Hebrews 8: 6 – 13
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. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one.
God finds fault with them when he says:
‘The days are surely coming, says the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah;
not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors,
on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt;
for they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I had no concern for them, says the Lord.
This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach one another
or say to each other, “Know the Lord”,
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will be merciful towards their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.’
In speaking of ‘a new covenant’, he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear.
As a child I remember being struck by a particular prayer that spoke of Jesus as our mediator and advocate. As one of three sisters there was often a need for mediation at home.
A mediator is one who brings people together, who fosters understanding and brings about reconciliation by helping parties to find common ground. For humanity Jesus as mediator brings about the promise of a new covenant.
We are used to advertising that offers us ‘new improved versions’ of goods that still have value and worth. It seems that built-in obsolescence is the hidden basis to spur economic growth. Most things are not built to last.
However God’s New Improved Offer is a genuine development – it offers something better for all God’s people. We are being invited to have a deeper renewed relationship with God.
This Covenant transferred from tablets of stone to hearts and minds is enabled by the presence of the mediator – the writer of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah, picking up threads of the Old Testament for those familiar with it, and establishing a longer pedigree for those new to Jesus’s thought.
We need a new improved covenant because the old one wasn’t working – that relationship had broken down through inability of humanity to keep the terms. The new arrangement had been talked about by the latter prophets is being put in place with Jesus. It is still on offer – we too can leave the slavery of our Egypt. God comes close through this new living way.
As we continue to work out how to be God’s people today, let us not return to what is obsolete but jettison what is no longer helpful and let the Spirit of Jesus lead us into a deeper relationship with God.
“Past put behind us, for the future take us,
Lord of the years to live for. Christ alone.”
Lord, in these times of change,
help us to embody your promises and explore what they mean for us today.
As we ponder anew how to be your people,
draw close to us and enable our hearts and minds to be renewed by your Spirit.
For Jesus’ sake and for the transformation of the world
Author: David Wiggs
I am the webmaster for Purley United Reformed Church and have been involved with the church since my late teens. I work in Croydon and live in Caterham.