Archive for March, 2008

The Superiority of the New Covenant

FRIDAY 

Yesterday I mentioned that in general the Book of Hebrews  describes the superiority of Jesus’ work when compared to the Old Covenant. Today we will look at some of the specific ways Jesus’ work is superior to the Old Covenant.

Jesus’ work provides a better hope:

NAU Hebrews 7:19 (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

NIV Hebrews 7:19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

KJV Hebrews 7:19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. {the bringing…: or, it was the bringing in}

Jesus’ priesthood is superior to the original priesthood:

NAU Hebrews 7:22 so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

The New Covenant is better than the Old because it is built on better promises:

NAU Hebrews 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

NIV Hebrews 8:6 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.

KJV Hebrews 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. {covenant: or, testament}

The New Covenant has a superior sacrifice to the Old Covenant:

NAU Hebrews 9:22 And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23 Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

NIV Hebrews 9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

KJV Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. 23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

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Jesus – Mediator of the New Covenant

THURSDAY 

NAU Hebrews 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

NIV Hebrews 12:24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

KJV Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. {covenant: or, testament}

The Book of Hebrews is all about the Superiority of Jesus. He is superior to the Old Testament prophets (1:1-3). He is superior to angels, the mediators of the Mosaic law (1:4-2:18). He is superior to Moses (3:1-6). He is superior to the Aaronic priesthood (4:14-7:28). The Covenant He offers is superior to the Old one (8:1-13). And the destination He offers in the New Covenant (the heavenly Jerusalem) is superior to the destination offered the Israelites in the wilderness (the earthly Jerusalem) (12:18-24).

In describing the superiority of the New Covenant’s destination in Hebrews 12:18-24, the author of Hebrews identifies Jesus as the mediator (One whose friendly intervention is designed to bring about assistance to those in need) of the New Covenant whose work is superior to the mediators of the Old Covenant.

Mankind can do no better. Moses mediated the Old Covenant at Mt Sinai between God and the Israelites – his friendly intervention between God and Israel is documented in the Book of Exodus. But the Old Covenant failed to bring the results necessary for a restoration between God and Man could occur. It failed because Man could not keep is end of the covenant.

But Jesus, the MEDIATOR of the New Covenant, succeeded where man failed. As the God-Man He fulfilled the requirements of the Old Covenant for us – in lifestyle, in sacrifice and in worship. Then He substituted Himself for mankind to receive the wrath of God to satisfy the justice of God and culminated His work by giving us a declared righteousness resulting in the restoration of relationship with God lost at the Fall.

Jesus, our Mediator, is superior to all the components of the Old Covenant. His friendly intervention brought about the assistance mankind needed for acceptance with the Father.

John 3:16 – The Reason for the New Covenant

WEDNESDAY

NAU John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

NIV John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, {16 Or his only begotten Son} that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

KJV John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 is the classic verse describing God’s motivation for initiating the New Covenant. It states that love was His motivating factor – His love for His creation. Check out how a very literal translation of the Greek describes the work of God.

John 3:16 (Hays) For in this way God loved the world, that He gave the unique (one of a kind) Son in order that all the ones believing into Him might not be destroyed but he might have eternal life.

We learn several things from this verse:

1) Love is defined. The Greek word, agape, means a self-sacrificial giving of one’s self. There was no selfishness in the act, it was done at a great cost to benefit the unworthy. Most noteworthy is the One demonstrating love – it is God not man.

2) How God loved His creation is described (“For in this way…”). The way in which God loved was to sacrifice His Innocent Son on behalf of guilty sinners. In this Easter season, I had time to ponder the passion of Christ and its close relationship with the Old Covenant Passover event. When you read Exodus 12, you will notice that the Passover lamb lived in the house for five days with those who would eventually sacrifice it. During those five days, the family would grow attached to it as a pet. This would have made the sacrifice of the ‘pet’ an emotional and traumatic event. Christ is called our Passover Lamb in several New Testament passages (cp John 1:29 for one). It appears that one of the designs by God of the Passover event was to help us identify in a small way with the emotional trauma experienced within the Godhead in the sacrificial giving or separating of the Father from the Son.

3) The uniqueness of the Son is highlighted. The Greek word translated ‘Only begotten’ (the literal meaning of this compound Greek word) is mongenes but it conveys the idea of being unique or one of a kind. It does not express the beginning in time of Sonship but the unique or unoriginated relationship Jesus enjoyed with the Father.

4) The uniqueness of the sacrifice’s benefit. Not everyone in the world will benefit from the sacrifice of the Son…only those believing (placing confidence or trust) in the work of the unique Son! This act of belief is once again an illustration from the Old Testament. In the same way that Israel in the wilderness was saved from the wrath of God after complaining against His care for them by looking at a bronze snake and trusting God, so the ones looking upon the Unique Son and trusting in His work would be saved from the eternal wrath of God reserved for those not trusting (cp Numbers 21:9 with John 3:14).

John 3:16 shows us the reason for the New Covenant with mankind – God loved the creation He made. But that love came at a price – not to us, but to God – He had to sacrifice His unique Son in place of His creation in order to transfer the benefits of that sacrifice to the ones who would believe. How great is our God.

God: The Author of the New Covenant

TUESDAY

The Old Covenant left us dead in our sins because it did not have the power to give life. It only had the power to kill. As was true in the Garden where violating the Word of God resulted in death, (NIV Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”), so under the Old Covenant death was inevitable (NAU Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God). In the Garden, one act of disobedience resulted in separation from God. Under the Old Covenant the opportunity to fail increased by ten-fold! Man was in a hopeless situation.  Instead of improving over time, man’s situation went from bad to worse! The Apostle Paul summarized things perfectly in Romans 7:24 when he said:

NAU Romans 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

How sweet are the words that follow these:

NAU Romans 7:25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!… 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Man could not initiate a New Covenant to eradicate his failure before God. It would take God to make a New Covenant to rescue man.

NAU Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

It is His work that saves us. It is His work that enacts the New Covenant. The Old Covenant focused on man and resulted only in our failure. The New Covenant focuses on God and results in restoration. The Old Covenant caused us to focus on ourselves – obeying the standards and we could not do it. The New Covenant focuses on God and the work that He accomplished and desires to pass along to us through faith. 

Why do we fight the New Covenant? Why do we attempt to please God under the Old Covenant? If we fail once (and we have multiple times over) there is no sense trying again for acceptance by God (a lesson certainly learned by Adam and Eve!) All that is left is to surrender to the New Covenant and accept its provisions – accepting it with joy and praise to our loving God.

Jeremiah 31:31

MONDAY

In January, at the beginning of the New Year, we examined ‘Newness’ in the Scripture.  One of the topics was on the New Covenant  – a promise made by God, given to Israel and available ultimately to people of all nationalities throughout the ages. That covenant is mentioned in Jeremiah 31:31.

NAU Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,

NIV Jeremiah 31:31 “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.

KJV Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

This covenant is referenced several times in the New Testament. The word used to describe the New Covenant in the New Testament is kainos and has a different connotation than another word, neos, also translated new. Kainos means new in form or quality while neos means newness in time. Thus, the New Covenant is a covenant that is new in quality or form rather than being new in time. This new form is easily contrasted with the old.  The Old Covenant was conditional and required perfect obedience from the Covenanters in order to be fulfilled.  The New Covenant is unconditional, enacted by the Perfect One and given as a gift to undeserving recipients through faith in its parts.

This week we will look at the components of the New Covenant – its Author, its Cause and its Mediator  along with its superiority to the Old.

Joseph – A Man of Faith

FRIDAY

NAU Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.

NIV Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.

KJV Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. {made…: or, remembered}

When you live life understanding the sovereignty of God, your faith is strengthened and matured. The longer Joseph lived in humble submission to God’s sovereignty, the more his confidence in the promises of God grew. By the end of his life, his confidence in the promise of God to Abraham was so strong that Joseph made his sons promise to return his bones to Israel, the land promised to his (Joseph’s) great grandfather, Abraham, and his descendents by their sovereign God.

Appreciating God’s sovereignty strengthens your faith.  Become a man or woman of faith by  appreciating and submitting to the sovereignty of God.

Joseph – Humbly Forgiving

THURSDAY 

When a man understands God’s sovereignty (as Joseph did) he not only is not vengeful but he is forgiving. Vengeance is the lack of response to God’s sovereignty while forgiveness is the positive response.

NIV Genesis 50:19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

With sovereignty in its proper place, a man is humble before God and man, resulting in self-control which replaces vengeance with forgiveness.