“In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrews 8:13, ESV)
In business, I have often found that some people just do not listen. You may tell them how to do something based on years of experience and they will ignore the advice and just go and do it their way. The results can be disastrous. This happened in the Space shuttle Challenger disaster when the engineers from Morton-Thiokol warned that the O-rings on the solid rocket boosters would likely not handle the sub-freezing temperatures at the time of the scheduled launch. This would be a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, NASA pressured the Thiokol management into overriding their engineers’ recommendation to postpone the launch. The result was that the O-ring on one of the boosters failed and this resulted in a massive explosion. Ignoring expert advice can lead to unwanted results.
The author of Hebrews is citing Jeremiah’s prophecy regarding the New Covenant. Jeremiah gave this prophesy some six-centuries earlier. The author of Hebrews is using Jeremiah’s prophecy as an appeal to the letter’s recipients to recognize that a better covenant has come. Moreover, they should have anticipated this, since the prophets spoke of such a time to come. It would be a time when the New Covenant would replace the Old Covenant (Heb 8:13).
Based upon the writings of the Old Testament, the Jewish people should have been able to identify the time of the arrival of this New Covenant, for the prophets pointed to it. Here the author quoted Jeremiah. Yet, when we look through the Scripture, Jeremiah was not alone. There were many Messianic prophesies that pointed to Jesus. Another that specifically sticks out, covering this new covenant, is that of Ezekiel given in around the sixth century B.C. (Ezekiel 36:22, ff.) His wording of the prophecy parallels that of Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34).
The unfortunate reality is that when Christ came on the scene, the Jewish religious leaders, those that represented the nation, rejected Jesus as their Messiah. They rejected the one who came to establish the New Covenant foretold by the prophets. Yet, their rejection could not negate the purposes and plans of God. In fact, the rejection of their Messiah perfectly fulfilled the sovereign purposes of God. Their rejection led to the crucifixion of Jesus and the establishment of the New Covenant.
It was in the crucifixion, that the perfect sacrifice was made for sin once and for all. This New Covenant was established through Jesus’ shed blood. We, who believe have the blessing to enter this New Covenant. When Jesus established the ordinance of the communion meal, He indicated that the cup of wine represented the New Covenant in His blood.
The author gave this exhortation to his Jewish audience so that they would not reject the prophetic word of their experts, the prophets. They needed to leave the Old Covenant, because the New Covenant had made it obsolete. The New Covenant was better and they needed to be partakers by faith in Jesus.
This is the same exhortation that we have today. Today there are many that have heard the message of the gospel many times over, but have not responded. However, they have determined in their own minds contrary ideas rather than listening to the expert truth of the Scriptures. This is a recipe for disaster as they risk falling away from the truth to their own peril.