Radiant Church’s Lead Pastor Keith Welton continues our series on the Book of Hebrews with a sermon entitled, “Something Better” on Hebrews 8. Below, you can listen to his sermon, watch our whole service, and use the outline below for a reference.
Missed last week’s sermon from Pastor Welton entitled, “A New Order Priest”? You can listen to it and watch the whole service here.
1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. 8 For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” 13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:1-13 ESV)
Domino Effect: A few years ago I was at my in-laws, and they were showing us their new couches and living room furniture. The old one needed replacing, so they upgraded. They also decided to get a new chair to go with them. It was nice! The best part was Amanda and I got the old furniture. When you are newly married you take what you can get! When others make room for upgrades you gladly take the leftovers.
But then a few months later we were back at my in-laws, and I noticed the living room had been painted, to match the new furniture of course, and the kitchen had been painted to better go with the living room. In addition, new countertop and cabinets were being looked at to complete the change! The point of all this is never to get new furniture! There are trickle down effects when you change things. Sometimes you don’t realize all the changes necessary because of one new piece of furniture.
The same happens with Jesus. When you say Jesus is your Lord it affects every part of life. Some effects are apparent, some come with time.
*There is something better and you make room for it. It changes things and pushes other things out.*
What God has done through him changes everything. The book of Hebrews is written to a small church to help them see that Jesus changes everything. They grew up in Jewish households and need to see that all their hopes and practices find new meaning in Jesus. Jesus is their high priest, and this changes everything. We will see how this affects other things.
We have been in some deep passages of scripture as a church lately. I don’t apologize for teaching on these. If we only cover the stuff that we easily understand we will never grow. It’s OK to be challenged. Go back and listen to the messages again. Read and reread the passages. Get a study Bible. Talk about it with others. The Hebrews were faulted because they never grew past the elementary teachings (5:12). Let’s take heed and make every effort to be better than that.
In verse 1 of this passage, its like the author realizes he has been saying some deep things. He summarizes it.
“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,” (Hebrews 8:1)
We have a high priest. These people would have been very concerned with the high priest. For their culture, this would be up there with the vice president or speaker of the house.
And if Jesus is the high priest, and he is seated at the right hand of the throne in heaven above. Not seated in the temple on earth .There are several changes to note.
1. True Instead of a Shadowy Copy
1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. (Hebrews 8:1-5)
Jesus is our high priest. Previous high priests were in the temple and continually offered sacrifices. Jesus is not seen. He does not keep making sacrifices. Why not?? Because he entered the true holy place, the throne of God in heaven. And he does not continue offering sacrifices because his death is THE SACRIFICE we need. We don’t need another. This is the true offering we needed.
This is different from what was done in the Old Testament.
When you read the Old Testament there are a lot of things that may be difficult to read through. There are details on the dimensions of the temple, the color of the curtain, the artwork palms on the walls, the statues of cherubim at the entrance and on the ark, types of fabric to use and so much more. You can learn a lot from those. Don’t minimize it. But it is also good to see that all of this points to something much greater. The reason God told Moses to make everything according to the pattern is because it reflects the true and heavenly realities.
5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. (Hebrews 8:5-6)
It is not that there was no value in these. It is not that it was misleading. These things were preparatory so that we could understand the fullness of what Christ accomplished for you. It is through the temple division of the holy and most holy place that we understand what it means that Jesus went to the Holy of Holies.
Jesus changes all of this. So what are the Hebrews to make of what God told them to do in the past? Recognize there was a time and place for this, but something better has come. It was not an error. It was not a mistake. It was appropriate for the time. God has a plan, and it is moving forward.
The shedding of blood of sacrifices shows us what sin deserves. It shows us the judgment Jesus saves us from. It helps us grasp how wide, and high and deep and long is the love of God. The priest entering the holy place and the most holy place shows us what it means to say that Jesus entered the true tabernacle in heaven.
Shadows show an image of something else. These things were meant to remind us of heavenly realities, even more so now. We have a greater high priest who has given us greater revelation of what is to come. We have to see beyond the shadows to the heavenly. Look beyond the shadows in life to what Jesus has clearly made known.
There are things God does that are preparatory for us to know what he has done. This is true of the old testament. It’s good to know and study these things so you can better understand Christ.
There are things he may do in your life to prepare you for Christ. We have to look past the shadows to the truth.
Each week in a Bible study I lead at a detox center I hear people say, “I hate that this happened but if this is what it takes for me to know Christ, it’s worth it.” Light and momentary afflictions are achieving an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. There may be things you are holding onto that you realize are not the truth. They are shadows of what is really important.
You might be holding on to shadows of other religions and secular society.
Many other religions advocate how to have access to God. All ways lead to the same place. When is that ever true? Is that true when you go on vacation? Can you really take any path you want and arrive where you hope to be? No, it doesn’t work. It is not true with religion.
Other religions fall on a spectrum of outright evil to people trying to make sense of the world without. What do we make of evil, how can we find atonement? These are dark and shadowing explanations. The true has come. Read the word.
Secular society has other priests and sacrifices. If you are depressed, doctors will medicate you. In a materialistic society this is what you do. Everything is attributed to your physical condition, I provide a physical solution and require a payment of physician goods for it. Everyone is happy. But if you are depressed because of your shortcomings, things you have done wrong, you don’t need medicine, you need forgiveness. Perhaps your religion is education.
2. Internal Instead of External
The true intent of the work of Jesus is to bring inward reality rather than outward conformity.
Many people just want to look the part, right? If they can conform to a group of people and fit in then that is all they need. What we want to see happen in people is not that they just come in and do the same things we do, talk the same way, share the same values. That can be good but if people just do that, and their heart is not in it then they have missed the point.
God makes a new covenant with his people. It is a new promise that will ground them. Jesus’ ministry is better than the old. It is more excellent. It has better promises. A new covenant is needed because they broke the old.
8 For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. (Hebrews 8:8-9)
Jesus came because of the insufficiency of previous covenants. They were not the true work that needed to be done. They had faults- not faults for the purpose they were created. Faults in that it was not the permanent fix.
God gave his law to his people, and they said “Thank you we will obey”? No. They left, went around the block and did all the things they said they wouldn’t do. The hearers were not engaged. There was a problem. They needed a better covenant.
In the Old Testament God wrote his law on stone tablets. In the New Testament God writes his word on his people’s hearts.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:10-12)
He quotes Jeremiah here. Jeremiah lived in a time when the Israelites were removed from their nation because of their disobedience. They thought they could play games with God. God did not tolerate it. Jeremiah looks at the devastation on his nation, the ruin of the temple, and he laments all that he sees. But God also spoke to Jeremiah and said, “I’m not done with your people. I’m going to make a new covenant. I’m going to do a work that will bring them back. It will be greater than all they have experienced. These words would have comforted Jeremiah and given him great hope. He is going to do a work in their hearts.
These words should comfort the Hebrews, and they should comfort you. God is going to write his law on your heart. That is the hope of the people of God. Not that we are so great, so strong, so faithful, so courageous, but that our God is working in us.
God is doing something new. Look who the primary actor is. It is all in the first person. God provides for his people.
You can rest in him and his hand on your life. Stop fighting. Stop fretting. Rest in your limitations. Rest in simply knowing him.
God puts his word on the heart of his people. There are times where I don’t like what is going on or what another person is doing. And in those moments sometimes I’m thinking all about what what I would like to do. I call it Mr. Frederickson moments (from Up). His house is flying in the air with balloons. He gets a knock at the door, and it’s Russell, a neighborhood kid. Grumpy Mr. Frederickson doesn’t like it at all. The next scene is Mr. Frederickson telling Russell to shimmy down a rope so he can drop him off on a skyscraper roof. The rope then breaks and you hear Russell scream. Then the movie snaps back, Mr. Frederickson says “that wont work” and you realize he was dreaming about what he would like to do.
In those moments. You know it’s wrong. It may be fun to discuss, but the reality sets in, and you realize, “My Father wouldn’t like that.” I’ve learned when I have that feeling to pay attention to it. It’s not being a wimp. It’s not being scared. It is doing what is right. I want to be quick to obey. I ask, “God, put your law in my heart!”
3. Eternal Instead of Provisional
God makes a new covenant. He promised this through Jeremiah. He does not say covenants. It’s not that we are waiting for God to do something else. This is it. We don’t need to move on. We don’t need to wait for another.
If we perceive a deficiency in God’s work, the deficiency is in our perception rather than God’s work. This means there is opportunity to grow. This means there is more for you to know.
“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, “(Heb 13:20 ESV)
“I will make with them an everlasting covenant: I will never turn away from doing good to them, and I will put fear of Me in their hearts so they will never again turn away from Me. (Jer 32:40 CSB)
A new priestly order means a new law. New law means a new covenant. What do we expect in the future?
Many times people get into trouble by looking at the shortcomings of the church and think that we need something else, like a new revelation from God telling them how to purify the church. Enter Mormonism, Islam. These religions are based on Christian heresy. They start out with Chrisitanity but diverge from the teachings. In both of these it was thought that we needed something else. Interesting enough, the New Testament is not short on examples of the church missing it. It talks a great deal about the church missing it. The Hebrews church is no exception. But over and over again, the problem is not with the covenant that God made with his people. You don’t need another covenant. You don’t need a better high priest. You don’t need another law. This is the Perfect high priest who is the perfect eternal true Son of God. You don’t need another, you need a deeper, more profound understanding of the son of God.
This can come from FOMO, a fear that God has done something that no one knows about, fear that a new edition has some in. This is what he spoke about in the past. It had expectations that confined the trajectory.
Our eternity is secure.
What Christ has done for you is all you need. You don’t need to look anywhere else. The Better has come. It is something more excellent. He’s basically saying, “You Hebrews ought to dwell on what Jesus has done. You ought to think about how much greater he is than what you have previously had.” We need to do the same.
This Hebrew church is struggling because they have not realized what God has done for them. Many are struggling because they don’t know what God has done for them. Have you spent more time watching worthless television shows and sports or dwelling on the perfect work of God? Are you content to sit at home by yourself playing video games and push aside growing in a deeper understanding and relationship with God?