This chapter continues the contrast that is being drawn between Jesus as our great high priest and the priests of the Old Testament. In particular, it is highlights Jesus as the priest of a new and better covenant. The author takes us to a key promise from Jeremiah 31, where God speaks of establishing a new covenant where the people will have the law written on their hearts, will have a true relationship with God and will have their sins forgiven.
For the original readers who were tempted to slip back into the old covenant, this is a powerful teaching. The old covenant is obsolete and ready to vanish away. Similarly for us, as we face temptations to slip away from the new covenant into something that resembles the old covenant, this same truth is important for us to hold on to.
In making the contrast between the two, the author picks out the place that the offering is made. Jesus is described as ministering in the ‘true tent’ in the heavenly places, of which the earthly tent was merely a shadow and a copy. The ministry that Christ performs for us as he is seated at God’s right hand is as superior to the ministry of those priests as the covenant he mediates is superior to the previous covenant.
It would be good to take time to drill into why the new covenant is so superior to the old, and to do so particularly through picking out the details from the promise given to Jeremiah.
Some Key Points:
- Jesus is superior to the priests of the old covenant. He ministers in the true heavenly tent whilst they minister in an earthly replica of it.
- The new covenant that he mediated is faultless, whereas the old covenant was not. God had promised this new covenant through Jeremiah, and in it his people can be in true relationship with him, forgiven of their sins and have the law written on their hearts.
- Therefore we should not slip back to the law and the old covenant, but should live in the freedom that the new covenant brings.
- Don’t Slip Back to the Law – The new covenant is superior to the old, yet the temptation remains for Christians to slip back into a legalistic approach that resembles the old covenant.
- Worship Our Superior Priest – This passage highlights just how superior Jesus is to what came before him. This should stir us to worship and praise him as our great high priest.