Hebrews 8:7–13 (NKJV)
The author of Hebrews has already discussed the fact that a new covenant has been brought about through Christ. In this section, he moves into a more detailed account of that covenant and a comparison to the covenant of the law.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”Hebrews 8:7-12
The first covenant, and its covenant people, had flaws. If not, there would have been no reason to seek out a second covenant. God Himself knew that the covenant of the law was incomplete. He always knew that the only true way to the universal opportunity for salvation for mankind was the new covenant through the blood of and priesthood of Jesus Christ. The Lord found fault with the people of God, and determined to make a new covenant with them. They broke the covenant and God annulled the old covenant. The new covenant, however, was better in every way. Instead of tablets and scrolls, the new covenant would be written in their minds and hearts. God promised to be their God and that they would be His people. They will not just be taught the laws of God, for they will know Him experientially, from the least to the greatest. God’s mercy will be extended to mankind, and their sins will be remembered no more.
The features of this new covenant are not necessarily antithetical to the principles of the old. There is still a call to holiness and obedience to the Lord. However, the law is not just a document to be studied, but rather a life to be lived. Adherence to the law as a code is no longer the goal, but rather a relationship with God that will drive the conduct and actions of His people. Love will guide the process, beginning with God’s love for His people and continuing with their love toward Him. A sterile observance of lawful activity is no substitute for a relationship with the Lord Himself. Man has a powerful opportunity through the new covenant. While there is a reference to the people of God and the old covenant, there is an openness to all in the language of this discussion of the new covenant. Jesus came so that all could be saved and live in covenant with Him. This eschatological shift makes it possible, not only for Israel and Judah, but for all mankind to be saved.
13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.Hebrews 8:13
The final statement of this passage presents the finality of the message. The first covenant is now obsolete. It is vanishing away. This does not mean that Israel is finished or vanishing away, simply that the old covenant of the law is no longer efficacious. With this in mind, the covenant of Christ is the only covenant that is salvific and redemptive. Believe in Him. Trust Him. Walk with Him in the forgiveness of your sins. Be whole and know His law in your hearts and minds. Be a recipient of His mercy and live.