November 12, 2023 | Jess Rainer
Passage: Hebrews 8:1-13
Opening Illustration: Meeting Nick Saban. I’m not a person that typically gets star struck. But, if there is one person that I would get a little starry eyed to meet, it would be… Nick Saban. Now, I know of you may have just twitched a little bit when I said that, but just remember I’m a lifelong Alabama fan. And he just happens to be the GOAT. Years ago, I actually had the chance to meet Nick Saban. I was at a dinner with about 100 people and after dinner, we all got a chance to meet my friend, Nick, and take a picture with him. Leading up to the dinner, I kept trying to think of what I would say to him. I wanted to say something memorable. I wanted to make him laugh or say something football related where he might offer me a job. The moment finally came. I walked up to him, extended my hand for a handshake, and do you know what I said to him? “Nice to meet you, coach.” That’s it. That’s all that came of out of my mouth. Something that is the complete opposite of memorable. The moment came and went and nothing in my life changed. The personal connection I was hoping to make never happened and I was left in the same position I was before.
I think it’s safe to say that everyone, at some point, has a person in his or her life where they long to make a connection with someone that appears to be far off. All of us at some point, have a scenario played out in our minds where we believe if we can just find a way to connect with this person, then this series of events will unfold, and our lives will be changed forever. Can I give you a spoiler? Your life doesn’t change like you think it will. We all long to personally relate to someone in a way that changes the outcome of lives. But what we long for will never be found in another human. Today, the writer of Hebrews tells us that there is only One who we can relate to that will change the outcome of lives for all eternity. And it’s God. Do you know what’s different about Nick Saban and God? Well, there are a lot of things…Nick Saban would never take the time to make a way for me to relate personally to him. But God did. That’s what we are going to see today: God wants to you to personally relate to Him. Let’s open our Bibles to Hebrews 8. Today, we reach the mid-point of our time in the book of Hebrews. It’s gone a lot faster than I expected. Our current Sermon Series: Hebrews: The Complete Work of Christ. Each week we keep learning more about our God and just how amazing He is. Let’s see how amazing He is this morning in Hebrews 8. (This is God’s Word, let’s listen expectantly). Read Hebrews 8. Pray.
Last week we looked the priesthood of Jesus. We saw that Jesus is the final and full High Priest – He’s the better high priest. And how Jesus’ priesthood related to Melchizedek. The writer of Hebrews starts off chapter 8 with what Jesus as High Priest means for us. Here’s where we start today: God wants you to see the reality in heaven.
1) God wants you to see the reality in heaven. (vs. 1-5) I love how God gives us certain verses in the Bible where He goes, “Let me be direct and to the point.” Verse 1 is one of those verses! It starts off by saying, “Here is the main point…” I know some of you are thinking, “I wish the pastor would do that in his sermons too…” What main point? The main point of chapter 7 – the main point of everything we talked about. I had two choices last week: I could either covered the enter chapter like we did or I could have just read verse 1 and walked off stage. But I know that NONE of you would have liked the second option…! The big, looming question in chapter 7 was “Is there really a high priest that could be the ultimate High Priest that could fulfill every needed in the priestly system?” The answer is yes. That what verses 1 and 2 say: 1Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. 2 There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.
What we then see in verses 3 through 5 is just how radically different the priesthood of Jesus is compared to the priesthood that existed before Him. 3 And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. 4 If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. 5 They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” Did you catch what the previous priesthood was? It was a copy; a shadow of the real system of worship in heaven. When God gave Moses the pattern for the priestly, sacrificial system, God patterned it after the real system in heaven. If you ever thought that things you read in the Old Testament about priestly system seemed arbitrary, they weren’t. They served a purpose to give us a glimpse of the fuller, better system in heaven. Illustration: Another Kid Comes to Me and Holds on to Me. After church one Sunday, I was talking to someone and my kid comes and grabs on to my leg, which was very typical. My response, like always, was to place my hand on their head. But when I placed my hand on this kid’s head, there was something different. It didn’t feel like one of my kid’s hair. There was the moment when I looked down just as this kid looked up…I realized that it was not my kid and they realized I was not their dad. I don’t remember who it was – maybe one of you do – but this kid realized who they were holding onto wasn’t their dad. I may have been resembled their dad, but I was not their dad. What they were holding onto in the Old Testament was a copy; not the real thing.
So, when Jesus came as the forever High Priest, He took the copy, and did the necessary work to fulfill its purpose. All the sacrifices, all the laws, all the priestly duties – Jesus fulfilled all of their purposes forever. How do we know it’s for forever? Where does verses 1 and 2 tells us Jesus is? He’s in heaven, beside God, doing what? Sitting down! No human high priest ever entered the holy of holies and sat down. There was no chair or bench in there because the work was never done. Jesus came, did the work, and sat down on His rightful throne because the work He did for us is complete. Jesus is ministering in the true place of worship on our behalf. Jesus is our temple and our tabernacle.
The realness of Jesus and the realness of what He did demands that we look to throne room of Jesus to really worship Him. All our attention needs to be on Jesus in heaven. When you come into this place on Sundays, your mind and soul and heart should already be filled with worship because you’ve been seeing the realness of Jesus throughout the entire week. No longer is there a shadow, but the reality has come. And that reality is ministering and mediating and representing us in that throne room. Through Jesus, we have direct access to the throne room. Because of that, Jesus demands our real worship. The writer of Hebrews is showing the reality of Jesus is better than the shadow the old system. In verse 6, we are going to be taken even farther down that path. Here’s what we see next: God pursues.
2) God pursues. (vs. 6-9) Our passage today requires us to keep a high-level overview of the Bible in mind. It’s easy to look at the Old Testament and the New Testament as separate books. But they are one complete book. If you stopped reading after the Old Testament, you would be left wondering what the end of the story is. My kid asking to leave at intermission of a play. And if you started reading the New Testament, you would miss all of the rising action. Throughout the Old Testament, God made promises or covenants with His people. God made a covenant with Abraham to give him many descendants. And then God made a covenant those descendants, the people of Israel. These covenants were to show that God would not abandon His people. These covenants were to show that God loves and pursues His people. But when Jesus entered into humanity, Jesus brought in a new covenant.
Look at how the writer of Hebrews lays this out starting in verse 6: 6 But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises. 7 If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. 8 But when God found fault with the people, he said: “The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 9 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. What was taking place in the Old Testament, what was taking place with the old covenant God made with His people, couldn’t last. We saw that last week with the priesthood. God had to make a new covenant. Why? There are two reasons: The first reason is in verse 8 - The people broke the covenant - God’s people disobeyed - They couldn’t fully obey the law God set in front of them. The second reason is that: God upheld His side of the covenant -God didn’t lower His standard to match their abilities - God didn’t take the 10 commandments and modify them to the 4 commandments. Illustration: I’m guilty of this in parenting. I’ll admit it. In my house, we operate with a discipline chart. It’s spelled out. We hold to the “do the crime, do the time”. The major categories of disobedience have their respective punishments. Sometimes I’ll have to say is, “I’m going to get the discipline chart,” and things will change. But I get tired of using the chart at times. I don’t ever change the punishment, but I will change the standard of obedience. I will find ways to go, “Well, they kind of talked back to me, but kind of didn’t talk back. So, I’m not going to going to mark the discipline chart.” When I do that, I am lowering the standard in my house. God can’t do that with His children.
God doesn’t lower His standard, but God does transform His people. God’s plan from the very beginning of time was to take what was external and make it internal. God takes His standard, and instead of writing it on a tablet, He decides to write it on our hearts and minds. We are going to see what that looks like in our final verses, but I don’t want you to miss what’s happening in verses 6-9: God loves you so much that He will not stop pursuing you. Quote: “God is an unrelenting pursuer of those he loves. He will not stop. He will not quit. He will not cease. He even goes to his own death in Jesus Christ to win his bride. Yet you and I still say, “I'm not sure you really love me!” We all struggle with doubt, but this is the cure: to realize that you have a God who has gone every extra mile--who has given more grace than is imaginable--to pursue a wayward bride. That kind of God is not going to abandon us.” – Michael J. Kruger.
We have Jesus, as our High Priest, who demands our worship. Jesus not only brought in the new system of worship, but Jesus is also the one who mediates the new covenant between God and His people. This new covenant shows us that God pursues. And it also shows us this: God created a way for you to relate to Him.
3) God created a way for you to relate to Him. (vs. 10-13). This new covenant was exactly what we needed. Do you remember why the Old Testament priestly and sacrificial system still relates to us today? What the old system did was to provide a way for God’s people to relate to Him. To be able to have relationship with Him. They craved acceptance and approval. Which is what we still crave today. This new covenant is what gives us personal access to God – what we all crave. When we look at the covenant, we should be amazed by what is in front of us.
The old covenant was focused on the external – the religious activity. The new covenant is focused on the internal. Quote: Christianity is not about the imitation of Jesus Christ; it is about transformation by Jesus Christ. – Alistair Begg. That’s what we see in verses 10 and 11: 10 But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already. These two verses packs in so much:
- This new covenant, which is mediated by Jesus, fulfills the old covenant.
- This new covenant was made by God not by lowering His standards, but by changing the way we interact with His law.
- This new covenant was about internal transformation, not external tradition.
- This new covenant was about God giving us the power to live out our side of the covenant.
- This new covenant was God’s way of pursuing us.
- This new covenant creates a new way for us to relate to God.
- This new covenant is personal and intimate.
This new covenant is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. I am not an expert when it comes to the world’s religions, but I know there is a commonality. Virtually all of the world’s religion are based on a pursuit of knowledge, rather than a personal and intimate relationship. Buddhism – it’s this constant life cycle that you hope one day you will escape. Scientology – you pretty much buy your way in deeper knowledge. Mormonism – there these levels of knowledge that relate. When it comes to Christianity, God chooses to write His law on our hearts and minds. That means there are no secret handshakes or hidden passages. Knowledge of God is available to all. The ability to relate to God is available to all. God wants you to know Him personally. This new covenant is written on our hearts and minds in a way that gives us personal access to God. If you have been trying out the Christian life by participating in the external aspects, it won’t work. If you think going to church, maybe singing some songs, and saying the occasional prayer will supply what you’re missing, it won’t. That’s only a shadow of what is available to you. The only way to experience the reality of God is by giving God your heart, soul, and mind – by giving God everything that you are.
If all that wasn’t already amazing enough, look at verse 12. 12 And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” God not only provided a way for us to be transformed from the inside out, God also chose to forgive the very thing that keeps us apart from Him: our sin. All those things in the past we try to run from, God forgives and remembers them no more. Isn’t this new covenant amazing! It’s so good the old covenant doesn’t need to stick around. 13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear. I want you to do one thing as you let this passage settle in your heart, soul, and mind…
Be star struck by a God that wants you, pursues you, and wants a personal relationship with you. Be in awe of a God that loves you so much that He made a plan for you to save your soul. Be in awe of a God that sent His Son to do what you couldn’t do in order that you can have access, personal access, to Him. That God is what should get us fired up, every single day. That God is what should cause us to bow down, with hands up, giving Him all the glory and praise we can muster. Let’s be that church. Let’s be new covenant people that are fired up about Jesus. Let’s be a family that takes the hope of Jesus that lives inside of us to a world that desperately needs the hope of Jesus. Let’s pray.
Sin causes us to experience shame, rejection, and pain. This series highlights the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ in the Book of Hebrews—offering hope to all of those struggling with self-doubt and seclusion. By exploring the passages that connect Jesus' ministry to the fulfillment of the Law, this guide will help you not only better understand the Old Testament, but also how Jesus completes the story of God’s redemption. This is a great series to remind others of God’s love for them, as well as the sacrifice He made to bring them back to God.