Lesson 19: "Know the Lord!" Hebrews 8:11
The Book of Hebrews. Welcome to lesson #19. Maybe I am repeating too much; but, it seems there is so much I would like to put in these lessons that I can't seem to work in. For example in our last lesson we read v.1-5 of ch. 8 and in verse four (there) the writer said that "on earth... there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the...shadow of heavenly things." This statement is usually used to show that this book was written before AD 70; because, the writer is saying, if I understand correctly, that there were priests in Jerusalem at that moment or on that day offering sacrifices there at the temple. Thus, verifying that the temple was still standing when this was written. It is a widely known fact that the temple was destroyed by the Romans in the fall of AD 70 and that the oblation (as it is called back in Daniel 9:27) ceased to be offered at that time. And, it did cease (in the fall of AD 70). It has never been re-established to this day. This in turn, you see, verifies that this book was written before the date of AD 70 as we have assumed in this study. It gives us a terminal date, so-to-speak. Of course, the Mosaic period officially ended when Jesus died on the cross...when he made that one time offering of himself for the sins of the whole world (...about AD 33 as stated here in 7:27). Thus, the Mosaic period had officially ended many years before this book was written. Thus, Christianity was alive and well... although this writer was painfully aware that some were not very faithful and (as we have said) things haven't changed much today in that respect. BUT, the Christian age had been in force for perhaps well over 30 years at the time of this writing. The law of Moses was "imposed on them until the time of reformation." That's Heb. 9:10; we have already looked at that verse when we did a little jump-ahead in our last lesson, you will remember. And, don't forget how Gal. 3:19 blends into this thought also. Thus, although the temple worship (i.e. according to the Mosaic code) had officially ended at the time of Jesus on the cross; however, you must remember, it was still unofficially being continued by the Jewish priests under a so-called high priest. This period of overlapping (if may call it that) continued for 37 years...i.e. AD 70 minus AD 33 gives you 37 years. It was during the very later part of that 37 year period that his book was written. . .thus, the actual date of writing was in the latter half of the AD 60's, I believe. If you will take the time to read slowly and watchful Heb. ch. 9 thru the middle of ch. 10 (or the rest of this shadow type discussion that began back in ch. 7), watching for clues relating to this time element factor (we have mentioned), then you'll begin to get a stronger feel for this "time of reformation" factor mention (in 9:10). And, I emphasize again, you can better develop this perception on your own, by repeated reading, than any way I can impart it to you in this course.
Now, please put a little effort into this. Because, a good understanding of this aspect will help you immensely in sorting through all that smoke and confusion generated by our religious world today...I'm talking about all that denominational (cafeteria-style religion) that pervades our world...just down the street from where you live. Now, don't just relegate this to the theoretical department of your brain. We're talking about real stuff, walking the streets of your town...right now. This is the angle you need to get. And, any thing else is just extra baggage. Don't clutter up your mind with a lot of facts just for the sake of knowledge. That's the purpose of an encyclopedia. Don't try to be a walking encyclopedia! Encyclopedias are cheap...just ink on paper. Your library (near by) has tons of them, just waiting to be used. Your brain cells are far more valuable for keeping up with the real stuff. Jesus is coming again! Anything that misses that point, just perishes with the using, (as Paul said back in Col. 2:22). It's the practical side in which you want to invest your time and energy. Just the facts ma’am! So, hang-in-here (now) with real truth-seeking tenacity. What am I saying? Be sure you sort this correctly. Get the writer's point of view!
O.K., our last lesson ended in v.6 of ch. 8; so, let's get this lesson launched out into the mainstream of the writer's thought (here). I made the point near the end of our last lesson that the writer (here in v.6-13, i.e. the rest of ch.8) sort of digresses from his shadow-type discussion (as we have called it) to show that what is being said in his shadow-type discussion is not inconsistent with prophecy...i.e. O.T. prophecy. As a matter of fact, it fulfills prophecy to the letter, we said. In this way he puts real teeth into the significance of this by weaving in this reformation idea (9:10) and at the same time our writer introduces the MINISTRY of Jesus (8:6)... again showing that Jesus' ministry (or priesthood) is far superior to Moses and the former system. Jesus is the MEDIATOR [IS...right now, when this was written...THE MEDIATOR] of a better COVENANT ...established upon better PROMISES..."was established" (E-D, past tense, v.6...get it in your nogan...take a close look). When you get this in the right pigeon hole of your brain...your brain is going to toss to the wind all that religious chaff that darkens the sky around you called pre-millennialism. The word MEDIATOR, the word COVENANT, the word PROMISES and the word MINISTRY in this verse are introduced (here 8:6) for the first time in this book. (That's the answer to the last question on test number eighteen...just in case you are wondering). Now, the writer in these terms states a fore-gone conclusion: i.e. that Judaism was in fact terminated, ceased, supplanted, replaced, brought to a logical conclusion, when Jesus BECAME our High Priest, our Lord and Savior and the law was changed (7:12). Now why am I banging on this? Well, perhaps at least half of our big religious world out there does not believe that. And, you can't have it both ways as our denominational friends and neighbors like to soft pedal it and they do soft pedal it... just turn on the tube... I would venture to say you can find it on some channel right now. So, we're not talking about deep dark theoretical passive stuff, as I have tried to say. I asked you to read the last half of John ch. 5 during the break between lessons; before starting this lesson. Now, please stir that in right here. You see, we're using a broad paint brush...this covers a lot of thought.
O.K., let's read! Are you ready? We'll begin in v.6 (8:6) and we'll read down through v.13... the end of the chapter. We'll begin in v.6; but, please note beginning about the middle of v.8, this is a verbatim quote from Jere. ch. 31...so this was prophesied in the O.T. you see. That's the connection the writer wants you to get. Please put your eyes on v.6, here we go:
"But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For 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: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the days 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. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."
O.K., now, you may want to read that another time or two...I suggest you go back to Jere. 31:31 and read it there...in the form of prophecy. Think what is being said in these verses. It was foretold something like seven hundred years before the fact that this covenant change would take place. Not only is it said this change will take place...this new covenant (what we call the Christian dispensation) is described with intricate detail. It just happened to happen! Come on! Don't be naive! Something near sixty percent of the N.T. is a direct quote from the O.T., did you know that? It is interwoven with time, history and description to the point it will stand alone. Every angle is reinforced, prophesied and fulfilled to such a scope and dimension that it proves itself. When, those you talk to, try to tell you the Bible is just of old rubbish heap that some man (or men) wrote down and palmed off on man as coming from God...just make a mental note...they haven't read the book. OH! they may have read a few passages; but, they haven't digested the book giving due attention to time and circumstances. When they do, they won't be an atheist any longer. It's just that simple. Faith cometh by hearing (Rom. 10:17). Those who don't develop faith are simply not listening.
Now, for the moments we have left...let's try to analyze. The "first covenant" (v.7) is a reference to the Mosaic code or what we call the 10 commandments (Ex. ch. 20). Moses was told of this change (Deut. 18:18 also Acts 3:22). The O.T. is interlaced with messianic prophecy from start to finish. In Jere. 31:31, it was prophesied that the Lord would make a new covenant. Now, that's the Christian age, we are talking about. The HEBREWS writer here (down in v.13) comments at the end of his quote: "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old." In other words, in Jeremiah's prophecy it was pointed out THAT COVENANT given on Mt. Sinai that we call the 10 commandment law would be replaced by a new law or a new code of commandments in the future...i.e. future to Jeremiah. Yes; but, how do you know this is talking about the 10 commandments? Well, take a look at the description (here in v.9). When did God take the Israelites by the hand to lead them out of Egypt? Exodus ch. 3 tells us about Moses as a shepherd there in Sinai...kicking those rock and herding sheep for his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. Moses had fled Egypt some 40 years before when he killed the Egyptian (Ex. 2:12). "The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush..." (Ex. 3:2). If you don't know that story, you need to know it. What happened? God used Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt just like it says (here in v.9), very much like a parent would lead a little child by the hand. God instructed Moses every step of the way. God sent ten plagues upon Pharaoh and ultimately Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt into the desert of Sinai where three months later they were give the 10 commandment law from Mt. Sinai (or Mt. Horeb, which ever you prefer to call it, same place, Ex. ch. 20).
Then, here in v.10, our writer describes the law, the law of Christ, i.e. in the Christian dispensation, that would ultimately replace the 10 commandment law. Now, get a load of this! "This is the covenant that I will make.. .after those days... I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts." Then in v.11, "all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." You see, those who are Christians today, citizens of God's kingdom known as the church, "Know the Lord" (v.11). You can't become a Christian without hearing about Jesus and without believing in Jesus. It's the first requirement. You can't be a citizen of God's kingdom, the church, without being baptized into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ...it's the definition of obeying the gospel (I Cor. ch. 15, the first few verses). And the Lord adds those who do this to HIS church (Acts 2:47). The Lord does the adding. You can't fool the Lord. The foundation of God has this seal: "the Lord knoweth them that are his" (II-Tim. 2:19). To the Thessalonians, Paul said concerning Christ's second coming: "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that [them that, what? them that...] know not God, AND THAT OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.." (II-Thess. 1:7). So, it's impossible to be in the Lord's church and not know the Lord. It requires believing in Jesus... it requires repentance...i.e. aligning your actions with your faith in Jesus. It's a mental process. It has to do with the mind (v.10). Get your mind right, it'll guide the rest of you.
Now in the Jewish age (i.e. the Mosaic period), boy babies were circumcised the 8th day. Girl babies were also presented and dedicated in some way. But, they didn't know the Lord, they didn't have to know the Lord to be a citizen of the Jewish nation.. .i.e. in the sense of faith as faith is required in the Christian dispensation. Our writer is spelling out the difference. That's the reason you can't baptize infants. Infants don't have faith in Jesus. They are not capable of such faith...in knowing the Lord. Christ is our High Priest...it's different. There is a new covenant...a different set of laws. It's a mental process. Infants and idiots are safe, they don't sin (by John's definition, I-John 3:4), until they become accountable...i.e. until they have the capacity and capability of knowing the Lord. "The priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law" (Heb. 7:12). In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said: "it hath been said of them of old time" and then Jesus quoted one of the ten commandments to make clear what he was saying, and then Jesus said: "but, I say unto you" and then Jesus gave his law that was to replace the commandment being discussed. Starting in about v.21 of Matt. ch. 6, the whole chapter is devoted to this. Several changes are discussed. Matthew put it right up front. But, in our day some are still teaching the 10 commandments and saying "now son, if you'll keep the commandments, you'll go to heaven." I'll almost bet you, I can find that being taught within one mile of your house. Our writer said: Christ "hath made the first covenant old" (Heb. 8:13). It was still being taught by the Jewish priests at the time of this writing...now it shouldn't have been; but, it was. The Jewish system was decaying. It was waxing old. It was ready to vanish away (v.13). And, in the fall of AD 70, the temple and the capital city was destroyed for ever. Now, there's going to be a new Jerusalem called heaven. Jesus had John to write to the church at Philadelphia: "the name of the city...is new Jerusalem" (Rev. 3:12). When you have faith in Christ and you are baptized for the remission of sins...your sins and your iniquities are remembered no more (8:12). Have you done that? That's another difference in the old system and the new system. We'll get back to this in a future lesson; but, right now the old clock is saying "time's up!" So, keep plowing and have a good day.