(My apologies for not putting this post out yesterday. Somehow I forgot to post it)
“For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.” (Hebrews 9:17, ESV)
Sometimes preachers look for an illustration to explain things. Here, the author of Hebrews does this with an excellent thought. He is writing about the initiation of the New Covenant and uses the idea when a will takes effect. My wife and I prepared a will years ago designating where the portions of our estate would go if we both died. While we prepared the will, it would only go into effect upon our death.
The author here uses this illustration to explain the relationship of the New Covenant, the inheritance, and the heirs. Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant. We who have placed our faith in Christ are the heirs to the inheritance, which is our salvation. Yet, even though the New Covenant was established in God’s eternal sovereign plan, like a will, it did not go into effect until the death of Christ.
The author goes on to explain that every covenant, is inaugurated with blood. He likens initiation of a will to the initiation of the covenant, in that to inaugurate with blood, requires the death of the one shedding the blood.
In this, he indicates that even the first covenant was initiated with blood. In it, Moses, after declaring every commandment to the people, used the blood of sacrificed calves and goats mixed with water, and sprinkled it on the book of the Law and the people, indicating that it was the blood of the covenant (v21, Exod 24:8). Jesus on the evening He was betrayed indicated as He took the cup, “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28, ESV) Thus, Jesus’ death with the shedding of His blood initiated the New Covenant.
As we have seen and understand, the New Covenant replaced the old and is better than the Old Covenant since it provides cleansing from sin and eternal life to those who believe. The sacrifices under the Old Covenant were of animals that could never permanently deal with the problem of sin and needed repeating. Under the New Covenant, Jesus offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin once and for all. This initiated the New Covenant and ended the Old Covenant and its system of sacrifices.
We who believe, are heirs to the New Covenant promise of eternal life. Jesus by His death on the cross initiated this covenant. His resurrection proves the sacrifice was sufficient. His ascension to be seated at the right hand of Majesty shows us that He is our great high priest and mediator of the New Covenant. We have access to God in Christ and the full assurance of our place in Heaven.