UNFINISHED HOPE | Week 14 : Promise Fulfilled
Topic: New Testament Passage: Hebrews 8:1–8:13
December 31st 2017
We’ve spent the past 12 weeks working our way through the two Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah in a sermon series title UNFinished Hope. This is the 13th and final sermon of that series and it’s meant to point us to the FINISHED hope that Israel never got to experience in their efforts at re-establishing themselves after from exile.
Here’s a quick recap of the ground we’ve covered these last 12 weeks. Over the span of 100 years from 538 BC to 433 BC, waves of Israelites had returned from Babylonian captivity to their homeland and began to restore themselves. This return from exile is meant to be understood by us as a New Exodus of sorts. The first Exodus out of slavery in Egypt eventually led to captivity in Babylon. Certainly the fresh start of this new Exodus would have better results.
One key leader, Zerubbabel, led an effort to rebuild the altar and the temple. Another leader, Ezra, whom we’re to understand as a New Moses, was instrumental in calling the people back to covenant faithfulness to their God. And Nehemiah, who is cast in the light of a New Joshua helping Israel re-establish their territory, was successful in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. All of these things were accomplished in the face of great external and internal opposition and with God’s providential help moving on the hearts of pagan leaders.
Yet despite these monumental accomplishments and all their efforts at reformation and renewal, as we saw two weeks ago in the end of Nehemiah 13, the people of Israel really aren’t any better off. The maintenance of the temple had been neglected by God’s people, leaving its store rooms empty. The Torah had been neglected as God’s people began to intermarry with foreign peoples again. And the walls of Jerusalem weren’t being effectively used to honor the Sabbath day by keeping away outside merchants.
Though there are spurts of faithfulness in these two books, at the end we’re sort of left scratching our heads at the lack of resolution to this century of Israel’s history. And that’s the point of this historical narrative. As readers, we’re meant to feel the hopelessness and futility of their efforts. We’re meant to be left hungering for a new and better and more permanent reality than what they’ve experienced. The Mosaic covenant they’ve been living under wasn’t kept by the Israelites who left Eqypt nor has it been kept by the Israelites God brought out of Babylon.
That brings us to our text for today - Hebrews 8, which I invite you to begin to turn their in your Bibles. My hope for our time together today is that as 2017 comes to a close and 2018 kicks off, we’d let our reflections on what was and our resolutions for what’s to come to be framed by the solid reality of new covenant we are so fortunate to find ourselves under, and not the old covenant of Ezra and Nehemiah’s day.
TEXT Heb 8:1-13
 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,  a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.  For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.  Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.  They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”  But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
 For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,  not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.  For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
 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.
Today we’re going to look at the new covenant that God initiated for us through Christ and see how He has been faithful to provide a better covenant in three key ways: His new covenant has:
1. A Higher priest
2. A Fuller propitiation
3. A Greater power
I don’t want to assume that everyone knows what the word covenant means - it’s not something we use in our everyday speech. In plain terms, a covenant is a formal agreement between two or more parties. Biblically speaking, though, when we’re talking about the covenants God makes, it’s much more than that. In verses 6 and following, when we see the author of Hebrews use the wored covenant7 different times, he doesn’t use the common Greek word of the time - Suntheko - which referred to a mutual agreement where both parties come with a relatively equal footing from which to negotiate the terms.
Instead of using that common term, he uses a different word in a very uncommon fashion. He uses the word diath