Hebrews 9:15-10:9, The New Testament

[9:15]And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may received the promise of the eternal inheritance.
[16]For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  [17]For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.  [18]Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.  [19]For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, [20]saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.”  [21]Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.  [22]And according to the law almost all things are purified by blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
[23]Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  [24]For Christ has not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;  [25]not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another – [26]He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once in the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  [27]And as it is appointed unto men to die once, but after this the judgment, [28]so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.  To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
[10:1]For the law, having a shadow of the the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, could never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.  [2]For then would they not have ceased to be offered?  For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.  [3]But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.  [4]For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
[5]Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:  “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared  for Me.  [6]In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.  [7]Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come – in the volume of the book it is written of Me – to do Your will, O God.'”
[8]Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and sacrifices for sin You did not desire; nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), [9]then He said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God.”  He takes away the first that He may establish the second.  (NKJV)

We’re used to thinking of “The New Testament” as those books from Matthew to Revelation, and of “The Old Testament” as being from Genesis to Malachi.  While this is a valid and understandable use of the terms, Hebrews tells us that we can’t limit the phrases to those meanings.

Hebrews teaches us that the terms “Old Testament” or “Covenant” or “First Covenant,” and “New Testament” or “Covenant” in its usage describe two mutuallyexclusive, mutually contradictory and mutually incompatible ways of approach to God.  The Old Testament speaks of our coming to God on the basis of our works.  Both the sacrificial system and Israel’s subsequent history show that this is impossible.  The New Testament teaches that we come to God on the basis of Christ’s work.

Perhaps the great majority of professing Christians do not understand or believe this.  There are, on the one hand, those who out-and-out teach works-salvation, ie., by keeping the Law or doing our best, with the death of Christ almost considered of negligible effect, perhaps “to make up the difference.”  On the other hand, there are those who claim to believe in “salvation by grace,” but then they teach that, “Well, yes, we’re ‘saved by grace,’ but we have to keep ourselves saved; we can lose our salvation.”

Then there are those who teach “salvation by grace,” but they also believe that this means that God has simply made it possible for men to be saved, but it’s up to them to exercise faith.  The emphasis is on “exercise,” not on “faith.”  They might say, “God has done all He can do, and now it’s up to us.”

Even though they might admit that faith comes from God, they say that being born again, or saved, is a result of faith, whereas both the Scripture, John 3, and, except for Romanism, the historic creeds of professing Christianity have taught faith to be the evidence of the New Birth, not its cause.  Although there have been those down through church history who have denied this truth, it was only with the rise of John Wesley and then later Charles G. Finney and his successors, most notable of which in our time has been Billy Graham, that this truth has come generally to be denied.  In our time it has virtually disappeared, being replaced with appeals to “make your decision,” or “give your heart to Jesus.”

The Bible teaches with regard to our salvation that we have nothing to boast about.  It is God Who “makes us to differ,” 1 Corinthians 4:7.  We believe “according to the working of His mighty power,” Ephesians 1:19.  We believe “through [or, by means of] grace,” Acts 18:22.

So it is in Hebrews – an absolute separation of Old and New Covenants.   In our text, there are six things about this “New Covenant” (keeping in minds its context in the larger teaching about the priesthood of Christ);
1.  Mediation of the New Covenant, 9:15-17.
2.  Dedication of the New Covenant, 9:18-26.
3.  Expectation of the New Covenant, 9:27-28.
4.  Intimation of the New Covenant, 10:1-4.
5.  Preparation for the New Covenant, 10:5-8.
6.  Implementation of the New Covenant, 10:9.

1. Mediation of the New Covenant, 9:15-17.

He is the Mediator” – not the OT priesthood, not the Romish or Anglican priesthood or any other priesthood, nor any other individual, not the Virgin Mary, not the saints, not the preacher, not some “prophet,” not some “personality;”  Jesus Christ is the only way into the presence of God, and He is the only One with authority to intervene on behalf of His people.  That is why we must come in His name into the presence of God; no other name is recognized in heaven, Acts 4:12.

Basis of the Mediation, “by means of death,” also vs. 16, 17.  It was His death that released “the inheritance” for the enjoyment of His people.  It was His death that cancelled sin on their behalf and that satisfied divine justice for them.

Benefit of the Mediation.
1.  “redemption.”  In the OT, God didn’t just “overlook” the sin of His people.  The animal sacrifices could not take away sin, but they foreshadowed the coming of the One Who could.  The sins of the OT saints were as assuredly paid for by the death of Christ as the sins of the NT saints.
2.  “eternal inheritance.”  In the OT, under the Old Covenant, “inheritance” was temporary, based on obedience.  This is why Israel was so often in misery and was finally cast out of the land, even after the restoration under Ezra and Nehemiah.  Even though they’re in the land once again, Scripture teaches that this, too, will come to an end.  It won’t until the Second Coming of the Lord that things will finally be straightened out.  The blessings of the New Covenant are dependent on the obedience of Christ.

Beneficiaries of the Mediation, “those who are called.”  Even in the OT, though Israel as a nation enjoyed covenant blessing, not every Israelite knew the Lord; perhaps most in Israel’s history did not know the Lord.  But the New Covenant is not “national” in that sense, but individual:  “they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest,” Jeremiah 31:34.  Hence, it is a great mistake to try to pattern the New Covenant church after the Old Covenant nation.

2. Dedication of the New Covenant, 9:18-26.

Foreshadowed in the First Covenant, vs. 18-22.  Although blood was shed, redemption under the First Covenant was neither complete nor comprehensive, v. 22.

Fulfilled by Christ, vs. 23-26.  His sacrifice purified the originals of the things duplicated in the Mosaic tabernacle, though we don’t understand all that is involved or implied in these verses.  And it was a “once” sacrifice; the “Day of Atonement” accomplished by the Lord Jesus will never have to be repeated, either by Himself or by those who would do it ceremonially.  Indeed, such a thought is blasphemy.

3. Expectation of the New Covenant, 9:27-28.

These verses weren’t just inserted to fill up space, but to point out that the expectation and fulfillment of the New Covenant were not to be accomplished at the First Coming, but at the Second.  Considered on the whole, no OT prophecy has been fully realized.  Even those prophecies which do speak of things pertaining to the First Coming have ramifications which impinge on the Second Coming, for example, Micah 5:1-3; Daniel 9:24-27.

In several places, Hebrews mentions “the promise(s)”.  A careful and objective reading indicates that complete fulfillment of these promises is yet future, for example, Hebrews 11:39, 40.  They are dependent on the return of Christ and are not going to be fulfilled before then, as in “the church,” as many believe.  Romans 11 and Ephesians 2 and 3 shed further light on this controversial subject.

4. Intimation of the New Covenant, 10:1-4.

The continual offerings for sin showed that something more was needed.  The OT sacrifices were shadows of the Coming Sacrifice, shadows of “good things to come,” not the things themselves.

5. Preparation for the New Covenant,10:5-8.

“A body”.  From Adam to Mary, God was preparing the physical body of the Lord Jesus, that “body” which was to be offered “once for all,” Hebrews 10:10.  When Adam and Eve heard the pronouncement of their judgment and the promise of a coming Redeemer, Adam already bore in his body the genetic structure of that Redeemer.  The Cross was not a make-shift attempt to patch up an unforeseen disaster, but a carefully-planned, carefully-prepared revelation of the fullness of the divine attributes, wisdom and power.

6. Implementation of the New Covenant, 10:9.

Approach to God by our own efforts, merit or deserving will never be possible.  The OT showed the impossibility of that, and the Lord Jesus has made all such attempts unnecessary.  He came to forever rid men of the idea that salvation is a matter of reward.

By grace, you have been saved.

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