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Jesus, High Priest of a Better Covenant (v. 1-13)
Jesus is the high priest, presiding from heaven where things are perfect and God-made rather than on Earth where things are man-made. The old priests served only a shadow of the heavenly things, where Jesus actually serves us from heaven. The covenant of Jesus is superior to the old covenant as it is enacted upon better promises, for if the old covenant had been faultless there would have been no reason to look for a better one.
So the message here is 'my new religion is better than your old religion'. I don't have anything to add here.
The old testament is quoted (although I'm assuming the quote isn't quite right, as this seems to be the norm) for evidence that the old covenant is imperfect. v8 mentions that new covenants will be established with the houses of Israel and Judah.
That is actually interesting, if God mentioned that he would establish new covenants back in the OT it does seem to imply an imperfection with the old covenant. I wonder what the actual intention of those original verses was.
v.9 God declares that the descendants of the people leaving Egypt didn't continue the covenant, so God shows no concern for them.
So much for a God who cares about everyone. How could this possibly be an all loving God?
I looked through a handful of commentaries here but no one really addressed this issue. They either ignored it completely or focused on some nuance in the translation. Even giving the benefit of the doubt as much as I could imagine, I still think this point comes through. God decided if they weren't going to pay attention to him, he would ignore them right back. Really doesn't sound like a loving God to me.
God's covenant with Israel is that he will write his law on their hearts and minds. In speaking of the new covenant he makes the old one obsolete.
This idea is something I see a lot when arguing with people about morality. If God is necessary for morality how can atheists be moral? Well, you have God's law written on your heart!
Guzik says that this means that the new covenant features transforming someone from the inside out instead of through application of external laws. I actually like this interpretation. I'm not sure I completely agree with the interpretation though from the text itself. If God is writing his law into your brain he is still applying an external law, he's just using mind control to do it.
v.12 "I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more"
I'm not really sure what to make of this. I guess the key here is to answer the question of who is being referred to here. One reading makes it sound like everyone, because God is writing his law on their hearts. Perhaps we are talking about everyone in Israel, as we are talking about the house of Israel. I would guess the most reasonable interpretation though, would be all Christians, because those are the people whose sins are forgiven. But this declaration seems to be coupled with the idea of God's law being written on your heart and mind, so does that mean that only Christians have his law written on their heart?
For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)
8:9 God does not love everyone
"...For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord."