Jesus is high priest of a new and better covenant. The old covenant with its system of priests and the tabernacle was just a shadow (verse 5) of the new and better covenant, with Jesus as high priest in the true tabernacle in heaven. The focus of chapter 8 is on the fact that we have a new and better covenant; chapter 9 (tomorrow’s passage) expounds more on the idea that the earthly tabernacle was just a copy and shadow of the true tabernacle in heaven. We will look at that in more detail tomorrow.
However, an important point to note in this chapter is that Jesus is high priest in heaven and not on earth. Verses 4-5 make this quite clear. Jesus is not on earth (verse 4) because priests on the earth conduct their ministry in accordance with the old covenant. But Jesus is high priest in the true tabernacle in heaven and this introduces to us the new covenant. See verse 6, ‘he is mediator of a better covenant’ and ‘attained a more excellent ministry’.
When the old covenant was given, the law was given as a sign of the covenant. Now that the new covenant has been given, can we expect also a law to be given with it? Certainly we can. Look at verse 10, ‘I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts’. This means that God changes our desires and our thinking – in other words He changes us from within. This is a fascinating phenomenon that takes place when we are born again, when we are born of the Spirit (John 3:3, 8).
There are two other exhilarating promises that we are given in this new covenant. Firstly, God will be our God, and we will be His people (verse 10). What an amazing privilege it is that we can be God’s people! That He cares for us, guards us, rules us, and we live under His blessing. We certainly don’t deserve this, but it is ours in the new covenant. This brings us to the second exhilarating promise, God will forgive our wickedness and will not even remember our sins (verse 12). This is immensely gracious and merciful of God to treat us in this way, and indeed it is very humbling. This is only possible because our great high priest, Jesus, sacrificed Himself for our sins once for all – not because of anything that we have done, but completely because of what He has done.
We ought to respond with great gratitude and love for God who has given to us this new and better covenant which is completely from Him. We don’t need to adhere to the demands of the old covenant and try to please God and win His favour through obedience. Rather, we should accept by faith, that God has promised to bless all nations and that He has indeed done so by giving to us a new and better covenant. Through this new covenant, our wickedness and sins are forgiven and forgotten and we are God’s people and He is our God.
What amazing grace!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for giving to us Jesus as our great high priest who is the mediator of a new and better covenant. Thank You that You are our God and that we can be Your people. Thank You that You forgive our sins and don’t remember them. We are truly grateful and we desire to do what pleases You. Thank You for changing our desires. Help us to live in a way that reflects the reality that we are Your people and have Your laws written on our hearts. Amen.