Bible Study: Hebrews 8

Read Hebrews 8.

Hebrews 8 continues the comparison of Jesus Christ to the Old Testament high priests. It’s a short chapter and there’s not a lot here to unpack, just a continuation of a line of reasoning we have been studying. In chapter 9 we are going to see more details about how the earthly tent – the tabernacle – was set up. In this chapter we are simply reminded that the earthly tent was patterned after the things in heaven. The earthly tent, set up in the Old Testament, made by the hands of men, was a copy, a duplicate of the real heavenly high places. Every priest must make an offering. If Christ were on the earth he would not be a priest at all (see v. 4) because there are priests that make offerings according to the Law. But the ministry of Jesus is greater, having entering the authentic holy places the earthly tent is patterned after. He offers a better sacrifice (which we will get to in Hebrews 9 as well).

The second half of the chapter deals with the new covenant. It is not uncommon for New Testament writers to cite scriptures sources with “it is written.” You may read three sentences in the New Testament that are actually pulled from three different Old Testament writers. Gentiles had not read the books of Law and the Prophets, they didn’t know the history of Israel in the Old Testament, so the sources didn’t matter to them. The Hebrews didn’t need the sources cited. They had grown up with the texts the author is citing here. They were certainly familiar with the scriptures describing the Messiah as he was long awaited and prayed for regularly. Take a look at Jeremiah 31:31-34. It is pretty much quoted verbatim in verses 6 – 12 of Hebrews 8. Verse 13 points out if the old covenant had been sufficient a new one would be necessary. As it is, the old covenant becomes obsolete.

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