“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.” (Hebrews 8:6, KJV 1900)
As a degreed Mechanical Engineer, I worked in machine design. I once worked as a Plant Engineer in a printing plant. They had a printing-press that could not produce the quality of printing necessary for the market. The problem was primarily due to the press design. My job was to identify the problems with the machine, redesign and retrofit it to do what the company needed. I was to make the machine better. It took over a year to get the work complete. In the end, we had basically created a new printing press. What we started with was not bad, but in the end what we had was better
I understand that this illustration falls short when looking at the Old and New Covenants. Yet, I hope it illustrates that while the old is not necessarily bad, something new can be better. Here, the author of Hebrews points out that the Old Covenant was good, but the New Covenant is better. In fact, the New Covenant is perfect. In the next several posts, we will look at why this New Covenant is better.
Before we get there, let us look at what was deficient in the Old Covenant. The Old covenant here refers to the Mosaic Covenant. Some call it the covenant of the law. In previous portions of Hebrews, we dealt with some of the deficiencies. One is that the priests were incapable of mediating eternally, since they all would die. Moreover, they were imperfect, as all still did sin. Secondly, we saw that the sacrifices were imperfect because they needed to be made repeatedly, never dealing permanently with sin.
Yet there is another significant fault with the Old covenant. It is not a fault with God or the covenant He made with Israel. The fault was Israel’s inability to keep the law (Hebrews 8:9). The blessings that God would shower upon Israel were connected to their obedience. Their disobedience had not nullified the covenant, but had thwarted the blessings of God upon them. Their problem was that they did not have the power within them to obey the external restrictions of the law. To ensure obedience, the Jewish religious leaders, the elders, created laws on top of the laws, extra restrictions, to ensure people would not disobey. However, this failed. Something else was needed.
Only a New Covenant that was completely different from the Old could get to the core issue. See, the core issue was in the corrupted heart of man. Man needed a transformation to his nature and the law was powerless to change it. The New Covenant would do something that the Old Covenant could never do. It would change the heart of a person from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
The good news is that all men can enter this New Covenant by faith. Those who do, experience a remarkable transformation. They will become new creations where their desires turn from sin and self to seek God and His righteousness. It is a transformation of the heart.
(In subsequent posts, we will investigate more aspects of this better New Covenant.)