Hebrews is about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ about the sacrifices enforced in the Mosaic Law. As mandated by this Law, the priests, the Levites, sacrificed animals for the atonement of their sins, but there is one superior to the animal sacrifices and this is Jesus Christ. “His sacrifice on the Cross is superior to the sacrifices in the Mosaic Law.”
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Exegesis is used in interpreting and explaining the details of the Bible, more specifically the teachings of Judaism about Christianity. This task of interpreting the Bible is looking or searching deeply into what the author meant. It is an interpretation or referring to the historical facts in the Old Testament to arrive at the real meaning in the New Testament.
On the other hand, a second task in interpreting the Bible pertains to “hermeneutics”, a task which “covers the whole field of interpretation, including exegesis, … but which is also used in the narrower sense of seeking the contemporary relevance of ancient texts.”
In Hebrews, the author is writing for a specific audience; the audience is composed of Christians who have great knowledge of the Scriptures of the Old Testament. “They may well have been Jewish priests converted to Christ who were going through a serious crisis. Indeed, up until then, the Temple had been their whole lives since they were priests: they would offer sacrifices and they would receive part of the sacrificed animals in payment”. What is relevant in the lives of these Jews is that now they are living apart from the temple; they have been excluded and replaced, so to speak, by Jesus Christ Himself, because Christ said that He is the New Temple. But this letter is an affirmation of their faith, strengthening them and giving them advice not to lose faith because “the Jewish religion, with its splendid sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple, was only the figure of something greater: the authentic Priest for all humanity is Jesus, the Son of God, and now there is only his sacrifice, which begins on the Cross and ends in the Glory of Heaven”.
The Hebrews author is someone, some expert of the Scriptures who knows how to make the connection or the exegetical explanation of the Old and the New Covenant. He wrote the Letter to inspire these Jews who have embraced Christ, to let them endure the hardship and suffering amid the prevailing situation where their fellow Jews and the government at the time were persecuting them.
What language and style were used in the letter to the Hebrews?
The New Testament was written in Greco-Roman, the trend in arts and literature during those times.
“The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible was completed by the middle of the second century B.C.”The Hellenistic Jewish literature is the best evidence of the influence of the Greco-Roman empire. “The first urgent need of the Hellenistic Jews in Alexandria was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.”
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There were then Hellenistic Jewish historians who imitated the works of the Greek writers in history and poetry. Hellenism was so popular that it influenced a lot of writers and historians of the time. The literature employed the Greco-Roman language. The New Testament, for example, the Hebrews, was written using Greek vocabulary and style.
Jeremiah 31 and the “New Covenant” in the Old Testament
Jeremiah was a priest who comes from the small town of Anathoth, some six miles northeast of the capital city of Jerusalem. During the time of the prophets, there was political and economic turmoil. Jeremiah hears a call from God.
This is a time when the Israelites are busy with all the material things in the world, “when the king, the priests and charlatans provide the people with the kind of truth they want to hear.” God looks for someone whom he can give his authority, not over Israel, but all the nations. Jeremiah is given a mission by God “to speed history up”.
Later, Jews have great belief in Jeremiah, the prophet (who is a major prophet in the classification). They believed that after the prophet’s death, “Jeremiah was present before God interceding for them (2 Mc 2:1 and 14:14). When prophets after him spoke of a suffering Saviour, they remembered Jeremiah’s trials.”
In Jer 31:31, Jeremiah foretells of a new covenant which Jesus Christ, a new covenant that surpasses the covenant with Moses and the people at Sinai, and after He had promised Abraham that He would make his descendants as a multitude as the stars or the sands in the seashore.
The old covenant, which was a testament between God and the Israelites is likened to a covenant between a master and a servant. Loyalty to the covenant can bring benefits to the servant. This covenant consisted of a preamble (an identification of the agreement); a prologue (stating that God brought the Israelites out of Egypt); stipulations or the laws of rituals and worship; witnesses or those who will enforce the covenant; sanctions which are composed of blessing and curses; and the document clause.
God made a covenant with Noah. In the Old Testament (also called the Old Covenant), God allowed the great flood – a time when God would eliminate those who preferred to enjoy the pleasures of the world, the now, rather than work for the future God prepared for them.
In Genesis 21, when Noah had offered sacrifices of animals, God promised Noah that He would never punish man again like that of the great flood.
And so God made his covenant with Noah that He would never again punish man for his sins through a flood. This covenant was renewed in Jos 24:2; 2 Kgs 23; Neh 9:38.
There are limits to the old covenant. Israel became unfaithful and she lost the Deuteronomic blessings for faithfulness.
Although better than the old covenant, it was still part of the continuing story of Israel. This new covenant (Jer 31:31-34) will return them from Babylon – a name synonymous with exile (Jer 29:20) – and provide Israel with “rest” (Jer 31:2) in a manner that surpasses all God’s mercies of old. Hebrews consider the Christian community to be inheritors of the old covenant, beginning with Abraham (Heb 7). Yet they were also divinely chosen by God to participate in the new covenant of Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34), which they were now in (Heb 3:1, 14; 6:4; 9:15).
The New Covenant in Jer 31:31
This passage is a longitudinal verse addressed to the Israelites and the entire human race. Centuries after, the Hebrews letter is composed which connects to this passage.
The old covenant is confined to the people of Israel, and now God is going to make a new covenant that applies to the entire human race. This is not only for a single-family or for a group of people, but the whole human race. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the promised messiah, born centuries later, is the New Covenant that will take away the sins of the world. Jesus’ death on the cross is the fulfillment of the promise.
In Luke 22:20, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is instituted. In remembrance of me is not to mean to remember a dead person but to remember a Person-God who has saved us from sin.
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During Passover, the Jews remembered God who had delivered them from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. In the Eucharist, we remember the intervention of God through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.
When Jesus said, “My blood poured for you, “ He means that in his death, he will be the Servant of Yahweh promised by Isaiah (53:12), who takes upon himself the sins of a multitude.” This multitude can mean the Christians who now comprise God’s people.
In Jer 31:32, the Sinai covenant which made Israel God’s people is now to be replaced because the covenant failed, and not on God’s doing but through Israel’s fault. The people continued to be hard-headed, even worshipping idols and doing the ways not pleasant to the Lord. Prophets and men like Samuel, Hezekiah, and Josiah wanted to renew this covenant, but it seems it is futile for God to continue fulfilling His promise when the people are not doing anything to follow the rules, the Commandments, and God’s will. The people are not reborn, they have continued in their evil and scandalous deeds defying God’s authority and power, worshipping idols, and intermarrying with other races who worship the god Baal. It is time this covenant is to be replaced with something lasting, something powerful that can bring back God’s people to his side. And this God’s people is not confined to a family (like Israel in the old covenant) but to a people who may come from all walks of life and who are ready to embrace their faith and put their trust in the Lord.
“Moreover, remember that God spoke especially to Israel in the Law, which was intended to stand for the entire remaining history of the nation until it would be superseded by the new covenant (Jer 31:31-34)”
In Jer 31:33, Jeremiah predicts that soon God will reveal himself to his people, and the people will accept and make a personal relationship with him. Jeremiah experiences this himself, the change that he feels within himself when he accepted the Lord and the mission entrusted to him. He has encountered a personal relationship with the Lord that is different from the religion of sacrifices and ceremonies. He now discovers the secret of the New Covenant.
The Cross and the Law Written on the Heart
Michael Adams,13 in writing about Hebrews 10:11-18 about Jeremiah 31 says this:
“The writer of Hebrews cites Jeremiah 31 as his proof test for illustrating the result of the work of Christ on the cross on behalf of all who believe. He tells us that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross (vs. 14) effectually purchased two things for all who believe: first every believer gets a changed life… Christ’s one sacrifice purchased a change life and complete forgiveness of sin for all who believe.”
Jeremiah is looking far ahead, a change of heart, when Someone, Jesus Christ, who would do the sacrifice on the cross, and everyone, Hebrew or not, will experience the change of heart. Through Christ’s death on the cross, a New Covenant will be achieved. This is further reflected in Luke 22:20, “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood.”
In Jer 31:34: In the Gospel of John, this is clarified, “they will all know me in the Christian faith,” where everyone is guided by the Father to Christ to receive knowledge and wisdom. Forgiveness of sins can now be attained through the Lord Jesus Christ using his sacrifice on the cross. Of course, this was not stipulated, but Jeremiah knew the coming of the Lord and the promulgation of the New Covenant.
Michael Adams adds: “Jeremiah 31 and the law written on the heart (which is the New Covenant in the context of Hebrews 10 is the author of Hebrews’ proof text for the work of the Spirit in producing both the changed life and the forgiveness of sin that were purchased on the cross by Jesus Christ for only (and all of) the elect.”
Usage of the New Covenant in Extra-Biblical Sources
Both Hebrews and the Septuagint stress that the word “covenant” is an agreement between two parties, the Israelites and God. The people had to follow God’s commandments. The Septuagint chose the Hebrew translation of “covenant” to mean “agreement” or “treaty”, but also “covenant in its sense of bilateral agreement.”
God keeps His promises, and the fulfillment is in the new covenant. It is through this grace given upon the people that the covenant is fulfilled, even if the people violated the commandments. In Hebrews, as in the Dead Sea Scrolls, much discussion is focused on the priesthood of Christ and the temple.
Both Hebrews and the scrolls make much of priesthood and temple, and both express interest in such figures as angels and Melchizedek. Stimulated by such parallels, some scholars, such as Yigael Yadin, in the early days of scrolls research posited a substantial connection between the scrolls and Hebrews.
Fitzmyer (1992) says that in the DSS “Jesus is presented as the heavenly hiereus or archiereus, ‘priest’ or ‘high priest,’ as one superior to Aaron and the Aaronid priestly line (Heb 7:4-10).”
There is much intensity on the discussion around the figure of Melchizedek in both Hebrews and the scrolls.
Hebrews bases its portrait of the heavenly high priest on an application of Psalm 110, the first verse of which early followers of Jesus frequently used to describe his heavenly exaltation. The fourth verse, designating the royal figure a “priest after the order of Melchizedek,” when understood as an address to the Messiah, warrants the application of a priestly title. But that warrant carries heavy freight: the meaning of the “order of Melchizedek”.
Jesus Christ is a special kind of High Priest because he did not have a Levitical lineage.
The Damascus Document
The Damascus Document was first published in 1910. The Temple Scrolls was first published in 1977 and believed to be an Essene background. Since it was published, it has been studied about the term covenant, but Ernst Lohmeyer “pointed to the difficulty in understanding the meaning of the covenant concept as well as to the uncertainty in the use of the term.” Therefore, it is right to conclude that the Damascus Document did not bear clear ideas on the covenant notion.
In the 11QTemple and CD, covenant identity is manifested with the Old Testament idea of one covenant. The covenant is manifested in having a law as its content. “Covenant validity is not only tied to God’s promise but is also conditional on keeping the law.”
“As in the Old Testament, covenant in CD concerns the people’s relationship to God is a “covenant with all Israel.”
The covenant is eternal because it was established by God, and becomes valid only with those who have kept the commandments.
Hebrews 1-4 give us some comparisons between Christ and biblical figures. “A catena of scriptural citations, primarily from Psalms, demonstrates Christ’s superior to the angels (1:5-13).” (Harold W. Attridge, 207).
Harold Attridge says that this catena of scriptural citations is also present in the scrolls, and he cites Florilegium (4Qflor = 4 Q174) and Testimonia (4QTestim = 4Q175). Attridge argues:
Yet Hebrews has developed any inherited materials in its way. The citations, for example, of Deut 32:43 LXX in 1:6 and Ps 103:4 LXX (104:4 ET) in verse 7 seem specifically related to the comparison of Christ and the angels and thus are part of the argument that Hebrews is making.
In the DSS, particularly in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, heavenly beings are also present, and they are presented as “seven priesthoods in the wonderful sanctuary” and “angels of the kin in their wonderful residences.”
Attridge quotes 4QShirShabb (4Q403) 2.7-16, which tells of the activity of the angels in the heavenly inner sanctuary:
The spirits of the holy of holies […] 8 of the holy of holies, spirits of the gods, eternal vision […] 9 and the spirits of the gods, forms of flames of fire around […] 10 wonderful spirits. And the tabernacle of greater height, the glory of his kingdom, the debir […] ll And make holy the seven august holy ones. And the voice of the blessing of the chiefs of his debir […] 12 and the foundations of […] 13 of the blessing. And all the decorations of the debir hurry with wonderful humns… […] 14 wonder, debir to debir, with the sound of crowds of holy multitudes. And all their decorations […] 15 And the chariots of his debir praise together, and his cherubim and opanim bless wonderfully […] 16 the chiefs of the structure of the gods.
In chapter 8 of Hebrews, there is a new sanctuary and a new covenant. Jesus enjoys a much higher ministry characteristic of people who know they are at peace with God.
Eschatological figures “in royal glory” are present in the scroll. Most impressive no doubt is the so-called “son of God” text, An Aramaic Apocalypse ar (4Q246), which speaks of the “throne” of an “eternal king” (4Q246 2.1-8).
Debates among scholars of dual messianism emerged in the studies of the Qumran and the Damascus Document. The sectarians who produced the scrolls “did anticipate that a priestly figure would play a leading role in the drama of the end times. His prominence is clear in the “Messianic Rule” of 1QSa [=1Q29] 2.12-20 where the priest must bless the banquet before the Messiah of Israel eats.”
In some texts in the Visions of Amram, in literary terms a testament of Amram, son of Qahat, son of Levi, which probably offers predictions about the Levitical line.
Jesus as High Priest, his unique atoning self-sacrifice, his establishment of a new covenant, are not found in the scroll’s allusions to an eschatological priest. And also, “the scrolls portrait of the eschatological priest presiding at a festive banquet alongside a royal Messiah displays touches nowhere in evidence in Hebrews.” (216).
Usage, Interpretation, and Exegesis of Jeremiah 31 and the New Covenant in Hebrews 10 and a Comparison with the Usage in the Old Testament and Extra-Biblical Sources.
The Old and the New Covenants
Authors interchange the terms covenant and testament, i.e. when they speak of covenant, they also mean testament. And rightly so, because this is what we understand of the Bible, of the Old and the New Testaments, that they can be stated in terms of the “old” and the “new” covenants.
In understanding the relationship of the Old Testament to the New, Fee and Stuart (2003) gives us these guidelines: (165-169)
“The Old Testament law is a covenant.”
A covenant is a contract between a master and his servant. An example given here is the covenant between an all-powerful suzerain (overlord) and a dependent vassal (servant) in Old Testament times. The suzerain guaranteed benefits and protection to the vassal who was obligated to be loyal to the suzerain, and any disloyalty on the part of the vassal would bring punishment as stipulated in the covenant.
The covenant had six parts, namely:
- ‘Preamble – an identification of the parties to the agreement (“I am the Lord your God…”[Exod 20:2]).
- ‘Prologue – it gives history on how the two parties became connected (“[I] brought you out of Egypt…” (Exod 20:2])
- ‘Stipulations – consist of the laws themselves.
- ‘Witnesses – those who will enforce the covenant; all of God’s creation is concerned that the covenant is kept.
- ‘Sanctions – ‘blessings and curses that function as incentives for keeping the covenant (e.g. Lev 26 and Deut 28-33).’
- ‘Document Clause – the provision for review so that it will not be forgotten (e.g., Deut 17:18-19; 31:9-13).’”
The Old Testament is not our Testament. Two kinds of old-covenant stipulations have clearly not been renewed in the new covenant.
Some laws apply only to citizens of ancient Israel. They are the civil laws and the ritual laws. The ritual laws were those used in rituals and worship, and ethical laws, which are contained in the Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. They cover the worshipping rituals and the sacrifice of animals. There is the shedding of the blood of the animals. But when Jesus was crucified and “shed his blood”, the sacrifice of animals became obsolete. Jesus sacrifice is the ultimate sacrifice.
In Hebrews 9:18-22, it says:
“Hence not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been told to all the people by Moses in accordance with the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that God has ordained for you.’ And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
Jesus had rendered this sacrifice obsolete when he instituted the Last Supper, saying, “This cup that is poured for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Lk 22:20)
The Old Covenant is binding on the people of Israel. Our Testament is the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. There have been changes from the Old to the New Testament and are not anymore binding on us Christians. However, loyalty to God is still expected of us, although in a different form of loyalty.
“Part of the old covenant is renewed in the new covenant.”
The old ethical laws are restated in the New Testament and this is applicable to Christians. Above all these laws are: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” These two were also restated by Jesus Christ when he taught them to his disciples. Jesus laid them down in Matt 5:21-48.
“All of the Old Testament law is still the Word of God for us even though it is not still the command of God to us.”
There are commands in the Old Testament that are not directed to us but all these are part of the story of the Old Covenant.
“Only that which is explicitly renewed from the Old Testament law can be considered part of the New Testament ‘law of Christ’.”
The Ten Commandments is still binding on all of us as they have been restated in the New Testament (Matt 5:21-37; John 7:23) and the other two great commandments from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.
Jeremiah 31:31-33 is a prophecy spoken in the days of the Old Testament. There are two epochs mentioned here: “the time of the old Mosaic covenant, which ended in human failure, and the time of the new covenant, when the divine torah (law, teaching) will be written on the heart and there will be such personal knowledge of God that religious teaching will no longer be necessary.”
“[C]ovenant has been understood as a continuation and read in a salvation-historical scheme of promise and fulfillment. This involves the method of reading the Old Testament backwards from the Christ event.”
What Ellen Juhl Christiansen means here is that when we talk of Jesus Christ, we mean the new covenant and we go back to the time when Jeremiah spoke of Him; this is now the interconnection, two epochs in the time of the prophet Jeremiah. God’s promise is fulfilled in Christ.
“In Jeremiah’s prophecy the issue is eschatology, the relation between the old age and the new, not between two bodies of Scripture.”
“From a Jewish perspective, the two covenants have been understood as separate relationships that exist without mutually excluding each other by focusing on the diversity of the two.” (10) In interpreting this in an ecumenical way, the method is to interpret them as “two complementary relationships, the one eschatological, the other historical, coexisting in diversity, and in tension.”
The language “old covenant” (testament) is reminiscent of a famous prophecy in the book of Jeremiah (31:31-33) about two epochs: the time of the old Mosaic covenant, which ended in human failure; and the time of the new covenant, when the divine torah (law, teaching) will be written on the heart and there will be such personal knowledge of God that religious teaching will no longer be necessary.
Marvin Pate et al. regard Hebrews as structured in a chiastic pattern, like this:
- Jesus as Superior (1:1 – 2:4)
- Obedience (Adam and Israel) (2:5-4:13)
- True Worship (Priesthood) (4:14-7:28)
- New Covenant (8)
- True Worship (Tabernacle and Sacrifice) (9-10)
- Obedience (examples culminating in Jesus) (11:1-12:2)
- Jesus as Superior (12-3-13:25)
This structure of the letter can tell us many things. First, an ordinary letter composer couldn’t just write it with such simple genius. Indeed, he is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God that the composition seems to be in a smooth flow. He wrote it with a genius of a prophet that we can read and follow the meaning as we go back to the time of Jeremiah. There is a connection and of the present to the past. It’s not simple guessing. The chiastic pattern, as analyzed by present day writers like Marvin Pate et al., is no ordinary feat. This is how prophets and writers of old connect the intertwining events and prophecies of the Bible.
Moreover, Hebrews discusses the eschatological blessings – obedience, new covenant, and true worship – in an orderly fashion, or a chiasm.
Bernhard Anderson adds, “But Jeremiah’s oracle cannot be understood as reactualization of the past sacred history. He speaks of a new covenant, not a covenant renewal, and thereby assumes a radical break with the Mosaic tradition.” (Pettegrew, The New Covenant, 8, 2008).
We have discussed from the initial stages of this paper that Christ’s sacrifice is superior to the sacrifices under Mosaic Law. We can further this topic through a discussion of Hebrews 10, and an exegetical explanation of the passages here.
Chapter 1 of Hebrews shows that Christ is superior to the angels. Before Jesus was born, the Son was already in God, the radiance of the Most High God, the glory of God the Father. In Chapter 2, there is the world to come, not the time of the end of the world, but the new time which began with the resurrection of Christ. In Chapter 3, Christ came as the new Moses. In Exodus, the Hebrews wandered through the desert in search of the Promised Land. But they stopped their search of the Promised Land because of the many hardships and suffering along the way. But the search has to continue, for the promised rest that God offers. This is through Jesus, the Son. The Hebrews thought they would find rest in a place, but in Christ we find rest through faith and in our entrance to a Christian community.
As far as the Jews are concerned, the High Priest was a sacred person protecting the people from the punishment deserved by their sins. Aaron, Moses’ brother, was the first priest of the Jews, and he protected the people. Christ is the High Priest and we are associated with the priestly role of Christ.
Jesus had rendered this sacrifice obsolete when he instituted the Last Supper, saying, “This cup that is poured for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Lk 22:20).
The old ethical laws are restated in the New Testament and this is applicable to Christians. Above all these laws are loving God with all our heart and soul, and also loving our neighbor as ourselves. These two were also restated by Jesus Christ when he taught them to his disciples. Jesus laid them down in Matt 5:21-48.
In Hebrews 10:1, Christ sacrificed for the sin of humanity. As has been mentioned earlier, the Letter to the Hebrews is addressed to the Christian Jews who are mostly priests under the Mosaic Law. They have embraced the new Christian religion, and they have to be strengthened. Here the author explains that under the Mosaic Law, they made sacrifices year end, year out, but that did not change anything; meaning it did not make things perfect. There sins remained, and so there has to be a change, a new one, a New Covenant. There faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross to redeem the world is the solution. There’ll be no need of animal sacrifices like in the Old Testament practice. All they must do is their personal sacrifice to accept and follow the teachings of Christ, and conversion of heart.
10:2 If, once and for all, the worshippers had been cleansed.
The sacrifices of animals do not anymore apply because they cannot free them from sin.
“But, above all, we must insist that Christians are free from sin, namely, of being slaves to sin. John says (1 Jn 3:6) that he who abides in Christ does not sin, nor can sin, referring to the sin leading to death (1 Jn 5;17), because there are also sins that we commit and which do not bring us to death.”41
We will remain in Christ and His Grace by following the laws and the good tenets of being Christians. But we should not commit sins that break us apart from the love of God. We have to continue in his friendship.
10:19 We are assured of entering the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus.
This passage is addressed to those who are in doubt of their faith. We have to continue to believe and worship God, increase our faith and avoid sin.
10:25 Do not abandon the assemblies.
Another reminder for the brothers not to abandon the Sunday celebration, or the assembly of the community to which they belong. The Christian community, which is not a group of angels, comes to pieces when its members only appear once in a while. And we, not being angels, have trouble remaining united with Christ if we do not take part in a community. When we lose contact with our brothers in the faith, we run the risk of losing the meaning of our mission. No solidarity with our neighborhood or work companions will remind us that, in their midst, we are the witnesses of something which they do not know.
The phrase “a little longer” in Heb. 10:37 is taken from Habakkuk 2:3 referring to the judgment of God which is approaching. The author of the letter may have wanted to allude to the crisis which, very soon, was going to destroy the Jewish nation.42 (Christian Community Bible: Commentary on the Hebrews 1998, 447).
The plan of God had to be fulfilled with the two Covenants: first the Covenant that He and the Israelites agreed upon, then the New Covenant who is Jesus Christ on the Cross. His plan spans from the beginning of time, then onto Adam, to Abraham and to his son Jacob who is renamed Israel, and to the many descendants who are a multitude, like the stars or the sands in the seashore. From the First Covenant, came the New Covenant, who is Jesus Christ, the second Adam.
In Jeremiah’s time, great political and economic upheaval was occurring at the time. It was a significant time for Biblical history when prophets were not performing to the tasks given them by God. It was a turning point of the events of the time that God needed a prophet to announce his plan, his New Covenant. The old covenant did not work because the people sinned against God.
This event or period in biblical history is interconnected with the time in the New Testament when Jesus Christ appears to fulfill the New Covenant. Jesus sacrificed on the cross, and his sacrifice was over and above any other sacrifice.
Exegetics on Bible passages that pertain to events with various meanings are explained in Hebrews. The writer who is an expert in the Scriptures connects the sacrifices in the Mosaic Law to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. There are some in the Old Testament laws that have been rendered obsolete by the New Testament, but many have remained for us, Jews and Christians, to follow and observe.
Jeremiah was a simple lad in his time who found true meaning of his existence when God called him to announce the news of the New Covenant. He found his own personal change, and this he pronounced to the Israelites the change in the covenant of God. He foretold the coming of Jesus who would be made a Sacrifice. Their sacrifice under the Mosaic Law would soon be put obsolete because of this New Covenant Jesus Christ himself.
Jesus Christ “revolutionized” the observance of the Law when he preached a change of heart instead of observing all those rituals and laws that were only good for outward change and not an inner change. Jesus is the promise, the New Covenant and the fulfillment of God’s plan here on earth and in heaven.
David Macleod43 (1989) sums it up when he said that Hebrews mapped out “conceptual structure … highlighting the author’s themes such as the sonship of Christ, the deity and humanity of Christ, the “rest” of God, the high priesthood of Christ, the New Covenant, the sacrifice of Christ, and the need for faithfulness and perseverance in the Christian life.”
Adams, Michael W. What is the Law Written on the Heart? Web.
Anderson, Bernhard W. Contours of Old Testament Theology. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress. 1999.
Attridge, Harold W. “How the Scrolls Impacted Scholarship on Hebrews,” in The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Second Princeton Symposium on Judaism and Christian Origins, ed. James H. Charlesworth, (Baylor University Press, 2006).
Christiansen, Ellen Juhl. The Covenant in Judaism and Paul: A Study of Ritual Boundaries as Identity Markers. New York: E.J. Brill. 1995.
Christian Community Bible (Complete Texts Translated from Hebrew and Greek). Quezon City, Philippines: St. Paul Publications. 1998.
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Isaacs, Marie E. Reading Hebrews and James: A Literary and Theological Commentary. Ed. Charles H. Talbert, Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc., 2002, ISBN 1573123188.
Judisch, Douglas McC. L. Exegetical notes on Jeremiah 31: 10-13. Web.
Mackie, Scott D. Eschatology and Exhortation in the Epistle to the Hebrews: Kleine Schriften IV. Published by Mohr Siebeck, ISBN 3161492153, 9783161492150, 2007.
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The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Edition: Catholic Edition. St. Paul Publications. 2000.