13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
13 In that He says,
Having finished the quotation from Jeremiah 31, the author of Hebrews made a summary comment on that passage. He was looking at this quotation from the standpoint of the period from Jeremiah to the New Testament.
“A new covenant,”
The quotation of Jeremiah 31:31–34 is the longest quote in the New Testament, yet Hebrews gives a short commentary of it in this verse. The focus in this verse is on the word “new.” It is new in the sense that Christ shed His blood once (He 9:12, 14; 10:19, 29; 12:24; 13:12, 20). Thus, the purpose of the quotation is theological to show the superiority of Christ’s sacrifice over the sacrifices of the Old Testament.
The word “new” in Greek means new in quality, not new in time. The dynamics of this quality is that there will be another covenant of a different character than the Mosaic Covenant. This covenant was of a different nature than the Mosaic Covenant; it will never fade or grow old and is eternal in nature (He 5:9; 9:12). An aspect of the New Covenant was inaugurated when Christ shed His blood on the cross (Lu 22:20; 1 Co 11:25; 2 Co 3:6); however, this covenant will not be completely fulfilled until God restores Israel as a nation (Ro 11:25–27).
He [God] has made the first obsolete.
The word “first” refers to the Mosaic Covenant. That covenant was rendered obsolete by the New Covenant given to Israel in Jeremiah. There is no longer any need for priests, blood sacrifices in the temple, and all rituals under the law.
Now what is becoming obsolete
The Old Covenant was “becoming obsolete” at the writing of Jeremiah. It must have been a shock to the Jewish readers of Hebrews that the Mosaic Covenant was temporary and would be terminated. The author made no attempt to show that believers today replace Israel in God’s economy. The implication, however, is that the old economy of Moses is not binding on believers in the church age.
and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The Old Covenant of Moses would soon stop its Levitical ceremonies (Mt 24:1–2), shortly after the writing of Hebrews. God did not intend the Old and the New Covenants to coexist; the New Covenant replaced the first.
What the Old Covenant did repeatedly, Jesus did in one fell swoop.
What the Old Covenant had to do repeatedly and could never complete, Jesus did once and for all. His death was the necessary basis for the establishment of the New Covenant. He brought in better promises than Israel had ever had in Judaism.
The New Covenant prophesied in Jeremiah was made with Israel, ratified at the cross, and implemented to replace the Mosaic Covenant. Presently, it is the basis on which we relate to and fellowship with God. The church was not a formal partner of the New Covenant but participates in its blessings with Israel. The church, therefore, does not fulfill the New Covenant. That will happen when Israel as a nation returns to God at the end of the Tribulation.