Author: Ron Graham
In this lesson we consider the question: Why is the New Covenant Better? (Hebrews 8:6-8).
The new covenant is "a better covenant, based on better promises" (Hebrews 8:6-8). The main promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc, fall into two categories...
Paul says, "Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He doesn’t say, “To seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “To your seed,” which is Christ. Now I say this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years after, does not annul a covenant confirmed beforehand by God in Christ, so as to make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no more of promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by promise." (Galatians 3:16-18).
The seed promise —the blessing of eternal life through Jesus Christ— was not delivered by the old covenant. The new covenant is far superior as a unique ministry of eternal life in a heavenly kingdom forseen in the blessing of Abraham, and believed in by him (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Hebrews 12:24 speaks of "Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better things than that of Abel."
You will recall that Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, because Abel made his offering by faith (Hebrews 11:4). Consequently, the blood of Abel was shed in anger by his brother. Abel therefore symbolises Christ, whose wicked brethren in anger caused the shedding of his blood.
But neither the blood of righteous Abel, nor the blood in the animals he sacrificed to God, could atone for sin. Only Christ's blood could do that. Christ's blood is unique, so it "speaks better things than that of Abel".
When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, he "took the cup saying, 'This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins'" (Matt 26:28, Luke 22:20). No other blood can take away the sins of the world (Hebrews 9:12,15,1:8, Hebrews 10:1-4).
Christ was superior to Moses, the mediator of the old covenant. Christ was the unique Son of the living God (John 1:1,14,17).
Jesus was unique because, among other things, "he committed no sin" (1Peter 2:21-25) and so could be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.
That made him a better mediator and his covenant a better covenant.