Plan 5: Christ's Greater Covenant
We read in God’s Word that without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness. And obedience is better than sacrifice. The manifestation of these words play out when Jesus’ obedience led to the shedding of His blood and the ultimate sacrifice is made – for us! This is Plan Five of Nine of the book of Hebrews where we see that although salvation is free for us, there was a great cost that Jesus paid.
Hebrews 8:1–6 (ESV)
1Now 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, 2a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. 3For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5They 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.” 6But 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.
Thoughts on the Word
Better Tabernacle - Better Promises
On this earth, the tabernacle has enough priests to do the work! There are lots of priests available and they do all the work that is needed. However, there is a problem; they are doing the work in a tabernacle that is only a picture of the real one in heaven. This is like little children building a paper airplane and acting like it is a real plane. It is just a picture of the real thing. Therefore, the work and the ministry of the human priests have very limited value and meaning.
Jesus could not possibly work effectively as a priest in this shadow tabernacle! Jesus is the priest in the heavenly tabernacle. His ministry, His offerings, and His intercession is made in the heavenly tabernacle. That is where the real ministry is happening. In this heavenly tabernacle, effective ministry happens, effective sacrifices are offered, and powerful promises of God get answered—He forgives us completely.
This heavenly tabernacle is accompanied by other equally powerful items. There is a greater priest—Jesus. There are greater promises—one sacrifice covers all our sins. Forgiveness is eternal and God changes our hearts not only releasing forgiveness. These promises are available to us today. These promises release blessing unavailable to the Israelite people, but they are available to all of us. Take hold of these greater promises.
Father, when we look at the old tabernacle, it was a beautiful place and it released powerful blessings. Still, that building only looked like the real tabernacle in heaven. The heavenly one gives much greater blessing because it is the real thing. Help me today to not let the picture of temporary things take the place of the real. This can be accepting human joy instead of receiving the joy of the Spirit. It can be trusting for blessings in this world to meet my heart’s desire rather than longing for heavenly blessings. There are so many ways to settle for the temporary—the picture of reality, rather than original. This is found in Jesus. This is found in the Holy Spirit. This cannot be found anywhere else. So give me a heart to seek there. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 8:7–13 (ESV)
7For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. 8For 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, 9not 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. 10For 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. 11And 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. 12For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” 13In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Thoughts on the Word
The new covenant.
It was promised by God because the old covenant that God made with His people could not deliver all of the blessings of God. That is what the Father wanted— ALL of His blessings delivered to His people. God would not settle for partial blessings—that is something that we are willing to do, but not God. So God promised a new covenant for His people. This covenant would not give written words, instead, God would write the terms of this covenant upon their hearts.
Here are some of the promises available in this new covenant:
· I will put my law in their minds.
· I will write my law on their hearts.
· They will all know Me.
· I will be merciful to them all.
· I will remember their sins no more.
· He will make the old covenant obsolete (no longer in effect).
Of these promises, I love this one: our sins will never be remembered again— they will be taken care of forever. Also, I love the promise that everyone will know our Father. It is not just the priests who get access to the presence of God—everyone gets this access. God becomes personal to every one of His people.
Father, Your new covenant gives us such powerful promises. It gives us promises that far exceed Your old covenant with Your people. You did this so that all Your blessings could be released on us. The old covenant could not do that, and You wanted us to have these blessings. As I ponder that thought, I am humbled by Your love for us. It is often a picture of You that we do not see very often, however, it is a picture that we must see. Also, the new covenant that Jesus is priest is greater than any other covenant we ever see. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Father. I bless Your name. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 9:1–10 (ESV)
1Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. 3Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, 4having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9(which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
Thoughts on the Word
How the Old Tabernacle Functioned
This description of the Tabernacle (the tent that was the place of God's presence before the temple was built) shows two things.
First, no one could access God's presence freely. God would not permit mankind into His presence.
Second, no matter what we did (gifts, offerings, sacrifices), we could not fix ourselves so we could come into His presence. All the effort taken to come into God’s presence could never fix our consciences. All the offerings and washings—none of it made us acceptable to come into His presence. Everything was just a stop-gap measure until Jesus came.
We think that just because we can come into God's presence at any time now, they must have been able to do it as well. Not true. We have such a great privilege—and we do not take advantage of it!
We can come into God's presence at any time—and we do not do it. Let's do it!
Father, it is so easy for me to come to You at any time, to have You welcome me into Your presence at any time, yet I forget how awesome it is. I am sorry. Help me to come often, just to say "thank you" or to bless Your name. Forgive me when I get too busy. How can I be too busy to come into the presence of my Creator and Saviour? Yet I am.
Today let me know the closeness of Your presence. Let me come often today. With needs and problems—yes. But I want to come more just to come. I love to be in Your presence. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 9:11–15 (ESV)
11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Thoughts on the Word
Jesus - The Priest of the New Covenant
Things here are finally starting to come together. Now we understand that this worship system God gave to Israel was never intended to be perfect. It requires Jesus to come and complete what God wanted. God wanted us to have complete forgiveness, a complete transformation of our heart, complete access to His presence—it required Jesus.
Jesus was able to do what the Law was not capable of doing, what the temple and sacrifices could not achieve—to release eternal forgiveness and God's complete blessings.
So today, be thankful. Be fully aware that God has set you free from sin. Be confident that nothing more needs to be done for God to accept you.
YOU ARE FREE.
Father, there are many layers of truth here. We have just started to understand how amazing Your plan is for our salvation. The more I think about it, the more I see and understand. Today I just stand back and say thank you—it is incredible.
For the new follower of Jesus it is so simple. For the one who wants to know more—we see great depths of preparation and planning. I understand so little, yet I understand all I need to know. Still, I love to know more, so teach me I pray. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 9:16–22 (ESV)
16For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Genesis 15:15–18 (ESV)
15As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” 17When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,
Leviticus 14:21 (ESV)
21“But if he is poor and cannot afford so much, then he shall take one male lamb for a guilt offering to be waved, to make atonement for him, and a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and a log of oil;
Thoughts on the Word
No Blood - No Forgiveness
The Covenant of Blood
This is an ancient tradition. If a covenant was binding on people, then they would seal the covenant with blood. Blood would be shed and they would sprinkle it on the document—like Moses did. They might also kill an animal and split it into two parts and both people making the covenant would walk between the two halves of the animal. They would walk and step in the blood that came from the animal. This is the blood covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis 15:17-18.
In each case, the blood declared that covenant was unbreakable. To break it required blood sacrifice—something or someone had to die.
God is declaring two things here:
First, sin required a blood sacrifice. Breaking of His law required a blood sacrifice.
Second, purification required a blood sacrifice, however, there was one exception provided in the law. If a person was too poor and could not afford an animal, God allowed a meal offering instead. The taking away of uncleanness REQUIRED a sacrifice. (Leviticus 14:21)
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that a will can be enforced only after a death. It was the same for the first covenant God made with Israel. It is the same for the covenant that God makes with us today and the second covenant is enforceable only after the death of an animal—or for us, the death of Jesus.
Father, I marvel at Your commitment to us. You not only provided the covenant so that we could come into fellowship with You, but You provided the sacrifice to make the covenant come into effect. What did we do? We received. We did not need to pay the price to have this covenant with You and we did not need to pay the price for breaking it. You provided every sacrifice. You paid every price. You provided every way. What can we say but “Thank You!”. Forgive us when we treat sin so casually and the cost of sin so low. Just because it was free for us does not mean it was not without great cost. But the cost was borne by You. Thank you, thank you, thank you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 9:23–28 (ESV)
23Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Thoughts on the Word
Jesus Did It Once
The death of Jesus was necessary for our forgiveness. The heavenly sacrifice is not bound by the same limitations that happened on earth. The death of Jesus and the presentation of His sacrifice and blood in the heavenly tabernacle covered all sin and all failures of the law of God. It happened just once. It will never happen again.
There are things here that happen only once.
· Jesus came once to die. Next time He comes, He will come as judge.
· The sacrifice happened only once. It will never need to be repeated.
· We will die only once. There will be no second chance. After that all will face judgment.
Yes, the death of Jesus was critical to our salvation. It seals our heavenly "inheritance" for us. People saw the death of Jesus as a sign of failure and weakness. The opposite is true—it was the supreme victory.
Lord, thank you that You died so we could receive our eternal inheritance. It is an amazing inheritance. It enables us to face God's evaluation with hope. We will all face our failures at that time but we will face it with Jesus beside us. Thank you. Father, help me to live today with this hope. Whatever I face today let me face it knowing that it can never change my future. Let me never waver in my faith. In Jesus' name, Amen.