After Those Days
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:10-12
This week, we press on in our study of the quote by the inspired penman of the letter to the Hebrews from the prophet Jeremiah concerning the New Covenant as recorded here in chapter eight. The passage cited by the writer is found in Jeremiah 31:31-34. “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. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall 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.”
At the time Jeremiah made this prophetic utterance, the promise of God’s judgment upon the house of Judah lay ahead. In the face of this coming judgment, the LORD offers the hope of a new superior covenant to come that He will make with the house of Israel “after those days”.
Last week, allowing New Testament passages to define Old Testament prophetic utterances, we established that the house of Israel to which the New Covenant is promised, is a spiritual house, the church, comprised of Jews (house of Judah) and Gentiles (prophetic house of Israel) who have obeyed the gospel.
This week, we scripturally define the actual time of “after those days”, i. e., the termination of the Old Covenant era and the introduction of the New.
A Change of priesthood…
The writer, directed by the Holy Spirit, has prepared the Hebrews for this section of the letter concerning the prophesied New Covenant and its enactment. In order to successfully prepare the hearers (letters were read aloud in the assemblies) for the discussion on the New Covenant’s actual enactment and its associated superior benefits, the Holy Spirit moved the penman to engage first in a discussion on Jesus Christ as the prophesied, eternal high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. This discussion began in earnest in Hebrews 3:1 and is interwoven in sundry passages in the letter up to the verses immediately preceding the scribe’s citation from Jeremiah concerning the New Covenant in chapter eight.
The physical Temple was still standing, and the physical sacrifices were still being offered, albeit by a no longer recognized priesthood. Those physical types, while still present, offered a potent distraction and siren song for the Hebrews to come back to what they knew best. God’s answer to the pull of the physical types, the obsolete growing old and being readied to disappear (Heb. 8:13, accomplished via destruction at the hands of the Roman army), was fulfilled Old Testament scripture concerning Christ as the designated and declared High Priest. These were designed to not only recognize Jesus for who He is, but to also reinforce the hearers’ understanding that they presently, were living in the New Covenant age. The foundational understanding sets the stage for the Hebrews to recognize that a change of priesthood…
Equals a change of law also
The Old Covenant system was based upon the Law and associated ordinances which revolved around the priesthood. This was well understood by the Jews. So, in chapter seven of the book of Hebrews, when the writer drives home the point that a change has occurred in the priesthood, then the correlating thought would flash in the Jewish mind saying, ‘Hey, that equals a change of law also’; meaning there was a change in covenant as well. The question of when the covenant was enacted or inaugurated would then be answered in the understanding of when Jesus Christ was declared the high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Although Hebrews 9:16-17 makes it clear that at Jesus’ death the New Covenant would be in force, the New Covenant had not yet been announced. Why? Because covenants are always inaugurated with the offering of the blood of the sacrifice (Heb. 9:18). Thus we see the need to lay the foundation in previous context of the Hebrew letter that Jesus had to be declared High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. He had to offer His blood from His sacrifice to inaugurate the New Covenant. When and where did that occur? In His ascension. “We have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” (Heb. 8:1) Heb. 9:12 says He entered heaven with His own blood to “obtain eternal redemption”. Hebrews 10:29 then calls this “the blood of the covenant”. Since the announcement of the terms of the New Covenant on the day of Pentecost in 30AD, we’ve been in the time period scripturally described as “after those days”. Praise God! Next, a look at the superior benefits.