Jesus, High Priest of a Better Covenant
8 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
For he finds fault with them when he says:
“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.
And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”
In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Hebrews 8 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Jesus became the New Covenant between man and God. His sacrifice took away our sin. He is a better mediator between us than through the Law of Moses. He has made better promises for us and sees us through such dark and desperate times. These are all things part of the New Covenant God provided through His Son.
The redemptive plan of God runs from the beginning. He made a promise and covenant to Abraham. Moses laid out another step toward redemption of His people. It was reiterated again through David. With each of these significant events, it was one more step toward the finality of a far better covenant being had for all people through Jesus Christ. Jeremiah wrote the words of God that spoke directly to this as He said there was a new covenant coming. This is powerful because the fact that God mentions another covenant reveals something was not there in the Old.
What is so beautiful is to consider Jeremiah 31 where this is written. God states under this new covenant He will put His laws in peoples mind and write them on their hearts. He will be their God and they His people, stating a far greater intimacy between them. Sins will be completely cleansed and He’ll remember them no more.
Jesus wasn’t a new and improved covenant – He was the best.
Hebrews 8 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Hebrews 8 is an important chapter because it proves Jesus was the Messiah and His covenant was both needed and expected. The Jews reject Jesus as their Messiah primarily on the grounds that His new covenant was not sufficient based on their understanding of God’s relationship to Israel.
Moses’ Eternal Covenant
Since the original covenant made with Moses was eternal, the Jews believe there is no need for a new one. It is true that God’s covenant with Moses is eternal, just like it was eternal with Abraham as well. The author of Hebrews debunks this theory by quoting the writings of Jeremiah.
But finding fault with His people, He says: Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by their hands to lead them out of the land of Egypt. I disregarded them, says the Lord, because they did not continue in My covenant.Hebrews 8:8-9 HCSB
New Covenant of Israel and Judah
After reading the text from Jeremiah 31, one may be tempted to think, “Why are the Gentiles included in the new covenant?” Jeremiah says that the new covenant will be over the house of Israel and the house of Judah. This is another misconception. Jesus brought the truth of the new covenant directly to His people. In Luke 22, with His Jewish disciples, Jesus takes the bread and wine and pulls the curtain back to reveal the new covenant. His words are direct.
In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.Luke 22:20 HCSB
Just several verses later, Jesus makes an astounding statement to His disciples that connects them to the house of Israel and the house of Judah and provides an explanation for Jeremiah’s prophecy. The 12 disciples are given a special standing as representatives over the 12 tribes of Israel.
I bestow on you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one on Me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom. And you will sit on thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.Luke 22:29-30 HCSB
The Jewish New Testament Commentary provides a helpful summary of this chapter.
“What is actually on the verge of vanishing is the old priesthood, not the old covenant-or, perhaps we may say, not God’s unchangeable nature which stands behind the old covenant. The priesthood is the subject of the whole section (indeed, the sacrificial system is the subject of the whole letter), and it is this which is about to disappear or, at the very least, take on a very much transformed role (see Heb 7:12).”Jewish New Testament Commentary