Originally posted at a biblical perspective in December 2007
Previously: is the old covenant obsolete? part two
We have been looking at Heb 8:6-13 to see what the writer of Hebrews meant by this:
“When He said, ‘a new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.”
So I looked up “obsolete” used in Heb 8:13 in the Greek. The literal Greek translation of this verse is:
“In that He saith ‘new,’ He hath made the first old, and what doth become worn out and waxeth old is nigh disappearing.” Blue Letter Bible Greek Textus Receptus with KJV translation
Notice the word “obsolete” is not in the Greek. But it does say that the first covenant is becoming worn out and old (very interesting that the verb tense is one of continuing action, not accomplished action). But if we go back in Hebrews, we see that for several chapters before this one, the author of Hebrews is comparing the Levitical priesthood and the practice of sacrificing animals to cover sins in the Temple, with the High Priesthood of Jesus who is a perfect High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (see Gen 14). The perfect High Priest does not sacrifice bulls and goats in the Temple made with hands, because He has given His own blood once for all to take away sins (not just cover them over) in the Heavenly Temple made without hands, where God the Father dwells.
So it is the Levitical priesthood, and the Temple sacrifices, which the old covenant gives instruction about, which are worn out and are ready to disappear. And in fact they did disappear. The letter of Hebrews must have been written before 70 AD, because in that year, Titus razed Jerusalem and burned the Temple to the ground. Over a million inhabitants of Jerusalem died in the siege. The Temple records, including who was a priest and who was descended from Levi, were all destroyed. There was not one stone left on another, because when the fire was finally put out, the Romans dismantled the Temple stone by stone in order to get the gold (which covered the interior of the Temple) which had melted and run between the cracks.
There has not been an altar to God for a Levite to sacrifice an animal on since that day. Today, a Muslim mosque stands on the site where the Temple stood.
Whenever we read the Bible, we have to understand that the whole of it is truth, and one characteristic of truth is that it can never contradict itself. Atheists say all the time that there are Scriptures that contradict each other, and so they use that as a proof that the Scriptures are not true. But I say, the Scriptures do not contradict each other, and if two Scriptures seem to contradict, then it is our understanding of those Scriptures that is flawed. We have to examine the word of God to find the proper understanding which does not contradict, then we can say that we know what the Scriptures are saying. Some will take a single verse out of context and say, “A ha! The old covenant is obsolete and has passed away, therefore homo[s-x]ual relations are okay for today,” or some other such nonsense.
In fact the law concerning the priesthood never passed away, but was fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The law concerning animal sacrifices never passed away, but was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Mat 5:17-18
The law concerning animal sacrifices has been accomplished in Jesus, therefore we no longer sacrifice animals. But the law concerning homo[s-x]ual relations has not passed away. The law concerning the Sabbath has not passed away. How do we know what has been accomplished and what has not? The New Testament – all of it together – explains it. To be continued …
Continued in that which has been nailed to the cross