Author: Ron Graham
Why is the New Covenant Better?
—Better promises, better blood, better Mediator
In this lesson we consider the question: Why is the New Covenant Better? (Hebrews 8:6-8).
1 It was Based on Better Promises
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...
- The old covenant was enacted with a view to the land promise, that the Israelites would make conquest of the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:7,1:8, Genesis 13:15,1:8, Genesis 15:18 etc).
- The new covenant was enacted with a view to the seed promise, that the whole world would be blessed in a descendant or seed of Abraham (Genesis 22:18).
Paul comments on the promises to Abraham in the following passage...
¶“ 15Brethren, I say that even in human affairs nobody annuls or adds to a man-made covenant [a person’s last will and testament] once it has been ratified. 16Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his seed. It does not say, 'And to seeds' as though it meant the many. It refers to one alone, 'And to your seed,' meaning Christ. 17I say this: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God. The law does not void the promise [to Abraham]. 18For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise! But God gave it to Abraham by a promise” (Galatians 3:15-18)
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).
2 It was Ratified by Better Blood
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).
3 It Came through a Better Mediator
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.