How would you react if a well respected, highly thought of, godly man stood up in church as the guest preacher this Sunday and said, “You might as well throw your Bibles away – they are out of date and old fashioned and I have a better book for you to base your life on”?
That is essentially what the author of Hebrews says in chapter 8. Notice verse 13: “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” What we know as the Old Testament was for the Hebrews their Bible – the Scriptures. And they were being told that the part of their Scriptures that they revered more than any other – the books of the Law as written down by their hero Moses – was OBSOLETE.
I have no doubt that it took a while for the Hebrews to wrap their heads around this information. And the only reason they eventually concurred was because the author of Hebrews did a masterful job of showing his readers from THEIR Scriptures that this was all a part of God’s plan from the beginning. The question that the Hebrews were finally beginning to comprehend was this: If the covenant that God made with His people through Moses was insufficient to secure our forgiveness of sin and make us eternally righteous in the eyes of God then what was it’s purpose? Perhaps this illustration will help to answer the question. I will follow it up with a few comments…
- The Law was never intended to lead to salvation. It merely provided temporary relief from the guilt of sin.
- Doing good, or trying to please God by obeying His commands only led to a dead end because absolutely no one could perfectly obey the Law. And yet, this is the basis of most religions today. The religious faithful try as hard as they can to earn the favor of God by doing the best they can but their good works aren’t good enough.
- The Law was designed to show God’s covenant people that there had to be another way, a better way.
- Even in the Old Testament it was not the keeping of the Law that provided salvation, it was faith in the blood of the sacrificial lamb to cover their sin that brought about forgiveness.
- The author of Hebrews is making a compelling case that Jesus, the better High Priest, who did live a life that perfectly obeyed God’s Law, was the better Moses and the author of a New Covenant – not based on keeping the Law but based on faith that His sacrificial blood is sufficient to cover our sin and secure for us salvation.
Interestingly, within a few years of the writing of the Book of Hebrews, the whole sacrificial system of the Jewish people was made obsolete. In 70 A.D. the Romans conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple. Thus there was no way for annual sacrifices to be made at Yom Kippur for the forgiveness of sin.
Fortunately there was no longer a need for this to happen. Because God had provided a better way… Jesus!
May this brick help you to understand God’s great plan from the beginning. And to recognize that even in today’s world your good works aren’t good enough to win the favor of God. But Jesus’ good work on the cross is!