7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
8 For he finds fault with them when he says:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”
13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Do you remember those old rotary dial phones? Do you remember the frustration you felt if you were dialing a number and you made a mistake and had to start over? Do you remember when the touch-tone phone became available and how much simpler it became to use your phone? And then the progression just continued from there; cordless phones, cellular phones, and all the way up to our modern-day smartphones where the phone itself is really secondary to all the other things that smartphones can do.
How would you react if you were told that you had to go back to using a rotary phone or a phone that required a wired connection? You’d laugh if someone told you that you had to do that because now you possess something so much better and greater.
That’s the basic argument that Hebrews has been making for us throughout the last few chapters and here in this passage as well.
Hebrews has been telling us in multiple ways that God is doing something so much better than what has gone on before. The old stuff was good and true and mattered…, but now in Jesus, it is fully and wholly revealed. Jesus is superior and above all that has gone on before so, there’s no reason for us to go back or cling to the old ways that are inferior and only pointed to the fulfilled promises realized in Jesus the Messiah.
In this passage, we have the longest quotation from the Old Testament from Jeremiah 31.31-35 and it’s a promise from the Lord for a new covenant that is established and fulfilled in Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection.
Sins are finally and fully forgiven (verse 12) and the Temple, the sacrificial system, and the priests are now obsolete (verse 13) because of Jesus the Messiah, our great high priest, and all that He has accomplished.
Again, the point of it all is for us to hold on to Jesus and not cling to the old ways.
But we often do that, don’t we? We have a tendency to cling to things, sinful and good, rather than hold onto the very best in a relationship with Jesus.
What might you be clinging to instead of holding onto Jesus? Perhaps it’s an old habit, attitude, value, or a way of viewing things that Jesus is asking you to let go of so that you can follow Him. It might even be as simple as the desire to retain the illusion that you’re in control rather than trusting Jesus with some aspect of your life.
Can you imagine the difference it would make in your life and in your relationships if you let it go and held onto Jesus instead?
Paraphrasing from N.T. Wright’s comments on this passage, if God has established the new thing He had always promised, to cling to the old is simply foolish as well as disloyal.
God bless you and know that I am praying for you constantly.