1) In what ways do you struggle with keeping God’s law only on an external basis? How does this passage help you?
2) How does the new covenant actually make us (perhaps unexpectedly) better law-keepers? What does that say about the role of grace in our lives?
3) How does the rejection of God by Israel help you handle rejections in your own life? How does God’s persistent pursuit of His wayward people encourage you today?
Scripture: Hebrews 8:6-13
I. The old covenant with God was faulty.
A. In verse 6 the author says that since Jesus was a greater high priest, therefore, the new covenant that Jesus brings is also better. What is this old covenant that the author is talking about? It is the covenant that God made with His people Israel through Moses (see vs. 9). What was the nature of this covenant between God and Israel? We see that God made this covenant with Israel after He had saved them from slavery in Egypt by His grace. How should people respond to this grace of God that saved them? They
should obey God’s Law.
B. But there was a problem with the old covenant that we discover in verse 7: “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” The old covenant made with Israel was not faultless. It was defective in some way. This does not mean that the old covenant was bad, sinful or wrong. It just means that the old covenant could not accomplish what it promised. It could not bring you as God’s people the greatest blessing God wanted to give you: salvation
from your sins.
C. And the reason the old covenant was defective was because the people of God, Israel, were defective. We read in verse 8, “For he finds fault with them.” Israel had not kept their part of the covenant. They rebelled. They loved and worshiped idols. So, by the time of the prophet Jeremiah, it was clear to everyone in Israel that this old covenant wasn’t working. In those days Jeremiah prophesied that God would bring a new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34. The old covenant was temporary and pointed to a new covenant that would be mediated through Jesus.
II. The new covenant with God is not only new but better.
A. We see three new things in the new covenant. First, we see a new power in verse 10. When God gave the Law in Moses’ day, it was written on stone tablets. It was external to the people, not internal. It focused on commands which caused many Israelites to participate in the covenant only outwardly as a matter of duty. In the new covenant God’s law is now written on our hearts. So, we actually want to keep God’s law. We obey God not just out of duty but because we want to. Now it is our delight to obey God because God’s law is on our heart.
B. Second, we also have a new people in the new covenant according to verse 11. In the old covenant, the people of God were a mixed community. Israel under the old covenant was composed of both believers and unbelievers. So, the unbelievers within Israel were constantly encouraged to know the Lord. But in the new covenant, the new Israel, the church, consists of people who all know the Lord. Another prophecy about the new covenant is made in Ezekiel 36:26-27: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Third, in the new covenant we have a new priest (vs. 12). We need a new priest who would offer a new sacrifice to bring us genuine and lasting forgiveness. Jesus is that new priest.
Rejoice because the new covenant has brought you full forgiveness
and given you a new heart.
The letter to Hebrews
Commentaries on Hebrews by Tom Schreiner and Raymond Brown
Bible study on Hebrews by Michael Kruger