31 Dec. Hebrews 9:1-5,11-15

31 Dec. The Old and the New Covenant compared

"The first [covenant] agreement had rules for worship and a man-made place for worship. The Holy Tent was set up for this."

"The first area in the Tent was called the Holy Place. In it were the lamp and the table with the bread that was made holy for God."

"Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place. In it was a golden altar for burning incense and the Ark covered with gold that held the old [covenant] agreement."

"Inside this Ark was a golden jar of manna, Aaron's rod that once grew leaves, and the stone tablets of the old agreement [the ten commandments]. "

"Above the Ark were the creatures that showed God's glory, whose wings reached over the lid. But we cannot tell everything about these things now..."

"But when Christ came as the high priest of the good things we have now [the new covenant agreement], he entered the greater and more perfect tent. It is not made by humans and does not belong to this world."

"Christ entered the Most Holy Place [where God lives] only once - and for all time. He did not take with him the blood of goats and calves. His sacrifice was his own blood, and by it he set us free from sin for ever."

"The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow are sprinkled on people who are unclean, and [under the old covenant] this makes their bodies clean again. How much more is done [under the new covenant] by the blood of Christ!"

"He offered himself through the eternal Spirit as a perfect sacrifice to God. His blood will make our consciences pure from useless acts so we may serve the living God."

"For this reason Christ brings a new [covenant] agreement from God to his people. Those who are called by God can now receive the blessings he has promised, blessings that will last for ever."

          (Hebrews 9:1-5,11-15)


Having compared Jesus Christ to a Jewish high priest, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews then goes on to compare the first covenant agreement (literally, the ‘Old Testament’) with the new covenant agreement secured by Jesus Christ (literally, the ‘New Testament’).

The old 'covenant' or 'testament' was a solemn agreement arranged between God and the Jewish patriarch Abraham (see Genesis 17:1-14). In this covenant, God promised to bless the descendants of Abraham and to be their God and protector when they entered the land of Canaan.

In return, the Jews promised to be faithful to God and to worship no other gods. As a sign of the covenant agreement, all Jewish males were to be circumcised.

Over time, this covenant was renewed on many occasions, and an elaborate system of religious laws emerged to emphasise the Jewish people’s acceptance by God. Under the old covenant, for example, there were strict regulations about entering the ‘Tent of the Lord’s presence’ and about the sacrifices of animals that were made by the priests to ‘pay’ for the sins of the people (see Exodus 40:1-16 & Leviticus 4:13-35).

The new 'covenant' agreement (or ‘new testament’) was secured by the death of Jesus on the cross at Calvary. This new agreement superseded the first covenant, as Jesus ‘paid the price’ of people’s sin by offering his own life as a perfect sacrifice.

Under the new 'covenant' agreement, Christ did not take the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a burnt heifer to offer as a sacrifice (see Numbers 19:1-10 & 17-19). Instead, he offered his own body and blood to secure forgiveness for all believers - a once-and-for-all sacrifice for all who believe in him and ask for God's forgiveness.

The photo shows a garlanded bull prepared for sacrifice at the baths of the Roman emperor Constantine in Ephesus.

You can read more from the Letter to the Hebrews @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/the-bible-journey/17-the-letter-to-the-jewish-believers-in-antioch54426/the-new-covenant-agreement/

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