In this sermon we look at the greater covenant described in Hebrews 8:6-13. Quoting from the prophet Jeremiah, in verse 8 and 9, God says, “I will make a new covenant … it will not be like the [old] covenant.” He does not say, “I will renew the covenant which they broke.” Clearly this new covenant will be quite different than the old; it will not just be a patching up of what previously failed, but it is a completely new and utterly different covenant. The differences that stand out in Jeremiah’s prophecy are at least threefold: 1) the new covenant is unconditionally secured by God Himself; whereas the old covenant was conditioned on the obedience of the people; 2) the new covenant is spiritual whereas the old was tied to physical promises; and 3) the new covenant finally and fully does away with sin by providing forgiveness, whereas the old covenant could only provide a temporary atonement. In summary, the old covenant, in the words of the apostle Paul (2 Cor 3:7), is a ministry of death, whereas in the new covenant we have hope, liberty and glory (see all of 2 Corinthians 3 for this contrast).
As you read the passage in Hebrews, give emphasis to the pronouns “I” and “they” which are emphatic and set over against each other in Greek. This will help you to see the infinite contrast between a religion of human effort that ends in death and a covenant of grace that carries eternal life.