A Different Kind of Covenant – Bible Journey Day 14

Bible Journey – Day 14

A Different Kind of Covenant

Hebrews 8-9

Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.It will not be like the covenant that I made with their fathers…

When he speaks of a new covenant, he makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear. Now the first covenant, in fact, had regulations for worship and its earthly sanctuary.

(Heb 8:8-9; 8:13-9:1 NET.)

Okay, I could get in trouble for this one, but I might as well be as brave as my friends (and erstwhile mentors, whether they know it or not!) Patrick and Keith.

Hebrews 8-9 is some of the most brilliant exposition ever written of the meaning of the coming of the Christ in light of the whole story of Israel. It’s offensive to religious people and just plain dumb to the non-religious and the pagan. This gospel is not about going to the right place and doing the right set of stuff. It is about dedication to the cause of a guy that looks like a total failure – a joke!

Every other religion has detailed instructions for how to worship.

The Christian Scriptures don’t even describe an entire worship assembly!

The world wants a hero: a good-looking, strong, charismatic person who sails to the top of all the popularity structures! Power, Fame, Sexuality – if you can win at all those games, the world will worship you.

The Christ died the most shameful death imaginable – naked public execution – slaughtered by the most powerful, popular, sexually attractive person in the Greco-Roman world, the mighty Caesar. His own friends abandoned him. No monuments were built to him. He was celibate and quite possibly plain or even ugly (Check Isaiah 53).

His commands? Follow me. Live like me. Die like me. Love like me. KNOW me. In Him, King and Kingdom are perfectly united — where He is, the Kingdom is. This is a different kind of religion – not based on a checklist of right doctrines or riding the coattails of a powerful icon. Rather, it is about believing – against everything your gut says – that this one man knew what He was talking about and that his way of living and dying is the real way to live. TRUST him. Defect from serving yourself and the rulers and systems of this world, pledge your loyalty to Him, and then start DOING it.

He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If we die with Him, we’ll be raised like Him.

This is a different kind of covenant, and I’m not fighting about the old kind anymore.

in HIS love,


About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 10 October, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Nick,

    I wonder if a big part of the problem is that somewhere along the way the foundational story was compromised; the story of the covenant toward which you point us. If the foundational story is, creation, Israel, Jesus, church, fall of the church, restoration movement, return of true church (e.g., churches of Christ), then it will take no small amount of work to help others see that they’ve built their house on sand rather than Rock.

    I doubt if hermeneutics even offers much help. What we need is the proper controlling narrative–the one that pops out of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Many of us have been under the spell of a controlling narrative that is and will always produce the same result regardless of the lip service paid to hermeneutics. It will always produce fighting and division as folks attempt to keep the church pure as per a handful of supposed markers.

    If we can get the covenant story right, then maybe restoration will (this is going to sting) begin to look more like demolition.

    Ben Overby

    • Ben,

      isn’t controlling narrative really just a synonym for hermeneutics?

      leading restoration people to narrative hermeneutics will at some point require some of those people to admit that the restoration movement began with a huge flaw — constitutional hermeneutics. We began by reading Scripture as a document designed, like the American Constitution, to reveal and state the rules by which our lives would be carried out. It is right at the heart of our most grace-filled early document (Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address), and it has never been adequately addressed, because it is a worldview statement and thus typically ASSUMED rather than examined by most people.

      If we get narrative hermeneutics right, then I believe we have a better chance of rediscovering the right controlling narrative, and having something even more tremendous to offer the wider Christian world than just simplicity and freedom to think.

      • Nick,

        I wish that narrative WAS a synonym for hermeneutics. CENI, for example, doesn’t need THE story. It doesn’t ask whether or not the supposed example fits within the bigger story. The question is whether or CENI depends on any story. Of course, the answer is yes. That’s where you comment about assumption is so intuitive. Some assume a story. It’s a meme (one of the few times Richard Dawkins is helpful!). Rather than battle over a thousand particulars, we need to make sure we’re coming out of the same narrative, or else we’ll constantly think right past each other.

        Amen, to you, again!

      • Ben, do you have any ideas for how to draw Late-Modern believers, who are deeply skeptical of story-language and anything that doesn’t sound like, “Just the facts, ma’am” out of the shallows and into the deep water of living the narrative?

        I think our lives have to have the kind of integrity and magnetism that will show their legalistic hot-house growth for what it is — but that is such a great challenge! I think I answered my own question 🙂 so i will find a way to work it into the journey! lol

  2. First off: amen!

    Do you think that because it is a different kind of covenant that people have trouble understanding it? I mean, we read Leviticus, then start trying to find the same sort of rules in Acts. We want to turn Jesus into Abraham or Moses, important figures, but only in their relationship to the covenant (and hence to God). In contrast, the New Covenant is important only because of its relationship to Jesus.

    Anyway, don’t let me confuse some very clear, very important statements that you’ve made. I hope your voice is heard.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

    • Tim,

      Thanks! I think that is part of the error the Hebrew writer is trying to undermine — the idea that Jesus is merely another in a line of covenant officials, rather than in some mysterious way being the covenant he establishes.

      The King is the Kingdom.
      This covenant is mysteriously intertwined with and foreshadowed by the Abrahamic covenant. Note that Abraham never walks the bloodpath in Gen 15. Two parties are always supposed to walk the bloodpath, signifying that if either party fails to keep their part of the covenant, the blood of the walker shall be shed.

      God and — umm — God walk the bloodpath. If either party to the covenant fails, then, God’s blood will be shed.

      What was once an agreement between God and Abraham, though, seems now to be an agreement between God and Jesus, in which we can participate by joining the body of Christ, by declaring our defection from the kingdoms of the world and pledging our allegiance to the kingdom of God.

      or something like that 🙂

  3. You will get no disagreement from me. I think this is a brilliant post and hope it gets serious and wide reading.


  4. it is thru 2000 years of human evolvement that believers have been able to more fully embrace the new covenant thru the holy spirit weaning christendom off their old covenant mindset. science has labeled the evolvement process as the “spirial dynamic”. at the turn of the century(1900) christendom had not come to understand that ones neighbor was everybody else, although the spirit of this understanding has existed since christ.

    now christendom is on the verge of understanding that under the new covenant, there is no law other than the law that makes us conscious of NOT loving ones neighbor as oneself. apart from that ” everything is permissable, although it may not be constructive.”

    and we have begun to more fully embrace that the triune god lives in each believer, that……….. his presence, the life, the truth and the way, etc lives within us. the spirit of christ is yoked to our hearts.

    metaphorically this means he has moved in laid down his carpets, hung his curtains, put up his pictures, moved in his furniture, books etc and now lives within us.

    our battle against powers and principalities has always been about not being influenced by their lies and instead, embracing and owning what is the truth in christ as it is revealed to us thru the holy spirit.

    colossians1:15christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  5. Wow! I’d never noticed that about Genesis 15. Yes, I will steal that thought in the not-too-distant future. Sounds like a great communion meditation.

  6. Of course, there were and still are people who see Acts 2:42 as THE order of worship and that anything departing therefrom is unscriptural, unholy and of the devil.

    You won’t always find those people in perfect agreement as to what the modern equivalents of those “acts of worship” are. My great-great-grandfather, a Restoration preacher, maintained that “fellowship” referred to giving and giving only. I don’t know where he got that. Then again, some “heretics” among those have added a fifth, not found in that verse – singing!

    • What’s truly amazing is how they can see the actions as exclusively authoritative, and the daily practice of them as incidental. Pretty handy, I think.

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