Life-Study of Hebrewsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall cover two important matters—the new covenant and the new testament. In Greek the same word is used for both covenant and testament. Whether it is translated covenant or testament depends on whether the person who consummated the covenant is living or dead. If the consummator is still living, that covenant remains a covenant. But if the consummator has died, the covenant immediately becomes a testament. A covenant is an agreement containing some promises to accomplish certain things for the covenanted people, while a testament is a will containing certain accomplished things bequeathed to the inheritor. The new covenant consummated with the blood of Christ is not merely a covenant, but a testament with all the things which have been accomplished by the death of Christ bequeathed to us. The term testament is the equivalent of the modern term will. Many parents, when they know that they soon will die, make a will in which they leave various things to their children. A will only becomes effective after the death of the maker of the will. In a simple word, a covenant and a testament are the same, but when the maker of the covenant is living, it is a covenant, and when he has died, it is a testament, a will. The Bible is composed of two wills— the Old Testament, the old will, and the New Testament, the new will. The Bible is not mainly a book of teachings; it is a will.
The new covenant, which the Lord Jesus enacted, is better than the old covenant made through Moses. In the old covenant, all things were shadows, whereas in the new covenant everything is reality. Everything in the old covenant has been fulfilled and realized in the new covenant. Hence, the new covenant is a better covenant (7:22; 8:6).
The new covenant is enacted upon better promises (8:6), which were given in Jeremiah 31:31-34. In these better promises, as we have seen in previous messages, four major things are covered—the inward law of life, the blessing of God being our God and us being God’s people, the inward ability of knowing the Lord, and the forgiveness of sins. Among these four major things, the inward law of life is the focus. The old covenant was made with the outward law of letters, whereas the new covenant is enacted with this inward law of life. The old covenant was of letters; the new covenant is of life.
Hebrews 9:23 says, “It was necessary therefore for the examples of the things in the heavens to be purified by these, but the heavenly things themselves by better sacrifices than these.” The tabernacle and all things pertaining to it were sprinkled and purified by the blood of goats and bulls (9:21-23). That was a figure showing that the heavenly things needed to be purified by the blood of better sacrifices, which are the sacrifices of Christ (7:27; 9:14, 28; 10:10, 12, 14). Heaven and all things in heaven have been defiled by the rebellion of Satan and the fallen angels who followed him in his rebellion against God. Thus, all the heavenly things needed to be purified. Christ accomplished this purification with His own blood when He entered into heaven (9:12).
The new covenant was consummated with better sacrifices and with the blood that speaks better things. Christ offered Himself as one sacrifice (9:14; 10:12). This one sacrifice, viewed from its various aspects, may be considered as many sacrifices. As Christ is the eternal Son of the living God incarnated to be the Son of Man who offered Himself to God through the eternal Spirit, so His sacrifices are better than those of animals. The animal sacrifices were shadows which could never take away sins (10:11), but His sacrifices are real and have put away sin once for all (9:26), thus finding an eternal redemption for us (9:12). Verse 22 says that “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Without forgiveness of sin there is no way to fulfill the requirement of God’s righteousness that by it the covenant may be enacted. But Christ’s blood has been shed for the forgiveness of sin, and the covenant has been enacted with His blood (Matt. 26:28). We are told in 12:24 that Christ’s blood “speaks better than that of Abel.” The blood of Christ is the speaking blood, speaking to God for forgiveness, justification, reconciliation, and redemption. As unveiled in Hebrews, this precious blood speaks to God for us that by it the new covenant may be enacted. Hence, it is called the blood of the eternal covenant (10:29; 13:20).
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