May 13, 2011

Friday after the Second Sunday after Easter


Due to maintenance being done on the blog host computers, I was unable to post this morning's commentary until well after noon.  I hope this caused no problems.

Lectionary

Morning – Ps. 51, Ex. 20:1-21, Heb 8
Evening – Ps. 73, Is. 44:24-45:4, 1 Pet. 5:1-7

Commentary

Chapter 8 begins to state the sum, or, conclusion, of what has been said in previous chapters, especially chapter 7.  The sum is that the Old Testament office of priesthood ended when Christ, the Priest of the order of Melchisidec, appeared.  Equally important, the Old Covenant ended when the New Covenant began (8:13).  In future studies we will consider the nature of the relationship between the Old and New Covenants (Testaments).  For now lets us simply say that the Old Testament parts that have ended are those which foreshadowed the ministry of Christ.  They have ended, but they are not dead.  They continue in their fulfillment in Christ Jesus and in the New Israel, which is the New Testament Church.  Thus, for example, we no longer call people clean or unclean because of the food they eat, for those in Christ are clean by virtue of His atoning death, and those outside of Christ are unclean in their souls, regardless of what they eat.  Our spiritual cleanness in Christ fulfills the symbolic cleanness of foods in the Old Testament.  So the Old Covenant is waxed old and vanishes away not because it is useless, but because it is fulfilled in Christ. Both are important to us because both chronicle the history of Redemption (see the blog entry for Easter Sunday, "The Story of Redemption" for more information).

Christ fulfilled the Old Testament priesthood and now resides at the right hand of the Heavenly Majesty (8:1).  The Heavenly Majesty is God, and the meaning is that Christ has returned to the place of honour in the Divine glory of the Trinity.  His true work was and is accomplished in the Heavenly Sanctuary, of which the Temple was a symbol, or shadow (8:2-5).

Christ, the substance of which the Old Testament was the shadow, has a more excellent ministry than the Old Testament priests because He is the mediator of a better covenant (8:6).  The Covenant is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant.  Verse 8 refers to Jeremiah 31:31, but the New Covenant is promised in other verses also.  The New Covenant people will have the law of God in their hearts (8:10) and they will all know God (8:11).  Verses 6-13 tell us much about the New Covenant, all building upon the truth stated in 7:25, that Christ’s Covenant and dying gift to His people is their complete salvation and restoration to God.

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