ἐν τῷ λέγειν καινὴν πεπαλαίωκεν τὴν πρώτην· τὸ δὲ παλαιούμενον καὶ γηράσκον ἐγγὺς ἀφανισμοῦ (Heb 8.13).
The above statement by Auctor is one of the harshest statements in the NT in regards to the Old Covenant. A translation of this would read
When he says, “A new [covenant],” he has made the first [covenant] obsolete. And that which has become obsolete and is growing old is very close to destruction.
I know of no stronger language that describes the old covenant as no longer operative. All of what is argued in Hebrews (the priesthood, sacrifices, etc.) is summed up in a contrast between these two covenants. But what is interesting is the similarities between the two.
1. Both the old and new covenant have a priest.
We know from the OT that Israel was to have appointed priests as well as one high priest. For Hebrews Auctor puts forward three priest (four if you see Moses as a priest in Heb 3.1ff) for his discussion. Auctor argues that Jesus our great high priest in the order of Melchizedek, and he is one forever. This is in stark contrast to the priesthood of Aaron and the Levites. For these two they were appointed continually because of death.
2. Both the old and new covenant have a sacrifice
Whereas the sacrifices of the old covenant were continuous, the sacrifice in the new covenant was once for all. Auctor elaborates on this in Heb 7-10 in great detail, showing the need for a permanent sacrifice provided for by our high priest himself.
More could be said, and I am sure that his has. But I write this in regards to a discussion I had in class on the covenants and their role in our eschatological thought. For some, they believe that nation Israel is still bound in some sense to the promises that are given to them (i.e. land, millennial kingdom). But if Auctor is saying that the old covenant is obsolete, would this then also mean that the promises of the old covenant are likewise obsolete? There seem to be no room for a separate national Israel functioning in some sense under a quasi-old covenant.
So I ask you this: If the first covenant, the old covenant, is obsolete (and I argue that this became final at the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD), then can there be a future for a national Israel? Put that in your theological pipe and smoke it for awhile.