When we are confronted with all of the problems of the present, we are often tempted to reminisce about the days of old and how wonderful things were back then. If we experienced the “good old days,” then the tendency to cling to the past and refuse to accept the new is sometimes overwhelming. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me and be led to believe that I approve of some of the trends going on in our society. I am concerned with the waywardness of our society, but I am just not convinced that the good old days were all that good in some ways. Clinging to the past can cause us to miss out on the good that God has planned for us. Let me give you a couple of examples of what I am talking about.

Were the good old days really all that good when it comes to the topic of transportation? I love horses. They are beautiful animals. Majestic and strong in their appearance. They are swift of foot and powerful of frame. With all of that said I would still rather get in my truck and drive to where I am going rather than saddle my horse.

How about when we come to the topic of cooking? Don’t you just yearn for the days of chopping wood and having your whole house feel like a furnace? I know that there is a certain nostalgia attached to an iron pot hanging over a wood burning stove, but I will take a self-cleaning oven and a microwave any day.

I know many of you who are my age or older have been sitting in the August heat and yearning for the days of the water cooler to come back and visit us once again, but I have to be honest with you and say that I really like the air conditioner that Connie and I have now. Although, I do have to admit that I miss the constant roar of our old water cooler that filled our living room when I was young.

Let me just share one more modern convenience that makes me thankful that the old is gone and the new has come. I’ve seen movies of the old days when the men went out to kill animals so that they could get hides for their family’s clothes while the women spun yarn and sewed cloth into the night to help their kids acquire the latest fashions. There is something really appealing to me about Wal Mart right about now. I like being able to run in a store and pick up a shirt or a pair of jeans on my way home from work and the having the rest of the evening to hang out with my family.

We may want to cling to some things of long ago because they are beneficial for our lives and the betterment of our society. Things like the values of hard work, honesty, and chastity that we’ve heard about from our grandparents, Sunday drives taken by families who were not hurrying to make it to the next soccer game or football meeting, evening meals shared together by everyone in the family, and the modesty of days gone by when Rob and Laura’s sex life was not on display for all of the TV viewing audience to see.

There is something in each of us that wants to recapture these important aspects of the past, but the important question is, “How do we know when to let go of the past so that we can enthusiastically look forward to what is to come?” That is a great question and not knowing the answer, not having the discernment to know when to let go, cost God’s chosen people dearly as we will see in our study for today. Take a look with me at Hebrews 8:1-13 and we will begin our study for today.

1 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. 3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. 7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. 10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” 13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:1-13 NIV)

In the Scripture that we are going to take a look at today the writer of Hebrews is once again taking us back to the Temple, the priesthood, and the Covenant that God had made with His chosen people, the children of Israel. Before we begin our study today I have to share a thought with you that struck me this past week. As I was studying this section of Scripture and looking back over all of the studies that we have done so far in the book of Hebrews I was taken by how none of our studies have had as their focus topics like, “So You Want To Be A Better Parent?” “Making Relationships Work For You,” or “Managing Your Money God’s Way.” So much of the teaching that is available to us today consists of topics like these – topics that are focused on me, my happiness, and my needs for everyday life. It is not that there is anything wrong with these lessons. As a matter of fact, I have found them very helpful in my daily walk with the Lord.

I will share with you where the problem comes into play. When the sum total of our study time is focused on making me more happy than I am today then we have a problem. If we jump from one topic to the next in order to try to get “better,” to become more “loving and forgiving,” to find a secret prayer in the Bible to bring about my healing or the healing of my loved ones, or to “expand our territory” through a study of the Prayer of Jabez then we are in trouble. The message of God’s Word is the exaltation of Jesus, God’s only Son, and not human development. The focus of God’s Word is God and His faithfulness in all things.

The thing I have loved about our study of the book of Hebrews is that it has taken my eyes off of me and focused them on God’s work accomplished through our High Priest for all people who will come to Him in faith. As I study the book of Hebrews I almost forget all about my troubles and daily concerns as I am captured by His glory, His honor, and His endless love for His people. Oh, this includes me, but it is much broader and deeper than simply my world and my concerns.

I am finding that the more I learn about God’s character, His actions on behalf of a lost world, and His purposes that have been revealed throughout all of time then I grow stronger, become more confident, not in myself, but in His Sovereign power and will, and life makes more sense. God is at work every minute of every day in every way in your life and mine – that gives me rest and security that I have found in no other place.

Let’s take a look at verses 1-2 since they are the sum total of all that has been said so far in our study of Hebrews.

1 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. (Hebrews 8:1-2 NIV)

By saying, “the point of what we are saying is this,” the writer of Hebrews tells us that everything that has been said so far in this powerful letter relates to what is coming next. Jesus is unlike any priest who ever served on behalf of any congregation. We read just two weeks ago in our study of Hebrews 7 how Jesus far exceeded the priests of the Temple or any priest or pastor today. Let me take a moment to refresh your mind. Turn with me to Hebrews 7:26-28 and let’s read together.

26Such a high priest meets our need-one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (Hebrews 7:26-28 NIV)

We have a Priest who is not weak, who doesn’t have to offer sacrifices on His own behalf, and we have a Priest, who unlike the priests who served in the Temple, has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. We have already discussed the fact that there were no seats in the Temple for the priests to sit upon because their job was never finished. They offered sacrifices and made offerings continuously. Jesus on the other hand is now seated at the right hand of God because He offered the perfect sacrifice, the sacrifice of His very life, for you and for me. Jesus’ work is completed. There is another aspect to Jesus’ being seated that I think you will find very encouraging.

Being at the right hand of royalty symbolized honor, exaltation, and power. It was a place of power, privilege, and prestige like no other. Simply being at the right hand of the king was something everyone would have loved to experience, but to be seated at the right hand of the king – that was symbolic of an even great honor and more supreme power.

There is another significant thought that could have entered into the minds of the Jews who were listening when this letter was read and they heard that Jesus, the High Priest, was seated at God’s right hand. John MacArthur writes,

The idea of sitting at the right hand may have reminded some Jews of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council of seventy elders. This group had both civil and religious authority and acted administratively as well as judicially. Even under Roman rule, the Sanhedrin was allowed considerable power, as evidenced by its role in Jesus’ final arrest and crucifixion. It was a kind of supreme court, and more. When the members sat in judgment, a scribe, or secretary, sat on either side of the presiding judge. The scribe on the left side was responsible for writing condemnations, while the one on the right was responsible for writing acquittals. Jesus said that He came into the world not to condemn but to save (John 3:17). As High Priest, He now sits in the place not only of honor and power but of mercy. He sits there making intercession (Hebrews 7:25) – writing acquittals, as it were – for His own. (John MacArthur, Commentary on Hebrews. p. 207)

That is rich! As a matter of fact, it is so rich that I have to say more. There are so many people today whose image of God is one of a tired, angry, cynical old man who is just waiting to get us, to thump us on the head every time we mess up. There is another group of people who have gotten around this idea by drawing a thick, dark line between the Old Testament and the New Testament. They will tell you that they love Jesus – Gentle Jesus, meek and mild. They love Jesus because He is so full of love and mercy and grace, but they don’t read the Old Testament because it is so full of judgment, wrath, and condemnation. Some of you who are of the “First Christian Church Minus The Old Testament” are with us this morning and I want to challenge your thinking.

Stop and lay aside your preconceived ideas for a minute and allow God’s Word to teach you. When God led the Hebrew slaves out of slavery in Egypt. Just five chapters after God gives Moses the Ten Commandments, He instructs Moses to have the Hebrew slaves to build an ark, a “hope chest” if you will that they could use to carry the Ten Commandments. They were also to make a lid for the top of the chest, something called a “mercy seat.” The mercy seat was to be three and three quarters feet long and two and one quarter feet wide. Turn in your Bible to Exodus 25 and read along with me about the making of these items.

10 “And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and shall make on it a molding of gold all around. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners; two rings shall be on one side, and two rings on the other side. 13 And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. 14 You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them. 15 The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you. 17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width… 21 You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. 22And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel. (Exodus 25:10-17; 21-22 NKJV)

It was at the mercy seat that God’s priests were to meet with Him about His people. Why was it not called “the judgment seat” or “the seat of condemnation,” or “the seat of wrath?” Why the mercy seat? If you will take time to read the Old Testament and God’s dealings with His people you will see that God has always been a merciful God, a God who disciplines His children because He loves them and doesn’t want them to destroy themselves. Now that is true mercy my friend.

The prophet Micah, who was very familiar with God’s discipline and His willingness to judge His people when they were stiff-necked and hard hearted, also knew the mercy of God. Micah writes,

18 Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. 19 He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19 NIV)

Another one of Israel’s great prophets, Hosea, spoke about what God desires more than anything when he wrote,

6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6 NIV)

In the New Testament the mercy of God seems to explode from the pages when Peter writes and says to us,

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV)

Oh, my friend God has always met His people at the seat of mercy and grace. Some of us think that we have gone too far, we’ve sinned the unpardonable sin, we’ve sinned over and over until finally God’s grace has been exhausted, and now there is no hope for us. My friend, if you hear anything this morning you need to hear this: God’s desire is to meet you at the mercy seat. You don’t need a priest or a preacher to represent you there. Jesus has opened the way for you and me to approach God with our sin, our hurts, disappointments, and our need for His mercy. In Hebrews 4:15-16 we read,

15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV)

You and I can approach God’s holy throne of grace so that we can receive the mercy that we are so desperately in need of this morning. We are able to approach God’s holy throne, not because our sin is not serious or because we are good people, but we are able to approach God’s holy throne because our High Priest has made a way for each of us through His perfect sacrifice.

In the time that we have left in our study this morning I want to show you how the new covenant has overshadowed the old. First of all you need to know what the writer of Hebrews means when he writes about the “new covenant” that God was instituting through Jesus. In verses 7-8 he writes,

7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.

When God says, “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,” He is describing something for us that will come about which has never even been conceived in the mind of man before. The Greek work for “new” is a very interesting word. The word, “kaino,j” (kainos) is translated, “new.” The definition of the word is, “what was not there before, recently made, not yet used, fresh, strange, unheard of, unusual, of what was not possessed before, newly gained, newly acquired.” God was not bringing about something “new” like the latest manifestation of “Tide” or some other product to be purchased at the grocery store. God was not improving on something He had previously done, but He was doing something that had never been done before, something never even thought of, when He introduced to the world His Son Jesus.

The same Greek word is used in Colossians 3:5-10, when Paul encourages us to put to death our “old” way of living and to put on the “new” self. Paul writes,

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.? 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10 NIV)

Jesus is a new High Priest, unlike any other because He is not of the tribe of Levi or of the order of Aaron’s descendants. He isn’t ministering in a Temple built with human hands; He is ministering in the Heavenly Temple of God. Jesus is seated making intercession for you and me.

The covenant that Jesus administers is better than the old because the old covenant, the old order of doing things was contained with the Law and there was never any person who perfectly upheld the Law. When the Law was broken none of the sacrifices made on the behalf of the sinner could fully remove the sin of the offender. The old covenant wasn’t bad, but God had something better in store for His people — something more effective, someone who is able to deal with our sin in a way that it has never been dealt with in the past, and something that would be able to bring about our peace with God. In Hebrews 8:7-8 we read,

7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.

If there had been nothing wrong with the old covenant, if it would have been able to deal once and for all with our sin, then God wouldn’t have planned something else. You need to know that the verses we have just read in Hebrews were first spoken long ago by the prophet Jeremiah when he spoke for God and said,

31 “Behold, 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-32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NIV)

The old covenant was written on stone tablets, but the new covenant is written on the hearts of all of those who place their faith in Jesus Christ. This is truly Good News for you and me. We can try with all of our might to abide by the Law of God, but I will guarantee you that you will fall far short. The Law that was given was good. The Ten Commandments are given to keep us from destroying ourselves, but the breaking of the Law is an offence against God and must be dealt with some how, some way. The problem is that we have absolutely nothing in our possession to take away our sin, to make restitution for our offence.

The Good News is that Jesus possesses what is necessary to remove your sins forever and always. He can set you free so that you might walk in the newness of life that only He can bring. Won’t you invite Him into your heart right now and allow Him to bless you with the glory of the new life?

Out With The Old — In With The New
Hebrews 8:1-13