Sermon #36                                                       Hebrews Notes


     Title:            “He hath made the First Old”

     Text:            Hebrews 8:13

     Readings:     Larry Brown and Rex Bartley

     Subject:       The Old Covenant made Obsolete

     Date:            Tuesday Evening – December 12, 2000

     Tape #         W-15a



     It was never God’s intention for sinners to be saved by the observance of laws and ceremonies given in the Old Testament. Those laws and ceremonies were intended only to serve as types and pictures of Christ, to turn us to him. Now that Christ has come, any observance of those laws and ceremonies he fulfilled as our Substitute is worse than ingratitude. – It is idolatry!


Hebrews 8:6 through Hebrews 8:13 6But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 13In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.



Hebrews 8:13 13In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.



     In that he saith a new covenant  -- This refers us back to verse 8 and to Jeremiah 31:31.


Hebrews 8:8 8For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:


     He hath made the first old.” -- If the second is new, the first must be old. This is very much the same thing we read in Hebrews 10:9.


Hebrews 10:9 9Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.


     Finding fault with the first covenant, not because it was a flawed covenant, but because it was designed of God only to be a temporary, typical covenant, weak, deficient, and unprofitable in bringing sinners to God, it had to be set aside to make room for the new covenant, the covenant of grace to which it pointed.


     Once Christ came, the old covenant was antiquated, out of date, and made old, made old by God’s design and purpose. Therefore, it vanished away.


     Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” – This sentence is translated in Young’s Literal Translation – “He hath made the first old, and what doth become old is obsolete and is nigh disappearing.


     The dissolution or disappearance of this covenant was both gradual and climactic. It began when the Chaldeans took possession of the land of Canaan; and the ark of the covenant, which was a type of Christ. When the Chaldeans stole the ark, the temple was empty, void and meaningless. That gave a hint of the old covenant waxing old. Both the civil government and the worship of the Jews was, during that time cast into terrible confusion, just as it had been prophesied in Genesis 49:10.


Genesis 49:10 10The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.


     When John the Baptist came, proclaiming “Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” asserting that the Messiah had come, the Messenger of the covenant promised by Malachi, that his kingdom was being established in the earth, he was declaring to all Israel that the old covenant, the old, legal, ceremonial Mosaic covenant was vanishing away.


     Then, once the Lord Jesus had finished his work, made an end of sin and brought in everlasting righteousness by his obedience and death as our covenant Surety, -- Once he was risen from the dead, exalted to the throne of God as King of kings and Lord of lords, the old covenant was completely, climactically abolished. When, on the Day of Pentecost, he poured out his Spirit upon all flesh, fulfilling Joel’s prophecy, God gave testimony that another order was established.


John 4:21 through John 4:26 21Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.


     Yet, the temple was still standing in Jerusalem. The Jewish order of worship, in so far as the outward symbols of it were concerned, were not yet physically destroyed, as our Lord had prophesied (Matt. 24:1-2). However, at the time the Book of Hebrews was written, the time was rapidly approaching when God would destroy even the visible symbols of the old covenant. That is what is described in Hebrews 8:13.


Hebrews 8:13 13In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.



     This is one of the most important, but least understood texts in the Book of Hebrews. I ask your careful attention as I endeavor to preach to you from this text. You have the title of my message in the text. – “He hath made the first old


Proposition: This is what I want to show you from our text. -- In the establishing of the new covenant, the Lord God made the old, Levitical, legal, ceremonial covenant obsolete. It has served its day but is now disappeared and used no more, as a garment rots and vanishes away (Gal. 5:1-6).


Galatians 5:1 through Galatians 5:6 1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.


     All true worship is spiritual, heart worship. We are no longer under the law. We no longer live under that carnal, legal covenant (Col. 2:6-23; Phil. 3:3).


Colossians 2:6-23  "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: {7} Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. {8} Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. {9} For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. {10} And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: {11} In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: {12} Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. {13} And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; {14} Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; {15} And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. {16} Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: {17} Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. {18} Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, {19} And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. {20} Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, {21} (Touch not; taste not; handle not; {22} Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? {23} Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh."


Philippians 3:3  "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."


I.                  The Destruction of the Old Covenant


A.   The coming of Christ, the coming of the Messiah, meant the dissolution of Judaism.


Hebrews 8:13 was more than a prediction. It was an inspired prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple at Jerusalem, and of Judaism. For those people whose whole way of life was defined by this “first” covenant, this prophecy must have been shocking, at the very least. The Jews understood exactly what the claims of Christ meant. I do not suggest that they believed him. Obviously, they did not. But they understood that his claims and his doctrine meant the complete dissolution of Judaism (John 8:59; 10:30-34; 11:47-54).

Let me give you a little lesson in history. You have all heard the date 70 AD. You have heard it mentioned from this pulpit. If you paid attention in school (you who attended school back in those days when the schools still taught history), you heard it often in your high school history class. But you may not realize just how significant that date is in history. It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of what happened in Jerusalem in 70 AD It was an event that, for Jews and Christians, was critical in defining their faith for the next 2,000 years.

God had been at work for 2,000 years since Abraham, calling, preserving, judging, forgiving and blessing his people Israel. He had commanded an elaborate system of sacrifices, priestly services, feasts and rituals to be kept by the nation of Israel, pointing to and typical of the Lord Jesus Christ. These things, typically, symbolically, and ceremonially defined the gospel and pointed to One by whose coming they must and would be fulfilled.

The gospel of Christ threatened the very core of Jewish life and religion. By declaring that the Messiah had come, that he is the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, who is God the Son, declared Judaism null and void.

The vast majority of the people rejected his claim. The rejection resulted in the crucifixion of the Lord of Glory and the persecution of his disciples. The claims of the Christ raised a huge question for the Jewish people as a whole. What would become of their way of life? This new faith was incredibly radical. For example, in Acts 6 Stephen proved, irresistibly, by Scripture and history, that the claims of Christ were true, and thus, that the gospel of Christ is true. To stop him, false witnesses were brought in. And what is their charge? They claimed that Stephen spoke against Jerusalem, the temple, and the law (Acts 6:13-14).

Acts 6:13-14  They "set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: {14} For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us."

There you have the meaning of Christianity, as far as the Jews were concerned. It meant the destruction of the old ways. The “vanishing” of the first covenant. They sensed it. Stephen spoke against this place (Jerusalem) and the Law; and they really believed that Christianity threatened the existence of the temple itself and of Judaism, and it did. And if the temple fell, then what would become of all the “customs” of the Old Testament and the whole religious life of Judaism? The issue was so sharp they killed Stephen over it.

     They had reason to be afraid. Not only had the Lord Jesus actually said that the temple would be destroyed, he had predicted the entire destruction of Jerusalem. For example, in Luke 19:43-44 he said,

Luke 19:43-44  "For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, {44} And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation."

In other words, the Jewish people had reason to fear Christ, his followers, and the gospel we preach. Even though they were a meek and peaceful band that would rather die than live by the sword, nevertheless at the very heart of their faith was the implicit end of the Jewish way of life as they knew it. So much so that the end of that way of life (not by Christian violence, but by God’s own hand) would be a vindication of the Christian’s claim to truth. This is what happened in 70 AD.

I repeat -- It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of what happened in Jerusalem in 70 AD.

B.   In 70 AD, the Romans (as instruments in the hands of God, completely destroyed the city of Jerusalem and with it the nation of Israel.

For decades before and after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ the atmosphere in the land of Israel was so thick you could cut it with a knife. The tense spirit of rebellion against Rome was rampant. The Jewish people were galled by their pagan oppressors. They dreamed of deliverance.

In September of 66 AD, Florus, the Roman governor of Judea, provoked the Jews by raiding the temple's treasury and taking what he thought the Jews were withholding in taxes. Needless to say, the Jews were not happy.

A riot broke out in Jerusalem. And Florus ruthlessly crucified some of the citizens, and allowed his troops to plunder the city. The Jews were enraged. Eleazar, the Jewish Captain of the temple, persuaded the priests quit offering daily sacrifices for the welfare of the Roman emperor. This was a sign of open revolt against Rome by a tiny vassal nation. It would not be tolerated.

In an act of utter folly, the Jewish forces stormed the fortress of Antonius in the city and wiped out the Roman soldiers stationed there. The die was cast, and there was no turning back.

Vespasian, the Roman general, came to put down the revolt in 67 AD. He took all of Israel except for Jerusalem. Then Vespasian returned to Rome to become emperor and left his son, the Roman general Titus, to finish the work. And finish the work he did!

After a five-month siege, Titus broke through and burned the temple to the ground in August of 70 AD A few Jewish groups held out for a while, but all eventually collapsed, including the force at Masada, which committed mass suicide in 73 AD rather than be handed over as captives.

C.   That was the end of Judaism as it had been known for hundreds of years.

The priesthood was at an end. The animal sacrifices were at an end. The worship life that centered on Jerusalem and the temple was at an end. It has never been restored, and never shall be. Judaism as we know it today is not the same way of life practiced before 70 AD

II.               What does all this have to do with us?

The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was a witness to the truth of Christianity. The Lord Jesus had declared that it would take place (Matt. 24:1-2); and it did. God’s people did not fight against Israel in this revolt. In fact, believers suffered in Jerusalem with Israel because of the revolt. As far as Rome was concerned Christianity was just a branch of Judaism. They were determined to wipe out both. That is why Christians and Jews suffered the horrors of Titus together in the slaughter of 70 AD.

Be sure you understand this. -- The destruction of was not an act of anti-Semitism. Rather it was an act of divine judgment (Mark 12:1-11). This was the coming of the Son of God in judgment upon that nation (Matt. 24:-34). That is what our Lord tells us in Luke 19:43-44: These things came to pass “because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation,” that is, you did not recognize the coming of the Messiah. The destruction of Jerusalem was God’s testimony that the coming of Christ was in fact what the book of Hebrews says it was -- the replacement of shadows with the Substance -- Christ himself.

One of the early church fathers, Athenasius (born 373 AD), put it this way,

“It is a sign, and an important proof, of the coming of the Word of God, that Jerusalem no longer stands…For … when the truth was there, what need was there any more of the shadow? And this was why Jerusalem stood till then -- namely, that [the Jews] might be exercised in the types as a preparation for the reality.”

The destruction of Jerusalem and of Judaism was visibly a declaration of that which is verbally declared in the Book of Hebrews. -- God has made the first old. He has taken away the first, that he might establish the second.

That brings me back to my text -- Hebrews 8:13. Let's read it again.

(Hebrews 8:13)  "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."

What does all this mean to us? Basically, it means three things. The coming of Christ and the revelation of the Gospel mean three things.

A.   It means that the shadows of the Old Covenant have been replaced with the Substance, the Reality of the New.

The temple and tabernacle and sacrifices and priesthood and feasts and laws were all shadows and types and pictures of the Reality in heaven, namely, Jesus Christ and his work as our High Priest and our Sacrifice. Our focus of worship is heaven. Our object of worship is Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ fulfills and replaces all the types and shadows of the Old Testament.

B.   And the second thing is this. --  God makes Christ and his work real to his elect personally by the work of the new covenant when he writes his will in our hearts (v. 10).


Hebrews 8:10  "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people."

So the fact that Christ has come means shadows are replaced with Reality. Old Testament types have given way to the Original, Jesus Christ. And it means that God almighty invades and moves into the hearts and minds of chosen, redeemed sinners by almighty, irresistible, effectual grace. He overcomes our resistance to the claims of Christ, makes us willing in the day of his power, by writing his will upon our hearts, revealing Christ to us and in us by his Spirit (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6).

2 Corinthians 4:4-6  "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. {5} For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. {6} For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

God stamps his revelation upon our hearts and thus makes us willing and eager to trust his darling Son and follow him. He works his grace from the inside out, so that we serve Christ freely, without the constraint and rule of law (2 Cor. 5:14).

C.   Here’s the third meaning of this passage -- God is Merciful!

 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (v. 12). That is the end of the quote from Jeremiah 31. It begins with “for” or “because.” So it is the foundation and basis for all the promises of the new covenant (in verses 10-11) is the finished work of Christ. -- "The blood of the everlasting covenant" (Heb. 13:20).

God said, I will write the my will on your hearts, and be your God, and cause you to know me each of you, personally, for yourself. "For" I will be merciful to your iniquities and remember your sins no more.”

The death of Christ for our sins is the foundation of the new covenant (Hebrews 7:27; 9:28; 10:12). It’s the basis of all God’s promises of mercy and grace. If Christ had not died for our sins, God could not be our God or write the law on our hearts or cause us to know him personally. All that mercy was obtained by the blood of Christ. This is why our Lord called the cup of the Lord’s Supper, “the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).

This is what the Holy Spirit means for us to understand. God is just and holy and separated from sinners like us. That is our main problem. How can we come to and be accepted of a just and holy God? Yes, God is merciful. Thank God, he is merciful! He promised in Jeremiah 31 (five hundred years before Christ came into the world) that he would do something new. He would replace shadows with the Substance. That he would powerfully, effectually move into our lives and write his will on our hearts so that we would serve him willingly, love him, trust him and follow him because we want to.

But there was a huge obstacle. -- Our sin. -- Our separation from God because of our unrighteousness. How can a holy and just God deal sinners in mercy? How can God be just, and yet forgive sin? -- The answer is that which was promised in the covenant, portrayed in the law, accomplished at Calvary, and explained in the Book of Hebrews -- substitution!

·        2 Corinthians 5:21

·        Romans 3:24-26

This is what verse 12 means: Christ bore our sins in his own body when he died. He took our judgment. He canceled our debt. That means that our sins are gone. They do not remain in God’s mind. He has forgotten them! They were consumed in the death of Christ.

God is now free, in his justice, to lavish us with the new covenant. He gives us Christ, and all things in him and with him, for our everlasting salvation and enjoyment. And he writes his own will -- his own heart -- on our hearts so that we can love Christ and trust Christ and follow Christ from the inside out, with freedom and joy.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Goal, the Reality the Substance. When Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 AD, and the temple was burned, and the sacrifices ceased in Judaism, and the Levitical priesthood came to and end, when the scepter departed from Judah, God said to the world -- "Shiloh has come!"

Christianity is a faith woven into history. It is not a mere set of ideas. It is about a person, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came into history and died and rose again. And it is about a God who intervenes in history to bear witness to the reality of his Son, Jesus Christ. The destruction of the old, Jewish way of life and worship, tells the world that the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, has come. That he has forever put and end to the old covenant and has brought in a new covenant.