In Hebrews chapter 7, we learned that the reason we needed a priest from a new order and not from the order of Aaron was because we needed a new covenant, a new way of relating to God. The Messiah would be a High Priest of a different order because he would introduce to us the hope and good news of a new way of drawing near to God. Chapter 8 continues the thought with these words:
7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:
“The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers 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. 10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
13By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
The quote contained in verses 8-12 is from Jeremiah 31.31-34.
As I read these verses for the first time on Monday morning, several questions come to mind:
What does it mean that God would put His laws in my mind and write them on my heart? What does it mean that a man will no longer have to teach his neighbor or encourage another to “know the Lord”? What does this have to do with evangelism or discipleship? Are these words speaking of the new covenant age or the age yet to come after the Messiah’s second coming? Do the words of 8.13 (“what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear”) mean that these words apply to the age yet to come? If so, what is the point of the author of Hebrews as he writes these words to Jewish Christians in Rome?
May the Lord open my eyes and help me to understand as I begin my study this week.