The New Covenant and Israel's Heavenly Blessings.
The blessings in view under the Old Covenant were only earthly in sphere. Israel's deliverance was from an earthly dominion, Egypt. Sinai and Jerusalem were but earthly places; the blood of the Old Covenant was the blood of bulls and of goats. The tabernacle was the building of men's hands, and the priesthood was drawn from among the people.
The New Covenant embraces not only Israel's earthly blessings, but also Israel's heavenly blessings, of which all that pertained to the Old Covenant was but a type and shadow. Comparing the New Covenant with the Old Covenant in the order by which the Old Covenant was unfolded, as already traced, the following affinity can be seen.
The Old Covenant was made on the day of the Passover (Heb. viii. 9); the New Covenant was made when Christ became the true Passover (Matt. xxvi. 28).
The Old Covenant was connected with Sinai and Jerusalem (Ex. xix. 1-8); the New Covenant is connected with their heavenly counterpart:
"Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond maid, the other by a free woman . . . which things are an allegory, for these are the two covenants, the one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar; for this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem, which now is and is in bondage with her children, but Jerusalem, which is above, is free, which is the mother of us all" (Gal. iv. 21-26).
Here the two covenants are linked with the spheres of their operation. The first covenant gendered to bondage, and the earthly Jerusalem was in bondage under it. The New Covenant brought liberty, and opened the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem to the children of promise.
At the ascent of Sinai, Moses received the terms of the Old Covenant, and Israel sought to keep them: thus this mountain is connected with the inauguration of that covenant (Ex. xix). The New Covenant is connected with an heavenly mountain:
"For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched and that burned with fire . . . and so terrible was the sight that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake; but ye are come unto Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels , . . and to Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant" (Heb. xii. 18-24).
After Moses had given Israel the book of the covenant, he sprinkled both it and the people with the blood of the covenant (Ex. xxiv. 3-8):
"Whereupon neither the first covenant was dedicated without blood, for when Moses had spoken every precept . . . he took the blood of calves and of goats . . . saying, This is the blood of the covenant which God hath enjoined unto you . . . and almost all things are by the law purged with blood . . . but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these" (Heb. ix. 18-23).
After receiving the Old Covenant, Moses was instructed to build a tabernacle.
"Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service and a worldly sanctuary, for there was a tabernacle made . . . this signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was yet standing . . . But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands . . . but by His own blood He entered . . . for this cause He is the mediator of the New Covenant" (Heb. ix. 1-15).
Here the first covenant is linked with what is spoken of as the "first tabernacle;" the Lord Jesus as the mediator of the New Covenant entered that greater and more perfect tabernacle that was not made by hands, but was in the heavens, and of which the first tabernacle was but a copy (Heb. viii. 5; ix. 23, 24).
The first tabernacle had a priesthood, so also has the heavenly tabernacle:
"For those priests were made without an oath, but this with an oath by Him that said unto him, 'The Lord sware and will not repent. Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec;' by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better covenant" (Heb. vii. 20-22).
The superiority of the Lord's priesthood of this New or better Covenant over that of the priesthood of the Old Covenant, is gauged by the fact that He was appointed with an oath by Him that will not repent. The covenant with Abraham concerning the land was made with an oath (Gen. xxiv. 7; xxvi. 3; Deut. iv.31), as was also the covenant with David concerning the throne (Psa. 1xxxix. 3-49), but the promises of the Old Covenant were not thus confirmed; they were conditional and depended on the flesh; any confirmation of the promises on these terms was therefore impossible. The New Covenant supplants the old, and when the Lord Jesus became the surety of the covenant, He was appointed with an oath. Thus the promises of the New Covenant are placed on the same secure footing as the covenants to Abraham and David, all confirmed by the irrevocable oath of God, all made possible through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. "All the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen."
The Old Covenant, its priesthood and its promises were therefore but the shadows of the New Covenant and its enduring promises:
"We have such an High Priest . . . a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man . . . there are priests . . . who serve unto the example of heavenly things . . . but now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Heb. viii. 1-6).
This better covenant, with its better promises and better priesthood, is asociated with:
"A better country, that is, an heavenly" (Heb. xi. 16).