τὸ δὲ παλαιούμενον καὶ γηράσκον ἐγγὺς ἀφανισμοῦ (Heb 8.13).

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  But if Auctor is saying that the old covenant is obsolete, would this then also mean that the promises of the old covenant are likewise obsolete?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So I ask you this: If the first covenant, the old covenant, is obsolete (and I argue that this became final at the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD), then can there be a future for a national Israel?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.

4 thoughts on “τὸ δὲ παλαιούμενον καὶ γηράσκον ἐγγὺς ἀφανισμοῦ (Heb 8.13).

  1. Better question to ask would be, “why wouldn’t there be a future for a national Israel?” If the promises of the covenant are obsolete, then what use is there for Jesus to be our Prophet, Priest and King?

    When it comes to Jesus being a Priest, He sacrificed Himself.

    When it comes to Him being a Prophet, He prophesied about many things that did happen while He was on earth and many things that will happen in the future.

    When it comes to Him being King, if the old covenant is obsolete along with the accompanying promises, then the question to ask is, “is Jesus reigning on the throne now?” If so, then the answer is, no, the promises are not obsolete. If He is not reigning on the throne, but will in the future, then the answer is still, no, the promises are not obsolete. So when it comes to a national Israel, aside from there actually being a nation of Israel right now, the fact that Jesus is to reign as King on the throne (whether now or in the future), seems to indicate that He will be reigning over a nation or people and seeing as how those Gentiles who have been saved through His sacrifice have been grafted into the vine of Abraham, this seems to indicate that yes, there is a future for a national Israel.

    Passing thoughts.

  2. Pingback: Hebrews Carnival March 2010 « Polumeros kai Polutropos

  3. The sacrifices discussed in Hebrews relate to those made by the high priest on Yom Kippur **through which they gained access to the holiest place**. In other words, the priests made the sacrifice of the goat **for themselves** to be prepared to enter. Likewise, the death of Jesus was his once-for-all death *to his own sins* by which he became qualified to enter the holiest place **and then begin to serve as priest**:

    Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having found everlasting release.

    As Paul said:

    Romans 6:10 For in that he [Jesus] died, he [Jesus] died unto sin once: but in that he [Jesus] liveth, he [Jesus] liveth unto God.

    Simultaneously, his death ratified the new covenant, but that is only made with Israel and Judah and has no bearing on the nations.

  4. Pingback: Brief Thoughts on Heb 7-10 « Theology Addict

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s