Somewhere in the neighborhood of six hundred years before Jesus was born, the Lord God declared through the prophet Jeremiah that He would “make a new covenant,” a covenant that would be different from the one which He made with His people at Sinai after He brought them out of Egypt (Jeremiah 31:31,32). So, if the Israelites were paying attention to what Jeremiah communicated to them from God, then they understood that at some point there would be a new covenant.
When the Christ established the communion on the night before He went to the cross, He said this to His apostles about the cup they were to drink: “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). The “new covenant” is Jesus’ covenant.
In the book of Hebrews, we read that Jesus is “the Mediator of the new covenant” (Hebrews 9:15). It is called “the second” covenant in contrast to the one that Jehovah made with Israel at Horeb. The Christ took away the first covenant/law in order to establish the second one (Hebrews 10:9).
It is a fact that the new covenant is better than the old one. That is not hearsay, nor is it speculation – it is a fact, a fact that is recorded in the Bible. In Hebrews 8:6, it is written that Jesus is the Mediator “of a better covenant.” Again, we read, “By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22). When the Lord tells us that something is better, then we need to accept His word about it since His appraisals always are accurate.
To declare that Jesus’ covenant is better does not imply that the old covenant/law was bad. In fact, the old law was the opposite of bad – it was good. God was its Source, and all that comes from Him is very good (Genesis 1:31). When speaking about the law of Moses, Paul wrote, “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12). The old covenant that the Lord made with Israel (Deuteronomy 5:1-3) served to give the Israelites knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20), showed them how to do what was right and good in His sight (Deuteronomy 6:18), and when properly understood and applied, was a tutor to bring them to the Christ (Galatians 3:24).
That does not mean, though, that the old covenant was not without limitations. Consider these facts about the old law/covenant. It had “weakness and unprofitableness” (Hebrews 7:18), “the law made nothing perfect” (Hebrews 7:19), it was not faultless (Hebrews 8:7), and one could not be justified by it (Acts 13:38,39). Furthermore, the old covenant is described as “the ministry of death” (2 Corinthians 3:7). It pointed out sin and its penalty, but the annual Day of Atonement was a reminder that under the first covenant, without the blood of the Lamb of God the Israelites did not have a sense of complete removal of their sins (Hebrews 10:1-4).
In what ways is the new covenant better?
It has better promises (Hebrews 8:6).
It has a better mediator (Hebrews 8:6).
Under it, we have a superior high priest (Hebrews 4:14,15; 7:26-28).
It has “a better hope, through which we draw near to God” (Hebrews 7:19).
Its permanency – it will be in effect until the end of the world/age (Matthew 28:18-20).
Under it, God does not remember our sins and lawless deeds (Hebrews 8:12).
Under it, we have eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9).
Unlike the ministry of death (the old covenant), it is the ministry of the Spirit/righteousness/life/more glory (2 Corinthians 3:6-11)
Since the new covenant is better, then why would anyone think it would be a good thing to go back and attempt to live under the old covenant?! That would not make any sense. Why turn from the superior to the inferior, or why try to weaken the better one by mixing it with the old, abolished one? Again, that would be a non-sensual approach.
Jesus has all authority in spiritual matters (Matthew 28:18). It is God’s will that all men everywhere submit to the authority of Jesus, confess Him as Lord, and serve Him faithfully. May we put forth our most diligent effort to teach others about Jesus’ new covenant and His eternal salvation.
— Roger D. Campbell