TODAY’S READING: HEBREWS 5-8
“But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” (Hebrews 8.6)
A covenant is an agreement between two parties. The Greek word for covenant is diatheke. It properly means a disposition of property by a will.
Sometimes diatheke is translated will, as in the legal document that gets executed at someone’s death. So, Hebrews 9.16-17 says, “For where a will [diatheke] is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will [diatheke] takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.”
A covenant or a will involves an inheritance or a promise from the one who establishes the covenant to the inheritor. Both Moses and Jesus enacted covenants. And, both covenants had promises.
But, what made the promise of Jesus’ covenant better than the promise of Moses’ covenant?
Do you know what the promise of Moses’ covenant was?
“God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel:…I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3.15, 17)
The promise of Moses’ covenant was land – Canaan. This is why it is called the Promised Land. The land was said to be Israel’s inheritance for inheritance is what you receive from a covenant or a will. God could give the land to Israel because “the earth is the Lord’s,” according to Psalm 24.1 and many other scriptures.
Do you know what the promise of Jesus’ covenant is?
Jesus did not die to enact his covenant so that God’s people could inherit a plot of land.
The promise of Jesus’ covenant is eternal life, God’s life.
“In him was life.” (John 1.4)
Eternal life was the “property” of Jesus that he dispose through his covenant, his will, at his death.
While inheritance in the Old Testament is almost always associated with land, inheritance in the New Testament is almost always associated with life.
Jesus is asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10.17)
Jesus says that those who have forsaken everything “will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19.29)
Paul writes about who will “inherit the kingdom of God.” But, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17.20-21)
Paul says he is a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.” Titus 1.2) Also, Paul says he is “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1.1)
Upon his death, Jesus’ covenant promises an inheritance of eternal life. Eternal life is a much better promise than land.
Quoting from Jeremiah 31, the author of Hebrews says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8.10-12)
“For they shall all know me.” This is the promise of the covenant. But, to know God is eternal life, which is the promise of the covenant. In John 17.3, Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”