20/11/16 Hebrews 8:7-13 “The new covenant renders the old covenant obsolete”


Hebrews 8:7For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.


That is, there would have been no need for a better covenant if the first one had been capable of perfection. However, the old covenant was totally incapable of perfection in itself; in fact, it was imperfect to start with and just continue to go down and down until this time when it was obvious that it was now dead in the water! It’s only hope of perfection rested upon the better promises of the new covenant.

Hebrews 7:19For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope [did]; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

There was no hope in the old covenant; only a better covenant could permit any hope at all! The only way possible to get close to God was through the new covenant.


Hebrews 8:8For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:


Jeremiah 31:31-3431 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: 33 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.


While some may say that the fault is somehow with the old covenant, it is clear that here the fault lay with the people (Israel and Judah) with whom the covenant was made. The old covenant (the law) was certainly faulty (see Vs 7) for if it hadn’t been faulty there would have been no point in replacing it. But its fault was made evident by the effect it had upon the people of the law, that is, Israel. God declared the law to be insufficient for its required task in Jeremiah’s day, before Judah went into captivity at Babylon. Thus, it wasn’t a case of God waiting until the law failed before deciding that something would have to be done about it. In fact, God knew about the deficiencies of the law before He gave it to Israel.


It was the condemnatory aspect of the law that would be a tutor to bring the lost to Christ.

Galatians 3:21-2521 [Is] the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.


The law was never intended to save; rather, it was to bring a sense of helplessness under sin such that the sinner would throw himself upon the mercy of God. In Luke 18:9-14 we read about the pharisee and the tax collector where the tax collector pleaded for God’s mercy.

Luke 18:13-1413 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The law used properly could save, but only through its dependence upon the new covenant, for religious abiding by the old covenant law could only condemn.


So a new covenant (a new legally-binding agreement) has to be made with God’s people such that they can be perfected, something the old law could never do.

I will make – bring to an end; finalise; bring to fulfilment; bring to an end. That is, I will bring about the final covenant with them, thus, I will fulfil (or bring to fulfilment) a new covenant with the house of Israel.



Hebrews 8:9Not 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 continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

See Jeremiah 31:32 above, with a change in the last part – “although I was an husband to them” now becomes “and I regarded them not”, quoting from the Septuagint (“and I disregarded them”) rather than the Old Testament Hebrew.




And this new covenant has to be different to the old covenant of the law handed down to them in the desert (note “more excellent” = different by virtue of its excellence – Hebrews 8:6). Thus, the new covenant should not after the same manner as the old covenant, that is, not just a re-hash of the old but a new covenant in place of the old.

Expositor’s Greek says, “It was not to be a repetition of that which had failed.”

The problem with the old covenant was that God’s people didn’t continue to abide by its requirements. Therefore, as they chose to neglect the requirements of God’s law, He chose to neglect them, to show a lack of care for them – poetic justice, it seems.


continued not – didn’t continue, hold fast, be true to, abide by.

regard …. not – be careless of; to neglect.

Hebrews 2:3aHow shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;


Hebrews 8:10For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

See Jeremiah 31:33 above.


I will make – to dispose of by will, make a testament; to make a covenant, enter into a covenant, with one. Thus, this is the covenant (testament) that God will covenant (as testator) with the house of Israel.

Deuteronomy 6:4-94 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God [is] one Lord: 5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.


God will be their God and they will be His people – a two-way relationship that God desires to have with His people. I note that it would be impossible to have such a relationship if God’s people lacked any free-will to choose in any way. Also, note that a covenant is an agreement between two or more people. A covenant is a legal agreement between two or more parties, an agreement by lease, deed, or other legal contract. That is, it’s a promise that has been given some legal standing to ensure that it is carried out. It assumes at least two parties to be involved in the legal proceedings. Each party to the agreement is required by law to respond or carry out their responsibilities as defined by that covenant. One point, however, must be noted: God is the One who sets the conditions to which the other party must agree!


Jeremiah 32:37-3837 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:

Ezekiel 37:26-2826 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

2 Corinthians 6:16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.


Hebrews 8:11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

See Jeremiah 31:34a above.


neighbour – a neighbour; a friend; fellow-citizen of Israel; according to Christ, any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet.

Luke 10:29; 36-3729 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

brotheradelphos (a brother; countryman; any fellow or man; fellow worker; fellow believer;


They shall have no further need to have to teach their neighbour/fellow citizen, nor their family/countryman/fellow believer, for all people will know all things already.

1 Corinthians 13:12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.


Hebrews 8:12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

See Jeremiah 31:34b above.


merciful – propitious. Translated as “be it far” in Matthew 16:22.

God covenants to render His mercy in place of their unrighteousness.

remember – to recall something; to remember a thing; to be mindful of. It doesn’t appear to even suggest that God might be forgetful in any way; instead it is a conscious decision by God to not be mindful of their sins ever again.

Barnes says, “This is evidently spoken after the manner of men, and in accordance with human apprehension. It cannot mean literally that God forgets that men are sinners, but it means that he treats them as if this were forgotten. Their sins are not charged upon them, and they are no more punished than if they had passed entirely out of the recollection. God treats them with just as much kindness, and regards them with as sincere affection, as if their sins ceased wholly to be remembered, or, which is the same thing, as if they had never sinned.”


Hebrews 8:13In that he saith, A new [covenant], he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away.


By declaring the covenant to be new, God has thus made the previous covenant old, that is, obsolete. The previous covenant has reached (passed!) its use-by date and now needs to be repealed (have its legal authority removed), declared obsolete, and put away. Note the following:-

1 Corinthians 13:11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.


decayeth – to make ancient or old; to be worn out (by time and use); to declare a thing to be old and so about to be abrogated, that is, repeal or do away with (a law, right, or formal agreement).

wax old – to grow old; of things and institutions: to fail from age, be obsolescent.

It is interesting that the word for “decayeth” is translated “wax old” twice in the New Testament.

The old covenant, administered by the priesthood of Aaron, had become unworkable, had passed its use-by date, had become obsolete, and needed to be made to vanish away.


Extra thoughts on Hebrews 8:9bbecause they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

There is a serious problem today in the church. The church is under attack, not from without so much as from within! The major reason for the ease of such attack is that people have grown too complacent (perhaps I should have said “lazy”!) in their worship of God, not caring as much as they should concerning His commandments. We are commanded to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and by doing so, to test (prove) all things, holding fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We have grown too lazy to be bothered to check all things, so that all too often we just accept the word of our pastor (minister, Bible teacher, reference book, etc) without obeying God’s command to test all things according to the proper interpretation of the Bible (the word of truth). When Paul taught in Berea, the Bereans were commended for their diligence in searching the Scriptures to see if what Paul said were truly so – that is, they tested (proved) all things. This did, however, greatly annoy the Thessalonians who then decided to stir up trouble against those who faithfully preached the word of God. Note that there are also many in the church who deliberately use the above-mentioned laziness to promulgate their own heresies. As it is said, everlasting freedom is the result of everlasting vigilance.


Acts 17:10-1310 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming [thither] went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.


There will always be those who like things to stay the way they are, no matter whether it’s right of wrong, simply because they don’t like to change what they have always believed, and it’s easier to just accept what the pastor says. Moreover, there are others who have a total disregard for the truth. When we are lazy and don’t test all things, their plans can succeed. To them, truth is a stumbling block that has to be avoided as much as possible! It reminds me of a saying of Winston Churchill (of Stanley Baldwin 1867–1947 British Conservative statesman; Prime Minister, 1923–4, 1924–9, 1935–7)He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.”

Churchill was fond of sayings: (Lady Astor to Churchill "Winston, if you were my husband I would flavour your coffee with poison" Churchill: "Madam, if I were your husband, I should drink it" Or Bessie Braddock: Winston, you're drunk. Churchill: Bessie, you're ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober. (an exchange with the Labour MP Bessie Braddock)


Getting back to the point, though, the Hebrews in today’s passage were being reminded of the Hebrews in the desert, those who seemingly had more important things to do than to have to waste time worrying about God’s covenant, the law. As a result, God showed them neglect.

Hebrews 8:9bbecause they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

Note what we call “The Golden Rule”: Luke 6:31And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

And the way we treat God is covered by the same rule, it seems: if we neglect Him, He’ll neglect us! (Note 2 Timothy 2:12bif we deny [him], he also will deny us)


The church continues to be under attack from heretics especially from within, noting that when good men don’t test all things, doctrines of demons and cults thrive. False teachers thrive when no-one tests the accuracy of their words. We have become too lazy to protect ourselves from false doctrines and heresies. I note that calvinists, taking advantage of laziness in the fundamentalist church, push their false doctrines, when testing their words would reveal their errors. And you often don’t know what you have until it’s gone!


Calvinists are often portrayed (quite correctly, in fact) as arrogant and argumentative. They see themselves as the only “good kid on the block”. Eg. Al MohlerIf you’re a theological minded, deeply convictional young evangelical, if you’re committed to the gospel and want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ, if you want to see gospel built and structured committed churches, your theology is just going end up basically being Reformed, basically something like this new Calvinism, or you’re going to have to invent some label for what is basically going to be the same thing, there just are not options out there

That is, looking at it another way, he is saying that if you are not new calvinist, then you will not be a theologically minded, deeply convictional young evangelical.

Calvinists make the assumption that they are right, therefore non-calvinists are wrong, unless they agree with calvinist theology, in which case they would no longer be non-calvinists, but calvinists instead!


Note that all doctrine should rest upon the foundation of the gospel. There is no relevant doctrine unless the gospel is firstly applied effectively to a life. So how a person perceives the gospel is critical to his/her understanding of the truth overall. The calvinist teaches that there is no free-will choice in salvation, that God does all the choosing, that Jesus doesn’t stand outside the door and knock requesting permission to enter. Macarthur’s website says of Revelation 3:20: As Paul Washer once said, “If He wants to kick the door down, He’ll kick it down.” http://www.gty.org/Resources/Print/Blog/B160120

Todd Friel declares that anyone who prays the sinner’s prayer is lost. People who ask Jesus into their hearts are not saved and they will perish on the Day of Judgment. https://defendingcontending.com/2009/07/21/ten-reasons-not-to-ask-jesus-into-your-heart-by-todd-friel/

So if your claim to being a Christian is that you once, in repentant faith, prayed to God to save you through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, then the calvinist has to reject your claim to be a Christian because it involved a free-will decision which calvinists just cannot permit!


Let’s go a bit further. If you claim to have believed in Christ in order to be saved, calvinists will reject your salvation, for they claim you must be saved before you can believe in Christ! To them, we do not believe in Christ in order to be saved; we are saved in order that we may believe in Christ. The calvinist gospel is diametrically opposed to the Biblical gospel. If they are right, then the Bible is wrong, yet if the Bible is right, the calvinist is wrong. The fact remains: both cannot be right!


To the calvinist, non-calvinists have to be seen as probably unsaved, because they actually think they could choose to be saved. Moreover, we non-calvinists attend a non-calvinist church once we are saved. Calvin taught that there was no salvation outside the mother church, that is, a church of calvinist teachings! It was the church that gave you salvation (note – not the cross of Jesus!), and if you were truly saved, you would attend a church with true (that is, calvinist!) doctrine!

“But as it is now our purpose to discourse of the visible Church, let us learn, from her single title of Mother, how useful, nay, how necessary the knowledge of her is, since there is no other means of entering into life unless she conceive us in the womb and give us birth, unless she nourish us at her breasts, and, in short, keep us under her charge and government, until, divested of mortal flesh, we become like the angels (Mt. 22:30). For our weakness does not permit us to leave the school until we have spent our whole lives as scholars. Moreover, beyond the pale of the Church no forgiveness of sins, no salvation, can be hoped for ……..” Calvin’s Institutes, Book IV, Ch. 1, Section 4.

Thus the calvinists see non-calvinists as most probably lost sinners, in need of salvation, which they say can only be if God has chosen them as one of the elect before the foundation of the world. To the calvinist, the non-calvinist church is a mission-field to be evangelised, to take over for the sake of the true mother church.


However, from a Scriptural point of view, if the non-calvinist is right, then the calvinist instead is the lost sinner; they are, instead, a mission-field to be evangelised. We should be preaching the gospel to calvinists as we should to JWs and Mormons etc. If calvinists know of no point of decision when they were saved, if they cannot recall a time when they came to the cross of Jesus in repentance by faith, then they are most likely still lost in their sins. We as the true church of Christ (that is, the ones who rightly divide the word of truth and preach the true gospel of reconciliation between God and man) must carry out the Great Commission to preach the gospel to all nations; this includes those around us who are lost; this, too, includes calvinists who have never chosen to accept Christ as Saviour! If they have never made a decision to be saved at the cross of Jesus, then they are still lost until they choose to repent in faith for their sins and trust in the salvation freely offered to them by God. We should not seek to prove them wrong – arguments won’t save them – but instead preach the gospel faithfully to them. It is the word of the gospel that triggers faith.

Romans 10:8-10; 13; 178 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.


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