First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, March 12, 2023)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Superior Covenant … Better Promises!”
Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:1-6
Our journey in the letter to the Hebrews brings us this morning to Hebrews chapter eight where we get to see how the new covenant is superior to the old one. This is a very rich and deep discussion and I certainly hope that every one of us will be able to grasp the greatness of God’s mercies and grace as we reflect on the scripture passage before us today.
The discussion about the new covenant versus the old covenant reminds us of two great things. First and foremost, it reminds us that our God is a covenantal God. He is a God who offers us an opportunity to permanently commune with Him. The Old Testament often refers to God as “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” This name emphasizes the covenant that God made with Israel and the Israelites. The Bible introduces God as a covenantal God. In the Upper Room, right before his crucifixion, Jesus invited His disciples to a new covenant which He has established with the Father in heaven. In Luke 22:20, we read, “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
But there is another aspect to this discussion of the old covenant versus the new and it has to do with the faithfulness of God to the terms of the covenant and the unfaithfulness of humans. While God has always been faithful and committed to His people, we humans have miserably failed to be faithful to the covenant. The prophet Hosea says these words in Hosea 6:4 & 7, “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears … They have broken the covenant; they were unfaithful to me.”
In Hebrews chapter 8, the writer zooms in on how Jesus provides a better covenant than the old one did. In what ways, the New Covenant, the Covenant of Grace, is superior to the old, the Covenant of Works? As we examine Hebrews chapter 8, we are given three reasons; three evidences that there’s a better covenant in Jesus Christ:
First: The New Covenant is Given by a Superior High Priest
This is what the Bible says in Hebrews 8:1-2, “Now the main 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 the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up.”
The emphasis here is on the finished work of our High Priest. Our redemption is complete, and our eternal destiny is sealed and secured. “We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,” says the writer in Hebrews 8:2. Under the Old covenant, the High Priest never sat because their mission was never completed. They had to keep offering sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people. In the Old Testament tabernacle, there were no seats. Yet, Christ, after finishing His work on the cross, He shouted, “It’s finished!” Therefore, He is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.
Second: The New Covenant is Given in a Better PlaceThe second reason of the New Covenant superiority over the Old Covenant is that it was given in a better place. Listen to what Hebrews 8:5 say, “They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent, was warned, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”
All the Old Testament rituals, priesthood and ceremonies were nothing but “a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one.” All the Old Testament stipulations were only a copy. Christ is the true source; they’re only a shadow. Why we go back to the shadow if the original is already here? It’s like building a house. It would be like living on the blueprint instead of in the house itself. If you’re given the chance to own Leonardo de Vinci’s Mona Lisa, why would you choose a replica?
Third: The New Covenant is Founded on Better Promises
“But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises,” says the author in Hebrews 8:6. The new Covenant is founded on better promises.
This world is full of overpromising and underdelivering. Every product, car, and service is the best ever, and you should buy them… until they’re not. But Christ never fails; He overpromises and overproduces.
No wonder that the Prophet Jeremiah, some 600 before Christ, longed for the coming of the New Covenant. He longed for the covenant of grace. He longed for genuine internal covenant written on people’s hearts not written on stones. He longed for forgiveness for a broken nation where God will remember our sins no more.
Friends, let me ask you this morning: which covenant are you clinging to, the old or the new, the Covenant of Works or the Covenant of Grace? There is a superior covenant with better promises, will you embrace it with all your heart today? why are we clinging to the shadows when the reality is here? The things that we chase after in this world such as peace, joy, security, and fulfilment are nothing but shadows of the real blessings the Lord offers us in Christ. The New Covenant promises a deep and intimate relationship with the Lord our God. It promises a full access to God’s throne of grace. Let’s draw near to a God who made a way where is no way. Let’s give praise to our God who in Christ is the covenant maker and covenant keeper. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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