whether the Spirit had revealed it to him or not, is preparing the Jewish
Christians for the fact that the Temple is about to be destroyed. The worship
ceremonies with which they were so familiar would be gone. They themselves
would be scattered over the earth. So that they might understand that they did
not need the Temple any longer, Paul makes the argument we see today.
us the Temple is an ancient landmark, no longer of great significance. But the
kind of transition the Jewish Christians were about to make is still with us.
Let us see if we can glean from this argument a few points which we can still
1The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a
high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in
heaven, 2and who serves in the sanctuary, the true
tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.
3Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and
sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.
4If he were on earth, he would not be a
priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in
heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle:
“See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the
mountain.”£ 6But the ministry Jesus has received is as
superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the
old one, and it is founded on better promises.
7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first
covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said£:
“The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful
to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of
after that time, declares the
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11 No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying,
‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”£
13By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the
first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear
of us at one time or another undergo major transitions in our lives. For
example, my mother is contemplating moving into an assisted living apartment
complex. That’s a major transition after having lived the last forty years in
her own house. Getting that house was a transition too, because for twenty
years before that she traveled from place to place with my dad, a career
soldier. So how do we go about making such a transition?
Some things you want to keep
my mother moves into such an apartment, it’s likely that she will bring with
her many of the items from her house. Some of this will be simply
utilitarian: you need a coffee pot. But other items will serve a different
will bring with her good things with good memories. Pictures, souvenirs,
even trivial items that remind her of good times. She will bring things
that she hopes will help her in this new life.
will also bring a lifetime of lessons learned. Just because you’re now in
assisted living doesn’t mean you forgot how to make coffee. She may throw
away the skillet for the fried chicken, but she still knows what to do in
of all she will keep with her the principles that have worked before.
This transition does not change the good things about her; there is no
need to change everything. She will keep the things that she considers
Some things you want to make better
great transition in life is getting married. I’m told that some people still
get married in the old fashioned way: you remember, where sex is God’s wedding
gift? Instead of “we’ve been sleeping together for seven years, we finally
decided to make it legal?” You make that transition because you believe that
being married to that woman is better than being single.
you make such a transition when all you want are superior results. You
buy the new car to get better gas mileage or a faster run on the freeway.
No great difference, just better in kind.
often, though, major transitions are made to bring you closer to some
goal. You change jobs to move up in the world, for example.
you make such a major transition to solve a problem. My mother lives
alone; she is frail; we are far away. So she might move to an apartment
complex (people around); where help is quickly available and we are much
The transition is costly
important things in life usually have clear transitions. One reason for this
is that such a transition points out the faults of the old way of doing
things. Such a transition is called a “boundary layer” in physics. There is a
curious phenomenon which is common to physics and to life: the price is paid
at the boundary layer. The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant
was at the price of the Cross. You leave things behind when you move out; you
forsake all others when you get married. The price is paid at the edge.
The Great Transition
may now apply this analysis to the great transition of the Bible: the change
from the Old Testament (or covenant) to the New Testament.
Some things remain the same
is eternal and unchanging; therefore, that which is a reflection of his
character cannot change. Only the things resulting from his plan may change.
What are some of these unchanging things?
and wrong – that’s one good example. Adultery did not transmute into a
“romantic affair” because of this. It was wrong in the Old Testament, and
Christ confirms that it’s still wrong.
very nature of God himself has not changed – and therefore the reflections
of his character in the Old Testament have lost none of their validity.
The Lord is still my shepherd; therefore I take comfort in the Psalms.
This is true of many sections of the Old Testament.
great lessons of the Old Testament have lost none of their validity.
Indeed, Jesus frequently quotes them. That shows us that these examples
are still before us.
is much prophecy in the Old Testament which relates to the second coming
of Christ, and is therefore unfulfilled. It is just as valid as it ever
Some things are better
tabernacle – the Old Testament predecessor of the Temple – was but a copy
of the vision of the real thing Moses had seen in heaven. The Temple
itself is now replaced by the real thing in heaven.
have a better covenant. In the old one, the law ruled over us, and every
sin needed its atonement. In the new one, the blood of Christ covers
all. Grace and mercy replace law and order.
have a greater promise in prophecy – since the first coming has been
fulfilled, we now can be more sure of the rest. Indeed, our Lord adds
such prophecy that gives us a glimpse of wonderful things to come.
The transition is costly
In the extreme:
cost Jesus the painful, humiliating death on the Cross. Is there a greater
price that a human being could pay than such a death? Is there a greater
price to God than the transition to being human?
too must pay the price. If we are to be his disciples, we are to deny
ourselves and take up the Cross.
The Transition to Maturity in Christ
what Paul is doing here. He is trying to get these Jewish Christians to move
on to maturity in Christ. It would seem that we can apply the principles of
transition in this instance too.
Keep the good things
a beginner, you learned many good things which are still very useful:
learned ethics and morality. These still have their place in your life.
should have learned the defense of the faith – still useful.
should have learned the art of repentance – always needed.
should know the joy of the Lord – ever desired.
Keep the memories of your early days in Christ,
remembering the joy. Keep the lessons of your early days, they never grow
obsolete. Keep the principles you learned, they will serve you well.
Embrace the new things
do you do that?
the Word into your mind. Study the Scriptures! You will find that each
time you do, the Spirit will bring to your attention those things which
are profitable for you – now. But you must do the studying for this to
the Word into your heart. Train your emotions and feelings to God’s
will. Don’t be callous and jaded; rather weep. Don’t be flighty;
rather, feel the surge of the Spirit in your heart.
the church in your life. It is Christ’s body on earth, and you need to be
in close communion with him. The more you work in his body, the closer to
him you will become.
of us grow because we see the goal – being mature in Christ. Some of us grow
because we have a problem to solve. The important thing is to grow in Christ.
Pay the price
maturity has its boundary layer. Remember the rich young ruler? Remember the
tax collector and the Pharisee at the Temple?
the price in your pride. Accept God’s forgiveness for what you have done
without grumbling. Do not justify your sins to him; rather, thank him
for his mercy to you.
up the Cross – and follow him. Put Jesus first in all things, whatever
the price. You will then be on the right road, the narrow way.
payment is at the boundary. He paid at the boundary between the old and new
covenants – at the Cross. Follow his example, consider this the boundary
between young and mature Christian – pay the price, take up the Cross, and