The Messiah “has obtained a more excellent priesthood” than the Aaronic priesthood because he is “the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). What are the better promises? How well do you really know the “new covenant”? This discourse takes a closer look at the “better promises” of the new covenant as described in the prophecies of Jeremiah.
-D. Thomas Lancaster
Sermon Thirty-Two: Better Promises
Originally presented on November 23, 2013
from the Holy Epistle to the Hebrews sermon series
I covered the vast majority of the material from today’s sermon in my previous review of D. Thomas Lancaster’s lecture “Better Promises” from his What About the New Covenant audio CDs.
In comparing my notes from today’s sermon with my prior review, I found that they were almost identical, so I suppose you could just click the link I provided above, read that review, and then call it good.
But, I think I’ll go over some of that material again. It can always use repeating.
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
–Hebrews 8:6 (NASB)
Better promises. Jesus (Yeshua) is supposed to be a High Priest in Heaven with a superior priesthood to the Levites, and a mediator of a superior covenant than the Old Covenant based on better promises. What are these better promises?
To find out, we have to go to Jeremiah 31 since the New Covenant isn’t in the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament), it’s in the Tanakh (Old Testament):
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for light by day
And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar;
The Lord of hosts is His name:
“If this fixed order departs
From before Me,” declares the Lord,
“Then the offspring of Israel also will cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”
Thus says the Lord,
“If the heavens above can be measured
And the foundations of the earth searched out below,
Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel
For all that they have done,” declares the Lord.
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the city will be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. The measuring line will go out farther straight ahead to the hill Gareb; then it will turn to Goah. And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the Lord; it will not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”
–Jeremiah 31:31-40 (NASB)
I broke out the different better promises step-by-step in my previous review but now I’ll just give them as numbered and bulleted lists. But first a few introductory points.
- This is a prophesy about the end of times, the Messianic future, the final redemption.
- It is a prophesy that the New Covenant will be like the Old (Sinai) Covenant in that it will also be made exclusively with the House of Judah and the House of Israel, that is, with the Jewish people. The Gentile nations are not mentioned, just as they are not mentioned in the Sinai Covenant.
- It’s not like the Old (Sinai) Covenant in that it’s based on better promises.
And now, just what are those better promises?
- The Torah will be written on every Jew’s heart so that every Jew will intuitively, naturally obey God’s commandments.
- God will be Israel’s God and they will be His people. This is the promise of redemption and is actually marital language based on a marriage declaration a man made to a woman in the ancient near east.
- Every Jew will have an intimate and inclusive knowledge of God, a personal knowledge of God rather than knowing about God.
- God will completely and permanently forgive Israel of all of her sins (see Romans 11:25-27).
- Israel will always be a nation before God, that is, the Jewish people will always be a separate and unique national, physical entity called Israel in God’s sight, just as long as there is such a thing seasons, the sun, the moon, and the stars.
- Jerusalem, the Holy City, the center of King Messiah’s government, will be rebuilt
Those are great promises but there’s still more. If you read Jeremiah 32:36-42, a number of promises are present including:
- The ingathering of the Jews.
- The redemption of the Jews.
- The betrothal.
- The Torah written on Jewish hearts.
- The New Covenant will be everlasting.
- The New Creation.
But that’s not all (I feel like some cheesy salesman selling vegetable choppers on the shopping channel *jk*). Jeremiah 33:14-26 speaks of God’s promise to raise up a “righteous branch” from the House of David, which is King Messiah, as well as rebuild the Temple, restore the Levitical priesthood, and reinstitute the sacrifices. And these promises can only be broken if day and night should cease to exist.
The latter verses speak of how the nations say that Israel is not a nation before God and that God has rejected Israel (which historically the Church has done). God is telling foolish ones who say such things that if day and night cease only then would God reject Israel. This is rhetorical language meaning that God will never reject His people Israel, the Jewish people. Never.
These are all terrific promises and there are still more that are written in the books of the prophets Amos, Ezekiel, Joel, Micah, and others.
Yes, they’re all great promises…if you’re Jewish.
But what about the Gentiles? What about us?
I also covered the answer to this question in my previous review but I think Lancaster worded part of his answer differently here.
What Did I Learn?
What did I learn new about how Gentiles are included in the New Covenant when we aren’t explicitly included in the New Covenant? Lancaster mentioned Abraham but didn’t explicitly describe how a portion of the Abrahamic Covenant is connected to Gentile inclusion in New Covenant blessings. You can read about that in a detailed summary I wrote.
Lancaster did say that as a result of the Acts 15 legal decision made by the Council of Apostles and Elders, Gentiles were given an honorary status within the commonwealth of Israel, an affiliation with the Jewish people by being grafted in as adopted sons and daughters of Abraham. By sharing Abraham’s faith, we are the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham that “all the families of the earth will be blessed” through him.
Lancaster said that Gentiles have a share in the New Covenant but (and it’s a big but) only by virtue of their/our association with Israel, that is, the nation of the Jews, through our faith in Messiah, for as the Master said to the Samaritan woman, “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).
According to Lancaster (and this is where you may think that things are getting a little bit fuzzy), King Messiah conquers the world, that is, he defeats all of the armies that go up against Israel in the final war. And since he conquers every nation on Earth, he annexes them and their people. And under that annexation, God extends the New Covenant blessings to include the people of those annexed nations, effectively granting them (us) citizenship under the Messiah’s government; citizenship in the Kingdom.
This could be a problem because some people have told me that even in Messianic Days, there will be nations not sworn to acknowledge the King of Israel as their King and people who remain disobedient. That means, if correct, that Messiah does not conquer literally all of the nations and some remain outside his authority.
However, according to Lancaster, for those Gentiles in the present age who have sworn an oath of fealty to the King, we are already annexed, so to speak, and thus gain access as vassel servants to the King, achieving citizenship in the Kingdom of God now, even though it has not yet arrived.
This goes back to the themes I’ve addressed in a number of my blog posts over the last week or two about the actual status of Gentiles as disciples of the Master in relation to the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, and obedience to the Torah mitzvot.
Lancaster tossed around terms like “Torah written on Gentile hearts,” “commonwealth of Israel,” and “citizenship” without so much as a “by-your-leave,” but I don’t think he was implying anything you could call “One Law”.
He seems to be saying that when the New Covenant’s better promises are delivered in full to the Jewish people and they are made into a strong and mighty nation, a nation that is at the head of all the nations, those of us who are among the Gentile nations who have been loyal to the Messiah King and who have served him will also be blessed with the fruits of those same promises. Indeed, we are already being blessed as we serve him and cleave to him (which may not necessarily require wearing a kippah and tallit if you aren’t Jewish).
For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.
–2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (NASB)
God’s promises find their “yes” in Messiah. All the many promises I listed above and so much more have their “yes” in Jesus Christ for those who believe and who faithfully serve the King and the Kingdom until it comes and then beyond.
“May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
3 thoughts on “Sermon Review of the Holy Epistle to the Hebrews: Better Promises”
Sha’ul expressed it as the grafting in to the Vine of Israel that Yehoshua is, since all Salvation is in Him by faith, even as Abraham trusted YHVH and it was credited to Abraham as righteousness.
Sha’ul also noted that certain of the Jews were broken off of the national vine for disobedience, and lack of repentance, in particular.
Consequently, it always puzzles me that the Scripture reads ‘All Israel’ will be saved, because elsewhere it usually written that ‘a remnant will be saved.”
I’ve been going back and listening to the sermons via linking from your write ups, James. Thought you probably want to know the link herein tagged “The Inner Torah” is not going to that sermon. (It’s going to “Better Promises” instead.) I see that there is a way for me to find what I’m looking for anyway, but someone else might not notice what has happened. So, in case you can fix it, there’s that.
Thanks for the “heads up,” Marleen. It is supposed to go to “Better Promises”. Changed the text of the link to match.