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A Better Covenant

Hebrews 7:18-22
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: 'The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest for ever."' Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. (NIVUK)

A covenant is a promise. In the Old Testament [Old Covenant] God promised to bless His people if they obeyed His Law, and to curse them if they disobeyed (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). When they unintentionally broke the Law they could offer a sacrifice so that their sin would be overlooked, but there was no sacrifice for intentionally defiant sin (Numbers 15:30). Certainly, the Law set the gold standard. God was very clear about what is right and wrong. But the Law demanded 100% obedience all the time: and it had no power to change people's hearts. So, although the Law clearly defined God's standard, nobody could meet it; or could be confident that they were acceptable to God.

The Law provided no safe place for sinners, no hope for the wayward, no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22). It left people in fear of God's judgement; some abandoned all hope of God's favour and went their own way. Of course, the Lord was gracious to those who repented and pleaded for His mercy, and in that way there were glimpses of the New Covenant promise which was to be fulfilled in Christ. But most saw their relationship with God in terms of trying their best to keep God's rules.

The Law was necessary to show that it is impossible to please God by 'keeping rules'. It also showed how God's anger against sin was appeased by sacrifices made by an authorised priest. Jesus was that priest – authorised by Father God who swore an oath to guarantee His promise (Psalm 110:4). He was also the sacrifice for all sins for all time (Hebrews 10:12). We need no other priest to intercede for us. He also works in us, helping us to become like Him (Philippians 2:13).

Everybody is naturally religious – seeking a system whereby they can find acceptance by something or someone they believe is greater than them. Many live to please their employers, families, ancestors, community ethos or tribal gods; but God's salvation does not come that way. Many try hard to please God, doing many good deeds, but there is no salvation in that either. Salvation only comes through trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12), whose blood fully atones for our sin, whose intercession before Father God is always heard – because God has promised, putting Himself under oath, that all who trust in Jesus shall never be ashamed (Romans 10:11). This is the heart of the gospel: it is full of grace and loaded with love – the message which brings peace and hope and joy as we trust God's promise and submit to Him. Your friends and colleagues need to know that promise is available to them. Pray for the opportunity to tell them.

Righteous Father. Thank You for Your promise of everlasting life and peace with You when people put their trust in Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Forgive me for trying to impress You rather than being overwhelmed by Your love for me in the costly sacrifice of Jesus. Please help me to communicate this amazing message to those I know, for their blessing and Your glory. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams