only can show us the inward realities of which outward

shows are but the parabolic expression. REAL MEDITATION!  How rich

it is in results! It is not like the wire along which electricity travels, a mere

medium of communication. It is a medium of life and growth. Jesus Christ

is the real Mediator in living, abiding, unbreakable, necessary communion

with God, and in the same sort of communion with man. The old covenant

did nothing more than reveal man’s utter deplorable weakness in himself.

The new covenant reveals man’s strength in Jesus Christ. (“I can do all

things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  (Philippians 4:13)

Jesus Christ can:


·         make all things new; (Revelation 21:5)

·         He can make the good better;

·         He can bring living realities instead of living, tantalizing forms;

·         He can make man stand erect in the strength of His renewed nature,

 disposed to enter into covenant with God, and able to keep the

terms of the covenant He has made. (“But as many as received Him,

to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them

that believe on His name!”  - John 1:12) 


7  “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no

place have been sought for a second.”  “For” introduces this sentence as a

reason for what has been already said; i.e. for a better covenant having

been spoken of. The expression might be objected to by Hebrew readers as

implying imperfection in the original Divine covenant. “Nay,” says the

writer, “it was imperfect, it was not faultless; for prophecy itself declares

this.” Should it be further objected that in the prophecy it is not the old

covenant itself that is found fault with, but the people for not observing it,

the answer would be that the remedy for their non-observance being the

substitution of a new one that would answer its purpose better, some

imperfection in the old one is implied. This is indeed the very point of this

verse. If it be asked, further, how faultiness in the old covenant is

compatible with the view of its Divine origin, the answer is abundantly

supplied in Paul’s Epistles. His position constantly is that the Mosaic

Law, though in itself “holy, just, and true,” and adequate to its purpose,

was still imperfect as a means of justification. It was but a temporary

dispensation, with a purpose of its own, intervening between the original

promise to Abraham and the fulfillment of that promise in Christ. Thus it is

no derogation to itself or to its Author to charge it with “weakness and

unprofitableness” for a purpose it was never meant to answer.  (ch. 7:18)


7 “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have

been sought for the second.”  8 For finding fault with them (i.e. the people),

He saith, (or, as some take it, finding fault, he saith to them), 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:  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.  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:  11 And they shall not teach

every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying,  Know the Lord:

for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.  12 For I will be merciful

to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember

no more.”  The passage is quoted from the Septuagint, with a few verbal

differences which do not affect the meaning. In v. 9 our Authorized Version

renders the original in Jeremiah although I was an Husband unto them,” instead

of and I regarded them not (ἐγὼ ἠμλησα αὐτῶν – ego aemelaesa auton –

I was a husband to them).   The Septuagint, followed in the text, gives the more

probable meaning. On the whole passage be it observed:


  1. “Behold, the days come,” like “in that day,” is a usual prophetic phrase

for denoting the age of the Messiah.


      2.  The failure of the old covenant is attributed in the first place to the

people’s not continuing in it, and then, as a consequence, to the LORD’S

withdrawal of His protection. The evidence of such withdrawal immediately

before the prophet’s view may be supposed to have been the Babylonian



  1. The distinguishing characteristics of the new covenant are:


a.      God’s laws, not imposed as an external code, but put into the mind

and written on the heart;

b.      the general knowledge of the Lord by small as well as great, without

the former need of continual admonition; and

c.       as the originating and inspiring cause of all, the forgiveness on the

Lord’s part of past sins.


It is important to perceive that this last characteristic of the new covenant,

though coming last in order, is given as the reason for the other two; for

this is a first principle of the gospel. The sense of forgiveness through

Christ, of acceptance in the Beloved, is ever set forth as the inspiring

principle of the obedience of Christians.We love Him, because he first

loved us. And hence flow the two results denoted in the prophecy.


  1. “I will put my laws,” etc.; i.e. there will ensue, through the inspiring

Spirit, from the sense of forgiveness in Christ, a hearty service of love and

loyalty; no mere mechanical observance of an external code. Then,


      2.  “And they shall not teach, etc.; i.e. those who thus, led by the Spirit,

give themselves to such hearty service, will acquire, further, an immediate,

and as it were instinctive, “knowledge of the Lord,” not confined to “the

wise” or the scribe,” but the personal privilege of even the “little ones” of

Christ (compare Matthew 11:25, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven

and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent,

and hast revealed them unto babes;” also John 6:45, It is written in the

prophets, And they shall be all taught of God;” also I Thessalonians

4:9, “But as touching brotherly love, ye need not that I write unto you; for

ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another;” also I John 2:20,

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things”). It is

not to be inferred (as has been) from this last result that a distinct order of

ministry is no essential constituent of the Christian Church for admonition

of others. The fact that such a ministry was constituted from the first in all

the Churches, and was in active operation when apostles wrote as above, is

in itself sufficient disproof of such a view. All that is implied is that all

faithful believers, small as well as great (using, of course, the means of

grace and edification provided for them in the Church), should themselves

have inward illumination and personal communion with God. This is

indeed a peculiar glory of the Christian religion. The poorest and the simplest

believer may have spiritual perceptions and spiritual experience of his own,

surpassing those of his appointed guides, and remaining his own though

priests and teachers be unfaithful. “I am small and despised” (may the

Christian, still more than the ancient psalmist, say), “yet do not I forget thy

precepts.” (Psalm 119:141) “I have more understanding than all my teachers;

 for thy testimonies are my meditation.” (Ibid. v. 99)  Observe, lastly, the

ideality of the whole view given of the effects of the new covenant. It presents

to us the purpose, the potentiality, of the new dispensation, rather than results

to be fully realized in this world; though still actually realized so far as the

“glorious light of the gospel” (II Corinthians 4:4) illuminates the Church,

and is allowed to “shine into” the human heart. This remark applies to all

Messianic prophecy.


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.”

 “He hath made the first old” (πεπαλαίωκεν – pepalaioken – He has made

old) refers to the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy, not of the writing of the Epistle.

The very mention of a new covenant had even then antiquated the other. It

thenceforth survived only under the category of old as opposed to new;

and further marked with the growing decrepitude which is the precursor of

dissolution. This further idea is expressed by the present participle

παλαιούμενον  - palaioumenon – which is growin old - (elsewhere applied to

garments that are wearing out; compare ch. 1:11; Psalm 102:25-27; Isaiah 50:9;

51:6; Luke 12:33), and also by γηράσκον – gaeraskon – waxeth aged -  a figure

taken from the advance of old age in men.  When the Epistle was written, it would

not have been spoken of as “waxing old,” but as defunct. The temple, indeed, was

still standing, with the old ritual going on; but it had become but as the stately

shrine of a lifeless thing. As to the view of the antiquation having begun even

in the prophetic age, we observe that the prophets themselves show a

consciousness of this, in that their growing tendency is to depreciate rather

than exalt the ceremonial Law, and to put mercy above sacrifice. In fact,

the Old Testament itself, especially in its later parts, is replete with the

principles of the new covenant, anticipated in part, though not to be fully

revealed UNTIL CHRIST APPEARED!   And so, when He did appear,

the old dispensation had already become obsolete, and the new one prepared

for; to be rejected in Israel by those only who, “in the reading of the Old

Testament,” had “the veil upon their heart.”  (II Corinthians 3:15)



Law and Love in the New Covenant (v. 10)


“For this is the covenant that I will make,” etc. The paragraph from which

our text is taken is a quotation from Jeremiah 31:31-34. It is said that

the Lord “will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the

house of Judah;” but this is spoken, not of Israel according to the flesh, but

of the spiritual Israel — the spiritual seed of Abraham (compare Romans

2:28-29; 9:6-8; Galatians 3:7-9). Notice:



the great distinctions between the two covenants arises from the materiality

of the old one and the spirituality of the new one. In nothing is this more

manifest than in the matter of Law. Law is present in both of them. But in

the old it was engraved upon tables of stone; in the new it is written upon

the hearts of men. Under the old the people were led “by the hand,” guided

by visible symbols; under the new they are led by the heart, guided by

spiritual influences. Our text sets forth certain aspects of Law in the new



Ø      Law present in the mind. “I will put my laws into their mind.” In, the

former dispensation Law was spoken to the outward ear, it was made

visible to the bodily eye; and so given, it was often soon neglected and

forgotten. But in the present dispensation, to those who have by faith

entered into covenant relation with God, Law is given as a possession

of their spiritual nature. It is not external to them, but is present within

their minds as a rule of action and as a theme for meditation.


Ø      Law treasured in the heart. “And on their heart also will I write them.”

When a thing is highly esteemed by us, or when a cause has awakened

our deep interest, we say with propriety that it lies near our heart. With

greater emphasis and deeper significance do we say the same of one

whom we love. So in the new covenant Law holds a high place; it is

prized and loved.  It is loved as being good in itself. “The Law is holy,

and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good.”  (Romans 7:12)

It is loved, also, as being the expression of our Father’s will. There were

instances under the old covenant in which the Law was loved and

delighted in, but they were rare exceptions to the general rule. Under

the new covenant the Law of the Lord will be increasingly prized and

loved and obeyed.


Ø      Law embodied in the life. “Out of the heart are the issues of life.”

(Proverbs 4:23)  Writing the Law upon the heart is a pictorial way of

expressing the inspiration of a disposition to obey Law. God will give

His people courage to profess His laws, “and power to put them in

practice; the whole habit and frame of their souls shall be a table and

transcript of the Law of God.”  The Law which they love in their heart

they will express in their lives. This is the highest revelation of Law.

It is most effective in relation to the individual; it is most clear in relation

to others, and most influential also.  This revelation is the work of the

Holy Spirit. It is He who illumines the mind, inspires the heart, etc.



will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” We do not mean

to imply that the giving of the Law unto the minds and hearts of God’s

people was not an expression of His love; for such in truth it was. But here

is a brighter manifestation of His love. Notice:


Ø      God’s relation to the Christian. “I will be to them a God.” He will

be to them all that they could desire and expect to find in their God.

He gives Himself as the chief blessing of the new covenant. (“Fear

not, Abram:  I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”

(Genesis 15:1).  He will be to His people as great, as wise, as powerful,

as good as He is in Himself.  We have all things in Him (I Corinthians

3:21-23). We have:


o       His wisdom for our direction,

o       His power for our protection,

o       His love for our spiritual satisfaction and joy,

o       His Spirit for our instruction, consolation, and

sanctification, and

o       His heaven for our abiding and blessed home.


A whole library dealing with these words could not fully express the

number and preciousness of the blessings which are comprehended

in them — “ I will be to them a God.”


Ø      The Christian’s relation to God. “And they shall be to me a people,”

This is set forth as our privilege; and a great one it is. But the privilege

has its obligations. If by faith in Jesus Christ we have entered into this

covenant relation with God, we have the right to expect its blessings

from Him, and we are solemnly bound to fulfill its duties to Him.

Our duty to which the covenant binds us includes:


o       supreme affection to God;

o       reverent worship of Him;

o       hearty consecration to His service;

o       cheerful compliance with His will


May we be enabled both to perform the duties and to enjoy the

privileges of this gracious covenant.



Knowledge and Mercy in the New Covenant (vs. 11-12)


“And they shall not teach every man his neighbor,” etc.



“And they shall not teach every man his fellow-citizen, and every man his

brother, saying, Know the Lord,” etc. We have here:


Ø      The highest subject of knowledge. “The Lord: all shall know me?”

“This is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God,”

(John 17:3)  This knowledge is:


o       Sublimest in its character. There is no knowledge so exalted

as this.  Knowledge of astronomy is a high attainment; but it

is not to be compared with knowledge of Him who made the

stars and all worlds, and who sustains them and presides

over them.


o       Widest in its extent. He is infinite, and can never be fully

known by man:  The knowledge of God and of Christ is

the sum of all science; this is the only knowledge that can

INCORPORATE AND MINGLE  with our being; and all

other knowledge is real only so far  as it is symbolical of this.


o       Mightiest in its moral influence. It transforms the character

of those who possess it (compare II Corinthians 3:18).


Ø      The purest source of knowledge. The obligation of men under the old

covenant to impart to each other the knowledge of God is implied in

the text. This obligation is not abolished under the new covenant; but

there is less need for such private instruction because of the frequent

public services of qualified ministers of the gospel. Moreover, the text

undoubtedly refers to the communication of knowledge by the

Holy Spirit.  The agency of the Holy Ghost is assumed under this

covenant as ‘the Spirit of truth,’ the supreme and most vital Teacher

of this true knowledge of God. For the covenant, taken in the large

sense of a system of agencies, is definitely and certainly the gospel age

as distinguished from the Mosaic; and of this gospel age or dispensation,

the gift of the Holy Ghost, to teach, impress, and enforce the true

knowledge of God, is the center and the soul, even as Jesus is the

center and soul of the Christian economy considered as ‘the Propitiation

for our sins,’ and our great High Priest before the throne of God. The

results as given here come of His teaching and of no other. This

knowledge does not spring from mere human conjecture, or imagination,

or investigation, or ratiocination; but from SPIRITUAL REVELATION!

 “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.” “Ye have an anointing

from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (I John 2:20,27).


Ø      The clear apprehension of knowledge. Proceeding from so crystalline a

source, the stream will be clear. If our mind and heart be free from

prejudice, then the instruction concerning God which we receive from

the Word and the Spirit will be clear and correct; what we know of Him

we shall know truly.


Ø      The wide diffusion of knowledge. “All shall know me, from the least to

the greatest of them.” Primarily the “all” refers to the “people” (v. 10)

of God: all of them shall know Him. But eventually there shall be a

universal diffusion of the knowledge of God. This the sacred Scriptures

distinctly affirm (Matthew 24:14; 28:19; Luke 24:47; Revelation 14:6).



will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities

will I remember no more!” Under the new covenant God manifests His

rich grace in the way in which He forgives sin. We have here:


Ø      The source of forgiveness. “I will be merciful.” Forgiveness does not

spring from man’s repentance, but from God’s mercy. Repentance is a

condition of forgiveness, but the grace of God is its source. Apart from

His grace repentance is impossible unto us. “By grace are ye saved,”

(compare Ephesians 2:7-10).


Ø      The fullness of forgiveness. He pardons “their iniquities and their sins.”

He cleanses “from all unrighteousness.”The blood of Jesus Christ

His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:7)  None are too numerous,

none too aggravated, etc. (compare Isaiah 1:18; 55:7 – “He is able

to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him.” – ch.7:25)


Ø      The irrevocableness of forgiveness. “Their sins will I remember no

more.” Strictly speaking, the Infinite Mind cannot forget anything.

But God forgives so completely that the sins are as it were buried

in deep oblivion. His forgiveness is irrevocable. This inspiring truth

is repeatedly and impressively expressed in the Bible (Psalm 103:12;

Isaiah 38:17; 43:25; 44:22; Micah 7:19). This rich, abounding mercy

is the reason of man’s fuller, clearer knowledge of God. There was

mercy in the old covenant, but in that it was not preeminent as in

the new one. The chief feature of that was Law; the chief feature

of this is grace. Forgiveness leads to gratitude and love to the

Forgiver; and love leads to the clearer, wider knowledge of Him.

If you would know God truly, intimately, deeply, YOU MUST




The New Covenant (vs. 6-13)


Here we have another of the broad contrasts which everywhere meet us in

this treatise. In those Epistles which are undoubtedly Paul’s, the process of

reasoning resembles the movement of a file of soldiers; but in this to the

Hebrews, the movement resembles rather that of soldiers in rank. The

writer introduces his contrast between the covenants with the remark (v. 6)

that our Lord’s heavenly ministry as greatly excels that of Aaron as the

new covenant which He administers is superior to the old.


  • THE OLD COVENANT WAS IMPERFECT. “That first covenant”

(v. 7) does not refer to the covenant of works, which was made with

Adam in Eden; but to the Mosaic dispensation of the economy of grace.

This covenant had been solemnly inaugurated and accepted by the Jews at

the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:4-8); and it had been repeatedly

renewed in later times (Joshua 24:24-25; II Chronicles 15:12; II Kings 11:17;

II Chronicles ch.29; Nehemiah chapters  9 & 10). It was not “faultless;”

that is, it was imperfect as a dispensation of grace. The Mosaic institutions

were only preparatory to those of gospel times. They were legal rather than

evangelical, and sensuous rather than spiritual. They were suited to the

nonage of the Church; and Israel was a child” when God “took him by the

hand to lead him forth out of the land of Egypt (v. 9; Hosea 11:1-4).

So Judaism taught spiritual truth only in faint outline. Its method was that

of spectacular representation. The Law was “our tutor to bring us unto

Christ” (Galatians 3:24).


  • A PROPHECY OF THE NEW COVENANT. In order to prove from

the Jewish Scriptures the imperfection of the “first” covenant, and to

describe the “better promises” of the “new” and final covenant, the writer

quotes a most striking passage from the Book of Jeremiah ch.31:31-34.

This oracle was given when the Jews of Judah were on the

brink of the Babylonish captivity, to comfort their desolate hearts with the

cheering hope of Messianic times. The chosen people had not “continued”

in God’s covenant; and, because they had broken it, He had “regarded them

not” (v. 9), but allowed first Israel, and afterwards Judah, to be carried

into exile. But Jeremiah is commissioned to announce that, notwithstanding

all, God in His wonderful mercy “will make a new covenant” (v. 8), with

the whole Hebrew nation. The twelve tribes shall again become one rod in

His hand. And all Gentiles, who by faith belong to the true Israel, SHALL




“better promises”? Jeremiah’s oracle mentions three.


Ø      The Law written on the heart. (v. 10.) The child is controlled by

positive external precept; the man by moral and spiritual principle.

During the pupilage of the Church, the Divine laws were written

“in tables of stone;” but, now that the Church has come to manhood,

they are inscribed“in tables that are hearts of flesh” (IICorinthians 3:3).

The ascendancy of ritualism in any Christian Church means, therefore,

a return to the “childish things” of the old covenant — a going back to

the swaddling clothes of religious babyhood.


Ø      The universal knowledge of God. (v. 11.) During the Jewish

dispensation, the average Jew had only an exceedingly dim

apprehension of religious truth, whether about God or the way to

Him, or about holiness or immortality. But, under the new covenant,

spiritual truth shall become the longer the more clearly perceived,

and the more widely diffused. For now the Holy Spirit is the great

Teacher of the Church; and He does not impart esoteric instruction

to some special caste, but teaches every believer “from the least to

the greatest.” What, then, is modern ritualism, but a return to

the dim vision of the old economy? It is the use of candies —

sometimes literally — in broad daylight.


Ø      The full forgiveness of sins. (v. 12.) This “promise,” although

introduced last, precedes the other two in actual bestowment. Sin

must be pardoned and cleansed away before the Law can be written

on the heart, or the mind flooded with SPIRITUAL LIGHT!  None

of the Levitical sacrifices could expiate moral guilt; BUT ON THE

BASIS OF CHRIST’S ATONEMENT God now imparts that

forgiveness which is the precedent condition of moral renewal

and of a holy life (Psalm 130:4).


  • CONCLUSION. God said at Sinai, in setting up the first covenant,

Thou shalt not” (Exodus 20:3-17); but now, in ordering the new

covenant, His words are, “I will” (vs. 10-12). And what does this change

of language imply? “I will” really points to the effusion and diffusion of the

Holy Spirit. He was poured out on the day of Pentecost, the anniversary of

the giving of the Law from Mount Sinai. It is HIS PRESENCE within the

New Testament Church that makes the new covenant so vastly superior

to the old. We should ask ourselves whether our souls individually are

sharing the blessings of the gospel dispensation. We must remember also

that the “better promises” imply on our part definite duties and great

responsibilities, And, as regards the world, we must be persuaded that


will extirpate by the roots THE ENORMOUS EVILS WHICH STILL




Decaying and Departing (v. 13)


“Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.  In these

words the writer states a general principle of which the old covenant was an

illustration.  That covenant was relatively old, because a new one had been

introduced; it was also absolutely old, and had not in itself the strength to

exist much longer. When anything arrives at that condition its end is not far off —

it “is nigh unto vanishing away.” Let us indicate a few of the applications of

this principle. It is applicable to:


  • FORMS OF RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION. In our text it is thus

applied to the Mosaic economy. Many of our present religious forms —

forms of Church government and forms of worship — are of human origin.

If they are vital and suit the circumstances and conditions of this age, let

them be maintained; but if they do not, and cannot be made to do so, by all

means let them go. In fact, a living Church will certainly put off its dead

forms by the natural expression of its life. The late A.J. Scott says wisely

and beautifully, “True reverence for antiquity seeks a Church presenting

the clearest image of eternity in the midst of the mutations of time. This she

is to do by the inward vigor of the essential principles of her life, dropping

off forms no longer useful, as the oak has done the leaves of last summer.

The live oak abides the same by its vitality, while it changes form and

dimensions by growth: the mass of squared timber has lost its power of

assimilation, its command of resources; death enables it to remain

unchanged in form, till death brings decay that changes form and

substance. What is dead is changed from without; what lives changes from

within.” And Dr. Huntington forcibly says, “When religious forms have

first been devised, a certain freshness of conviction has gone into them that

has made them vital. But presently the life has refused to stand and

stagnate in these cisterns, and so ebbed away and sought out new channels.

The mistake has been that the forms have insisted on standing, after the life

within was gone; and accordingly their figure has been that of wooden

vessels shrunk and dried in the sun.” Now, where the vitality has gone, let

the form go also; for, as Carlyle says, “the old never dies till all the soul of

good that was in it has got itself transfused into the practical new.” Let the

dead forms pass away:


“For who would keep an ancient form?

Through which the spirit breathes no more?”



  • FORMS OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF. Much that is said above on

religious organizations is equally applicable to religious creeds. As Mr. J.A.

Froude puts it, “While the essence of religion remains the same, the mode

in which it is expressed changes and has changed — changes as living

languages change and become dead, as institutions change, as forms of

government change, as opinions on all things in heaven and earth change,

as half the theories held at this time among ourselves will probably change

— that is, the outward and mortal part of them.” The living faith of the

Church may need restatement. The language in which man’s apprehension

of the great verities of the gospel was expressed in past ages may become

stiff, cold, unexpressive, and obsolete as regards the apprehension of those

verities in this age. Then let it go. And reverently in the living language of

today, let the living faith of today be expressed. The living faith — that is

the great thing. “A living doctrine never need advertise for a body, nor go

carefully about to invent one, any more than a young oak needs to

advertise for a trunk and branches. God giveth it a body as it hath pleased

Him  (I Corinthians 15:38).  Get the faith, and it will shape a form of its own.”


  • HUMAN LIFE IN THIS WORLD. If life be so far prolonged, the

time comes when the human form becomes old and waxeth aged and is

nigh unto vanishing away. “The days of our years are threescore years and

ten,”  (Psalm 90:10 – I am at this writing, through God’s grace, 71 years old,

and cannot I see, and even feel, the writing on the wall/ - CY – 2014). When

the earthly house of our tabernacle is worn out we know that it will soon be

dissolved. The departing vitality tells us that the body itself will soon vanish

away. Its decrepitude heralds its disappearance. This is a reason:


Ø      Why the aged should live in readiness for their departure hence.

(Philip Henry, the father of Matthew Henry, was known for

praying (“God, help us to be ready to leave this world, or, to be



Ø      Why the aged should be treated with considerate kindness.

Their age has a claim upon our respect, unless its character forbids

respect, and then it should elicit our pity. Their feebleness makes its

silent and touching appeal to us for support. And they will soon be

beyond our sight and our services. By the help of God let us seek so

to live that, when the time of our departure draws near, we may be

ready to leave this world, having finished our work, and to enter upon

the, to us, unknown future, having committed ourselves to the keeping

of the “great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ.”  (Titus 2:13)



The Advent of the New and the Doom of the Old (v. 13)



novelty by itself counts for nothing. Man’s new things are too often

brought in, not because they are needed, but from mere restlessness, love

of change, and self-glorification. The right principle of change is necessity,

superseding the old because it has done its work. That is the principle, we

may be sure, on which God acts. Thus we must not too readily assume that

the introduction of the new is the doom of the old; that is, using the word

“old” in the sense of long-established. New philosophies, new schemes of

the universe, rise up threatening the long-established gospel; but in time the

philosophies become old, unsatisfying, and vanish away, while the gospel

remains, still welcome, still powerful.  (Mr. Spurgeon, Charles Haddon,

that is, said “There is nothing that is new but that which is false!”

[something to well remember in this days of such vast change amid

“cultural wars”]  – I Goggled that in red and it was the first hit in my

browser! -  CY – 2014)                                                                



God’s new things always come in at the fullness of time. The first covenant

had done its work, but those who upheld the forms of it were the last to

see this. Nay, more; just in proportion as the inward reality vanished did

they cling with tenacity to the outward form. If it had depended on the

rulers of Jerusalem to say when the new covenant was needed, it would

have been a long time in coming. Man by himself cannot be trusted to say

when the season of decrepitude for any institution has come. God takes the

laws of necessary change into His own hands, and makes it evident to those

who have eyes to see that His new things have not come without necessity.

The new state of things needs to be experienced as a reality, and then it

approves itself as an improvement on the old; it becomes plain that the old

was not an end in itself, but only a stage toward the attainment of the new.

Whatsoever new thing is true and manifestly serviceable must make its

way; and it is well for its own sake that the way should be made through

difficulties and discouragements. They are wise who can see in time the

difference between a mere novelty and a novelty that has conquest and

resistless growth in it. The bringing in of the new wine-skins is the doom

of the old ones.  (Matthew 9:17)



Christ in Heaven, the Mediator of the New Covenant (vs. 6-13)


The argument of ch. 7 has a further object than the mere proving our

Lord’s superiority to Aaron. The priesthood being altered and centered in

Him, most important facts bearing on the spiritual position of the Hebrews

grow out of it. The priesthood was the center of the dispensation; they

stood and fell together. A new priesthood means a new and better

dispensation. That is the purport of chapters 8:1-10:18, where this idea

is worked out by the writer in particulars.


(1) is in vs.1-5, here. If the priesthood is raised to heaven, then heaven is the true

     tabernacle and the old is abolished.


(2) is that in these verses; subject — Christ in heaven, the Meditator of the

new covenant. We have a Mediator in heaven; but for what ends does He

mediate? Not those which the former priesthood had in view, for since they

were appointed for them, they may be assumed to have been sufficient for

them. It must, then, be for some higher end, for purposes not possible

under Aaron. The writer turns, as usual, to their Scriptures, and points

them to the declaration in the Book of Jeremiah, “Behold, the days come,”

etc. A new and better covenant was promised six hundred years before.

Behold in Christ the possibility of the fulfillment of that prediction; through

Him exalted are to be bestowed the larger blessings promised in the latter

days. Moreover, the fact of another covenant promised proves the

imperfection and temporary character of what then was. At the moment of

writing, the old covenant was trembling to its fall. That generation had not

passed till the venerable symbols of the old covenant had disappeared from

the earth like the mist of the morning.



an agreement. God has undertaken, agreed, covenanted to give certain

blessings to men. He is a God in covenant with the race. A testament is a

will, a promise to be fulfilled after death. It is a covenant, with the

additional idea that it can only be fulfilled after the death of him who makes

it. In the Gospels and Epistles (though not so in Old Testament) these two

words are used interchangeably as the translation of one word. The two

“testaments” are God’s two covenants, which can only be fulfilled through

the events of Calvary.


Ø      The history of the Divine covenant. The “new” covenant was only new

in a certain sense; in reality it was the old — the original covenant on

which the Jewish was temporarily grafted. God’s covenant was one from

beginning to end. First made in Eden, we see it gradually expanding and

working out, till in the Apocalypse we have its perfect consummation in

a REDEEMED WORLD!   The covenant with Abraham was a separate

and special covenant with regard to his seed alone, and in time to be

absorbed in the older covenant of world-wide aspect.


Ø      What was the purpose of the Abrahamic covenant? Owing to the

corrupt state of the world, it was necessary that a nation should be

singled out, and prepared to receive the Messiah and His gospel —

a nation through which the truth should spread world-wide. Hence

the covenant with Israel — a covenant of Law; wonderful blessings

promised on obedience. This tended to humiliation, was constantly

broken and renewed, and thus carried to the heart of the people the

sinfulness of sin, man’s inability to deliver himself, and his need of


accomplished it was no more needed, and was abolished,

and only the original covenant remained.



CONTRAST TO THE OLD. The prophecy of Jeremiah quoted here

contains three particulars of such a contrast.


Ø      A conscience pacified by perfect forgiveness. The twelfth verse begins

with “for,” and contains the ground of the preceding. Forgiveness first.

In the Jewish economy the expiation of sin was imperfect and temporary,

and quite unfit to perfect the conscience of the worshipper. The sacrifices

provided a kind of legal pardon by which the nation was kept in special

relation to Jehovah, but they could not put away moral guilt; “it was not

possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”

(ch. 10:4)  But the new covenant made ample provision FOR ALL

THAT WAS NEEDED a forgiveness free (“merciful”),

comprehensive (“iniquities and sins”), irreversible (“remember no

more”), a forgiveness that meant the annihilation of the record

from the very memory of Heaven.


Ø      A mind enlightened by direct communion with God. “I will be

to them a God!” The Jewish ritual made the people dependent on

the priests for their knowledge of Jehovah; they might not enter

the tabernacle, nor approach the symbol of the Divine presence;

for the mass of Israel clouds and darkness were round about God.

But through the new covenant WE ALL HAVE “access by one

Spirit unto the Father.”  (Ephesians 2:18)


Ø      A heart willingly consecrated to the Divine service. “My laws in their

mind and heart.” Even under Judaism some were able to say, “Oh

how I love thy Law”  (Psalm 119:97), but it was not so with the

average Jew. To him the Law was irksome and restraining. He might

conform to it outwardly, but it was by the compulsion of fear, or a

slavish sense of duty; his obedience did not carry his heart with it.

But under the new covenant there is a new nature in harmony with

the Divine will, a disposition inclining us to obedience.

“Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”  (Acts 9:6)




A new,” etc. The practical lesson for today in this is — You are living

under the new covenant; see to it that you possess its blessings.


Ø      Remember the high character of these blessings covenanted to us.

Doubtful, shadowy, partial forgiveness; the intervention of the

priest for personal knowledge of God; right-doing not so much

from willingness as fear; — that was the old covenant. Are not

many Christians rather living under this than under the new?


Ø      Remember the universal possibility of these blessings. The old

covenant was restrictive, national, hereditary, and belonged to

Abraham’s seed only.  But under the new covenant exclusiveness

has vanished. God is in covenant with the race. His promises are

to “every creature.” The rainbow of this covenant spans the world.


Ø      Remember the certain permanence of these blessings secured by the

mediation of Christ. As Aaron was the mediator of the old, Christ

is of the new covenant (I Timothy 2:5); that is, its blessings are

bestowed through Him. We can only receive them from His pierced

 hands, and as the result of His priestly work.  But He is ever

presenting His pleading blood before the throne on His

people’s behalf, therefore they shall continue for ever. Christ’s

continuance is the pledge of their continuance; “an everlasting

covenant, ordered in all things, and SECURE!”  (II Samuel 23:5)


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