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Hebrews 7-8: Why God Gave a New Covenant

Christian Living, Confidence, Faith, God's Way, Growth, Hebrews, Jesus, overcoming sin, salvation
Wordle of Hebrews chapters seven and eight in the English Standard Version (Hebrews 7-8, ESV)

Hebrews 7-8 (ESV) by Wordle*

Today’s reading is Hebrews 7:1-8:13.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be my people” (Hebrews 8:8-10).

I think I’ve misunderstood the Hebrew writer’s use of this prophecy from Jeremiah 31:31-33. God says He is going to give a new covenant because they didn’t keep the old one. At one level, that doesn’t make any sense to me. Is He saying, “Well, you flubbed that one, let Me see if I can give you something you can keep.” Is the New Covenant a dumbing down? Is it just an easier law to keep? I don’t think so.

Rather, I think this hearkens back to Hebrews 7:11, 18-19. “Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise…” And also, “For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect)…”

The issue is not, “Well, you people were disobedient to My first Law so let Me try an easier one.” The point was that the Law didn’t work in making us perfect. In fact, law doesn’t make anyone perfect. It can’t. Does that mean the Law failed? I don’t think so. God didn’t establish law to justify us, but to show us we aren’t perfect. The Law did its job well. It shut everyone up under sin. It did what it was intended to do. So, God’s new covenant is not simply just another law that He thinks we might be able to keep this time (though there is certainly law as part of this covenant). The new covenant is different. It is not just different in that some of the laws are different. It is different in that the way we draw near to God is different. Instead of drawing near to God via our attempts at keeping a law, we draw near to God through the One who did keep God’s law. We draw near to God through our faith in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:19, 25).

Here is the great part. As we draw near to God through Jesus Christ, God will work in our lives, writing His law in our hearts and minds. God will be working in us to accomplish His will. Isn’t that what Paul had said in Philippians 2:12-13? As long as we are trying to keep God’s law by our own strength, we will fail to attain perfection. When we give up on that and instead strive to draw near to God through Jesus Christ, then God will work righteousness in us. Again, that is what Paul said in Romans 9:30-10:4.

Today, I need to quit trying to prove how well I can keep God’s law (attempts to establish my own righteousness). Instead, I need to draw near to God through Jesus Christ, having faith in Him and what He has said (submitting to God’s righteousness).

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS. What struck you in today’s reading? Click the following link to add your input: Post a comment.

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*Today’s illustration was generated by the creative tool at Wordle.net. You can find all my wordles here.

 

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