Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Hebrews 8:13, “In speaking of the new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete.  And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”

Something is said to be obsolete when it is no longer in use.  I used to have a typewriter.  It was helpful in preparing documents, but you can rarely find them anymore.  Practically no one uses them.  They are obsolete, having been replaced by personal computers that can do the job much faster and better.  Typewriters have gone the way of slide rules, horse-drawn carriages, eight-track tapes, VHS players, and other such things.  Few feel compelled to use an old thing when there is similar new thing that is better.

The word translated “growing old” in this passage is the Greek term “gerasko” from which we get the English Word “geriatric.”  Both terms speak to that which is related to “growing old.”  In the progress of God’s revelation there is a “first covenant” and a “second” (Hebrews 8:7).  The first was the Mosaic covenant, and though there was nothing inherently wrong with it—the Apostle Paul referred to it as being “holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12)—it was weak and ineffectual because of sin (Cf. Hebrews 7:18-19).  The old covenant is both obsolete and growing old. 

Too many professing believers are stuck in an old covenant way of living when God has availed to us something far superior.  That far superior thing is the new covenant.  The old covenant was limited since it was not able to bring people to perfection.  Its role was to serve as a reminder of sin (Cf. Hebrews 10:3).  It has no ability to impart life (Cf. Galatians 3:21) and served in a limited role as a “guardian until Christ came” Cf. Galatians 3:24).  Through the law sin is “shown to be sin” (Romans 7:13).  In the history of man there has been but One who has perfectly upheld the law—He died for those who couldn’t.

Too many are stuck in an old covenant way of living.  They gravitate to a merit-based approach to their walk with Christ.  To them, Christianity is nothing more than a series of do’s and don’ts and rules and regulations.  But the believer in Christ is one who has been called to a new covenant way of life.  It is no longer we who live, but Christ living in us (Cf. Galatians 2:20).  We live a victorious life by the power of the indwelling Spirit, not by human self-effort.  “For the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot” (Romans 8:7).  J. Vernon McGee summarized the matter this way, “So, my friend, we are not under the Mosaic system.  God says that is an old model and He has brought in a new model…The Law was totally incapable of producing any good thing in man…The Holy Spirit is now able to do the impossible.  The Holy Spirit can produce a holy life in weak and sinful flesh.”

Elwood McQuaid has likewise commented on God’s provision of a new covenant to replace the old: “The key word in Hebrews is better.  The good things of biblical Judaism had been made better in Jesus Christ.  He is better than angels (Cf. Hebrews 1:4).  He is better than Moses (Cf. Hebrews 3:3).  He is better than Aaron (Cf. Hebrews 7:11-22).  His New Covenant is better than the Old (Cf. Hebrews 8:6-13).  Judaism, in the divine plan, had become only a “shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:17).  Its temporary role gave way to Christ, who transformed the shadow into substance and reared a “greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands” (Hebrews 9:11).  For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).  In totality, Hebrews emphatically sets forth the departure of the Old Covenant, with its institutions and rituals, in favor of Christ and the New Covenant.  As the Law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, Judaism, with its sanctuary, sacrifices, services, and ceremonies, served to identify Him.  Once this was done, biblical Judaism had served its lofty purpose.  It was consummated in Christ.”  He is very much better!  The means of salvation availed to us in Him will never grow old or obsolete.

No comments: