The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Applying Hebrews 8: Yahweh Speaks


AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

This is a continuation of Applying Hebrews 7: Melchizedek Madness.

As we dive into Hebrews 8, we find our author (who we’ve nicknamed Rabbi) continuing on with this absurd idea of Jesus serving as the High Priest who surpasses and replaces all of the human priests who served under the Old Covenant. If Christ is a High Priest, where is His place of work? On earth, Yahweh’s human priests worked out of His tent Tabernacle, which was later replaced by a Temple.  So if Rabbi wants to turn Christ into the ultimate High Priest for Yahweh, he has to give Him some kind of priestly headquarters. It’s time to invent the notion of a heavenly Temple.

Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic Yahweh in Heaven. There He ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. (Heb. 8:1-2)

Notice how Rabbi is keeping a raccoon grip on that sacrificial system, even though Yahweh has abolished it. Instead of accepting that sacrifices and interceding priests are no longer needed, Rabbi just moves the whole operation to Heaven.

And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If Jesus were here on earth, He would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the Law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in Heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, Yahweh gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” [Ex. 25:40] (Heb. 8:3-5)

Here is more foolishness. Not only is Rabbi insisting that Christ must imitate human high priests, he is also trying to argue that when Yahweh first told Moses to build the Tabernacle way back in Exodus, He was having Moses duplicate something that existed in Heaven.  Since when is there a Tabernacle in Heaven just because Yahweh told men to build a Tabernacle for Him on earth? Where did that little rule come from? Yahweh never said He was trying to create an imitation of Heaven on earth.

The real issue here is that Rabbi doesn’t want to get his Old Covenant mind around the idea of a Covenant without priests or Tabernacles. It’s just too foreign and uncomfortable. So he is insisting that those elements remain even though Yahweh has thrown them out. This is not okay. Rabbi doesn’t get to tell God what He can and can’t do. If Yahweh wants to rip up His Old Covenant, He gets to. He’s God. Rabbi’s submission to God’s Authority needs some serious work.

But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for He is the One who mediates for us a far better Covenant with Yahweh, based on better promises. (Heb. 8:6)

Rabbi keeps saying that Christ is superior to the old priests, but then he insists that Christ has to function just like the old priests did, only He gets to work out of Heaven. No, this is ridiculous. Christ is God, He’s not just a heavenly priest.

If the first Covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second Covenant to replace it. (Heb. 8:7)

This is absolutely not true, and we need to be very careful about this kind of thinking. Yahweh is not a bumbling human being. This Creation isn’t some experiment that went wrong in the laboratory and now Yahweh is scrambling to fix it by tossing Christ into the mix. Throughout the Old Testament, we find Yahweh boasting of His knowledge of the past, present and future. Yahweh says that He controls the future, He decides what will happen when, and that nothing happens in this world that He doesn’t want to happen. So no, the Old Covenant wasn’t some whoops on Yahweh’s part. Our perfect Gods don’t make mistakes and They do not consider anything They make to be lacking.

The same foolish logic that Rabbi is using here abounds in the Church today. Because this world is a fallen mess, Christians say, “What a bummer it is that we sin. That wasn’t what God wanted. We messed this place up. It was never God’s plan that we disobey Him.” Hogwash. Yahweh knew from the start that we’d rebel against Him. He intentionally created humans with the capacity to rebel. All of the suffering and evil that’s running so rampant in this world is not evidence that God’s project took an unexpected dive. The only reason anything exists is because God wants it to, and that includes the concepts of sin, evil, pain, devils, perversion, and everything else that we don’t like. You can’t have a Creator of all things and then try to pretend that He had nothing to do with certain things that exist (see Why did God create sin?).

If you want to experience the kind of soul peace that our Gods want us to have, you can’t hide out from the many very upsetting implications of Their absolute sovereignty. If it exists, it was not only Their idea, it was Their preference. If it’s happening, it’s because They are choosing it. If it is continuing, it’s because They are sustaining it. This is reality. This is what the Holy Spirit teaches us.  The Old Covenant wasn’t a mistake, it wasn’t flawed, and it wasn’t lacking. It was just fine until Yahweh decided to change things up, and Yahweh didn’t make that decision because He disapproved of His own work. Yahweh never disapproves of anything that He does.

Rabbi will now try to back up his claim about the Old Covenant being flawed by quoting the Old Testament. For once, Rabbi is actually going to quote a relevant passage of Scripture (what a shocker). In the following passage, Yahweh is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, and He is indeed talking about a future New Covenant which He will be introducing. When Yahweh first said the words that Rabbi is about to quote, it was about 590 years before the birth of Christ. But pay close attention to the language, and you’ll notice that Yahweh never says His Old Covenant was flawed.

But when Yahweh found fault with the people, He said: “The day is coming, says Yahweh, when I will make a New Covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This Covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to My Covenant, so I turned My back on them, says Yahweh. But this is the New Covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day: I will put My laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know Yahweh.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know Me already. And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” [Jer. 31:31-34] (Heb. 8:8-12)

It’s always a thrill to hear Yahweh speak, and there’s a lot of really exciting stuff in this speech that He makes, so let’s break it down.

“The day is coming, says Yahweh, when I will make a New Covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This Covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt.”

We’re back in Jeremiah’s time now and it’s nearly 590 years before the birth of Christ. The Old Covenant is still in effect, and the Jews are a wicked bunch of idolaters. The prophet Jeremiah is being kept in captivity in Jerusalem, which is under attack by the Babylonians. Food and other incoming supplies have been cut off as Jerusalem stays locked up tight to keep out the massive enemy army that is camped all around her. Tensions are running high. In one year’s time, the people will be so starved that they’ll be eating their own children just to try to stay alive. Then Jerusalem’s gates will be broken down and the Babylonian army will invade. There will be mass slaughter, horrific violence, and the whole city along with Yahweh’s Temple will be burned and destroyed. Jeremiah knows what’s coming because he’s been prophesying warnings to the people for many years. But the Jews are so wicked and hardhearted that no one’s listening. Yahweh’s Temple in Jerusalem is stuffed to the gills with satanic idols and everyone’s worshiping every god except Yahweh.

It’s in the midst of all this terrible tension that Yahweh starts speaking about a future time when He’s going to change His Covenant with Israel. This is a shocking bit of news, and it’s not the first time Yahweh has brought this up. He talked about a New Covenant way back in Isaiah’s time as well, and Isaiah lived around 700 years before Christ. He’s also talking about a New Covenant through the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel, who is living as an exile over in Babylon and prophesying at the same time as Jeremiah. So what is this that Yahweh’s saying about a whole New Covenant? He says it will be something totally different than the original Covenant that He laid down through the prophet Moses.

“They did not remain faithful to My Covenant, so I turned My back on them, says Yahweh.”

Yahweh is referring to the Jews here.  No kidding they didn’t remain faithful. Jeremiah knows firsthand how rebellious and snarky his countrymen are and he knows what a long and sordid history Israel has had with Yahweh. But is Yahweh saying His first Covenant was flawed? No, He’s merely summarizing history. He laid down the Covenant, His people were faithless little creeps, so He forsook them. Contrary to what Christians try to claim today, God’s love is not unconditional. You won’t find the term “unconditional love” anywhere in the Bible. Yahweh has always taught that there are serious consequences for rebelling against Him. The Jews rebelled incessantly. Under the terms of the Old Covenant, Yahweh said that if His people defied Him, He would turn against them in wrath.

“But this is the New Covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day: I will put My laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.”

Now Yahweh starts to explain what’s going to make the New Covenant so different than the Old. He is going to directly communicate with people. Instead of mainly teaching people through priests and prophets, He’s going to directly illuminate their souls with spiritual understanding and instruction about what He wants. This is thrilling. Remember that the Old Covenant emphasized reverential distance. God was holy and unapproachable—hidden from view behind that veil in front of the Most Holy Place that only one man was allowed to enter at certain times of the year. But now Yahweh is saying that under the New Covenant, things will be drastically different. Instead of emphasizing distance, He’s going to emphasize intimacy by intimately communicating with each individual soul. Instead of just a privileged few having a direct pipeline to God, every soul is going to have a direct pipeline. Wow! This is a shocking, radical, too-incredible-to-get-your-mind-around concept for Old Covenant Jews.

“And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know Yahweh.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know Me already.”

Under the New Covenant, there won’t be any need for believers to try and reach out and share truth with others because every soul will have direct access to God and God is going to be reaching out to every soul Himself. “From the least to the greatest” Yahweh says, meaning that no one will be left out. Do you think you’re a nobody today? Are you alone and friendless? Do you feel like nobody cares that you’re alive? God says that He is reaching out directly to you under this New Covenant. He is illuminating your soul with understanding, He is giving you a direct pipeline to Him. You get to talk to God yourself. You have every bit as much of a connection to Him as your pastor, or the famous healers, prophets and evangelists. This New Covenant is about Yahweh abolishing all middlemen and coming directly to you Himself. This is awesome.

“And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

This New Covenant brings with it an incredible concept of forgiveness for all sins: past, present, and future. Yahweh hints at it here. Under the Old Covenant, it was “If you don’t stay faithful, I will cast you out.” But under the New Covenant, Yahweh says “Once I accept you, I will never cast you out no matter what.” Yahweh doesn’t fully expound on this idea here in Jeremiah, but He is hinting about a permanent bond as He talks about this concept of “never again” remembering our sins.

So now that we’ve unpacked this awesome newsflash from Yahweh, let’s think about application. In the Church today, are we teaching Christians that they all have a direct connection to God and that they don’t need human teachers to tell them truth? This is what Yahweh says. But we say something totally different, don’t we? We teach souls to be totally insecure about trying to go to God themselves. We beat souls down and teach many of them to believe that they are unnoticed, unwanted, and unloved by God. We teach them that the pastors and prophets are the ones with the “extra” portions of the Holy Spirit. We teach them that if they try to seek God directly as He invites them to do, they’ll be sure to go astray because, after all, they’re not anointed. They’re not called. They’re not chosen. They’re just part of the rabble in the Church and they need us brilliant teachers to instruct them on what God wants.

All of this is an outrageous mangling of what God teaches and it infuriates the Holy Spirit. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have less of a connection to God than they do. Yahweh Himself has said that under this New Covenant, He speaks to you directly. There is no middleman. You do not need human beings to tell you who God is because you can ask God for yourself.  But today there are many leaders in the Church who will do anything to erode your confidence in this idea. They’ll make you terrified to claim that God has spoken to you unless you can get some leader in the Church to verify it. They’ll tell you that you have to check everything with the Bible because God Himself can’t be counted on. Do you see how satanic the Church’s teaching has become due to her incessant defiance of God? So many of her core principles are in direct opposition to God’s truth and it’s all part of a major agenda to keep you feeling insecure and distant in your relationship with God.

How many times have you been told that you can’t grow if you’re not going to church or reading your Bible every day? On every side, someone is trying to shove some object, human, or religious ritual between you and God, insisting that you can’t just talk to Him directly and count on Him to guide you. Well, yes you can. You can, and you must. When the Holy Spirit came to dwell inside of you at salvation, it was to give you absolute confidence that God wants a direct relationship with you. Under this Covenant, there is no need for intercession, books, churches, pompous teachers and dead apostles. Certainly you can listen to things that others say about God.  You can read your Bible and go to church.  But why would you do any of these things unless God is prompting you to? He is your Shepherd. He is your Guide in life. You must check everything with Him and you need to be open to Him telling you to stop listening to some idiot teacher, or stop reading the Bible, or stop going to church. When you have God, you don’t need anything else.  Other things are only useful to you when He is in the mood to teach you through them.  When He isn’t, forget it.

Let’s talk about witnessing for a moment. How much guilt has been dumped on your head about witnessing in the Church? How many times have you heard it said that if you don’t get out there and share, people will end up in Hell and it will be on your head? Is this what God teaches? Does God really say that He needs your help to save people?

“And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know Yahweh.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know Me already.”

What’s Yahweh saying here? Where is He putting the responsibility for illuminating souls with truth under this New Covenant–on you or on Himself? He says:

“I will put My laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts.”

In this passage, Yahweh says that under the New Covenant, illuminating people about who He is and what He wants is God’s job, not yours. Six hundred years later, Jesus is going to come and confirm this. Jesus is going to introduce the Holy Spirit as a third God, and He’s going to say:

“When the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (Jn. 16:8)

What are you taught in the Church? That it’s your job to convict people of truth. See the problem? The Church is constantly pushing a complete reversal of truth. God’s truth inspires your soul and fills you with hope and encouragement. How do you feel when the Church dumps her witnessing guilt trip on you? You feel beat down, oppressed, and failing. Who is it that makes us feel like spiritual flops all the time? Demons. Guess who the Church is listening to? Demons. You need to listen to God instead.

When Yahweh speaks of a “new” Covenant, it means He has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear. (Heb. 8:13)

This is the end of Hebrews 8. Rabbi is quite correct when he says that Yahweh has made the Old Covenant obsolete. But as we’ve been seeing in these last few chapters, Rabbi isn’t letting the Old Covenant go—he’s trying to find ways to preserve many aspects of it, such as priestly intercession. In our next chapter, Rabbi is going to try and explain to us in more detail how the New Covenant differs from the Old. Well, Yahweh has already explained it to us, and His explanation was thrilling. Let’s see if what Rabbi is going to say matches up with what Yahweh said through Jeremiah. Not much of what Rabbi has said has been right so far, but hey, maybe he’ll improve.

UP NEXT: Applying Hebrews 9: Refusing to Let Go

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