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Covenant

In yesterday’s devotional based on our Bible reading, I talked about how the High Priest was allowed in the Most Holy Place once a year, on the Day of Atonement. Today’s Bible reading continues that idea.

The writer says that,

“Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the reality itself of those things, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, purified once and for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:1–4 CSB)

Every day, the priests offered sacrifices in addition to the annual sacrifice. The writer adds,

“Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:11–12 CSB)

The old covenant sacrificial system only a shadow of the real spiritual reality. Therefore, it is inferior to the once-for-all sacrifice under the new covenant. Every day, priests would stand up to offer sacrifices, but Jesus stood up once, offered His own blood and then He sat down.

Today, we might say that this was a “mic drop” moment. Or we could say that when Jesus offered His blood, He said emphatically, “Game Over”!

Application

Under the new covenant, you don’t need to go to a priest to have your sins forgiven. You don’t need to bring a spotless, perfect lamb to someone else who is authorized to make the sacrifice. The sacrifice has already been made by the perfect High Priest, Who also happens to be the perfect Lamb, Who offered His own blood in the Most Holy Place in the presence of God the Father.

His sacrifice was sufficient. Forgiveness is complete. The perfect High Priest sat down, never again to stand up to sacrifice anything else.

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In today’s Bible reading from Hebrews 8, the writer refers back to a prophecy delivered by Jeremiah.

“Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt—my covenant that they broke even though I am their master”—the Lord’s declaration. “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 4No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin. Jeremiah 31:31–34 (CSB)

In this, the writer of Hebrews says the new covenant is better than the old covenant. The old covenant was an external law, written on stone while the new covenant is written in the hearts of God’s people. Motivation for obedience changes from being influenced from an outside source to being influenced from an inside source.

Under the old covenant, God’s people obeyed in order to get God’s favor (which was really unachievable). Under the new covenant, God’s people obey because they have already obtained God’s favor.

Application

How do you relate to God? Seriously, do you relate to God under an old covenant model — hoping to obtain God’s favor because of your behavior? Or do you relate to God under a new covenant model — behaving because you already have God’s favor?

Perhaps the best way to see if you understand this is to answer this question: Do you think you can make God any happier with you because of something you do (or don’t do)? If you think God will be happier with you if you ____ (fill in the blank with some behavioral change), then you probably relate to God under an old covenant model.

Prayerfully consider your answer.

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