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Friday, June 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 8

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The Priesthood Being Changed

-- Hebrews Eight --

Hebrews chapter eight is a continuation of the discussion of the priesthood of Christ. He is a priest, by an oath, after the order of Melchizedek. Christ's priesthood is not a part of the Levitical order. The priesthood of Christ was authentic and perpetual, while the priesthood of the Jews was typical of that which was to come. The Levitical priesthood was temporary in its nature.

The priesthood of Christ made necessary a change in the law. His priesthood demanded a change in the way priests were appointed. It also involved a change in respect to the permanency of the priest, and the moral influence of the priesthood. The priesthood of Christ far surpassed the Jewish priesthood in all aspects.

This chapter begins a look at the nature of the New Covenant brought about by the priesthood of Christ. This portion of Scripture shows the excellency of that new dispensation or new covenant of which Christ is the Mediator. He had obtained a more exalted ministry than the Jewish priests. His New Covenant is better be-cause under it sins are forgiven.

Verses 1-3

Christ's priesthood is permanent-- Heb_8:1-3 : The pre-eminence of our High Priest is seen in the fact that He, "is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." ( Heb_8:1 ) The Christian system will never be destitute of a High Priest, because Christ is our High Priest forever. In the height of His glory He humbled Himself to discharge the office of High Priest in the behalf of His church.

The work of Christ was not in the Jewish tabernacle. He is, "a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." ( Heb_8:2 ) The old tabernacle was pitched by man according to the commandments given by God. Jesus dwells in the sanctuary of heaven for us continually. He is our Mediator and Advocate, representing our case before the Father, by the power His blood whereby atonement was made for our sins.

A priest that has nothing to offer is no priest at all. Under the old covenant when the people brought sacrifices, or peace-offerings, or thank-offerings, these were offered by their priest. This is the only way their gifts were acceptable to God. Jesus also had something to offer, Himself! In Hebrews nine the writer discussed this thought in more detail saying, "Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." ( Heb_9:25-26 ) There was no sacrifice sufficient for man's atonement except Christ’s death.

Verses 4-5

Christ's priesthood is from heaven -- Heb_8:4-5 : Christ must now conduct His priesthood in heaven. "For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law." ( Heb_8:4 ) So long as the Levitical priesthood continued Christ could never be priest. With those priests, there was already a system of sacrifice. His sacrifice and service demanded a different kind of priesthood.

The things of the old covenant were a shadow of what was to come in Christ. He is the substance and end of that old law. Under the old system Moses did nothing of his own will. When he built the tabernacle he followed God's directions in every thing. "Moses was ad-monished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount." ( Heb_8:5 )

"According to the pattern" were powerful words from God to Moses. Many today look at these words as insulting words. We would do well to remember that there is a form of doctrine that must be followed. "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you." ( Rom_6:17 ) We do well to recognize the need for a "Thus saith the Lord" in all religious matters. There is a pattern from God!

Verses 6-8

Christ's priesthood and the New Covenant -- Heb_8:6-8 : The writer here offers more proof that Christ's priesthood is better. His priesthood is better because the new covenant is better. The New Covenant is a better covenant, because it is established upon better promises. The promises of the New Covenant are better because most of them relate to spiritual things and to eternal salvation. Christ, the Son of God, is Mediator of this New Covenant.

A covenant is an arrangement, or an ordering of things. God has an arrangement whereby man can be saved, honor Him in life and worship in a pleasing manner. This new covenant relates to man's heart. It has to do with the forgiveness of sins.

The Old Covenant had the fault of not containing provisions for the salvation of the soul. If the first covenant had provided a means of salvation there would never have been a need for another. The Hebrew writer quoted a promise from Jeremiah as proof of the need of this new covenant. ( Jer_31:1-40 )

Verses 9-13

Christ's priesthood and covenant excelled the old -- Heb_8:9-13 : This new arrangement is different from that which was made with Israel when God brought them out of Egypt. It includes everyone and it relates more to the heart and inner man. Sadly the Jews failed to comply with the conditions of the covenant God made with them. We must do better than they did under our New and Better Covenant.

The New Covenant was not made with Israel and Judah as a national covenant, but as they were blessed to be part of the church of Christ. God has revealed His will and it is our obligation to reach a thorough knowledge and understanding of those laws. God's laws are now written on man's heart, not on tables of stone.

This great and fundamental promise of the New Covenant is the pardon of sin, "their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." ( Heb_8:12 ) This is possible only by God's mercy. God does not forget that men are sinners, but by the blood of Jesus He treats them as if they had never sinned.

There is now a New and Better covenant. At the destruction of Jerusalem the old was finally folded up and put away forever. All the glory of the Temple and its service did gradually vanish, and at last it totally disappeared. Now we are blessed by the NEW! It is a new covenant, even that new covenant that God long ago promised Israel that He would make. ( Jer_31:31-32 )

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Hebrews 8". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/hebrews-8.html. 2014.
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