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Lesson 7: Jesus and the Covenant *

Introduction: We are bombarded all the time with "new and improved" products. Offers for better deals come flying at us through the radio, television and newspapers. Did you know that in the Bible we find an offer of a new deal? A new and improved promise from God? Let's jump into our study of the book of Hebrews and find out about this new offer!

  1. Superior Deal

    1. The first five verses of Hebrews 8 tell us that Jesus and the sanctuary in Heaven are superior to the High Priest and sanctuary service of the Old Testament. Read Hebrews 8:6. Is there also a contrast between Jesus' ministry and the ministry of the High Priest in the earthly sanctuary?

      1. If you say, "Yes," what is it? (Jesus is working with "new stuff." He has a new, superior ministry. He mediates a new, superior covenant. The new covenant has "better promises.")

        1. We have previously learned that a "covenant" is like an agreement or a will. To simplify things, let's just call the new covenant the new "deal."

      2. Who is the recipient of the "better promises" under the new deal?

        1. Does this mean we are getting a better deal?

      3. If you see an advertisement for a "new and improved" product, what is your first question? (How is it improved?)

        1. What are these better promises in this new, better deal with God? How is it improved?

    2. Read Hebrews 8:7. Why did we get a better deal? (The old deal was faulty.)

      1. Who decided that something was wrong with the old deal? (It must have been God who made that decision. That is the implication.)

    3. Read Hebrews 8:8-9. We now learn that the "fault," the problem, under the old deal was with us. We did not obey. If humans did not obey God under the old deal, and that was the problem with it, why not say that humans were faulty, and not the old deal? Why does the old deal get blamed instead of humans? (Verse 8 does say that God found fault with humans. But verse 7 told us the old deal was faulty.)

      1. What does this finding of fault say about God's attitude towards us? (It shows a heavenly Father who is generous to us and wants us to be saved. Even though humans failed to obey, God says "The old deal was faulty, let's improve the deal.")

  2. Better Promises

    1. Read Hebrews 8:10. Remember, I asked you before about the better promises, the better deal with God? Are these the better promises? (Yes. This seems to be the explanation of the improvement in the deal.)

      1. What, according to verse 10, is God's first goal for this new, improved deal? (God's first goal is for us to put His laws in our minds.)

        1. What does it mean to "put [God's law] in our minds? Is this some sort of injection? (It seems to mean that we will understand God's laws. We will better understand what is required of us to walk with God.)

        2. When dealing with your children or your employees, how important is it for them to understand the rules and the reasons for the rules that apply to them?

        3. If the law is the same Ten Commandments, then how are we getting a new deal in the understanding department? (This points to the centrality of our superior High Priest, Jesus. When He came to earth, and lived and died in our place, He clarified our understanding of the importance and the purpose of His law. It was not just animals which were getting killed over the law, it was God Himself who died. This shows us the extreme importance of the law to God's system of government.)

    2. Look again at Hebrews 8:10. What is God's second goal for this new, improved deal? (To write His law on our hearts.)

      1. What do you think that means? (We will want to obey.)

      2. Let's turn to Deuteronomy 6:6 and read it. Deuteronomy 5 contains a recitation of the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy 6:6 refers back to the Ten Commandments. Thus, we see that God's original goal was for the Ten Commandments to be in our hearts. How is the deal now improved to accomplish the original goal of putting the law in our hearts? (Again, the answer is Jesus. When we see that God died a painful death for us, when we see the importance of the law to God's system of government and our welfare, it changes our attitude about obedience. It shows us these are not just arbitrary rules.)

  3. Why?

    1. So far we have seen that Jesus is at the center of the new covenant, the new deal, between God and humans. Since we believe that God knows the beginning from the end, why did He handle things this way? Why give us a faulty deal that He knew we could not obey, and then later improve the deal with better promises?

      1. Why not just offer the better deal from the beginning?

    2. Last week we learned that the Old Testament sanctuary service was a prophecy about Jesus. How can you fit the idea that this was God's plan all along with the conclusion that the "old deal" was faulty and the "new deal" has better promises?

      1. Is it logical to say God created a deal He knew was faulty so He could improve it later?

      2. Can you reconcile this Hebrew's argument (old deal was faulty, new deal is better) with themes from the rest of the Bible? (We would not have realized the hopelessness of our situation without the old deal. The classic rebellion of humans is to believe that we are smart enough to get along fine without God. We see this theme many times in the Bible. We see this in the theory of evolution, we see this in "works-based" theology, we see this in the belief that mainly uneducated, easily led people are Christians. The Old Testament experience shows that without Jesus we will surely die in our sins. Just as the Old Testament sanctuary service was a prophecy about what God would do to save us, it was also a teaching tool about our need of Christ. The "old deal" taught us lessons about ourselves and lessons about God.)

  4. No Teachers?

    1. Read Hebrews 8:11. Does this mean you should never consult again? You can skip Sabbath school? Skip Sunday school? Skip the sermon? Ignore your pastor? (The Old Testament idea was that the priest-class taught the unwashed masses. Under the new covenant, when the law is in our hearts and our minds, the Holy Spirit speaks directly to each one of us. Jesus' mediation is direct. The Holy Spirit works directly with us with no "middle man" required. Thus, humans can help each other understand God, but God Himself is now the teacher. Since this text is quoting from Jeremiah 31:34, this is also a secondary prophecy about our situation in Heaven.)

  5. The Better Result

    1. Read Hebrews 8:12. When Jesus is our High Priest acting on our behalf in heaven, what is the result? (We not only have our sins forgiven, but God promises to no longer remember our sins! The blood of animals cannot cleanse us from sin.)

    2. Read Hebrews 8:13. Has the Old Testament sanctuary service now disappeared?

      1. If so, how? (The temple itself was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.)

        1. What impact does that destruction have upon the credibility of the claim that Jesus is now our High Priest in Heaven? (This is yet further proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Soon after Jesus' death and resurrection, the entire sanctuary service that pointed to Him was destroyed. It was destroyed because it was now "obsolete and aging.")

    3. Friend, God offers you a better deal. Will you acknowledge your sinfulness and accept Jesus' sacrifice on your behalf in satisfaction of the requirements of God's law? It is a fantastic deal and a limited time offer. Why not repent and accept today?

  6. Next week: Jesus and the Sanctuary.
* Copr. 2003, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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