June 17 I Wednesday
“It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors 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.” —Hebrews 8:9
The Book of Hebrews recaptures the history of the Israelites and builds to a climax where all the issues they dealt with come to fulfillment in Jesus Christ under the New Covenant. This does not presuppose that there was something dysfunctional with the Old Covenant. Jesus said, “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).
God made several covenants with people; the first one with Noah, promising He would not flood the earth again. He made a covenant with Abraham, promising that from his descendants would come the Seed that would bless the world. He made another covenant with Moses when He gave the Law on Mount Sinai. The people agreed to it and said, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey” (Exodus 24:7). This was a noble start, but the effect of the law on the people was only exposing the fact they could not keep it.
The Old Covenant had a fundamental fault line running right through it, not because there was fault in God, but God found fault in the people, and this was something the people had to realize themselves. The Old Covenant was a necessary process in that it revealed the character of God in whose image they were created. The law exposed to the people the depth of their need, inability, weaknesses and, in fact, their depravity. They failed to show what God was like, and the law only left them with a sense of failure and frustration.
The New Covenant, however, was based on a new principle. Hebrews 8:6 says, “…the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which He is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.” The New Covenant is superior because it is based on promises, not obligation. This is the vital distinction between the two covenants. With the Old Covenant, the onus was on the people’s ability to keep the law, but in the New Covenant, the onus is on God’s ability. The Old Covenant was all about “You shall,” and the New Covenant is all about God’s “I will.” God says in Ezekiel 36:27, “I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.”
Anything based on human ability is still living under the Old Covenant and will inevitably frustrate and deplete us. Under the New Covenant, we have a new righteousness that is the indwelling presence of Christ, which leads to a new relationship and a new redemption.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son and His indwelling life that enables me to live the Christian life. Praise You!