Brit Hadashah Reflections 8
Hebraic understanding Hebrews and Revelation
Hebrews 8: 1-13
A wonderful letter to Jews exalting the Name and Person of Yeshua. No-one knows the identity of the author or the time of its authorship. The most speculated names associated with this letter are Rabbi Sha’ul and Barnabas, but that matters little to the content. The author was one who had a fervent desire to see Jews come to faith in Yeshua, and just as importantly to continue in that faith in the face of opposition and discouragement. However, its content has often been portrayed by Christian teachers as abrogating the Torah. That was not its purpose, and there are great lessons for believers of every culture and background contained in its message. Again we remind ourselves that the chapter and verse convenience was not present in the original, even though we will take the chapter divisions for our study and ‘reflection’. Additionally, there is significant quotation of the Hebrew Scriptures in this letter. The source document for these quotations is the Septuagint, also known as the LXX, the earliest Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, and which was completed about 130 years before the birth of Yeshua. (so where those Scriptures are quoted the wording may not exactly accord with your own favourite translation!)
Hebrews 8 is the “main point of the things we are saying” said the writer to the Messianic Jewish community. So far, he has taken time to explain why Yeshua is superior to angels, Moses, the Aaronic priesthood, and now is seated at the “right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” I wouldn’t think there could be much more to commend Him as worthy of our praise, worship, and faithful obedience. But there is! “Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices.” So Yeshua, the Great High Priest, of necessity, “also has to have something to offer.” What could that possibly be? This my dear friends is ‘the main point’. The Levitical Aaronic priesthood served as priests in the manner “as a copy and a shadow of the heavenly things.” And there is NO shadow unless there is something REAL casting that shadow is there? The Levites served in the capacity as mediators of the first covenant according to the instructions God gave to Moses, the Torah.
Now we need to get it firmly in our minds as to what that Covenant is. We are taught in our churches that the Torah IS the first Covenant. Further, that it is now obsolete. (Hebrews 8:13 is cited for that observation) But a close examination will reveal that this is not what that Scripture says. More on that at the end of this ‘reflection’. A Covenant, according to any good dictionary is an Agreement. Other words used in the same context are: contract, treaty, pact, accord, deal, pledge, promise, guarantee, undertaking, and commitment. So it can be seen that there are at least two parties to a Covenant aren’t there? Regarding the Torah, God provided Moses with the details, that’s what the Torah is. But Moses on two occasions brought the matter before the people. First, in Exodus 24:3, he told them what God had revealed to him. The people said “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.” So Moses went away and wrote the words in a book. Then in Exodus 24:7 we read “Then he took the “Book of the Covenant” (which he had written) and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, (for the second time) ‘All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.” That, my friends is when the Covenant was made. It’s called the Mosaic Covenant. Which they broke! It seems that the fact that this first covenant was breakable was the reason why it was described as weak.
Now the writer to the Hebrews says the Great High Priest, Yeshua, is the Mediator (negotiator, intermediary) of a better covenant, established on better promises. But before we try to understand what those “better” things are, we note what will NOT change. Some things are the same. Firstly the parties to the Covenant are the same. God Himself (the mediator being Yeshua, who is the guarantor of the new Covenant by offering His shed blood), and the House of Israel and the House of Judah. Secondly, the contents of ‘Book of the Covenant’ are the same. Thirdly it is worthy of note that there is NO gentile inclusion in either Covenant either. So that is the same. So what is different? The first Covenant relied on the willing assent of the people. The new Covenant will be “put in their minds and written on their hearts”, not written in a book. It will be an unbreakable Covenant, because it will part of the DNA of each person. “None of them shall teach his neighbour … for they shall ALL know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” Does anyone see those conditions being met in society today, even in Israel? The answer is obvious. But the good news is, as the writer to the Messianic Jews said, this new Covenant is coming, mediated by our Messiah Yeshua and guaranteed by His blood. He said so. At the last Passover Seder he shared with His disciples when He offered them the “Cup of Salvation”, the third cup of the Seder after the meal. “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins.”
So what about Hebrews 8:13? Obsolete? No. Becoming obsolete? YES. That is a future day, “not until heaven and earth pass away” (Matthew 5:18). But for now, “not one jot or tittle will pass from the Torah”, and when it does, it will be replaced by the same Torah which, unlike the first, will be unbreakable. Put your trust in the blood of Yeshua for that.